The Weekly Standard
has published a leaked memo on the ties between Saddam and al Qaeda. It has been linked by Instapundit and many others in the blogging community and is extensively referred to on the Fox News site. It provides strong evidence of a longstanding well established relationship between nonsecular Iraq and secular al Qaeda that the anti-war pundits said could not exist. It's news.
The very first quote from the memo tells us what captive operatives have told our government.
The memo also tells us what our intelligence and military services knew from specific confidential sources. The sources are not explicitly identified in the Weekly Standard
article (and probably not in the memo itself), but there are dozens of clues that can be used to identify who on the other side has been talking to us.
The memo is news, alright. It's news that should never have been published. What the Weekly Standard
tells us is also available to any al Qaeda or Baathist with a computer and a modem. Don't bother telling me they don't use the internet.
The leak was obviously an attempt to put to rest the claim that there was no relationship between Saddam and al Qaeda, and that administration claims to the contrary were either wrong or exaggerated. But the damage done by the disclosures in the memo is simply not worth winning a political argument over whether Bush was correct when he asserted that Saddam and al Qaeda were cooperating.
If Bush has to take a political hit because he can't disclose the memo, them's the breaks. This is not a memo by a staffer or a Senator on the Intelligence Committee detailing political plans. Leaking that memo won't result in anyone's death. This is a memo that provide militarily useful information to people who will use that very information to kill our people. And no one, not the leaker, not Stephen Hayes, the author of the article, and not one of the bloggers who linked to the article, apparently gave that aspect of the matter sufficient thought.
I acknowledge that the bloggers and news services who referred to, linked to or otherwise reported on the article could not undo the damage done by the Weekly Standard, but I still think they were wrong. They could not unring the bell, but they sure as hell didn't have to ring it again, louder.