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April 28th, 2009
11:29 AM ET

Apology not good enough for NY plane scare

By Frances Fragos Townsend
CNN Contributor

Editor's note: Frances Fragos Townsend, a CNN contributor on national security issues, served as President George W. Bush's chief anti-terrorism and homeland security adviser. Townsend has spent more than two decades in the fields of intelligence and criminal justice and has served during the past three administrations. Townsend is currently a consultant to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Aspen Institute Homeland Security Program.

Former Homeland Security Adviser Frances Townsend calls the NYC plane scare 'felony stupidity.'

Former Homeland Security Adviser Frances Townsend calls the NYC plane scare 'felony stupidity.'

Yesterday, a Boeing 747 that functions as Air Force One and two F16 fighter jets buzzed the skyscrapers of lower Manhattan on what was described as a combination photo shoot and training mission. The over flight created panic and confusion among New Yorkers for whom the memory of September 11, 2001 remains seared in their minds. Like many New Yorkers, I lost a friend in the attack on the World Trade Center and was outraged by the insensitivity on display yesterday. Louis Caldera, director of the White House Military Office acknowledged responsibility for the gross lack of judgment in his decision and he apologized. That is not good enough.

President Obama and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel were described to me as rightly shocked and furious when they learned about the over flight. It is my understanding that they are looking into how this outrageous error could have been made. While the White House has said that it shares blame with two midlevel New York officials who were notified in advance, this is a weak and specious defense. After all, if Mr. Caldera had not approved the over flight there would have been no need for a notification. Furthermore, if the White House Military Office needed a training mission and a photo of Air Force One over a national icon there were more appropriate choices...say the Grand Canyon or Mt. Rushmore!

As the Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor to President George W. Bush, I had a great deal of experience and interaction with the White House Military Office and have tremendous respect for the men and women who take seriously the important mission of that office. Most Americans do not realize that it is the White House Military Office working with the U.S. Secret Service that is responsible for the communications and movement of the president and his staff. They play an especially important role in the plans for the continuity of our constitutional form of government in a time of crisis. The Military Office staff practices the crisis plans and communications to ensure that the president is able to maintain his ability to communicate during a crisis with the U.S. military in his role as the commander in chief. Given the importance of these responsibilities, the director of the Military Office must have exemplary judgment, as well as the confidence of the president.

Mr. Caldera apparently has neither. Mr. Caldera’s misjudgment betrays the trust of those he is charged with leading at the White House Military Office, dishonors the president and perhaps most importantly dishonors the memory of those we lost on September 11 and those who still grieve. As a former Federal prosecutor in Manhattan, my colleagues and I used to say some conduct that is not a federal crime is what we called “felony stupidity.” Mr. Caldera is at a minimum guilty of “felony stupidity” and should not remain as the director of the White House Military Office where the president and the nation deserve and require professionalism.


Filed under: Commentary • White House
soundoff (297 Responses)
  1. BigCity

    Now it gets funnier – criticism goes from the main story to the need/cost of photo opps and accusations that this was some kind of "secret" mission... ROFL

    If you hadn't noticed, A REAL story happened today : Arlen Spector turned Democrat. Now let me predict that Spector will now be labeled as a traitor – never worthy of his standing in politics, and probably a secret Demoratic agent all along... ROFL

    April 28, 2009 at 2:09 pm |
  2. deforge

    i'm a new yorker and i have been here during 9/11.

    yes, the shoot should have been better communicated to authorities and in turn to the public. and yes the fools responsible should acknowledge fault and get replaced if too thickskulled.

    but the reaction on the ground is over the top. of all people, new yorkers should be the ones handling this with at most annoyance, but at least in stride. the over-reaction is embarrassing.
    the plane BUZZED you it didn't CRASH into you. get the f over it! or move to Nebraska.

    April 28, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  3. George, NY

    For those of you throwing darts at New Yorkers over the reaction, a few things:

    (1) New Yorkers are quite resilient, don’t think otherwise and most of us are smart enough to recognize that officials do dumb things;

    (2) it is so easy to throw jabs after the facts are known and it’s a bit obnoxious to throw darts at people when you don’t live anywhere near where this occurred – it says more about the cluelessness and intelligence of these individuals than anything else;

    (3) it is clear that some of you have not the remotest idea what it’s like to be in a downtown area with large planes crashing into buildings overhead with burning debris raining down and skyscrapers collapsing and wondering if there is more come; perhaps if you went through that episode you would be a bit more understanding about low flying planes where planes don't normally fly (many people, including myself, from this area had family or friends killed that day).

    (4) contrary to media reports, people did get hurt (fortunately not seriously) during building evacuations (a little reminder – on 9/11, announcements were made that there was no need to evacuate 2WTC just before the second plane slammed into it and a lot of people around here remember that);

    (5) that plane, was more than just flying low, it was flying lower than the top of the buildings in a densely populated area. Looking south overlooking the Statue of Liberty, I stared at Boeing 747 coming dead straight at my 40 story office building at BELOW eye-level. The plane climbed and bore left at roof level with only a few hundred feet clearance and it shook the windows. Even if we knew this was a benign photo op, which we didn’t, it was way too close for comfort.

