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US finally confirms Kiwi SAS troops in Afghanistan
15 March 2002
The United States has finally told New Zealand the news that Helen Clark had a duty to disclose months ago: that our SAS troops are in Afghanistan and have been involved in military action, Green Foreign Affairs spokesperson Keith Locke said today.
The data is on the Whitehouse website at http://www.whitehouse.gov/march11/campaignagainstterrorism.pdf
"This is an embarrassment". The Prime Minister has repeatedly refused to answer questions from myself and others about our SAS deployment and she has ignored calls to come clean and tell us if our troops are even there or not.
"Ms Clark has alluded to security reasons for her failure to inform New Zealand of where our troops are fighting but, as the American disclosures has proved, these reasons obviously don't apply."
Mr Locke said nobody was ever asking for any identification of individual SAS members - just whether the SAS was there and generally what they were doing.
"The Americans and seven other nations fighting with them have been happy to have that disclosed," he said. "The truth was always going to leak out, it has, and this has to be to the embarrassment of the Prime Minister".
"Many Government members have histories of opposing military intervention and some may well be uncomfortable with this war. For these reasons there may have been some political embarrassment in confirming our SAS's presence in Afghanistan, but that's no excuse to keep Kiwis in the dark."
"The Government might have been scared that more people might question the SAS presence alongside British or American forces if we knew they were there. Now the Prime Minister has to come clean on the details - preferably before the Americans do."
Media release from Keith Locke,