Did The Atlantic Magazine Leak Classified Information?!

 

In his debate recap a few posts down, Troy Senik writes that Michele Bahmann had a strong showing and that her “intelligence committee bona fides shone through as she explained both the complexities and the consequences of the situation in Central Asia.”  Ruffling everyone’s feathers this morning is the question of whether Michele Bachmann went overboard in demonstrating her knowledge of Central Asia by unwittingly leaking classified information. 

During the CNN debate, Bachmann said that 15 Pakistani nuclear sites were vulnerable to jihadist attacks, and that six of the sites had previously come under some form of Islamist attack.  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.

National Journal’s Yochi Dreazen concluded that the information Rep. Bachmann shared about Pakistani nuclear sites represents either a leak of previously classified information, or merely “another in her her recent series of seemingly-random, and highly inaccurate, public comments.”  Following suit, Gawker and its commenters jumped aboard the “she’s either incompetent, or she’s dishonest” train.

Unfortunately for everyone looking for a sideshow distraction on this day before Thanksgiving (today’s a slow news day, folks!), Rep. Bachmann appeared on Fox News this morning and explained that she got her facts concerning Pakistan’s nuclear sites from an Atlantic Magazine article! Sure enough, the Atlantic piece mirrors what Bachmann said on stage.

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.

The upshot: Michele Bachmann in this case proved neither to be incompetent nor dishonest.  But now we know she reads The Atlantic. Hold it against her if you must.

There are 15 comments.

  1. Paul A. Rahe Contributor

    What a hoot! So much for the competence of the liberal journalists.

    • #1
    • November 23, 2011, at 11:49 AM PDT
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  2. Casey Way Member
    Diane Ellis, Ed. But now we know she reads The Atlantic. Hold it against her if you must. ·

    Honestly, this makes me like her a heckuva lot more, especially the accuracy to which she cited facts from the article. I think it is very easy to fall into the trap of reading the publications and websites which mirror only your opinions. And it is much easier to hold opinions and ideas if you have never bothered to test them. One of the easiest ways to test them is to read a piece you do not agree with and critically examine why you do not agree. Have the argument with yourself. Understanding the position, rhetoric, and logic of the other side helps strengthen your positions to the contrary. Isn’t that the very reason why we celebrate Epstein on The News Hour, Schiff at OWS, or anything Breitbart does? They take our position to a place where it can be argued and they do so magnificently. Reading publications like The Atlantic, NYT, Mother Jones, etc can help us do the same thing in a less confrontational but no less intelligent or substantive way.

    • #2
    • November 23, 2011, at 11:59 AM PDT
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  3. Mark Wilson Member

    There is a paradox here. I assume she has a security clearance since he’s on the intelligence committee. If she doesn’t have a clearance, she is free to repeat this information. If she does have a clearance, and she reads classified information in the public press, she is obligated not to repeat it, and not to confirm or deny whether it is classified. “I read it in the Atlantic” is no excuse.

    So depending on the actual nature of the information, she “may or may not” be doing something wrong.

    • #3
    • November 24, 2011, at 1:05 AM PDT
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  4. Diane Ellis Contributor
    Diane Ellis Post author
    Charles Gordon:

    “BACHMANN: My name is Michele Bachmann. I’m a proud member of the United States Congress. I’m privileged to serve on the House Select Committee on Intelligence… [Pakistan] This is more than an existential threat. We have to take this very seriously.” · Nov 23 at 11:35am

    Ok, so there was that little embarrassing moment.

    • #4
    • November 24, 2011, at 1:05 AM PDT
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  5. Bereket Kelile Member

    I remember thinking that it seemed she was trying to be careful about what she said at a couple of points during the debate because of classified information she might have learned on the committee.

    • #5
    • November 24, 2011, at 1:15 AM PDT
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  6. Instugator Thatcher

    “more than an existential threat” Now what could that possibly be? I only know of 1 and it is theoretical.

    • #6
    • November 24, 2011, at 3:16 AM PDT
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  7. James Of England Moderator
    Diane Ellis, Ed.