    The posted conspiracy stuff is a bit much. This was a thoughtless decision – things go wrong and the margin for error was very slim indeed. Last year a private plane flew into a Manhattan apartment building during a turn when the pilot misjudged the effect of the wind. Bad stuff happens unintentionally. Now our “friends” from Ohio may think that having a 747 jumbo jet flying straight at you is nothing to be concerned about, but I suspect reasonable people would think not.

    April 28, 2009 at 2:07 pm |
  4. Mgioa

    I was going to write something to the fact that people should be held responsible for their bad decisions in government, especially in light of the bad times that this country is going through. I read a bunch of opinions before I decided to type and concluded that some folks are insensitive while others are just downright idiotic. It would be so cool if there was a filter on each person’s keyboard that would only allow comments that the person was willing to spout off in a real, live public forum. Ask yourself how bold would you be then?

    April 28, 2009 at 2:02 pm |
  5. Dee

    For the people saying NYers should "get over it", most have. Low flying planes in the typical paths of LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark are one thing, a low flying 747 near lower Manhattan (by Ground Zero) being trailed by fighter jets that is in a very atypical place and low enough to violently rattle windows of office buildings is another. What would the average American, even out of NY, seeing this sort of thing possibly think? "Gee, there is a really low flying jet being trailed by a fighter plane, it must be something completely innocuous." Most likey not! I can see if it was a classified security mission but it was a PHOTO OP for cripes sake.

    That said, I do think the apology was appropriate and no need to keep dwelling on it. As a NYer who works in a high rise though, you can be damn sure if I see something unusual I may not exactly panic but I'm sure gonna get the hell out of dodge in CASE it is another attack. Better to feel silly for a false alarm than dead. There is a difference between paranoia and healthy caution, especially living here.

    April 28, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  6. Kathy

    And since an apology isn't enough, how about some 'blood letting'. A surgical knife to the wrist for a few minutes? Will that make you feel better as far as a 'mea culpa'? Please.

    April 28, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  7. Anjee

    If the public had been warned – it would have been a differenent story – that was just ridicoulous

    April 28, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  8. Something more to this

    There is something wrong with this whole thing. In this day and age no one sends a 747 and an F16 to update a stock photo. Photoshop can do this for a fraction of the cost with better results. The only people that opt for such reality are movie makers. What a stunning movie scene it would be for a stolen AF1 to be flown into the statue of liberty. With a couple of cameras filming the fleeing citizens (free extras) running in panic.

    I hope somebody starts requesting all the memos regarding this matter to see what was really going on.

    April 28, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  9. Christopher

    I agree that it was stupid. Nuff said. And I wouldn't shed a tear if he resigned and he probably should.

    However, to address pointofview's comment about the following:

    "This all comes down to a terribly green politician who picks unqualified buddies to help him run the WH. How many cluster freaks have we indured over the last 100 day and the media simply neglects. Unless they can find a “memo” somewhere that GWB authorized this flyover. I am sure this can be dug up somewhere."

    I hope you also jumped on GWB and his choices for FEMA, Attorney General, and so on and so forth. If I recall correctly, no one died from this flyover. But our govermental response to Katrina and its aftermath were far worse.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  10. MIKEFROMTO

    To RobinA

    Yesterday was 4/27 not 9/11

    April 28, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  11. carmen mercado

    It was very careless and there should be changes made. NOW. 9/11
    was not a natural disaster like katrina (bonehead). It was premeditaded executions of americans. So deal with the inexperience
    at the white house. Fix it. This is to NEVER happen again. We are to deal with this STUPID MOVE. The president was not aware?. That is the first ignorant statement. You expect us to believe that?. I know he has a lot to deal with. He knew what he was getting into. I pray that he is able to finish what he started and that CHANGE really happens . Starting with his choices.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  12. Walt

    Mr. Chris Pawloski, the real bottom line is that while both the NY and NJ state governments were informed about this, they were also informed (officially ordered) that the info was "top secrete" and must not be shared with anyone.

    The further discussion that is clearly needed, is all about how you all-to-conveniently seemed to have forgotten his most important and relevant fact.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  13. jennifer

    It is so rude, of many of you to say "get over it". Learn the facts. The plane was flying VERY low in a NO FLY ZONE. One or two fighter jets were following it. The only time New Yorkers have seen this happen was 9/11. Reports state that office windows rattled as they flew by. I can feel sympathy for everyone scared yesterday. Grow up and stop making everything about Obama

    April 28, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  14. Josh

    I usually never comment on these message boards, but when I see ignorant and idiotic statements from people like Ian, I felt compelled. I am not a New Yorker, but this was a PR stunt gone horribly awry and a seriously dumb move. Bad judgement from leaders and it could have been a lot worse (as many have pointed out). An example should be made, as well as Ian shipped out to another country.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  15. DebB

    Aside from the insensitivity of the fly-by, how about the stupidity of spending tax dollars to fly a 747 by the statue of liberty for purposes of a photo op? I have great respect for President Obama, but he needs to kick some serious butt on this one.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  16. Emily

    I'm positively shocked by Steve's response. Just... shocked. I want to say all kinds of mean things about how we should go kill someone he loves, then tell him to grow a spine, but all I can really say is "Wow. Just.... wow."

