John McCaslin

Retired Special Forces Major F. Andy Messing, who founded the National Defense Council Foundation in 1978 to popularize the idea of low-intensity conflict, tells The Beltway Beat of a private meeting he had on Sept. 30, 2002, with Bush senior adviser Karl Rove, during which the veteran of the Vietnam War (among other conflicts) warned against a conventional U.S. military assault on Baghdad.

"My associate, (NDCF President) Milt Copulos, and I met with Karl Rove and his deputy in Rove's office in the White House," Messing reveals. "At that time, I warned Karl that a conventional military operation into Iraq was not a good idea, and that a 'commando' group should target (Saddam Hussein) and his main boys.

"I described how. I told him at the time that a conventional operation would cost over $100 billion and over 1,000 KIA (killed in action), which it did in the first phase - only to go up to $500 billion and 2,600 (U.S. war dead) now," notes Messing, who presented a modus operandi "to take out Saddam." (The Pentagon's current official count stands at just under 2,400 dead.)

Ironically, both White House visitors told Rove that a major energy crisis would likely follow on the heels of any major U.S. intervention in Iraq, affecting America's economy and possibly destroying the legacy of President Bush.

"I turned the meeting over to Milt, a celebrated energy expert, and he predicted in detail when it was going to happen, exactly how much gasoline (prices) would go to, and how it would ripple in and cripple the economy," Messing notes.

Rove, he says, requested additional proof beyond the briefing paper the pair presented him, which the NDCF later produced at a cost of $68,000.

"The bottom line is we tried to warn them - quietly, and as a team players - everything from radical Muslims were going to attack on Bush's watch, to conventional forces rolling tanks into Iraq was a bad idea, to the coming energy problem. They didn't listen," Messing states. "And the American people are taking it in the shorts."


President Bush wins "man about campus" honors this year, delivering commencement addresses to students and cadets of, to name several, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College at Perkinston, Oklahoma State University, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and Tulane University in New Orleans.

Students at the latter institution, in fact, will be treated to not one, but a pair of graduation-day addresses on May 13, the second delivered by former President Bill Clinton. (There is no truth to the rumor that Clinton has been adopted by the Bush family.)

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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