11/23/2011 09:22 am ET | Updated Nov 23, 2011

Michele Bachmann Pakistan Comments Not A Leak Of Classified Intel [UPDATED]


Looks like Bachmann was simply an astute reader of The Atlantic, which reported on the figures in a recent article by Jeffrey Goldberg and Marc Ambinder.

Like many statements made by Pakistan’s current leaders, this one contained large elements of deceit. At least six facilities widely believed to be associated with Pakistan’s nuclear program have already been targeted by militants. 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. If jihadists are looking to raid a nuclear facility, they have a wide selection of targets: Pakistan is very secretive about the locations of its nuclear facilities, but 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.

She even borrowed "too nuclear to fail," a description that Stephen P. Cohen, the Pakistan analyst at Brookings, gave the magazine.


In discussing Pakistan during Tuesday night's GOP presidential debate on foreign policy, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, employed some information that was either false, or that had not yet been released to the public, National Journal reports.

It began with Bachmann and Texas Governor Rick Perry locking horns over foreign aid to Pakistan on the Washington D.C. stage. Perry claimed that the United States should stop subsidizing a country that he said had proven it didn't have our best interests in mind. Bachmann countered, claiming that Pakistan had already weathered attempts by extremists to take control of the nation's nuclear facilities, and that cutting off aid could leave it even more vulnerable. Perry was "naive" and Pakistan was simply "too nuclear to fail," she concluded.

But as Bachmann knows herself, the devil is in the details, which according to her are specifically that Pakistan controls a total of 15 nuclear sites that have been targeted six separate times.

Yochi J. Dreazen at National Journal:

U.S. intelligence and military officials believe that Pakistan has 15 nuclear sites, but no U.S. official has publicly said that all of the sites were vulnerable to militant attack or confirmed that any of them had previously come under any form of jihadist attack.

Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean that Bachmann's intel is accurate, but if it is, she was reportedly the first one to inform the public, perhaps constituting a leak of classified information on broadcast television.

Top video via Mediaite.