That November 8 no-confidence-in-Maliki memo ”prepared for cabinet-level officials” by national-security adviser Stephen Hadley, was certainly not “classified secret” as the New York Times reports. No such memo would ever carry such a low classification. The memo must have been classified Top Secret, and compartmented, which means (in this case) that the document must have been leaked by a very senior official–probably a cabinet official or somebody on the NSC staff.
If the leak was an “intentional” act of the administration, which is entirely possible, it means that the administration is preparing to bail on Maliki–which is frightening given that (a) he seems earnestly committed to the cause (however many compromises he needs to make) and (b) there simply is no alternative. If the leak was not “intentional”–which I suspect is what happened–it is evidence that the administration is falling apart, and senior officials are falling into the mode of every-man-for-himself. And if that is the case, brace yourselves for two years of the most dysfunctional administration in living memory.
It would be nice to know which of the two is the case. And since the Times knows which of the two is the case, it would be nice if they would report it. It is difficult enough to separate perception from reality in current events, without major news outlets playing coy with the most critical information. And it would be nice in general if the Times adopted the practice of explaining how they come by this flood of classified information, if only so Americans can have some confidence that state secrets can be kept secret when they should be kept secret, and so national security personnel generally can have some reason not to feel like idiots for being so scrupulous in the safeguarding of classified information.