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Friday's WaPo story debunks again the WH claimed link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein:

Captured Iraqi documents and intelligence interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides "all confirmed" that Hussein's regime was not directly cooperating with al-Qaeda before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a declassified Defense Department report released yesterday. The declassified version of the report, by acting Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble, also contains new details about the intelligence community's prewar consensus that the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda figures had only limited contacts, and about its judgments that reports of deeper links were based on dubious or unconfirmed information. The report had been released in summary form in February.

The report's release came on the same day that Vice President Cheney, appearing on Rush Limbaugh's radio program, repeated his allegation that al-Qaeda was operating inside Iraq "before we ever launched" the war, under the direction of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist killed last June.

"This is al-Qaeda operating in Iraq," Cheney told Limbaugh's listeners about Zarqawi, who he said had "led the charge for Iraq." Cheney cited the alleged history to illustrate his argument that withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq would "play right into the hands of al-Qaeda."

On the surface it looks like just another example of Dick Cheney being in denial about the fact that there never was any operational link, alliance or cooperation between al Qaeda and Iraq's Saddam Hussein. That link had been a persistent Cheney claim, one manufactured from whole cloth by Doug Feith's rump "intelligence" factory at the Pentagon, and one of the two major pillars — along with the completely fraudulent claims that Iraq was seeking to purchase yellowcake from Niger — of the misrepresentation that the Bush/Cheney regime used to mislead the country into the Iraq invasion and occupation.

The lie and its origins have long been discredited by reputable sources, including the 9/11 Commission and the Pentagon's own Inspector General, but Cheney and friends kept repeating it, as though the truth didn't matter. And in their world, it didn't.

Still, when you hear Cheney repeating the lie, and on the same day that the Pentagon's acting Inspector General releases the unclassified version of his own report that debunks the lie again, you have to wonder what Cheney was thinking. Does he not care about his own credibility or that of the regime he serves? Was it just coincidence or bad karma that Cheney got caught by this morning's WaPo story, a story the blogs would immediately jump on so fast that even the traditional media would realize and report the disconnect? I don't think so.

Lies tend to have a half life that extends well beyond the point where rational people realize they're not true. And this particular lie has been highly valuable to the Administration, because it allowed them to conflate their invasion of Iraq and anti-terrorism efforts and keep those notions linked in the public's mind.

Moreover, in Cheney's case, I suspect he had advance knowledge that the WaPo would be publishing today's story — indeed, I think it would be normal for the WaPo to have called Cheney's office in advance for a response. If that's true, then when Dick Cheney went on Russ Limbaugh this a.m. to repeat the lie, he already knew that the WaPo story debunking his claim yet again would be out there for everyone to see — everyone, that is, except the wingnuts who would be listening to Rush Limbaugh. And that, I suspect, was the point.

You see, Dick Cheney may no longer care what the WaPo reports, or what most Americans think; and he certainly doesn't care that you and I concluded long ago that the man is a congenital liar. He only cares what the 30 percenters believe and what they and their ilk will carry into the next generation of rightwingers' memory banks.

This is all about framing the narrative for the next round, and all that's necessary to keep the cause alive for the next round — and there will always be a next round — is to have enough of them believe what Cheney wants them to believe. And that's why he chose Rush Limbaugh this morning to continue his lie.