Dick Cheney's statement to Greta van Susteren that "On the question of whether or not Iraq was involved in 9/11, there was never any evidence to prove that" is being widely portrayed as an admission.
But it's less an admission than a PR move. Cheney has spent the better part of the last seven years doing everything in his power to convince the American people of the very connection he now says there was "never any evidence" of.
In 2004, even after the 9/11 commission found "no credible evidence" of Iraqi involvement in 9/11, Cheney was still claiming the evidence that al Qaeda had a relationship with Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq was "overwhelming."
When he was asked in '04 if Iraq was involved in 9/11, he said, "We don't know." Three years after the attack -- and he still didn't know? Even after they had tried every trick in the black book -- including torture -- to find a link?
And while Cheney's gotten more careful with his words over the years, he's never really stopped insinuating that there was a connection between 9/11 and the war in Iraq.
Indeed, as recently as two weeks ago in his big speech at the American Enterprise Institute, Cheney was still banging the drum about Saddam's "known ties to Mideast terrorists" as part of his rationale for invading Iraq and using torture.
Cheney's ongoing Forget Everything I Ever Told You Tour is historical revisionism at its most despicable.
And we are clearly watching a master manipulator at work. I've always felt that his best -- and by that I mean worst -- work was going on "Meet the Press" in 2002 to tell us about those ominous aluminum tubes and the "number of contacts over the years" between Al Qaeda and Iraq... or his repeated designed-to-terrify-voters warnings about nuclear attacks on US soil. But this ranks right up there.
In his interview with van Susteren, Cheney also backed away from his claim that the documents he wants the CIA to declassify would prove that torture was effective -- saying instead that they would offer a good summary of "what we learned" not just from waterboarding but the detainee interrogation program as a whole.
So, he gets all the media value and spin by originally making the claim that the intel documents would prove the value of torture - if only Obama would let the truth come out. Then he backs away from the claim, using weasel-words to give him sufficient wiggle room to say that what he really meant was that the overall interrogation program provided useful information -- not that waterboarding or other enhanced interrogation techniques did.
Perhaps it suddenly dawned on the former VP that he doesn't have the power to keep those documents classified any more -- and that he could be proven to be a liar (yet again) with the stroke of President Obama's pen. Hence the verbal tap-dancing.
But eventually the pile of lies may get so high that it will tumble down on him. For instance, it's not a very smart idea to go around saying that Richard Clarke missed the warning signs on bin Laden and 9/11 when there is email after email after email from the spring and summer of 2001 showing that it was actually Cheney and Bush who ignored the warning signs on bin Laden.
You know what they say about people living in glass houses? Well, people with a paper trail that proves they ignored the looming threat of al-Qaeda, sanctioned torture, and used lies and manipulated intelligence to get us into a war, shouldn't be so fast to throw stones either.