Letter to the ABC

Reporters  Mark Willacy, Alexandra Blucher and Dan Oakes.

–  on behalf of November Platoon, 2012.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION.

Over a year ago, on 20 October 2020, the ABC published an article based on the account of a US Marine who alleged that November Platoon of the 2nd Commando Regiment had executed a “prisoner” in Afghanistan in “mid-2012”.

In this story, the ABC stated that, “A United States Marine Corps (USMC) helicopter crew chief says Australian special forces shot and killed a bound Afghan prisoner after being told he would not fit on the US aircraft coming to pick them up.”

This is an appalling and preposterous lie. The ABC should be ashamed of this failing of basic journalistic practice.

The entire story is based on the account of one man who insists on using a pseudonym yet, bizarrely, agrees to have his face shown. 

This ‘former Marine’ claims he saw members of November Platoon “tackle and hogtie” seven prisoners then, upon being told that a US helicopter only had room for six prisoners, “And you just heard this silence and then we heard a pop. And then they said, ‘OK, we have six prisoners’. So it was pretty apparent to everybody involved in that mission that they had just killed a prisoner that we had just watched them catch and hogtie.”

Australian Army Commando Hits Back At Allegations Of Misconduct In Afghanistan

The impact of this story has been immense, particularly given that it was published on the evening of October 20, 2020, dominating the news cycle on the following day.

That day, 21 October 2020, was the eighth anniversary of the death of Corporal Scott Smith, who was a member of the November Platoon Group, and therefore one of the accused in your article.

This story was based on the unsubstantiated claims of one US Marine whose account cannot form the basis for the assertions made by the ABC. In the following 12 months there has been no follow up or correction to the published story.

November Platoon is calling for:

  1. A request a written apology from the ABC and the reporters to the men and families of November Platoon.
  2. A call for an independent review of the ABC story published on October 20, 2020.
  3. A call for the ABC to publish a full correction to this story including an unqualified, genuine apology to the members of November Platoon.

To view the full letter click on the file below or click here.

5th November 2021

We finally heard from the ABC and it was less than encouraging, let alone what we would expect. They informed us that the ABC’s internal review policy required complaints to be raised within 6 weeks of the story being published.

Despite our 10 page letter (above) we were asked why any additional consideration should be given to warrant such a review.

Here is our response to their lacklustre efforts as we continue to seek accountability – Click here

Would you like to support the Petition? Click here.

19th November 2021

Update – continue reading below for ABC’s excellent #fakenews story and the real response from Defence.

Is this now the journalistic standards accepted within our taxpayer funded media?

The ABC came out with an article implying that they received a specific response that November Platoon is under a criminal investigation, but per the Defence response, this could actually mean that the release of the requested information could impact on another or any other allegations under investigation.

It says that there is “a current investigation of a possible breach of law” without naming any platoon and as per the ongoing OSI investigation into all allegations in general.

To read the Defence Response Click here.

ABC EXPOSED

We can now reveal the evidence that proves this story has been manufactured or at the bare minimum, not investigated anywhere near the required level of accuracy or integrity.

Please watch and share the video below to show your support in achieving the truth and justice our Veterans deserve.

Sign the petition CLICK HERE

We have commenced a petition with the Australian Parliament House calling for an INDEPENDENT REVIEW of the ABC’s ‘Marine heard a Pop’ story – & we need your help.

Please head to the link and sign the petition to show your support – click here.

Posted in

41 Comments

  1. Shaun McRoberts on October 27, 2021 at 11:57 pm

    I’m appalled that the ABC can put to press an article with no check or balances that has had tremendous reputable damage to those members, families and the battalion and over all ADF persons.
    I hold all our serving members in the highest regard and am disgusted to hear fake and made up stories tarnishing the good work just to make a head line.

  2. Sian Diddams on October 28, 2021 at 1:47 am

    Disgraceful journalism. Do any of you understand what it does to the families of the fallen when you publish and post such articles? Week after week we are exposed to it. The past couple of years have been extremely difficult for the families of the SF community, particularly my mother. There were some days and weeks where she couldn’t get through a phone conversation with me, without crying and weeping over her dead son and the involvement of these journalists’ lies and accusations. Crying that she now thinks he gave his life for nothing.
    If you haven’t been to war and experienced what these soldiers have had to endure, how can you possibly accurately write about it.
    Just STOP! Enough is enough.

    • Kathleen Watkinson on October 30, 2021 at 8:32 am

      Some serious questions:
      Who was the journalist?
      What verification process did they use?
      Did anyone actually verify that this ‘marine’ was actually a marine and that they were actually there at that time?
      Did the journalist ever at anytime try to speak to any member of the November squadron or their commanders?
      What actual information or evidence has been presented to support these claims?