    Charles Gordon:

    “BACHMANN: My name is Michele Bachmann. I’m a proud member of the United States Congress. I’m privileged to serve on the House Select Committee on Intelligence… [Pakistan] This is more than an existential threat. We have to take this very seriously.” · Nov 23 at 11:35am

    Ok, so there was that little embarrassing moment. · Nov 23 at 12:05pm

    This is like “more unique”. If I have four things rated 1,1,1, and 2, the 2 is unique. If I have 1,1,1,9, the 9 is unique. The quality that makes it unique is more intense than in the earlier case. Although both are entirely unique, the term “more unique” is useful and clear.

    If we use “existential threat” as a term of art, describing all sorts of things that are not really existential threats, as many people in the intelligence community boringly do, the threat of multiple nukes going off in American cities really does rise above the level of “existential threat” as it is actually, literally, existential, rather than merely rhetorical. The United States would cease to be easily recognizable to many.

    • #7
    • November 24, 2011, at 3:27 AM PDT
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  8. R. Craigen Inactive

    I’ll bet Katie Couric doesn’t read The Atlantic Monthly

    • #8
    • November 24, 2011, at 4:48 AM PDT
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  9. Dave Carter Contributor

    So is The Atlantic “incompetent or dishonest”? We report, you decide.

    • #9
    • November 24, 2011, at 5:57 AM PDT
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  10. Instugator Thatcher
    James Of England

    …If I have four things rated 1,1,1, and 2, the 2 is unique. If I have 1,1,1,9, the 9 is unique. The quality that makes it unique is more intense than in the earlier case. Although both are entirely unique, the term “more unique” is useful and clear.

    …the threat of multiple nukes going off in American cities really does rise above the level of “existential threat” as it is actually, literally, existential, rather than merely rhetorical. The United States would cease to be easily recognizable to many. · Nov 23 at 2:27pm

    Depends on if you are ranking via Nominal or Ordinal methods. In the first case, it is merely a label and 2 is just as unique as 9. In the second case, 2 is still as unique as 9, but in the ordinal scheme 9 is also more important, not more unique.

    “Multiple” nukes aren’t an existential threat. Japan (smaller country, more tightly coupled cities) lost more than ‘multiple’ (two to nuke, many to good old fashioned firebombing) and still survived as a recognizable polity. Same with various countries in Europe… Existential is a bit more than that.

    • #10
    • November 24, 2011, at 8:21 AM PDT
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  11. Instugator Thatcher
    Charles Gordon: Senate

    “ADM. MULLEN:… for me there’s only two existential threats to our country right now. One are [sic] the nuclear weapons that Russia has, and I think we have that very well controlled inside New START. And the other is cyber…”

    I would agree that Russian nukes are an existential threat – there are many more than ‘multiples’ of them.

    Cyber is a bogeyman and I think Mullen overstates the capability.

    Say, did anyone see the new Russian ‘reset’? They are threatening to target our Ballistic Missile Defenses in Eastern Europe with their nukes and threatening to withdraw from New START as well.

    Please, Brer Fox, oh please don’t throw me into that briar patch…

    • #11
    • November 24, 2011, at 8:29 AM PDT
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  12. EJHill Podcaster

    I will now hold my breath until Gawker retracts…

    Blue.jpg

    • #12
    • November 24, 2011, at 12:01 PM PDT
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  13. Punumba! Member

    I can remember when the Atlantic wrote some very intelligent in depth quality articles… There was a time…

    • #13
    • November 24, 2011, at 12:21 PM PDT
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  14. Charles Gordon Inactive

    Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on Iraq and Afghanistan: As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen , Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. Thursday, September 22, 2011:

    “ADM. MULLEN:… for me there’s only two existential threats to our country right now. One are [sic] the nuclear weapons that Russia has, and I think we have that very well controlled inside New START. And the other is cyber…”

    No sir, there’s worse:

    gifted.jpg“BACHMANN: My name is Michele Bachmann. I’m a proud member of the United States Congress. I’m privileged to serve on the House Select Committee on Intelligence… [Pakistan] This is more than an existential threat. We have to take this very seriously.”

    • #14
    • November 24, 2011, at 12:35 PM PDT
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