IRAQ-AL-QAEDA CONNECTIONS….The Department of Defense has issued an official response to the Weekly Standard’s article about Iraq-al-Qaeda connections. On its surface, it seems to be saying that the Standard is full of shit:

News reports that the Defense Department recently confirmed new information with respect to contacts between al-Qaida and Iraq in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee are inaccurate.

….The items listed in the classified annex were either raw reports or products of the CIA, the NSA, or, in one case, the DIA….The classified annex was not an analysis of the substantive issue of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaida, and it drew no conclusions.

Still, something tells me there are levels within levels here. I’m not sure what’s going on.

UPDATE: I wrote this in a rush before going out to dinner last night, so let me just add a couple of comments:

  • I have no doubt that Stephen Hayes accurately excerpted the memo.

  • It’s pretty unusual for DoD to issue a press release like this. Sure, it’s carefully worded, but it just wouldn’t have been released at all unless someone important had some kind of serious problem with the raw data in Feith’s memo. If you want to know what’s going on, try to figure out who was behind this release and why. (I don’t have any guesses at the moment.)

  • Anyone who believes that they can read the memo and “judge for themselves” is living in a fantasy. Analyzing intelligence isn’t a job for amateurs, and every single one of the 50 points in Feith’s memo may have a dozen other points indicating the opposite. We don’t know, and that issue is smack at the center of the controversy over guys like Feith cherry picking the reports that support their views and ignoring everything else. Raw intelligence like this is worthless except to professional analysts and proves nothing.

I imagine we’ll hear more about this later.