  3. Robert Major on October 28, 2021 at 7:37 am

    I fully support November Platoons call for an enquiry into the ABC’s story. The Royal Commission should conduct it.

    • Gary Heinemann on October 30, 2021 at 5:33 pm

      I absolutely and unequivocally support this stated demand for apologies from the ABC and it’s named journalists but also, further, that a full judicial inquiry into ABC apppalling journalism in regard to the men an women who put their lives on the line in this crazy dangerous world we live in.

  4. Brian Marfleet on October 28, 2021 at 10:33 am

    Keep it up to them Heston, I do hope that some action and accountability can be levelled at the ABC, given that the unit members cannot have the recourse of legal action due to identification issues.

    • Tony Warton on November 1, 2021 at 12:03 pm

      That’s a critically important point you make about identification, Brian. I haven’t seen it included in any of the media coverage of the alleged events involving SF in Afghanistan. It means SF individuals have an immense difficulty in publicly defending themselves against the many atrocious accusations made against them. There are sound reasons why they have protected identities, and this throws a responsibility on to the ADF and the Government to defend them. As I wrote to the Prime Minister in July 2019 (the letter, asking him to terminate the inquiry then in progress, was delivered to him personally, not via his staff): “These young men have given enough, indeed far more than enough, to deserve the benefit of the doubt for occurrences which, if indeed they ever did happen, did so in situations the rest of us should pray never to find ourselves in. Please, let them be. Do not keep them in a state wherein they guard Australia’s ramparts looking constantly over their shoulders for fear more of their government than their enemies.” Fat lot of good that did! The Government may not be able to do much about the private-sector news media but it owns the ABC and has power under legislation to compel it to report fairly and objectively. Why has it not done so? Now, there’s a question for the ages!

  5. Eugene Thomas on October 28, 2021 at 11:31 am

    I have supported ABC as an independent news source. I swear I will treat it with the same distance I offer Murdoch’s crew and the rest of our totally biased media. If this is not corrected. Shameful Murdoch style journalism. I am totally devastated the faith I had in ABC is crushed. Who can we trust.

  6. Graeme Johnson on October 28, 2021 at 12:06 pm

    How can anyone in a still airborne helicopter hear a “ pop” over the cacophony of sounds from rotor blades and engines?. Even a door gunner can’t hear shots from the ground, he will see the evidence or hits on the hull. To hear the other crew they need intercom head sets . It is time for the ABC to present this so called witness with his full name. Also if there were others in the chopper crew they need to be interviewed.

  7. Nick on October 28, 2021 at 12:22 pm

    Having witnessed small arms ground fire whilst onboard helicopters, I’ve not been able to hear shots, rather was able to observed muzzle flash from barrels.
    This accusation can be tested by putting on a helmet, with ICS engaged, on top of aircraft noise and position the airframe from the observed distance and listen out for a shot to be fired. I doubt you’ll hear a shot, particularly when the observer wasn’t positioned to be able to visually see / witness the perceived shot being discharged.

  8. Terry Kattenberg on October 28, 2021 at 12:58 pm

    I am so over lies and fiction put up by media with no accountability when proven wrong.

  9. Carol Doherty on October 28, 2021 at 1:34 pm

    They have overstepped the mark on numerous occasions! This is outrageous and they need to be stopped and made accountable!
    The ABC should be closed down completely, they are not the voice of Australia, far from it, they are biased and corrupt! Enough is enough!

  10. Me Frater on October 28, 2021 at 2:58 pm

    Yeah strongly believe the ABC have something to answer to. Also, the ABC are no longer representative of the Australian people – it’s a closed club to just one gender – fir them it is about revenge not equality!

  11. David Jamison on October 28, 2021 at 4:11 pm

    The ABC is an organisation lacking the professionalism and ethical standards needed to be an unbiased public broadcaster. It uses public funds to support its employees private comments which gives it enormous advantages in actions against individuals. It’s time to make it true public broadcaster reliant on public subscriptions not government funding.

  12. John on October 28, 2021 at 9:08 pm

    I support November Platoon. I am hugely appalled by the behaviour of these and many other ABC journalists who are absolute leaches on the tax payer. They have no integrity whatsoever and chase the fools gold of sensationalism to reward themselves so they can snicker and squeal with delight in their own not so important ABC dunials. Shame on you custard brain insular out of touch disgraceful oxygen theives.

  13. Greg Wills on October 29, 2021 at 7:12 am

    Well done. The ABC used to defend our troops by showing the truth based on fact. Now it is nothing more than a gutter press outlet using alleged evidence and accusations from an unmanned US Marine (?) and a Afghani farmer who has relatives in the Taliban. The government needs to raise a Federal investigation into this farcical media source and either defund it or start rehiring from the top down. These lowlife journalists wouldn’t have the intestinal fortitude to go into a war zone, let alone wear a uniform, but they’re out to heighten their useless, lying careers by accusing innocents.

