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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. GG

    I'm shocked at the lack of sensitivity in most of the comments. I voted for Obama, but unfortunately it's mistakes such as this–in the hands of the people he's chosen to represent his administration–that remind me of what should really be discussed: lack of experience.

    It's true people all over the world suffer major traumas every day, but not in this country my friend. Isn't that what our sons, daughters, mothers and fathers are STILL fighting for? People outside of NY need get over themselves and admit NYC pretty much is the center of the universe. I have to imagine the same people that are complaining we need to "get over it" are the ones that would be clutching to their purses in the subway or runnig for their dear life if they saw a low flying plane while on vacation in NY.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  2. counterptofview

    Wow, Pointofview certainly taking a political slant. I guess maybe if you had anyone close to you involved in 9/11, you would feel differently and not reduce it to political agendas, but you obviously don't. Treading over such a sensitive subject with political rhetoric is near the same problem that created this are probably one of those that simply say "get over it."

    April 28, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  3. Tom

    If this was under George Bush's watch, the liberal press would be having a proverbial "field day" right now.

    But . . . . it is Obama, of course.

    So they are focusing on the "real" news stories like how Obama is undeniably the best President ever. (The last 100 days have only proven this already indisputable "truth").

    April 28, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  4. Orean Johnson

    Give it a rest already, it was stupid but no need to go on and on about it. People are out of work, can't put food on the table, and can't afford to see the doctor. Those issues need paying attention too. This is the media going overboard with an event as usual and I can say this with a straight face, I'm a member of the media. I'm also a New Yorker, we need to get over ourselves.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  5. The CHief From Cali

    Hasn't the FAA have enough black eyes!!
    First not to have a check on this and then to give clearance!

    April 28, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  6. James L

    I did loose a loved one in 9/11, and I am still terribly upset about what happened that horrible day, but I also feel that this is a non story, being blown up by the media. It was poor judgement, but c'mon, not nearly as bad as the poor judgement that Bush used every time he would use 9/11 and the deaths of our loved one as an excuse to run his self profiting war and murder spree on the innocent people in Iraq..... That was the most disrespecting thing anyone has done to those who suffered in 9/11.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  7. Jim

    This was not done as a scare tactic nor was it "really" a photo shoot. Think about a plan that would be able to judge peoples reaction to a particular scenario. It is outrageous that this was done. It was however a good judge of peoples reaction to crisis and what we have learned from the past, we are still not ready for a real emergency.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  8. Craig B

    Get over it, Ms. Townsend. Of the SERIOUS problems facing this nation today; are you are going to waste time and editorial space on this? Come on. Yes, it was a bad decision and certainly it was insensitive; but felonious or deliberate it was not. If the is the worst decision the Obama team makes this year, we're lucky. Get over it, and lets focus on the REAL important issues of the day.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  9. Randy Harmon

    I wouldn't have expected much else from Ms. Townsend with regard to this story. "Apology not good enough" indeed. But at least there was an apology for this mistake. Meanwhile, Ex-Vice-President Dick Cheney and his fellow former White House Staffers, including Ms. Townsend, offer no apology for the torture debacle, while instead he remains atop his dead steed of self-righteousness thrashing away. Apology not good enough? You bet it wouldn't be.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  10. Up North

    This was "in your face" stupid!

    There should have been a full page notification in the NY Times telling the public what to expect.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  11. Orean Johnson

    Give it a rest already, it was stupid but no need to go on and on about it. People are out of work, can't put food on the table, and can't afford to see the doctor. Those issues need paying attention too. This is the media going overboard with an event as usual and I can say this with a straight face, I'm a member of the media.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  12. TTTBone

    Stupid decision yes. But this story reeks of a writer that has the opportunity to blast the person that more or less took over her job. Like we are supposed to believe that everything was perfect when she was a homeland advisor. Please. Think of all the screwups that happened in the past 8 years...

    April 28, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  13. Tom

    Don't we have more important things to focus on in this country!!!!!

    What happened to the 24 hour news coverage of "Bo Obama".

    Where is our priorities?!

    April 28, 2009 at 1:14 pm |
  14. Vincent

    "Why is the government wasting our money taking pictures of Air Force One? Oh yeah, I bet it was in the Stimulus Bill."

    There are and have been pictures taken of Air Force One under every administration. Furthermore, the air crews need flight time and can't do it all in a simulator...they have to take the bird to the sky on a regular basis. Events like this are routinely planned in coordination with aircrew training that must be done anyway to maintain currency with the aircraft and systems. Indeed, the article's first paragraph specified it as a combined training mission. Doing it over NYC was pretty dubious, but the purpose of the flight wasn't some exorbitant extra expense serving no other necessary function.