    April 28, 2009 at 1:55 pm |
  17. Henry Miller

    Absurd over-reaction! We seem to have become a nation of rabbits.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  18. Deano

    Good Lord.

    It appears that the terrorist have won.

    Why doesn't everyone "grow a pair" and stop sniveling about this screw up?

    April 28, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  19. Claude

    The "photo-op" flight is a fine example of just how out of touch our government is with the citizens. It is beyond imagination that someone in the planning process did not foresee the logical results of flying a 747 followed by two military fighter jets low over New York City.

    The EQUALLY disturbing issue for me is the cost associated with this "photo-op." To fly the 747 and two fighter jets around New York at low altitude for an hour could easily cost $20,000 – $30,000 and more when you factor in ground support and maintenance man-hours.

    All of this so someone can hang a picture of the President's plane flying past some landmark? The average high school student could have achieved the same thing using Photo Shop or any other of the hundreds of available digital editing software programs.

    Our government cannot continue flagrantly wasting tax dollars while families are facing unemployment, foreclosure or other similar challenges!

    April 28, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  20. Chris Carmichael

    Why would you need to take photos of the plane flying low over NYC when you could get the same results from a photo of the plane, a photo of NYC and photo shop? Who are these guys anyway?

    April 28, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  21. RICHARD ZABROUSKI

    If Prez Bama wants to show off his toys in Harlem-they made a wrong turn. Harlem is uptown. I hope his aim with missiles is better. I was in the Bronx on 9/11 and I'll never forget it. If the children in DC do something this stupid again I think NYPD should be given the ability to shoot them down. I'm sure the president wouldn't understand our outrage Chicago wasn't attacked on 9/11.
    Richard Zabrouski
    New Hyde Park NY / Arlington TX

    April 28, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  22. RobinA

    And for you people who keep saying "Get Over It" – excuse me, but I will never get over 9/11 and I don't even live in New York City!!! Anyone with an ounce of brains would know better than to pull a stunt flyover like that, especially in New York City.......

    April 28, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  23. cwms

    State officials were informed and did not object, right?
    If so, it's hard to blame the White House vs. New York officials.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:51 pm |
  24. James

    Republicans and Democrats are hilarious. You are all sheep just with different branding. Why do you affiliate yourself with politicians? Be an individual. You are political groupies and nothing more. Btw, Democrats, you dished it for eight years, so show some cajones and take the abuse now that your "team" won. Dems seem to be the bigger crybabies of the two so far. Dorks!

    April 28, 2009 at 1:50 pm |
  25. Bill in California

    PLENTY OF BLAME TO GO AROUND. Whether heads roll at a lower level or a PC rebuke and hand slapping is administered what this incident CLEARLY shows is a DISCONNECT. One that must be repaired for the good of the OFFICE of the PRESIDENT.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:49 pm |
  26. Jess

    Those of you commenting on NYers needing to get over are as assinine as this admin. Practically, every person I know has lost a friend/loved one or knows a survivor. It was extremely traumatic to those of us that have personal experience of the attack. NJ & NY will never forget and it is a shame that the rest of the country has including the Commander In Chief. Not all of law enforcement was informed and those that were had been advised to keep it classified. So much for tranparency. I think a class action suit should be filed.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:49 pm |
  27. Maria

    That was not the best idea but I am confused if they would have told everyone could a terrorist have used that day to plan an attack and everyone would of assumed that was the planned fly-by of Air Force One, then people would of been upset about that can't win for losing. I understand people are grieving the loss of a loved ones but they will greive forever so are we to NEVER be able to take photos in New York again? IF that's not the case what is the appropiate time frame 30 years from now? Sticky situation, if they needed the practice and the photo then for security I don't see how they could broadcast that. I do feel for those who got frightened but they will lived and no one died, I hope. Other than an apology there is nothing more that can be done. I bet the people in Darfur dealing with the genocide over there aren't worried about people afraid of that plane they are hoping they aren't killed slaughtered. It will be ok its a lessoned learned to plan that a little better.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  28. Honey

    My heart goes out to the people who were affected by this. I just can't imagine the immediate fear you must have felt.

    I don't normally leap to conspiracy theories, but what better way for America to be reminded of why we're in the Middle East by a president who may be realizing that getting out might not be as easy as he originally believed.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  29. RobinA

    Got Stupidity?! Yeah..... Factor in the fear of New Yorkers and the cost of the flyover stunt and you've got a debacle in which someone really needs to be fired......maybe several someones!!! I can't believe anyone could do something so outrageously stupid!!! Sign me disgusted, RobinA in Texas

    April 28, 2009 at 1:47 pm |
  30. Anjee

    The NYPD was notified, the Mayors office was notified but some flunky forgot to mention it to the Mayor – who decided not to go public with this??????????

