Who’s watching ‘the kids?’


Pakistan is crumbling, or so it seems. The Taliban set off two suicide attacks on a weapons factory in the country. And Pervez Musharraf, viewed in Washington as a pal, has been forced from power.

Most of the articles in the paper this morning seem to be focusing on the effect of a every-man-for-himself Pakistan in the terror war. But isn’t there another important question that few people seem to be asking?

Who’s got the nukes?

The country reportedly has 24-48 nuclear warheads. A 2001 report from the Defense Department contained this chilling summary: “no one has been able to ascertain the validity of Pakistan’s assurances about their nuclear weapons security.”

Judging by the news coverage, there aren’t a lot of people on this side of the Atlantic who seem terribly concerned. “Experts say a 10-member committee makes decisions on how to use them and only a complete meltdown in governance – still a distant prospect in Pakistan – could put the atomic bomb in the hands of extremists,” the Associated Press reported last week.

Last fall, the New York Times reported that the U.S. is intimately involved in guarding Pakistan’s nukes. But it’s a “highly classified” program and who knows what a collapsed government’s effect on the program is?

A more recent story in the Times — last week — indicated U.S. officials have been unable to scrutinize security procedures in Pakistan.

Perhaps the greatest concern is what one senior Bush administration official recently termed “steadfast efforts” by the extremist groups to infiltrate Pakistan’s nuclear laboratories, the heart of a vast infrastructure that employs tens of thousands of people. Some of the efforts, officials said, are believed to have involved Pakistani scientists trained abroad.

With a Russian general suggesting a nuclear response to the U.S. – Poland deal on missiles, and a member of the nuclear club under assault by the surrogates for Osama bin Laden, shouldn’t this subject have a higher profile in the presidential race than who the vice presidential picks are going to be?

Photo: Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images

  • brian

    This still is not a reason to prop up a dictator, but it is scary.

  • Only if Britney Spears where to fall drunk out of a cab in Pakistan would most people be able to find it on a map or care about them.

  • noen

    shouldn’t this subject have a higher profile

    Yeah, you would think so. When did you plan on doing that? Oh, wait..

  • Bob Collins

    Maybe if I just said I was going to send this out as a text message the populace and the frenzied media would actually discuss it?

  • I wish I could blame it on The Media, simply to have a convenient, easily labeled scapegoat… unfortunately, I can’t seem to shake that vow not to lie.

    There is not enough attention paid by the Big Media to the serious facets of life. As much as I sing the praises of MPR (& NPR), they aren’t Big. And, why do the Big Boys pander to the I Love Brittany/Paris/Brangelina…? Because it sells. Of course, Media isn’t trying to sell it directly to the consumer. They’re selling it to advertisers. And, contrary to what one might intuit, Advertisers are not trying to guess what customers want, they are trying to create customer desires.

    So, I guess my easily identified Evil Dictator preventing Big Media from True Journalistic Freedom are the ad agencies.

    Image what you at MPR could do, if you didn’t need to worry obsessively about whether or not I’m giving you money at the next fundraiser? I’m sure you lie awake at night dreaming of adequate funding. (don’t we all?!)

    Although, Bob, I’m pretty sure if you could manage to text message 15 million people about loose nukes in the Middle East, it could make the headlines.