Pentagon Papers IIc: The Editorial

Ah, the plot thickens! Now we have editorial as further fodder to our speculations as to whether the leak was real, and equally interestingly (to this bear, at least): whether the Times thinks it was real. Harken:
President Bush has made no secret of his desire to drive Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. What has been unclear is how Mr. Bush expects to strike. Partial answers to that question come now in the form of a preliminary Pentagon planning document described in The Times yesterday by Eric Schmitt. It suggests that the military brass is considering a large-scale air and ground assault involving as many as 250,000 American troops.
At this early stage in planning — long before actual operational details are set — there ought to be some discussion in Congress and around the nation about the manner of American intervention in Iraq. At the moment, the White House seems to be moving toward a military offensive early next year.

Aha! This to me argues strongly to the position that the Times does indeed believe they have a genuine leak on their hands. Because now they have shown their motive: to bully / humiliate the administration into greater openness (common complaint of late) and greater consultation with Congress and the peepul.
This is starting to make much more sense, if you apply New York Timesy logic.
And the award for Times Kremlinology for the day goes to TTLB reader “etc.” , who noted in the comments section his/her (its?) belief that the leaker was General Wayne Downing. Observe the Times:
The willingness of officials to outline Pentagon thinking in recent days suggests unhappiness in some quarters with the current drift of strategizing. One option that has apparently now been discarded is an Afghanistan-style campaign to be built around airstrikes and the use of Special Operations forces in alliance with Iraqi opposition groups. Wayne Downing, the retired general who resigned last week as the chief White House adviser on counterterrorism, had favored such an approach.
Perhaps it’s too much of a leap to connect the first sentence in that paragraph with the last sentence in that paragraph… but my, sure does seem to fit well, doesn’t it?
OK, so I’m convinced: real leak. Probably from General Downing, or one of his associates.
Now: I agree with those who’ve argued in the comments section that the information revealed was not of huge direct military value. But: I would argue that you can make a case that it was of significant diplomatic value. It named the countries we want to use as our bases. Isn’t that something that, perhaps, we might have legitimate reason to want to keep quiet either to smooth negotiations with those nations?
You know, if you had told me when I was back at my college paper that years later, I’d be beating up the New York Times for revealing classified information leaked from a Republican administration, I think I would have told you to pound sand. A strange world, this is, truly…
PS: Urgle. I seem to have goofed and somehow managed to overwrite my second post on the Times story with this update. I’ll see if I can get it back, but at least the comments are still preserved here…