A memo detailing the working relationship between al-Qaeda and Iraq and addressed to the Senate Intelligence Committee was recently leaked to the The Weekly Standard.

The memo, dated October 27, 2003, was sent from Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith to Senators Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller, the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It was written in response to a request from the committee as part of its investigation into prewar intelligence claims made by the administration. Intelligence reporting included in the 16-page memo comes from a variety of domestic and foreign agencies, including the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency. Much of the evidence is detailed, conclusive, and corroborated by multiple sources. Some of it is new information obtained in custodial interviews with high-level al Qaeda terrorists and Iraqi officials, and some of it is more than a decade old. The picture that emerges is one of a history of collaboration between two of America’s most determined and dangerous enemies.

Naturally, the memo’s contents are interesting, but what concerns me is that this memo was leaked at all, and that it surfaced so quickly after it was sent (October 27, 2003). Doug Feith, the memo’s author, appears to already be on thin ice… Oh, and it turns out that, though interesting, the memo’s contents are also “inaccurate” (according to a DOD statement). This seems to be an excellent example of “stovepiping” in action: it contained raw intelligence with no analysis and no conclusions. Of course, since it was leaked to the media, the public will no doubt make their assumptions. Or so the leaker hopes. David Adesnik notes:

My guess is that someone in the government feels very strongly about this report, and is trying to get the White House to stand behind it by indirectly going public. But if the case can’t be made on its own merits within the government, then something may be very wrong. We’ll find out exactly what that is when the Washington press corps gets a hold of the story and starts telling us far more than the Weekly Standard’s source wants us to know.

This leak is yet another example of the fragile state of U.S. Intelligence that I wrote about last week. It is a purely partisan political maneuver in a field that is supposed to be devoid of such pettiness. We need to be better than this. [Thanks to Citizen Smash for the pointers]

Update 11.20.03: Citizen Smash has more on this subject. For what it’s worth, I was not attempting to comment on the validity of the report in the post above (though you could read it that way). My point is that this should not have been leaked at all, and, to a lesser extent, that such raw intelligence should include analysis (which confirmed my recent thoughts on the state of our intelligence community). As the DOD says: “Individuals who leak or purport to leak classified information are doing serious harm to national security; such activity is deplorable and may be illegal.”

That said, Hayes’ article brought a lot of new information to light which should prompt further investigation… but the only Congressional response so far has been to condemn the act of leaking. Everybody got that? Citizen Smash has done more intelligence oversight than Congress.