    April 28, 2009 at 1:46 pm |
  31. Greg

    I'll agree that this wasn't planned well and was bit shortsighted.
    But this wasn't just a low flying 747 circling Manhattan, it was Air Force One circling Manhattan, arguably the most recognizable plane in the world. I've seen AF1 flying low quite a number of times having grown up near an AFB, and it is quite easily recognized several miles away. People really should think for a second before they panic and over react.
    As for the economics of it, note that it was a training flight as well as a photo op. Military pilots, especially ones flying planes as important as AF1, must fly training flights all the time to keep current, and this was no doubt a flight they would've been doing somewhere else regardless, but was planned in combination with photographers being there for shots while passing a national monument.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:46 pm |
  32. MIKEFROMTO

    I thought it was quite funny, I'm glad to see fear propaganda has worked so well for the past 8 years. when are you going to get a clue and realize you are quite safe in the USA. Use your common sense do you actually thing ANYONE could ever take control of a plane again with passengers on board do you think anyone would just do as their told in that situation.... i doubt it. Stop being afraid of your own shadows. The US is so strange you have honor, bravery and are the most powerful nation in the world (Allegedly) why are you scared.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  33. pk49

    It is absurd and insults our intelligence to think anyone would believe the President did not know about this and consent.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  34. Echowarrior

    Another reason we as a nation are going bankrupt!! Why in God's name are we having our taxpayer $ used to do photo op's anywhere!! Then to top it off they do it at ground zero. What a bunch of Idiots, It stuns me how stupid the administration makes our country look! We look like a bunch of childish Idiots to the whole world!!!!! Wasting money and nothing is under control. We should fire the person responsible, That would be The President!!!

    April 28, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  35. Carol

    I agree with "get over it" and "apology IS enough!" While I'm not insensitive to how New Yorkers must feel, I also believe the press blows EVERYTHING far out of proportion ... especially the negative news. I guess that's all that sells!

    April 28, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  36. Dave W

    Forgive if I missed this in the above.

    Two things happened: one short lived, and one too likely long lived.
    The first was apologized for. It is not mine to accept or not as i was not in the area to be involved. I expect that I would accept if I had been.
    The second involves me and every taxpayer. And the much needed apology for that has not been extended.
    I (we) paid a lot of money for that little fly-over. I do not believe it was needed – not even if photo-shop produced. If I hire you to do work for me, I will not wish to pay you to spend the time and cost of propaganda aimed at me regarding how you are doing. Cut the sales pitch and stick to what I need and am paying you to do.
    So, then where is the apology that is most needed?

    April 28, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  37. acto

    Maybe influenced by the same morons in the Bush administration who last year allowed a low-level "rehearsal" by the Blue Angels over federal buildings in DC.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  38. russ

    Let's see here. A former Bush administration official lecturing the Obama administration?

    Two words, emphasis on the latter:

    Epic FAIL

    lol

    April 28, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  39. sf

    You all dont really believe it was just a photo shoot. Computer animation can get that shot all day long. Nobody gets that approved to take pictures

    April 28, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  40. Betsy

    I discount anything this woman says... because she is not worthy of a comment.
    This was a gross error in judgment and maybe inexperience. The person responsible needs to be reassigned when he doesn't even know the protocol... and I would argue there was no necessity for a rather expensive endeavor.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:42 pm |
  41. Eileen

    I think the government is lying about the purpose of the fly-by. This was not a mere “photo op” – the mission clearly had some other purpose. Anything those planes were doing could just as easily have been done in a different location. Obviously the planners knew in advance this would cause a disruption (no one is that stupid), but they chose NYC for a partcular reason despite knowing it would cause an alarm. -JC
    ---

    I agree with you JC. C'mon people. In an adminisration where they were sending texts to people during the campaign and are trying to put more info on the web for people to find out about where the stimulus money is going, do you actually think they needed another picture of Air Force One flying over Manhattan? There was something else going on here. They can't tell what was actually going on so they say photo op.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  42. Kendall

    IF they told every official they were going to do this, why is it a big deal. It's New York lawmakers who should've had a notice made public by the news if anything to alert NY'ers of the photo op.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:39 pm |
  43. Mimi B.

    It's arrogance pure and simple. Someone's head needs to roll.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:39 pm |
  44. BigCity

    Drama Queens in numbers. If it wasn't so sad, it would be funny. We have all been through some sort of trama in our lives. True – I wasn't in NY on 911 but I've faced my own mortality. In doing so I don't fly off the handle and attempt to execute every person that creates a similar situation in my life now.

    Stupid? Yes. No doubt. But this is certainly not the stupidest thing that ever happened in the world – isn't even close.

    What this IS is yet another attempt by those who hate Obama is lay something on his doorstep – ANYTHING. It's the old Jello-Tree scenario; keep throwing Jello at the tree until something sticks.

    You don't like the man – fine; but at least blame him for something significant.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:38 pm |
  45. K. Maine

    BO should have fired the person who suggested and did it. If he approved, then he should fire himself! That was terrible and irresponsible. The head of FAA should have said " I'm not going to authorize this and replace me". This is Imperialism. We have an elected official, not a King.

