4897337The government mistakenly published a detailed list of the nation's civilian nuclear sites online, sparking an flurry of debate on how dangerous the breach really was before it was reported and called into question by the New York Times, and subsequently yanked.
The 266-page report was marked "highly confidential," and listed the many sites across the country which comprise the civilian nuclear power network — and some weapons testing locations — but not, according to the Times, any sensitive information on military programs or the security systems in place to protect the nuclear sites.
Some nuclear experts commented online that the breach didn't represent any significant threat to security, as most of the information detailed was already available, and none of it was classified.
However, nuclear proliferation expert David Albright told the newspaper the published list could have offered "thieves or terrorists inside information that can help them seize the material, which is why that kind of data is not given out."
John M. Deutch, a former central intelligence director and deputy secretary of defense who now teaches at MIT, seemed less worried in his remarks to The Times, saying "screw-ups" like this happen from time to time.
"It's going further than I would have gone but doesn't look like a serious breach," he told the paper.
The report was complied on the orders of the Obama administration and was to be handed over to the United Nations' nuclear watchdog later this year — part of an effort by Washington to share more information on atomic energy with the world in hopes that other countries, including Iran, might do the same.
A spokesman for the Government Printing Office, which posted the report on its Web site, told The Times it "produced" the document "under normal operating procedures," but then removed it pending a review.
The blunder, which is now being investigated by multiple parties in Washington, was a bit more generous with government information than President Obama likely had in mind.