Howard Dean had a lot to say last night on Hardball. He wants to abandon Iraq's elected government under the guise of "redeployment" and believes the president "created a situation where terrorists now are in Iraq, where they were not before."
He does have a point -- sort of. According to Richard Clarke, by the end of 2000 "perhaps over 10,000 terrorists" had trained in al Qaeda camps inside Afghanistan before dispersing to "probably between 5o-60 counties." So there may be some who left their post-camp location to enter Iraq following the coalition invasion in March 2003. But we also apparently know that two who trained in those camps, Zarqawi and his alleged successor al-Masri, were in Iraq in 2002.
From the June 10, 2006 Washington Post:
After the U.S.-led multinational attack that overthrew the Taliban government in Afghanistan, Zarqawi appeared on a U.S. list of most-wanted al-Qaeda terrorists still at large in early 2002. Intelligence officials said that at some time during the summer of that year, Zarqawi spent two months in Baghdad, where he received medical treatment for an undisclosed problem with his leg.
From General Tommy Franks' memoir, American Soldier:
One known terrorist, a Jordanian-born Palestinian named Abu Musab Zarqawi who had joined al Qaeda in Afghanistan -- where he specialized in developing chemical and biological weapons -- was now confirmed to operate from one of the camps in Iraq. Badly wounded fighting coalition forces in Afghanistan, Zarqawi had received medical treatment in Baghdad before setting up with Ansar al Islam. And evidence suggested that he had been joined there by other al Qaeda leaders, who had been ushered through Baghdad and given safe passage into northern Iraq by Iraqi security forces....[p. 332] And while many al Qaeda leaders had been killed [in Afghanistan], others had sought sanctuary in Iraq. [p. 403]
From the June 9, 2006 New York Times:
Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, an aide to the top American commander here, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., told reporters at a briefing that United States commanders had identified the man most likely to take over as Al Qaeda's leader in Iraq, an Egyptian militant who uses the nom de guerre Abu al-Masri. General Caldwell said Mr. Masri had been in Iraq since 2002, and had played a major role in organizing suicide bombings around Baghdad.
Gen. Caldwell also noted that al-Masri arrived in Iraq before Zarqawi. All this must have slipped Chairman Dean's mind.