    President Clinton held up traffic at LAX when he wanted a haircut while on the taxiway. He apologized and never did anything like that again. This is big time stupid to do this, make the military do this, from the Executive Branch.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:37 pm |
  46. Lank

    This type of stupidity isnt just in the White House, it is among our general population as well as evidenced by the comments here and the people who voted this idiocy into office.

    Prayers NYC.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:35 pm |
  47. ANDY

    4 hours of 747 Flight Time with full crew – $150K
    4 Hours of F-16 Flight Time (times 2) – $250K
    4 Hours of Bloated Photographer Session Time – $8 K

    Spending $408K on a stupid lowflying NYC photo-op that scares the living crap out of the city when photoshop could have been used to create the image in about 10 minutes for free. – PRICELESS

    Thanks for taking care of our money OBAMA.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:35 pm |
  48. Rich

    The cost cannot be compared to what it costs when the aircraft is carrying the President. The aircraft was most likely using a skeleton crew and the cost of the fighters is minimal due to the number of fighters running maneuvers all over the U.S. any given day.

    Was the idea in poor taste given what happened 8.5 years ago? Sure. Is it something that should have the ridiculous result of people filing class action lawsuits against the government? No. People need to get out of this "I deserve to be paid for my own pity" thought process and use that energy to make this country a better place. What is a lawsuit going to prove? Nothing. Get over it NY ... Just, get over it.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:34 pm |
  49. Serendipity

    "BO, we love you, your the best!!! So far you have have done so much for our country. I mean you have ……………….ummm, okay well its only been a little over 100 days, but you are the best Prez ever. Thank you, thank you for being there for us!"

    As an aside, I have got to say that has to be one of the stupidest gushing Obamagasms I ever read. Gad. I'm gonna go puke in the corner now.

    That being said...I believe this whole affair was a truly stupid mistake, especially over NYC...but it was a mistake. Communication is a lovely thing, and if the proper channels had been opened, this episode wouldn't have been blown out of proportion. Talk next time you plan to do something like this, DOD and NY!! Common sense will win the day every time.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:34 pm |
  50. CarbonFootprint

    And the ironic part of all the $ spent on doing this:
    Planning Stage.
    Lunch.
    Notificiation Stage.
    Permit process waved through.
    Lunch.
    Scheduling Stage.
    Transportation of all parties involved.
    Lunch
    Cleaning and repainting of the spare AF1.
    Fuel.
    Lunch
    Golf Game
    New Digital Camera
    Lunch
    Fly over NYC
    Laugh at all the dropped jaws on the NYC sidewalks.
    Shoot telephoto pictures of all the freaked people on the NYC sidewalks.
    After Party...

    The final photo will be digitally enhanced on a computer and as many have said, could of been photoshopped in the first place at no cost with an intern sitting in a gov office that is surfing the net all day anyway.

    The final photo(s) will need to be digitally enhanced, sharpening colors, correct tint, crop, and saved as a TIFF or JPG file for desktop publishing for a website or brochure...

    All the money spent doing this photo-op could have gone to schools for improvements, highway/street improvements. Lots of Americans out of job and home.

    I believe Americans right now would like to show their pride in other ways, than holding a brochure that shows the AF1 flying over NYC.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:33 pm |
  51. iowaclem

    i'm with steve, get over it, i'm sure some people are upset but get over it.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:33 pm |
  52. linda

    All this mess and criticism is coming from all these haters republicans who can't get anything on obama so they are using the plane scare to do harm-but no one got hurt-people in NY are still afraid which I can agree but this is over and get over it also,Fox news is all over this and for what reason because it is a republican station which i donot watch at all, people are afraid still if they have faith and God in their lives no fear can touch them for they too are still in sin, be afraid but at the sametime believe and trust in the Lord,no harm came to anyone so lets not judge the plane or who flew it low,planes fly low all the time,helicopters fly low, so what do they want obama to quit no way,the republicans have nothing better to do but say stupid things for they have no support at all,they are not even acknowledgeing him for his primetime on tv they refused to show it,what a crock for FOX NEWS but what else can we expect from a racist station.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:33 pm |
  53. thatantiphishingdude

    @rich and @pointofview

    You're both right about that "green politician picking (insert negative adjective here) friends to run (WH, government, etc.)"

    Bush did it. Obama is doing it. Those who are a little more familiar with past administrations might call this Grant's Disease, after another former president who had that problem.

    Grant was an excellent general, who triumphed over Lee (also an excellent general, probably better than Grant; if he'd had equal resources, the Confederacy probably would have won the war) in the American Civil War. His popularity as a war hero led to his being elected president in his own right.

    Loyal to his friends but a poor judge of their character, and not as skilled in civilan politics as he was in war and in military politics, he appointed his friends and cronies to all sorts of high positions, and the Grant administration went on to be known chiefly for corruption and incompetence. If you think Bush was bad, go back and read about Grant. If you think Bush was good, go back and read about Grant. You'll see some interesting parallels.

    Not that Grant was a bad man. He was a good man trying his best to do a job to which he was not particularly well-suited, and who had to much trust in friends that weren't all that trustworthy. If Grant had a major failing, it was that he was perhaps a poor judge of character, combined with being too loyal to his friends. Bush is a lot like that, and it was his downfall as a president.

