News reports that the Defense Department recently confirmed new information with respect to contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee are inaccurate.
A letter was sent to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Oct. 27, 2003, from Douglas J. Feith, under secretary of defense for policy, in response to follow-up questions from his July 10 testimony. One of the questions posed by the committee asked the department to provide the reports from the intelligence community to which he referred in his testimony before the committee. These reports dealt with the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.
The letter to the committee included a classified annex containing a list and description of the requested reports, so that the committee could obtain the reports from the relevant members of the intelligence community.
The items listed in the classified annex were either raw reports or products of the CIA, the National Security Agency or, in one case, the Defense Intelligence Agency. The provision of the classified annex to the Intelligence Committee was cleared by other agencies and done with the permission of the intelligence community. The selection of the documents was made by DoD to respond to the committee’s question. The classified annex was not an analysis of the substantive issue of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda, and it drew no conclusions.
Individuals who leak or purport to leak classified information are doing serious harm to national security; such activity is deplorable and may be illegal.