The Department of Defense has responded to Stephen Hayes' "Case Closed" story on links between Saddam and Al Qaeda. Some Bush critics have been trying to spin the DoD's release as a denial, but, if the leaked memo had seemed to blow open some DoD scandal, equivalent language would have amounted to one of those famous "non-denial denials." As Josh Chafetz at OxBlog has pointed out, the release appears "very carefully crafted so as to avoid contradicting any claims that Hayes actually made." Indeed, all it really indicates is what Hayes himself notes with some impatience and perplexity: That for some reason the Bush Administration has not wanted to engage on this issue.
There are several reasons why this last might be so. Investigation, interrogation, and exploitation of this and related intelligence are still ongoing, and the administration is focused elsewhere. As for political purposes, if opinion polls can be trusted, the populace in general does not especially need to be persuaded that there are or were links between Saddam and Al Qaeda. If Bush and co. wanted to launch a propaganda counter-counteroffensive, or, as others have put forward as motivation for the leak, blow Howard Dean or Jay Rockefeller or Carl Levin or even Al Gore out of the water on this issue, they wouldn't leak the info to a conservative weekly, they'd go elsewhere - direct to the Post or NYT if they really wanted to work through leaks.
There's still every reason to believe that Bush and his team like Nurse Ratchet as the Democratic frontrunner, and are comfortable with seeing the Democrats overcommitted to the left on the War on Terror. For the present, the memo should remind wobbly supporters that there is a lot of ammunition stored up for when the real fight commences: In the unlikely event that the Democrats ever gain traction on their actually rather ludicrous claim of no links between Saddam and Al Qaeda, then Bush will be ready to respond.