  14. Dave rowland on October 29, 2021 at 7:34 am

    I am disgusted in the abc and fully support our forces

  15. Todd on October 29, 2021 at 9:37 am

    All media should be held accountable, especially serious warcrimes, if they have ZERO evidence other then hearsay or a single source then media must be 100% certain if they fail that then they need to be taken to the cleaners. The ADF also need to grow a pair and act only on sufficient and reliable evidence and facts, not current affairs programs. Show some bloody integrity for once, God knows your soldiers deserve it.

  16. John carlaw on October 29, 2021 at 4:15 pm

    When will our Australian Government bring this government financed body to account? When will they protect the honour of our armed forces , men and women and their families, when they are sent into hostile environments away from their homeland. One day, we will be asking them to lay down their lives for us, on home soil, if any are left in our armed services. Pray they are honoured and protected against vile journalism.

  17. Owen O’Flaherty on October 30, 2021 at 8:55 am

    Owen,
    I have watched the ABC slide downwards for years, bias plied upon bias, and as an old Infantryman (emphasis on ‘old’) I am appalled by this unsubstantiated slur on fellow soldiers.

  18. John Geale on October 30, 2021 at 6:53 pm

    ABC have been persecuting so many with public money.

  19. Terence John MALLIGAM on October 31, 2021 at 12:01 pm

    Shame, Shame , Shame ABC I used to respect the ABC over many years this is low, disrespect to our Diggers. i am Ex RAAF 20 Years Thailand, South Vietnam and Malaysia.

  20. Stan Prytz on November 1, 2021 at 8:30 am

    ABC accountable to the government. The head of the Government knifed our special forces in the back on national tv.

    The ABC is a rabid dog. Morrison is it’s incompetent master.

    Morrison, it must be put down, and replaced with a loyal patriotic honest ABC.

    Stan

  21. Shaun kerins on November 1, 2021 at 8:48 am

    I have no words on how disgusted and angry I am, the media in general and abc especially are less trustworthy than a politician at election time and wore, they are not held accountable

    I will never go to the aid of a reporter

  22. Ken Houselander on November 1, 2021 at 9:06 am

    I totally support all our Troops as should every Australian.

  23. edward carrier on November 1, 2021 at 9:54 am

    I am disscusted with the poor journalism & bigoutry by the abc using taxpayers,s funding, demoralising our veterans, we need an urgent investagation & defunding inmy opinion, who in their right mind would volunteer to join the defence force under these conditions? ed.

  24. Bernard Rowley on November 1, 2021 at 10:02 am

    Those who put their lives at extreme risk on behalf of all of us deserve the very highest standard of respect in all regards. They can truly only be judged by those who have faced the trauma and fog of war themselves.

    Deeply hurtful, that those who serve us in the theatre of war are subject to such lightweight rubbish by those who have never faced the guns and bullets of our enemies – enemies which will use any foul method to maim and kill OUR FINEST.

  25. Brian Love on November 1, 2021 at 11:01 am

    I can not understand why the ABC continues to run stories that are untrue and get away with it. I can only deduce that the more sensational the story including financial rewards for the writer the better, the facts are irrelevant. The ADF are being bashed from pillar to post again it’s the Vietnam period all over again remember “baby killers”. As a serviceman I was spat on, I was unable to wear my uniform in public in my own country heaven forbid if I mentioned I was a serviceman. I have nothing but hate for journalists who tell lies, I can not and never will forgive these grubs who think it’s their right to do what they did and are doing again now.

  26. Tez on November 1, 2021 at 11:10 am

    Let this be a lesson to the ADF…Keep Journalists out of war zone contact with our troops, or, journalists be required to be combat trained by the ADF, wear a uniform and carry the required weapon’s for offence and defence. Lets see how many ABS reporters would have the goolies for this?

  27. Garry Merrick on November 1, 2021 at 11:32 am

    The conduct of these three journalists and the ABC in general is disgusting and a commission investigating this and other deplorable acts by the ABC and it’s staff must be conducted. The ADF too is not without blame. I have three sons all of whom have served, two of them on active duty and I have witnessed first hand the way in which returned service personnel are treated by those they served. Hard to put into words the way I feel. All our service personnel deserve better than the garbage aimed at them by cowards that have never seen the business end of any weapon. We have needed these courageous souls and we will again. Get behind them with the support they deserve.

  28. Robert on November 1, 2021 at 12:26 pm

    As a member of the defence force community, I’m appalled be the ABC reporting. I spent 23 yrs in the service , my son is still serving and we have many friends who are SF. It’s done irreplaceable damage to the good name of so many and especially to the families of our fallen. apologies for your behaviour and especially to the mums and dads who’s sons gave all and those still serving. just remember when your arse is on the line who do you think will save you.

