ZARQAWI STORY CONFIRMED….Two years ago, Jim Miklaszewski of NBC News reported that a few months after 9/11 the Pentagon drafted multiple plans to hit the camp of Abu Musab Zarqawi, the al-Qaeda terrorist who had taken up residence in Iraq’s northern no-fly zone, outside Saddam Hussein’s control. George Bush, however, refused to authorize a military strike.

I’ve written about this multiple times (I used to jokingly call it my “monthly Zarqawi post”), but Miklaszewski’s story always had a big problem: it was based on anonymous sources, which made it easy for the White House to ignore. Today, however, the Australian show Four Corners has gotten confirmation of the story from Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit:

He told Four Corners that during 2002, the Bush Administration received detailed intelligence about Zarqawi’s training camp in Iraqi Kurdistan.

….”Almost every day we sent a package to the White House that had overhead imagery of the house he was staying in. It was a terrorist training camp…experimenting with ricin and anthrax…any collateral damage there would have been terrorists.”

So why wasn’t Bush willing to hit Zarqawi, a known al-Qaeda terrorist in a known location? Scheuer says he was told it was because Bush was afraid of annoying the French ? a theory that seems a bit of a stretch, non? Others believe it was because Zarqawi was politically convenient: having him alive allowed Bush to pretend that Saddam was “harboring terrorists,” thus providing useful ammunition for the war.

Whichever it is, we now have a credible source telling us on the record that the Zarqawi story is true. We could have gotten him, but we chose not to. Perhaps someone will start off Tony Snow’s White House career on the right foot by asking him about it on Monday.