    You do know that W had to be flown in that behemoth about every time he took a piece of his Presidential-record vacation time too, right?

    April 28, 2009 at 1:14 pm |
  15. sergei

    Obama's Administration was ordered to cut their budget by 100M. So, the 1st step was to waste money on the photo op.

    It all makes sense.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:14 pm |
  16. JP

    Apology is good enough. Accept it and reciprocate with forgiveness. There was never any intention to start a panic, remind people of 9/11, or cause anyone jump out of their skin. Stop being ridiculous about this.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:14 pm |
  17. Donna

    If Bush had been President everyone woula automatically blame him.. It was a very stupid idea and ultimately Mr. Obama is to blame.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:14 pm |
  18. Dee

    Okay, with an economy in the toilet, 2 wars in the Middle East, piracy on the rise and the new swine flu pandemic; why would anyone think that President Obama would micromanage something like this.

    While I agree that this was as stupid as it gets and someone needs to lose their jobs, I don't agree that this was a gaffe by the President but by someone who obviously lost their mind.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:14 pm |
  19. Tom Kruk

    You have to understand that most people here witnessed 9/11. No one says it but I at least have a lingering fear of it happening again. You hear about incursions by aircraft and f-16 escorts all the time. But what makes this different?

    This was a huge aircraft, and made lots of noise. To those who saw it, it looked like a big plane (abnormally low) flying fast towards a city full of buildings, chased by a military jet... So you think rogue airplane. The maneuver the pilot was pulling were serious. Most couldn't have imagined the plane was empty air-force one. The stunt move it pulled looked like it was a rouge pilot flying with f16 in pursuit to engage.

    For those in the building it was probably worse to hear the sound of the engines so close to the city that it must have scared them beyond belief. I'm not surprised people bolted.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  20. Ed

    Aside from all the comments posted on this article. There are other reasons why an apology is not good enough not only for NY but for everyone who lives in this country.

    For instance, this tells a lot about the lack of communication between goverment agencies. How is it possible that the President or even the mayor or governor of new york did not know about this?

    Wasn’t this lack of communication between goverment agencies a contributing factor to the sucess of terrorists attacks the country has been subject to?

    This is definately more than a mistake or a “felony stupidity”. It is an event that has shown how inneffective our goverment is with regards to clear and transparent communication.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  21. Jen_B

    You gotta be kidding me. I coulda paid someone 25 bucks to composite that photo in Photoshop with stock footage of both items. And I, as a taxpayer, footed what, a 140K bill for it? (Two planes to and from Philly, pilot time, etc?)

    Obama, this is BS.

    FIX.IT or GTFO.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  22. elliott

    And Osama acted like he didn't know..!!!!....What a lier!!!!

    April 28, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  23. Tom

    Let's put aside, for a moment, whether the photo-op location over NYC was insensitive (obviously as it caused mass panic), but whether the whole idea was wrong.

    The cost of flying Air Force One is $40,000 per hour, as reported by the AP a year ago. So, what's the cost of flying this plane from Andrews Air Force Base, outside D.C., to NYC, fly around for half an hour, and then fly back to D.C.? I figure that is was at about 2 hours of flight time. That's puts the cost of this photo-op at a minimum of $80,000. Figure in the cost of the two F-16 fighter escorts and the cost rises.

    Did we need to pay upwards of $80,000 for a photo of Air Force One with NYC city in the background? How about use last year's photo or any other photo and save the money.

    This is the problem with government. They just don't care how they spend money. Its not theirs so who cares what the cost is.

    Some idiot political appointee thought he'd score points with Obama when he gave him a nice glossy 10X12 framed picture of a shiny plane. Too bad the cost was $80,000 and panicking tens of thousands of New Yorkers.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:12 pm |
  24. Jerry

    This clearly falls to Obama, did he say he was sorry, No he didn't and neither did the teleprompter. I like the way the BHO operatives send most of the messages in defense when teleprompter does something wrong.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:12 pm |
  25. Jamie B

    Yeah, it was stupid so fire the guy and move on; that's what would happen in the corporate world. Oh and, Pamela, trying to compare the plight of New Yorkers in this incident to what is going on in Iraq is just flat out laughable. 9/11 happened almost 8 years ago, grow a spine and get over it. No one died or was seriously injured yesterday. We have it so good America, we apparently can't comprehend the idea of our lives not being continuosly perfect.

