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Australian PM launches investigation into missing Iraq War documents

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Canberra: Australia’s Prime Minister (PM) has launched an inquiry into missing documents relating to the former government’s decision to join the Iraq War.

Anthony Albanese said, in his first press conference of 2024 on Wednesday, that Australians have a right to know why the country joined the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and ordered an investigation into why some records relating to the decision were kept secret.

Each year on Jan. 1 the National Archives of Australia (NAA) unseals classified documents from the innermost sanctum of the government – the cabinet – from 20 years earlier.

However, the latest release on Monday omitted 78 documents relating to deliberations by the cabinet’s National Security Committee (NSC) on whether to join the conflict in Iraq.

Albanese said on Wednesday that the documents were not handed to the NAA when the then-government was required to do so in 2020 but were found in the final days of 2023 and will be released after being vetted for ongoing national security concerns.

He attributed the missing documents to administrative oversight but announced that former senior public servant Dennis Richardson would conduct an inquiry into whether they were intentionally covered up.

The Labor Party, which Albanese now leads, in 2003 strongly opposed the government’s decision to commit Australia to the war, with then-party leader Simon Crean describing the invasion as illegal and unjust.

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