    Obama is less of a good man, or at least his policies make him appear so, but he is probably more well-suited to being president. If you want to understand what I mean by that, read Machiavelli. If you haven't read Machiavelli, please don't assume you know what I mean. Read first.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:33 pm |
  54. Dick

    Mt. Rushmore and the Grand Canyon would be especially inappropriate choices for the presidential jet low fly-over, as it turns out. Both have been long seriously noise-impaired by excessive helicopter touring. The Grand Canyon has a huge volume of commercial jet traffic building over it as well. So much noise build-up is interfering with the sense of vastness, timelessness, solemnity, wonder and majesty of these places, especially for those backpacking on inner canyon trails and seeking solitude.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:33 pm |
  55. Berachah

    When I was young after watching WW2 news reals I was terrified of airplanes and when one flew over I thought that we would get bombed. I can't imagine how our human brothers and sister that live in countries that are engaged in day to day reality of war psychologically survive. I can't imagine the postraumtic stress they live with. The children, the adults, the young and old. What happened on 911 was horrific and traumatic....and what happens elsewhere on our good earth is as horrific and traumatic. I feel so sorry for those in NY that had to relive an awful experience and all human beings that are experiencing destruction and acts of war. In early times men threw rock and stones. Now we have missiles, bombs, planes...instruments of new technology and greater destruction.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:32 pm |
  56. 2pacolypse Now

    First of all,

    Louis Caldera needs to remove his name plate and clean out his office by the end of the week because this has to be te biggest and frankly most dangerous stunt anyone with this kind of authority had displayed since well, coming up with a torture plan and trying to hide it from the public.

    Secondly, how is this, as some of you message board snots are trying to suggest, Obama's fault. It's his fault that the head of the White House Military Office decided on his own to do this while only alerted mid level New York officials. I mean really grow up. Now he will take blame if he doesn't fire this man because he panicked thousands of people who still psychologically haven't recovered from 9/11 and all this does is fuel that weasel Dick Cheney's assertion that somehow we were safer under him than the current president which can't be further from the truth.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:32 pm |
  57. idm

    OK- It was stupid and insensitive, let's all agree that it could have been done better. But if we let every single low flying plane disrupt our lives to the point of 'self evacuating' (and is it just me, or could that be a euphemism for soiling ones pants?), then those lunatics on 9/11 have suceeded!!!

    April 28, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  58. dickelocker

    The point not stated is a 747 was flying in airspace where 747's and most other airplanes have been banned by FAA & local NY authorities since the 9/11 tragedy. New Yorker's know this. So when a huge plane appeared in banned airspace for the first time in 8 years, they naturally panicked. Calderon may not have known this, but the local officials should have warned the White House.

    The idea that Calderon should be fired or resign because he was not "sensitive" to NY's feelings has merit. In his position he must be sensitive to a plethora of both local and national public feelings regarding terror. However, I agree there is a perceived difference between emotional and physical trauma. So, without any physical harm done, I am of a mind to accept his apology, and get on with business. An egregious faux pas is not the same as intentional disregard of public feeling. rel

    April 28, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  59. Grumpy old man

    What do you bet that this photo shoot was for a movie. This explains the White House approval and the secrecy. The other explanations don't add up.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  60. ozzy

    Everybody makes mistakes. Some make mistakes that cause two illegal wars and more than 100,000 deaths and are the fault of "bad intelligence" (read "stupidity"). And others make mistakes that are non-lethal (so far) but nonetheless are just as stupid if not more. Hey New Yorkers, as much as you irritate me with your Yankees, please do not get used to low flying planes or suspicious activity, but do get used to stupidity and incompetence from D.C. – it's here to stay. Unless of course Obama is Jesus – oh wait one sec- hahahahah!! hahahahahaha! hahaha! – as I was saying, get used to stupid.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:30 pm |
  61. James

    WH military office deserves a great deal of blame, but so do local officials. It's clear they knew about it and said nothing.

    Realize they were told to not publicize it, but someone locally, who might be even more in touch with local sensitivity, should have spoken up. What would/could the WH military office or DOD do to the person that spoke up anyway?

    Similar to Katrina – if you're going to rely on the federal government to do the right thing – good luck.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:30 pm |
  62. JacklynD

    Thoughtless and stupid but hardly criminal. I am sure that enough hell has been raised that it will not happen again.

    Accept the apology and get on with it. Our government resources need to be spent in more productive ways than "getting to the bottom" of this event.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:29 pm |
  63. sandra

    I am sorry that this happend is more than enough....You did not ask GW to say that he is sorry for all the young people that are bing killed for a war that is not our busy you people really make me SICK.....

    April 28, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  64. Sean

    All this this is unnecessary. The military follows a chain of command, just like most of the world. The military let everyone who was supposed to know, know about this exercise. The people that the military notified, were supposed to notify others. Those people should have notified others still, until everyone knew about this. The military did their part. If you want to complain, you need to move farther down the chain of command to the local level.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  65. SecuriD

    Interesting...my thoughts and reaction were exactly the same as Frances Townsend stated. How can we have someone with such poor judgment in such an important position? Unacceptable.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  66. werkerbee

    get over it and move on....

