The former UK penal colony Australia is in shock after a hack working his way through the Wikileaks war papers, looking for an Aussie angle, found proof that the Ministry of Defence appears to have been telling lies.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the classified US Defense Department documents leaked to the WikiLeaks website suggest the Australian Defence Force covered up the killing of an Afghan copper by Australian troops.
Apparently there is a log entry about the killing of an Afghan man by an Australian mentoring and reconstruction taskforce (MRTF) patrol in the southern province of Oruzgan in December 2008.
The initial report says a suspected suicide bomber approached the patrol and was shot dead. Later that day the report was amended later in the day to show the man was a policeman.
He was not carrying explosives of any kind. Five months later the Chief of the Defence Force, Angus Houston, said in a statement that the man had a ”suspicious wire leading across his body”, and he was ordered twice through an interpreter to stop.
But Air Chief Marshal Houston seemed to have forgotten to mention that the man was a policeman and that he was not carrying explosives.
It turns out that the MRTF patrol had been a bit on edge as the day before an improvised bomb had exploded in the vicinity of the patrol. When the military reviewed the case they decided that the patrol had acted appropriately, in accordance with the threat and within their rules of engagement.
When the Herald asked this week what the outcome of the inquiry had been, Defence department spokespeople had said that Air Chief Marshal Houston summed it up brilliantly.
Defence reps said that Air Chief Marshal Houston was not aware the dead man was a police officer when he made his statement because someone further down the chain of command did not reveal that information.
So really he was not the best person to release the outcome of an inquiry.
* EyeSee: A flag shown upside down is an international symbol of distress. In this case it might even be the right way up for the citizens of Australia.