SYRIA AGAIN….The U.S. believes that Farouk Hijazi, former chief of Saddam Hussein’s Mukhabbarat intelligence service, is now hiding in Syria:

One knowledgeable U.S. official said specifically that Hijazi arrived Tuesday in Syria “on a direct flight from Tunis.”

Hijazi entered Syria on an Iraqi diplomatic passport, U.S. officials said. Hijazi had most recently been Iraq’s ambassador to Tunisia. The Syrian Foreign Ministry denied the claims Wednesday.

Some U.S. officials have expressed anger at the Syrians for allegedly harboring Hijazi, because he is suspected of involvement in the unsuccessful plot by Iraqi intelligence to kill former President George H.W. Bush, the president’s father, in Kuwait in 1993.

Why are they making this accusation publicly? It’s true that private questioning might not work, but at least it has a chance of working. Once you’ve gone public, though, there’s absolutely no chance of the Syrians backing down and admitting that they lied about this.

Riddle me this: why would you do something that (a) has no chance of success, but (b) is certain to inflame relations? Where’s Steven Den Beste when you need him?

UPDATE: It’s not as though the Bushies don’t understand this principle, either. Last year they tried to deal with North Korea privately, understanding that public accusations would only make things worse, and got caught by surprise when the North Koreans went public with their nuclear program. Why the difference in approach in the Middle East?