    And trying to say something so miniscule as this is Obama's fault are just scrambling for darts to throw. Sometimes people under you do bonehead things without your involvement, and you're left to pick up the peices. The current President didn't even know about it because he has REAL issues to deal with like the 2 wars we're still in, the major banks and manufacturing companies invovled in our troubled economy, and our rep with world, not a stupid photo op.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:12 pm |
  26. Ryan

    I'm a democrat, and am not about to make apologies or tell New Yorkers to get over it. This was an offense that demands a termination. Were I in Obama's shoes, I'd ask for Caldera's resignation today. This was an outrageously bad decision, and it should cost the decision-maker their know, like it would in the private sector.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:12 pm |
  27. Don

    What a waste of taxpayers money! A photo shoot....

    April 28, 2009 at 1:11 pm |
  28. Suzanne

    Have they never heard of photo shop? This photo op cost the tax payers quite a bit of money. In the millions I would guess???? Just proves again they do not practice what they preach. Wake up Americans!!!! While we are losing our homes and jobs the government is spending millions of dollars on a photo op... how ridiculous!

    April 28, 2009 at 1:11 pm |
  29. Douglas

    Hmmm. New York is surrounded by airports. This is an example of herd mentality plain and simple. Stupid people running from a nonexistent threat! If they're so afraid, the wide open spaces of Nebraska await!

    April 28, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  30. Shawn

    Jason, BO is the best Prez ever is why you can not blame him and he is black..........DUH!!

    April 28, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  31. David

    Okay, let's just stick a pin in the fact that they terrorized the citizens of New York and set that aside for a moment.

    How much does it cost to fly a 747 and two F-16s from Andrews Air Force Base to NYC and back for a PHOTO OP?! Using my tax dollars while the government is bleeding money?

    And since when is a photo shoot of the President's plane a classified military secret?

    This was just wrong on so many levels. The people who proposed, authorized, and decided to keep it quiet should all be fired ASAP!

    April 28, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  32. Mary Beth

    What exactly is Fran Townsend's role at CNN? I noticed the other day that when she was commented on the swine flu emergency, she spoke with a tone of derision about the preparations that the White House would need to make. Even though their has not even been a hint of factual information to suggest that the White House has not been doing everything and more to address the crisis. Is she a reporter? A commentator? Why do you cut to her as you would to a reporter and the next day, she is a commentator. I've been turning the channel more and more. Today, when you had people commenting on the President's First 100 days I couldn't turn the channel fast enough when your second Joe Citizen began to criticize the administration. I am so sick of the 50/50 spots, one person in favor, one person against. It's so old! And boring!

    April 28, 2009 at 1:09 pm |

    I just heard Bo had his head out the window barking at the birds as they flew by...

    April 28, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  34. Amazed

    I don't care who is in White House or what political party is in power. This was just an incredibly incompetent decision. How could someone in any position of authority not know this was completely bone-headed? Do our decision makers have no shred of common sense? In order for this to have happened, multiple people must have said to themselves "OK, we should do a photo op.. hey I know - let's fly a jetliner low over Manhattan, trailed by F-16s!! Let's do it!" And then a chain of people felt it was appropriate *not* to notify everyone they could possibly think of about it as a warning. It boggles the mind. And these are the people running security.

    And to those who say that this caused no damage, please keep in mind all of the productivity dollars lost because a million or so people evacuated... You might be inclined to be callous and discount the psychological damage to the population, but the lost time at work is real money, regardless. Making a boneheaded decision causing this amount of loss definitely should be grounds for dismissal, whether at the Fed, state, or city level.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  35. Shawn

    Darn, where is Bush when you need a scape goat. 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! There has to be a way to blame Bush for this.....come on fellow libs, help me out here.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  36. Walter B

    Not to be insensitive or anything but are we that living that much fear now? Those hijackers and the Al-Queda have won. We are still scared of our own shadow.

    Yeah, it was a stupid move by the White House Military Office to not give a heads up to the Mayor's Office. Yet, if I read correctly, there were authorities notified, so why didn't the NY authorities notify their chain of command? Do I think this guy needs to lose his job? Nope. Reprimanded....for sure. But we can not continue to live in a state of fear where we are constantly afraid. Yep we should be vigilent. Yep we still morn our losses on that dreadful day.

