Every time I think nothing will surprise me anymore, the Bush administration manages to take my breath away all over again. Consider the staggering dishonesty with which Dick Cheney has been trying to mislead the American people about our knowledge of the alleged Iranian nuclear program. Here's Dick Cheney six weeks ago:

We have the inescapable reality of Iran's nuclear program; a program they claim is strictly for energy purposes, but which they have worked hard to conceal; a program carried out in complete defiance of the international community and resolutions of the U.N. Security Council. Iran is pursuing technology that could be used to develop nuclear weapons. The world knows this. The Security Council has twice imposed sanctions on Iran and called on the regime to cease enriching uranium. Yet the regime continues to do so, and continues to practice delay and deception in an obvious attempt to buy time.

As Michael Cohen says "if one looks at the language of the NIE, one could theoretically argue that Cheney didn't directly lie here. For example, Iran's "civilian" nuclear program continues and yes Iraq was pursuing technology that could be used to develop nukes . . . but of course wasn't." Indeed, the striking thing about this is the extent to which looking back at Cheney's statement he's tried very carefully to avoid directly contradicting the NIE while crafting phrases that are clearly designed to cause the listener to draw the precise wrong conclusion.

It's not as if Cheney read the NIE and decided he had some reason to believe it was incorrect. Rather, he read it, decided he'd better not contradict it, but also decided that bottom line conclusions about how Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program were inconvenient, and thus decided to talk around that minor point and try to get the American people confused about what's happening. Stunningly cynical and yes I'm resolving once again to never be stunned.