When the Australian government wanted to sell off some of its miscellaneous office stuff for cheap, officials came across two filing cabinets that had locks with no keys. Apparently some bureaucrat deep in the Aussie government assessed the situation and declared, "Eh, just sell them as-is. I mean how important could anything in there be, really?"
Very important, turns out. Dumbfoundingly important.
A special report from Australia's ABC news outlet details how the filing cabinets, purchased in a Canberra second-hand store, turned out to contain what the news outlet described as "thousands of pages [that] reveal the inner workings of five separate governments and span nearly a decade."
"Nearly all the files are classified, some as 'top secret' or 'AUSTEO,' which means they are to be seen by Australian eyes only," ABC's report says.
ABC won't say who purchased the filing cabinets or who passed the material on to them, but said they were publishing reports based on the material and some of the documents themselves because they "reveal how key decisions have been made" and "expose repeated security breaches of Australia's most sensitive and classified documents and a seemingly casual attitude of some of those charged with keeping the documents safe" -- and that's a reference to other sensitive documents that have apparently been misplaced over the years.
ABC reported that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) "lost nearly 400 national security files in five years, according to a secret government stocktake contained in The Cabinet Files." Nearly 200 other "top-secret code word protected and sensitive documents" were left in a senior government official's office unattended. The documents included "Middle East defence plans, national security briefs, Afghan war updates, intelligence on Australia's neighbours and details of counter-terrorism operations," ABC reported.
So far, ABC has published nine reports based on the trove, many dealing with the inner-workings of Australian politics in addition to the missing sensitive documents.
In a world of sophisticated digital espionage, it's almost quaint for a government to show such analog idiocy.
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