The latest US media—and I contend government-sponsored-- blitz is to find disgust with Australia's blame of the US State Department for sloppy handling. An understanding of how classified material is ORDAINED to be handled in the US will reveal Australia correct—but ironically, because of same policy to not reveal weakness, no real security officer will admit same. Let me explain.
All people who handle highly sensitive material are given briefings for handling same—usually by a security officer. Mine was no different having been given by the head of a major US military-base security office. Now this was during the cold war when America's secrets were to be very well guarded—so I can assure you, the principles have not changed. During this briefing, I was given the usual speeches and then led past all the guards to several rooms and in some cases vaults [for super classified material] where I would be working. In those rooms were tons of regular plain-jane file cabinets with simple ¾ inch steel bar and government-approved padlocks on them with signs marked open and closed. Also on the table were big black tarpaulin cloths covering the desk top's "working papers" —some padlocked to the table on the corners.
The security officer started with the briefing speech about the padlock I was given for my cabinet:
"You get to pick the combination. Do not use your birthday or some combination of your SSN. Don't be like the idiotic Phd scientist's we have here and use some combination of 12-25 or 07-04 for your combination because they are so smart they are forgetful."
I found this immensely funny and started to laugh but then I asked this officer:
"Excuse me for laughing but while on the subject of humorous, I find it funny how ANYONE could think those padlocks and single steel bar sufficient to prevent ANYONE from gaining access to that information. It would be a piece of cake to defeat that bar or cut that lock. I know you have several guards posted that people have to get through, but anyone inside could technically gain access to the other guy's classified information and thus destroy the 'need to know' purpose. Why it could be the janitor even!"
Now this fellow was up in age and had worked security for a very long time. He looked me straight in the eye and said:
"It's designed that way. You appear a smart guy but you don't know the reason why, so I'll let you in on the secret very few people know. All our security is designed to reveal when it has been breached or tampered with. Think about it: It's almost as important to know when information has been compromised, as to keep it secret."
Security principles are the same all over the world and the TRUE security officer's "in the know" realize what this fellow revealed to me: It's very important to know when your material has been compromised—nearly as
important as the material itself.
Now consider the State Department's stupidity! Consider:
(1) Not only did they allow someone with "no need to know" access to this information but
(2) without Wikileak's they would have never known it was STOLEN AND
(3) would have never known of the vulnerability!
Three strikes, you're out!
It's LITTLE wonder the state department has been quick to distract people with the "blame elsewhere game" isn't it?