It seems like the President and his critics are speaking past each other on the issue of the nature of Saddam-al Qaeda relationship. The president maintains that there was, in fact, a relationship between the two, and, as I wrote below, this is technically correct while being intentionally deceptive. Was it a collaborative relationship? No, not according to the report of the 9/11 Commission. Saddam and al Qaeda were not allies in any real sense, nor were al Qaeda in any sense the "forward army" of Saddam Hussein, as Bush alleged in the lead-up to the U.S. invasion.
Many of the president's critics, though, are over-reaching, going after Bush for statements he never really made, accusing him of saying that Saddam was involved in the 9/11 attacks. Bush was careful never to claim outright that Saddam was involved in 9/11, though it's pretty obvious that Bush wanted to create that impression, mentioning "9/11" and "Saddam" together as much as possible to link the two in the public's mind.
Since the invasion and the apparent lack of WMD in Iraq, Bush has been madly re-adjusting his justifications for war. The non-existence of WMD hasn't stopped Bush and his water-carriers from triumphantly pointing to evidence of Saddam's "intent" to attain such weapons, as if the two were anything near the same. No longer claiming that al Qaeda and Saddam were allies, or that al Qaeda was Saddam's "forward army," Bush has fallen back on claiming that Saddam "sheltered terrorist groups" and "hated America." These brazen redefinitions of his justifications for war provide more than enough reason to condemn Bush, and one shouldn't have to accuse him of making claims he never made.