Tuesday, April 28, 2009
No Harm No Foul? Right!
White House Military Office Director Louis Caldera apologized for any panic caused by a flight mission and photo op that looked like Air Force One and fighter jets heading toward the New York City skyline Monday morning.
Caldera said he approved the mission last week and that federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey.
But for people who work in the New York financial district, the event brought back nightmares of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Numerous buildings in lower Manhattan evacuated in a panic during this morning's false alarm. (Here's a link to NBC New's coverage of it last night.)
The plane that flew in New York Monday was a version of the Boeing 747 that's called Air Force One when the president is aboard.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg blasted the photo opportunity for being insensitive and showing "poor judgment."
In a brief statement after the flight, the New York Police Department acknowledged it was aware the flight was happening, but claimed the Federal Aviation Administration told them not to talk about it.
"The flight of a VC-25 aircraft and F-16 fighters this morning was authorized by the FAA for the vicinity of the Statue of Liberty with directives to local authorities not to disclose information about it but to direct any inquiries to the FAA Air Traffic Security Coordinator," the statement said.
The aircraft involved in this morning's mission, a VC-25, is the military's version of a Boeing 747, with state-of-the-art communication and electronic equipment. It is a backup plane that is sometimes used as Air Force One to carry the President of the United States.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was asked several times about the flight during his daily briefing and promised he would try to get back to reporters with some answers.
So, question. What the heck was the White House staff thinking? Flying very low, toward the New York City skyline with the backup Air Force One? What could be the purpose in doing that? What did they hope to accomplish, having "Air Force One" being tracked by two military jets?
I can't wait to hear what their "explanation" will be. Maybe it will be more convincing than their statement that President Obama didn't bow to the king of Saudi Arabia. The video said differently. Here, the pictures and the near panic say differently.