Australia — Afghan WikiLeaks no threat

An inves­ti­ga­tion by a Depart­ment of Defence Task Force has found that doc­u­ments leaked by Wik­iLeaks have not had a direct sig­nif­i­cant adverse impact on Australia’s nation­al inter­ests.

On the 25th of July this year, the Wik­iLeaks organ­i­sa­tion released over 76,900 doc­u­ments titled the ‘Afghan War Diary’ which were clas­si­fied mil­i­tary doc­u­ments relat­ing to Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force (ISAF) activ­i­ties in Afghanistan. 

The Task Force con­duct­ed a detailed exam­i­na­tion of the leaked mate­ri­als to iden­ti­fy ref­er­ences to Aus­tralian inter­ests and per­son­nel. These results were com­pared with oper­a­tional report­ing and Defence pub­lic state­ments to deter­mine the poten­tial impact on Aus­tralian inter­ests and per­son­nel, includ­ing the oper­a­tions of forces deployed in Afghanistan. 

The inves­ti­ga­tion found that the leaked mate­ri­als were pre­dom­i­nant­ly tac­ti­cal-lev­el report­ing, the major­i­ty of which was low-lev­el oper­a­tional report­ing of activ­i­ties such as patrols, com­mu­ni­ty engage­ment and rou­tine oper­a­tional activ­i­ties. Some of the doc­u­ments also cov­ered for­eign diplo­mat­ic reporting. 

The Task Force found that sig­nif­i­cant oper­a­tional issues relat­ing to Aus­tralia referred to in the leaked mate­ri­als had already been pub­licly report­ed by Defence and, in most cas­es, report­ed in greater detail than in the leaked materials. 

The review con­clud­ed that no local sources were clear­ly iden­ti­fied and steps have been tak­en to mit­i­gate the risk of this occurring. 

The inves­ti­ga­tion also found that cur­rent Defence process­es for pub­lic report­ing of sig­nif­i­cant oper­a­tional events are appro­pri­ate. It also found that Defence achieves high lev­els of trans­paren­cy while pro­tect­ing infor­ma­tion that could put the lives of Aus­tralian Defence Force per­son­nel, our ISAF and Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Force part­ners, and Afghan civil­ians at risk. 

Ear­li­er this month, Wik­iLeaks released anoth­er 400,000 doc­u­ments titled the ‘Iraq War Logs’ and the Task Force is again exam­in­ing the con­tents. The inves­ti­ga­tion will take some time, giv­en the vol­ume and com­plex­i­ty of the mate­r­i­al. The find­ings of this inves­ti­ga­tion will also be released in due course. 

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Australia 

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