The Defence Force set out on a series of select Beehive screenings showing secret helicopter footage of a controversial NZSAS raid without always telling politicians a critical 12 seconds had been deleted.
The critical footage showed that the crew of one of the Apache helicopter gunships were aware of civilians sheltering against a building within seconds of it being struck by stray 30mm high-explosive rounds.
The Apache helicopter footage which captured that realisation was deleted immediately after the Apache landed, sparking a United States' military investigation.
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) used the edited Apache footage during a series of Beehive briefings intended to convince the current and former governments there was no need for an inquiry into the Operation Burnham raid.
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Attorney General David Parker - one of those shown the footage - last year ordered an inquiry to investigate claims the NZDF-led raid had left six civilians dead and 15 others wounded.
The claims came in the book Hit & Run, which alleged revenge over the death of a New Zealand soldier was the motive for the raid, and that civilians were deliberately targeted.
NZDF has rejected many of the central allegations and sought to present its case publicly and to key politicians.
This included showing the Apache helicopter footage to Prime Ministers Sir John Key and Sir Bill English, along with Ministers of Defence Gerry Brownlee, Mark Mitchell and Ron Mark, and Parker.
When launching the inquiry, Parker said he had been shown footage which showed people in the village were armed. He has now refused to comment on whether he was told of the deleted scenes and the US investigation.
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Mark told the Herald he was aware the footage had been edited but had no recollection of being told about the missing 12 seconds or the US investigation into it being deleted.
Mitchell has confirmed he was not told of the missing 12 seconds or that an investigation had taken place into the deleted content. He said the footage he did see supported what he had been told about armed insurgents in the village and no inquiry was needed.
Brownlee said he believed he had been told. "As far as 12 seconds being removed, I have a recollection of reading that. I had that report at the time, I think."
English and Key have not responded to requests for comment.
The Inquiry into Operation Burnham has also refused to comment on whether NZDF informed it about the US investigation.
A spokesman for NZDF, asked if ministers had been told it was edited, and of the US investigation, said to those watching the footage, "it is clear that it has been edited".
He said the inquiry would examine the footage and what ministers were told.
NZDF had always said the footage was too secret to be made public. It produced letters it had written to US central command asking for permission to make the footage public, and went on to tell the inquiry and public its requests had been refused.
It then suffered the embarrassment of journalist Nicky Hager obtaining the footage using the US Freedom of Information Act, which works like our Official Information Act.
As a result, Hager was provided with footage from the raid - and a copy of the inquiry report from a US military investigation into the deleted footage.
The US investigation into the deleted footage was not publicly known until it was released to Hager. NZDF had previously referred to the report only as "a United States military document from 30 September 2010".
The investigation into the deleted 12 seconds took place a month after the Operation Burnham raid took place. It was launched to find out the reason for deleting a section of the footage showing civilians around a building hit by Apache helicopter gunship fire.
While the US investigation found no ulterior motive behind the editing, the footage shows pilots clearly identifying a group of people huddled by the building which was hit.
The separate audio from a circling aircraft captured the entire audio, including the words: "We have five non-friendly personnel next to a building approximately 200 metres in front of your ground patrol. The ground patrol is moving toward the people, huddled by the building.
The deleted section follows and includes the words: "At least one is female."
The screenings took place prior to the announcement of an inquiry into allegations in the book Hit & Run and were part of a bid by military command to convince politicians there was no need for an investigation into claims civilians had been killed.
About 18 seconds later, one of the Apache pilots fires 30mm high-explosive rounds at a suspected insurgent. The footage shows the rounds missing and striking the centre of the roof of the building against which the group containing the woman was sheltering.
About 35 seconds later, one of the pilots tracking the suspect insurgent says: "We got these personnel that he's going near. Yeah, there's like 20 of them, 20 of them."
The US investigation said the group of 20 appeared to be the same who had been huddled against the building, or who had come out of the building into which the Apache had fired its high-explosive rounds.