Australia — Outcomes of WikiLeaks investigation

A Depart­ment of Defence Task Force has com­plet­ed its inves­ti­ga­tion into the unau­tho­rised release of clas­si­fied mil­i­tary doc­u­ments relat­ing to Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force (ISAF) activ­i­ties in Afghanistan by the organ­i­sa­tion ‘Wik­iLeaks’ on 25 July 2010.

The Task Force con­duct­ed a detailed exam­i­na­tion of the leaked mate­ri­als to iden­ti­fy ref­er­ences to Aus­tralian inter­ests and Aus­tralian per­son­nel. These results were com­pared with oper­a­tional report­ing and Defence pub­lic state­ments to deter­mine the poten­tial impact on Aus­tralian inter­ests and per­son­nel, includ­ing the pro­tec­tion and 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 Aus­tralian Government’s con­cern, in call­ing for a review of the mate­ri­als, was to ensure that as a result of the leak­ing of the mate­ri­als, steps were tak­en by Defence to mit­i­gate any risks to Aus­tralians, our part­ners, those with whom we work includ­ing in the local com­mu­ni­ty, and our ongo­ing oper­a­tions.

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.

Many clas­si­fied oper­a­tional reports pub­lished by Wik­iLeaks would not rou­tine­ly be made pub­lic by Defence, for oper­a­tional secu­ri­ty rea­sons. The inves­ti­ga­tion found that the leaked doc­u­ments have not had a direct sig­nif­i­cant adverse impact on Australia’s nation­al inter­ests. Oper­a­tional areas of Defence have con­firmed that nec­es­sary mea­sures have been tak­en to mit­i­gate against risks to oper­a­tional secu­ri­ty.

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, and 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.

The Task Force is now exam­in­ing the recent pub­li­ca­tion by Wik­iLeaks of around 400,000 doc­u­ments relat­ing to the war in Iraq. 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.

Media con­tact: Defence Media Liai­son: 02 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664

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

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