  29. Jacques Marcello on November 1, 2021 at 1:27 pm

    Appalling behavior by an Australian tax payers funded broadcaster. When is the Federal Government going to take the ABC to task? A full apology without reservation, and financial compensation to all those affected by the ABC’s appalling conduct.

  30. Max Fitzgibbon on November 1, 2021 at 3:01 pm

    “Not my ABC”.
    It is past time that the Communications Minister grew a pair and sorted out the ABC, once and for all time.

  31. Gert Johnsson APM on November 1, 2021 at 3:13 pm

    At the risk of sounding flippant, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story” seems to be a not unreasonable judgement of that story, it does not appear to an investigative, A first year constable would be kicked out of court with a flea in his ear for producing such a unprofessional case. But I suppose it is only to be expected from from such highly experienced and honest balanced reporters. Well done Aunty,

  32. Sue Willis on November 1, 2021 at 3:23 pm

    Heston. We are appalled at the ABC for once again wrongly reporting so called news concerning our Australian forces, or for that matter,any other topic today.
    They have lost any sense of human decency and should be defunded completely by the Government,i.e.us ,the taxpayers.
    The majority of every day Australians stand firmly behind you and can only say keep up your great work . We thank you sincerely for your contribution to our freedom .

  33. Mike Woosnam on November 1, 2021 at 3:41 pm

    The so called journalists that write this unsupported or evidenced rubbish should be prosecuted. I agree with Bernhard unless you have been out there living on that edge you are not qualified to judge. I saw and served in two of Australia’s post world war conflicts and saw the terrible effects the cowardly anti war brigade had on those of us that were fortunate to return. I certainly will not stand by and allow it to happen to our courageous young men and women serving today. Hang in there Heston you have an army of old Diggers at your back.

  34. Greg Cadman on November 25, 2021 at 11:27 am

    Heston & November Platoon; we stand with you against the lies of this unsupported, abysmal, unprofessional and unconscionable reporting by the ABC journalists. I am frankly disgusted with this story that the ABC journalists have run, which seems to be a clear breach of journalistic standards (demonstrated by their request under the Freedom of Information Act for evidence, but only months & months after the story was run). This seems to be a case of rumor-mongering at it’s worst and sadly evidences how far the ABC will stoop to run a sensationalist story that fits a particular political bias and agenda: an agenda that does not serve Australia or Australians; nor the truth.
    Our Veterans deserve our highest support and our supreme thanks for their service in the highest of ethical standards and courage.

  35. David Potter on November 25, 2021 at 4:19 pm

    As an ex-serviceman and Vietnam veteran I am appalled with the publicly funded ABC’s flippant dis-regard for truthful reporting. Were the US marine ( who won’t provide his name) to have his ‘testimony’ examined in a court hearing, the case would be immediately dismissed. Thank you Heston and all those serving. I salute you.

  36. WAYNE REIMER on November 26, 2021 at 5:05 pm

    Sad indeed to see what has become of the ABC . I’ve spent 70 years listening and watching OUR ABC and recently watched on in hope as the ABC sinks further into the quagmire

    It is now time for a divorce a a result of deplorable reporting as witnessed in the matter of November Platoon serving Australia in an overseas war zone.

    There is still much to like in various aspects of ABC radio and podcasts .

    The journalistic failings in relation to November Platoon is too serious a matter for the ABC to yet again run for cover and protect at enormous taxpayer expense the deplorable pathetic sensationalistic journalists when they are exposed for their shortcomings.
    These journalists have let us down and are currently causing serious personal damage to families yes that’s children, partners and service personnel without so much as even an expressed concern .

    SAD INDEED it is to stand on the sideline of life and watch , hear and read of veterans taking such desperate measures as suicide whilst our ABC causes such pain and anguish SAD INDEED

    Please ABC start A DECENT JOURNEY on the road to recovery and help repair the enormous damage thus created.

    Where is our Chair ? our Board of Directors? Are they in the bunker plotting another escape via costly legal proceedings protecting staff when these very same staff need to be sanctioned preferable by pointing out the exit signs .
    SO VERY SAD INDEED .
    To all current and ex serving members of the Australian Defence Services know this , Greater Australia is behind you and applauds your service.
    To Heston Russell and November Platoon be not afraid the public will stand with you .
    Heston you have taken on the challenge yet again stand proud and tall ,you Sir are a genuine Australian hero.

  37. Denise Smallwood on November 27, 2021 at 4:38 pm

    I agree with all the comments above it is not our ABC it has been hijacked. A story for a stories sake.

  38. Barry McIntosh on November 28, 2021 at 6:21 am

    Apologies are not enough, Willacy and his cohorts should be sacked and compensation paid to all members of the November platoon at that time.

Leave a Comment