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.
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,