Media outlets have jumped on an answer Republican presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann gave in last night’s Republican debates as a possible leak of classified information.
Bachmann was asked if she agreed with Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s pledge not to send aid to Pakistan if elected. Her answer, some have said, seems to be classified information:
Raw Story quotes Bachmann on the answer in question:
“We have to recognize that 15 of the sites, nuclear sites, are available or are potentially penetrable by jihadist,” Bachmann explained. “Six attempts have already been made on nuclear sites. This is more than an existential threat.”
Media wondered aloud if this was a slip up and Bachmann had just exposed on national television privileged information she had access to because of her role on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
But it isn’t classified documents she’s reading (though we hope she is reading those too), it’s The Atlantic, who printed an extensive cover story on Pakistan in their December 2011 issue. At Yahoo!’s The Envoy, Laura Rozen has the goods:
Bachmann’s contention that Islamist jihadists have made six attempts to seize Pakistani nuclear sites “is not information that’s ever been made public!” Gawker wrote, linking to a debate post by National Journal’s Yochi Dreazen. “Which raises the question: did Bachmann just leak classified information to a national audience?”
Well, apparently the answer is no.
The information came not from a classified intelligence briefing but, rather, from a recent article by Jeffrey Goldberg and Marc Ambinder in the Atlantic Monthly–a sister site of the National Journal–according to the Huffington Post.
As Goldberg and Ambinder reported in their Pakistan dispatch:
“At least six facilities widely believed to be associated with Pakistan’s nuclear program have already been targeted by militants. […] 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.”