Kiwis in the dark over Iraq mission

The Green Party is calling for the Defence Minister to front-up to the Defence, Foreign Affairs and Trade Select Committee with an uncensored version of the review of the Defence Force deployment in Iraq, which is so heavily redacted there is no way of knowing if soldiers are even safe.

Minister Brownlee today released a heavily redacted version of his Cabinet paper reviewing the military deployment in Iraq. Redacted information includes discussion on the threat of a potential ‘insider attack’ on New Zealand personnel, and Australian comments on the performance of the New Zealand Defence Force.

“The review is so heavily redacted we have no way of knowing if soldiers in Iraq are safe, or if the mission has been the success that the Government claims,” said Green Party Foreign Affairs spokesperson Kennedy Graham.

“Every bit of the report that appears to detail the challenges or problems facing the mission or our soldiers, has been redacted. Instead, we get a press release from the Minister Gerry Brownlee saying the mission has been a success.

“New Zealanders, and the soldiers risking their lives in Iraq, have a right to a full assessment of how the mission is working, not just the highlights. At the moment the National Government is simply telling us to take their word for it.

“Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee needs to front up with an uncensored review of the military deployment in Iraq at the next Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee. Any security concerns could be alleviated by MPs meeting behind closed doors.

“The National Government has gone so far as to even censor what objectives they are using to measure the success of this deployment.

“The National Government has a huge political stake in selling this mission as a success, so it is inappropriate for them to be the only ones allowed to judge its performance," said Dr Graham.

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