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Historical documents

363 Makin to Chifley

Cablegram 38, WASHINGTON, 3 July 1948, 12.15 p.m.


I advised you in personal cable about a year ago[1] that we had been briefed by the State Department as to Australia's position re receipt of information by Australian Services from U.S. Services. This was to the effect that the U.S. Services were authorised to release up to and including Secret Information to Australian Services and in specific cases Top Secret Information but Australian Services were not allowed to collaborate with U.K. on U.S. classified information.

2. U.S. information was provided on this basis until a few days ago, and valuable material thus secured, with substantial dollar savings, although the ban on discussion with U.K. caused inconvenience and difficulties. The Australian Service personnel here backed by U.K. Services have been endeavouring to broaden this with particular reference to guided missiles and have been anxious to get authority for collaboration between U.K. and Australia. Trends were promising in this regard. The importance in the spheres of Intelligence, Guided Missiles and other developments which may be transferred to Australia and on which U.K. and Australian Governments have made certain joint decisions and commitments cannot be overemphasized.

3. Now, suddenly, and without any reason given, the Services here have been officially informed on their level that except with approval of State Department in each case Australia cannot be given any classified information. In effect this will probably mean that all classified information will be denied and we have apparently been placed on a basis little better than the U.S.S.R. U.S. Services state that the new situation is U.S. national policy and not due to any reflection on Australia Service security whatsoever. It must be assumed from evidence available that the cause is outside any Service control.

4. Present conditions may seriously hinder development of Australian Guided Missile Range by non-receipt of U.S. technical information by Australia as existing U.S. ban prevents release of classified information of U.S. origin either direct to Australia or via U.K. Similar ban may be put on supply of non-technical intelligence information to Australia. Services have been advised that the change is 'temporary' but in U.S. 'temporary' arrangements frequently extend over an indefinite period.

5. Our Senior Service Officers here feel sure that this vital subject of exchange of information has been placed on a governmental level between U.K. and U.S. In view of our British Commonwealth standing and the present commitments entered into between U.K. and Australia I consider imperative that you be informed of the position which has suddenly developed so that you can take any action which you consider necessary while you are in London.[2] I am certain that our Service Officers in Washington have done all they can with Senior U.S. and U.K. Officers here but that the matter has now gone beyond their immediate control. They are informing their Chiefs of Staff in Australia and Major General Boase in London of the position. I feel that it would be most helpful if you could discuss situation at a high level in London. I propose at the same time if you agree to approach State Department with Service representatives to seek confirmation that the new policy has the full support of the U.S. Government. If policy is confirmed I would request official explanation. Glad your urgent authority proceed on these lines. Glad also any information you may obtain in London.

[1] Volume 12, Document 219. Also see Document 220.

[2] Chifley was in London for financial talks.

[AA : A3300, 750]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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