POWELL ON CHENEY….Robert Scheer has a short conversation with Colin Powell:

I queried Powell at a reception following a talk he gave in Los Angeles on Monday. Pointing out that the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate showed that his State Department had gotten it right on the nonexistent Iraq nuclear threat, I asked why did the president ignore that wisdom in his stated case for the invasion?

?The CIA was pushing the aluminum tube argument heavily and Cheney went with that instead of what our guys wrote,? Powell said. And the Niger reference in Bush?s State of the Union speech? ?That was a big mistake,? he said. ?It should never have been in the speech. I didn?t need Wilson to tell me that there wasn?t a Niger connection. He didn?t tell us anything we didn?t already know. I never believed it.?

When I pressed further as to why the president played up the Iraq nuclear threat, Powell said it wasn?t the president: ?That was all Cheney.?

Is Powell just trying to get George Bush off the hook? Maybe. But it’s still interesting that he’s now publicly blaming Cheney for all the bad intel. He’s only badmouthed Cheney in private before, hasn’t he?