Errors happen and we as heavily flawed humans accept that grim truth. However, it is important that when errors happen which could have an effect on us all, then stumbles of that magnitude should certainly be something that gets plenty of press attention. Sadly, concerning a massive blunder in Austrailia, that is not the case.
Somehow pushed back to page Z of the proverbial “Daily Bugle” and relegated to merely “Odd” by Yahoo News, is it confirmed that the “Australian government on Wednesday launched an urgent investigation into the loss of thousands of classified documents that were sold with two second-hand filing cabinets.” Considering that they are a U.S. ally and that it contains more than a decade’s worth of data, this is no small matter.
Claims are that “a Canberra furniture shop” did not know what they had and that they were selling the cabinets at a discount since no one had the keys to open them! The buyer, whose name is not released, had to use a drill to get the devices opened.
When this was accomplished, the driller “found thousands of Cabinet documents spanning more than a decade and four prime ministers,” including Tony Abbot. Abbot was the leader there until Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull replaced him in 2015.
Ex-government furniture is often traded in such outlets, a fact which leads many to wonder if this has happened before or if other troves of delicate data are sitting waiting for the drill bit.
The Australian government (ABC) has confessed that nearly all of the government documents were classified. As a matter of fact, the classifications exposed consisted of “top secret,” “sensitive,” ”Australian eyes only,” and “cabinet-in-confidence.” When one thinks about all the things which have happened on the world stage in the last ten years and what kind of data on everything from the U.S. military to God only know what is surely there, this is terrible news.
“I think they’ve come across someone’s bottom draw in Canberra,” said Trumbull, mocking the past leadership of Abbot for making allowing the mishap to happen. Though ABC has declined to say when the items were found, this accusation seems to stand uncontested.
Some of the documents found cannot even be addressed due to national security concerns, so this is an error on par with the negligence seen by Hillary Clinton in the U.S. regarding her mishandling of classified material. This need to not even talk about what was seen due to how sensitive it was something that America saw her deeds were exposed.
We do know that the documents cover “Australia’s intelligence priorities and counterterrorism planning.” Also addressed in the papers were “missile upgrades, profiles of suspected militants, and Australia’s desire in 2010 for more” help from Indonesia in stopping hordes of asylum seekers from landing on their shores.
Furthermore, a document detailing an audit which exposed “that the Australian Federal Police had lost almost 400 national security files over five years ending 2013.” This is an irony that is lost on no one, though perhaps now they know why, and may scour some second-hand shops in response.
Also, the former Austrailian finance minister “left 195 top-secret papers in her old office” when she lost the vote in 2013, so that did not help any, either. Other misplaced items included information about “Middle East defense plans, national security briefs, Afghan war updates, intelligence on Australia’s neighbors and details of counterterrorism operations.”
Cabinets are usually kept for only 20 years before they are, though the reason for this waste is not known. “This is not catastrophically damaging for national security in the sense that that something like the Snowden revelations must have been,” opined Rory Medcalf, head of the Australian National University’s National Security College. He does call the whole affair “very weird and embarrassing,” however.
To say the least, anyone who has been exposed or compromised in ANY way in the U.S. or elsewhere is not going to agree with the mild speech of Medcalf.
Then again, maybe if they admit just how bad it was, it will only make it worse.