    April 28, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  67. rob

    Way to BO i know it was done for you!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 28, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  68. fedd up

    If Bush had done this, impeachment hearings would already have begun. I guess Obama will release a few more top secret "torture" documents to get the heat off himself for this very stupid decision of buzzing lower Manhattan with a jet plane. Total arrogance and thoughtlessness.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  69. WOW

    I agree with amazed. I believe that Caldera needs to go. Besides the money that was blown on this photo op, keeping this from the public was undescrible insenstive. This economy is in a crisis, we are in still in a terrorists color. What was Washington thinking? Obama is blame too, as he is the President. Isn't the President suppose to know what goes on in his office?

    April 28, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  70. Jared

    New Yorkers should focus on something more important . . . like why their Yankees are so pathetic despite the vast resources available to them. The city just continues to exemplify how greed destroys great institutions.

    As for CNN, it just runs one sensationalized item after another. Between this and the non-stop coverage of a flu that only mildly sickens Americans, the whole week is being wasted.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  71. Valzoric

    To all of those posters just passing this off as "another low flying aircraft", your argument might be valid if the plane wasn't being trailed by F16's. The simple fact that this 747 appeared to be trailed by military jets, instantly gives it more sinister connotations then a simple low flying aircraft.

    Also, I love how the Obama supporters get up in arms when we start questioning their leaders choices, picks and anything else. Even though these are the same people that bash Bush to the ends of the Earth. One of my favorite moments of this cluster insanity was the White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, NOT knowing anything.

    This will quickly get swept under the carpet, cause god forbid we question the anything about our new lord and savior Barak Hussein Obama.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  72. Lillibet

    The whole country was traumatized by 9/11. It's just not a NYC thing. Unfortunately, there will always be reminders of what happened and all of them can't be avoided. It's just a part of life.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  73. jan

    Like everything else since January 20th 2009, there are excuses, I'm sorry, People make mistakes, don't judge a book by its cover, oversites, undersites, and just plain stubbity that the elected ones get to make, but not the working people that pay their slaries can make without being arrested. What are the backbone of America going to do?

    April 28, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  74. John

    Yes, this was a stupid move but so are these lame attempts to make this political attack on our president. This guy was former Secretary of the Army, not a "Buddy" or a judge in a horse show. His qualifications where exemplary. I feel sorry for the local people that had to deal with this and I am ashamed of the idiots that don't see why this is a big deal.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:25 pm |
  75. Unbelievable

    My son's office building in NYC was evacuated as a result of this foolishness. Co-workers who lived through 9-11 were panicked as they ran down the 50 plus flights of stairs to the street level. Who thinks to fly Air Force 1 so low that you can see the writing on the side repeatedly past NYC buildings for a photo-op without alerting the people in that area? And we are supposed to trust their judgement on spending trillions and implementing national healthcare? Heaven help us!

    April 28, 2009 at 1:25 pm |
  76. Kate

    I hope Bloomberg runs for President in 2012. I'd feel much safer with him running the country

    April 28, 2009 at 1:25 pm |
  77. Bob

    Why don't we ask to see the pictures? They better be darned good!!

    April 28, 2009 at 1:25 pm |
  78. Tom

    Obama could send Sosha and Malia to Columbine High School dressed in trench coats and carrying fake automatic rifles, and I have no doubt many of the Obamamites in this country would be saying some of the same old nonsense here:

    "Columbine needs to get a back bone."

    "Columbine is a bunch of cowards."

    "Apology accepted. It was kind of silly for anyone to get upset."

    Pathetic.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  79. Geoffrey in Lowell

    yeah, it is stupid. Let's move on. So like a former bushie to try to make so much of it.

    It would seem you forgot "Condition Orange" and turning the country upside down for things that weren't happening.

    Oh yeah.... Felony stupidity of the age: "WMD In Iraq".

    Or did you forget that, my vacuous and demonstrably incompetent Ms. Townsend?

    April 28, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  80. GJC

    Can you say "Photoshop...."

    April 28, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  81. CarolineC

    MEDIA ADVISORY: (What should have gone out !)

    All media in New York and New Jersey are asked to advise their viewers and listeners that Air Force One, along with fighter jet escorts, will be participating in a photo shoot on Monday morning, at approximately 9 AM – weather permitting – in the area of Lower Manhattan. This event, coordinated by the US Air Force and the DC Air National Guard, will be a great opportunity for residents of New York and New Jersey to get a close-up view of Air Force One in flight, particularly as it passes the Statue of Liberty – something most people never get to see.

    In addition, The Boeing Company and the US Air Force are sponsoring a contest for amateur photographers who submit their shots of Air Force One over Manhattan, with prizes being awarded for the most creative and interesting pictures in various age groups.

    For more information regarding contest submissions and prizes, which will include monetary awards, HP high-end digital cameras and tickets to Air Shows around the United States, please go to the contest's website: _______.

    End of problem and panic, beginning of a creative and exciting experience...Who is doing their PR planning?

