Home | Australia | Graham Edwards tells critics to ‘put up or shut up’ on SAS war crimes claims

Graham Edwards tells critics to ‘put up or shut up’ on SAS war crimes claims

Former Federal MP and Vietnam veteran Graham Edwards says politicians and senior military officers should “put up or shut up” about claims of criminal acts and unlawful killings by Australian special forces in Afghanistan.

The warning came as WA Liberal senator Dean Smith complained of the impact the long-running investigations were having on military families caught up in the probe.

The Defence Department has commissioned a series of inquiries into Australia’s secretive special forces— including the commandos and Perth-based Special Air Service Regiment.

In a letter to the editor in today’s The West Australian, Mr Edwards, a former head of the WA Returned and Services League, said the SAS was under scrutiny by academics and bureaucrats with no understanding of the stresses of modern war or special operations.

“In recent decades, the men of the SASR have repeatedly been thrust into the sharp end of overseas deployment,” Mr Edwards said.

“They and their families have carried the stresses of modern warfare with little positive publicity acknowledging them or their efforts on behalf of our nation.”

He said if there were “cowboys” in the system they should be charged. “How many ongoing inquiries does it take to identify and deal with a minority of offenders,” he said. Senator Smith called for the inquiries to be expedited.

“As a descendant of both an SAS serviceman and Vietnam veteran, we should keep top of mind how these issues impact on families and always uphold the principle of natural justice being afforded,” he said.

RSL WA chief executive John McCourt said the SAS were called upon to make split-second decisions under stressful situations and it was not right that they be second-guessed by “bureaucrats” in Australia.

“Families will be under pressure for years before we find out if anything went wrong,” he said. “If there are allegations of substance then make them.”

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