While the President likes to imply that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was a welcome guest of Saddam, the truth is that during the months before major combat, he was located at a terrorist training camp in remote part of Iraq.
The CIA had intercepted calls on his satellite phone and was convinced that he, along with many other Al Qaeda members, were at the base. A textbook case for the Bush doctrine of pre-emption to kick in, no?
From the WSJ:
According to those who were involved during 2002 in planning an attack, the impetus came from Central Intelligence Agency reports that al Qaeda fighters were in the camp and that preparations and training were under way there for attacks on Western interests. Under the aegis of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tentative plans were drawn up and sent to the White House in the last week of June 2002. Officials involved in planning had expected a swift decision, but they said they were surprised when weeks went by with no response from the White House.
There are several possible explanations. But I think it’s important to remember that nothing about the Bush strategy during the invasion of Iraq leads one to believe that it had anything to do with what they told us it had everything to do with: Keeping weapons out of the hands of terrorists.