    April 28, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  82. pete

    This Caldera needs to be handed a pink slip. To not figure in that some low flying planes over Manhattan wouldn't cause a ruckus is a really bad mistake. You're fired!

    April 28, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  83. Victor

    New Yorkers may have a right to get a little anxious over this but now the right-wing nut-jobs are blowing it all out of proportion. Yo – Nutty folks on the right – We wouldn't have to panic if you would've done more to insure security for us instead of torturing people.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  84. kelly

    To "steve" who thinks New Yorkers need to get a spine and not freak out at a low flying plane; you have alot of nerve. I would love to see you when a 747 comes racing at your building. You'd probably need a new change of pants.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  85. AJ

    I am calling out DAVE from OH as being the most incompetent poster to this thread.

    Dave, you are clueless. Do you really wonder why people tie this to 9/11? NEWSFLASH, it was a low flying 747 near Ground ZERO!

    you idiot

    April 28, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  86. JH

    This is all just a big distraction being perpetrated by the Baseball Centrist to distract New Yorkers from the real issue at hand. The Yankees stink and their 1.5 Billion dollar investment was huge waste of money. Bring back the old stadium.

    Also the plane couldn’t have been that low to the ground or those who panicked would have been able to see the iconic paint job on Air Force One and the words "United States Of America"

    It’s understandable that those who lived through 9/11 might have been spooked but lets not go crazy.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  87. Machtim Akannah

    I think this calls for a Congressional investigation with sub committee task forces to set up the proper protocol to assure that this obamanation can never again happen. If Congress is so occupied, perhaps we will be saved from the irrationality of liberal thought.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  88. sca

    It was stupid.
    It was waste of taxpayer dollars to do the photo shoot.
    The person authorizing it has apologized.
    Now, let us not waste any more time on it.
    And let us focus on eliminating waste in government spending.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  89. Willie C Fields Jr

    I was very concerned when I saw the video of the fly-over Mahattan and its effect it had on the people in surrounding buildings. What if, in the heat of this panic, someone were to have a heart attack & died, or someone was injured running down a flight of stair's, who would be responsible to the family's? Mr. Pres., in all due respect, you campaigned on a promise of Change. Do the right change for the security of the America people & replace the Dir. of WH Military Military Affairs. In the future, since this office reports to the White House & not the FAA, make them report to the FAA in the future. America's security depends on your response. Thank You.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  90. M Thomas

    I live in Albuquerque New Mexico. Mr Cordero, The head of the office of military service. Was formerly with UNM (University of New Mexico) as President of the University. Sadly the man LEFT IN DISCRACE!

    What ever happened to vetting in the current administration. It seems that appointee after appointee has some problem whether it be taxes or issues like Mr Corderos.

    WHY are we hiring folks to run our country based on the fulfilment of "The Peter Principle" ie: People rise to their own level of incompetence.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  91. Jaybird

    Surely the most outrageous thing since the Lewinsky affair

    April 28, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  92. Debbie/Kansas City

    Give me a break. Nothing would ever be good enough for that woman, if it came from this administration. She worked for a man who could never admit anything he ever did was wrong, including torture. I could care less what her opinion is about anything.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  93. Bryan

    This speaks to the growing body of evidence that this White House is incompetent. From mislabeling a gift to the Russians. To giving the British PM a gift that does not work in his country. To the absolutely idiotic idea to stage a photo op in NYC with a 747 buzzing skyscrapers. This White House is close to becoming a parody of itself.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  94. Jan

    Got two words: Photo Shop. How much valuable money was wasted on this? Personnel, fuel, etc.? All for a pretty picture? Yep, it's a new day in America. Right.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:19 pm |
  95. Chris

    New Yorkers: Get over it. How many of you have "vacationed" in Hawaii? Ever heard of Pearl Harbor? Have you been on a cruise around Pearl Harbor? Do you think New York is the only place on earth in which tragedy has occurred? Can you say Auschwitz? Man up and get over it.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:19 pm |
  96. Not Left or Right but Forward

    Get over it! No American, indeed no civilized human being can excuse 9-11, but to put this in the context of that horrible event is ludicrous. Yes, it was a breach of judgement. Sure it was a boneheaded mistake. But in the framework of boneheaded mistakes, it is nowhere near the previous administrations:

    Mission Accomplished!
    Katrina
    Weapons of Mass Destruction – NONE
    Where is Osama?
    Where is Mullah Omar?
    Where did the money go to Haliburton?
    Where did the billions in bailout money go?
    Where's the armor for our servicemen and women?
    Where are Bush's military records?
    Who met with Dick Cheney to fix the oil prices?
    How about that waterboarding?
    Who outed Valerie Plame?

    Bush apologized for none of these – NONE. And how many Americans died because of Bush's foolishness and stupidity?

    Keep things in perspective. If Obama has bad breath it's an impeachable offense to the right wingers, but Bush could send thousand of Americans off a cliff like lemmings and it would be ok with you.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:19 pm |
  97. New Yorker

    This message is to IAN.

    Ian, are you from IRAN or IRAQ?.

    If your kid or wife was around there working and studying , you will know how it feels....

    April 28, 2009 at 1:19 pm |
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