It's been a week of claim and counter claim over whether civilians were killed during an SAS raid in Afghanistan in 2010, to allegedly avenge the death of our first casualty there, Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell.

Put all you think about Nicky Hager to one side, and for many that's hard to do. It's true he's become something of an election year explosive device which generally has everyone running around chasing their tails, which of course includes the media.

Hager and his war correspondent cobber Jon Stephenson have taken on the might of the military in this country and they're a lean, mean machine with all sort of resources at their disposal. When you take on that battle you've got to make sure you're on solid ground but unfortunately some of it's turned to liquefaction.

The authors' claim about where the attacked villages were located in the remote Tirgiran Valley were a few kilometres out gave the Defence Chief an in, suggesting the whole yarn wasn't worth the book it was published in.


That's of course a glib response. There was only one attack in the valley on the night the and book's account of it is virtually the same as the military's.

But any chink in the book's armour unfortunately weakens their argument.

There's another one too, in my view: a photograph taken where an allegedly innocent, recently graduated school teacher was shot as he fled the carnage. It shows spent cartridges, and in my opinion it and the caption with it suggests they came from SAS snipers.

The authors today denied creating the impression that the shell casings were from SAS weaponry.

Well, an examination of the cartridges shows they couldn't have possibly come from the SAS, if they'd fire them they at the very least would have dislocated their muscular shoulders.

Weapons expert Richard Munt from Auckland, without knowing the background of the photo, says they probably came from Apache helicopters.

Guess what was accompanying the SAS on their raids? Yep helicopter gunships, under our control, but flown by Americans.

Perhaps that gives weight to the theory put forward by Mr Responsible, the country's most experienced Cabinet Minister Peter Dunne who knows how the machinery of Government works.