Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann may be guilty of reading The Atlantic but she probably didn’t leak classified information during Tuesday’s GOP debate as some media organizations speculated.
The Minnesota congresswoman, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, provided a very detailed assessment of Pakistan’s nuclear vulnerabilities when she was asked about the wisdom of continuing aid to that country.
“We have to recognize that 15 of the nuclear sites are available, or are potentially penetrable by jihadists,” she told moderator Wolf Blitzer of CNN. “Six attempts have already been made on nuclear sites. This is more than an existential threat. We have to take this very seriously,”
By virtue of the fact that Bachmann sits on the House Intelligence Committee, the National Journal and other media organizations speculated openly on Wednesday that the candidate might have experienced a slip of the tongue.
An article in the December issue of The Atlantic, however, contains similar information to that cited by Bachmann:
“At least six facilities widely believed to be associated with Pakistan’s nuclear program have already been targeted by militants,” the article explains.
“In November 2007, a suicide bomber attacked a bus carrying workers to the Sargodha air base, which is believed to house nuclear weapons; the following month, a school bus was attacked outside Kamra air base, which may also serve as a nuclear storage site; in August 2008, Pakistani Taliban suicide bombers attacked what experts believe to be the country’s main nuclear-weapons-assembly depot in Wah cantonment.”
While Pakistan may be very secretive about the locations of its nuclear facilities, the article goes on to say that “satellite imagery and other sources suggest that there are at least 15 sites across Pakistan at which jihadists could find warheads or other nuclear materials.”
Citing Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre, CNN also confirmed that six incidents had occurred at sites considered to be known or likely nuclear installations in Pakistan.
Even so, CNN labeled Bachmann’s assertions “misleading” based on the fact that the incidents did not appear to be attempts to seize Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.
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