    To even think that a hijacked plane could get that close again without warning would mean that the Department of Homeland Security has failed it's job and purpose.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  37. RealLeftist

    "Obama is furious." Please. Is anyone that gullible? Maybe Schumer is. He's outraged that "the FAA planned" the photo shoot.(CLUE: The FAA didn't "plan" this, the White House did). Does anyone actually believe that ANYONE in the White House would give permission to the Air Force to take the President's jet up without the President, himself, knowing about it and approving it? Sure, there might be a person who Obama will pick to fall on the sword, but come on, really? This is the best disinformation Team Obama can come up with? Sheesh.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  38. Hedwige

    What a lack of common sense and poor judgment on Louis Caldera's part...9/11 is still fresh in the mind of those who lost a loved one during these tragic events, and surely all the people who witnessed 9/11 are not ready to deal with an overdose of stress. He is the director of the White House Military Office ? How pathetic!!!

    April 28, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  39. lmm010

    I have a bridge to sell you if you think that was a photo-op!

    With photoshop, a photo would have easily been created that would be much better than a real photo.

    Think about it for a minute! Helllloooooooooo!!!

    Would you think they might actually be testing something maybe?

    And that it appears to be important enough to outweigh the outrage of this scenario as well

    Just wondering.....

    April 28, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  40. Penny

    OK, we all know the guy who authorized this has the sensitivity of an animal cracker, but here is my question........

    Where did the money come from for this? The memo said they are doing updated photos of Air Force One at SEVERAL LANDMARKS. Be interesting to know how many teachers salaries or books could have been paid for with the money spent for jet fuel for this little project. Seems something as important as a "photo shoot" could have waited 'till we had a little more money in the bank!!

    April 28, 2009 at 1:08 pm |

    True it was a bad decision, but hey, no one was hurt and if you think someone could really hijack air force one, you are not from this planet. The repugs lost, the Dems won, get over it. what's next, we blame the Pres. for the swine flu???

    April 28, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  42. slg

    Wow..incredible amount of ignorance in these comments. As a NYer here on 9/11 and someone who watched the jet yesterday fly by my 39th floor window w/ fighter jets escorting it – it was scary – but it happened.

    Apology is enough. But please understand after watching two 100 story buildings fall and people jumping/burning to their death – those images and fear are never erased from your mind.

    And FYI – NY is the MAJOR US target for terrorism

    April 28, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  43. janecitizen

    Obama needs to fire this person ASAP, go on tv and blast that the Defense Dept.'s days of running the show are over, and call a meeting of all major staff members to issue the direct order that if anyone act without his approval again they are out. With the mess this administration inherited, there's no time to go around baby sitting.

    Oh, and to those complaining this goes back to Obama being green – I'd rather new than moronic like the past 8 years. The Bush administration would've sent in fighter jets to shoot down the stupid plane then covered it up.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  44. George M

    Fire Caldera immediately. Please President Obama, take decisive action on this one.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  45. Noel

    Why is there any need for a photo op in the first place? Surely, it cost more than most Americans make. The only change I am seeing so far is even more wasteful spending; and this is prime example.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:06 pm |
  46. RDPA

    I was in a building in Jersey City that this 747 came within FEET of and let me tell you – even if this stupid ignorant flight photo shoot was pre-announced – I STILL would have ran out of my building. It was a dangerous situation – without a doubt. I'd like a press conference with the people INSIDE the plane. I want to see the photos that these jackasses took. Come on boys, let's see them. Were they worth it? unbelievable

    April 28, 2009 at 1:06 pm |
  47. Wayne

    Steve should know that New Yorkers have more spine than he could ever understand. The courage of New Yorkers in a crisis is admired around the world. However, that does not mean that those who witnessed people jumping from the windows of the WTC to their death should have to endure a replay of that horrific day.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:06 pm |
  48. Tom

    I am kind of amazed at the extent of the "purple kool aid"-induced anger in this room.

    The Obama administration (note, I said "administration") screwed up here. It was a stupid (yes, probably "felony stupid") thing to do.

    But so many of you - in your utter devotion to The Obama - choose to attack (often mericlessly) the people in New York who still are suffering the psychological wounds of 911.

    "New Yorkers are cowards." "Planes fly low all the time." "People in New York need to grow a backbone."


    April 28, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  49. Bob B

    I think Obama should take the rap. If Bush was still in charge there would be a mob standing at the White House this very moment looking for him to step down. Barry, do the right thing and step down, after all you are the big cheese in charge.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  50. RSJ

    No president or human is perfect. This mistake only lasted one day and without any lost of life.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  51. Brian

    Anyone think of the other side of this? Why would the DoD want to do something that would cause this much trouble? To me, they would certainly have a good reason as it was a classified mission and they specifically told the local authorities NOT to let everyone know about it. Everyone is always so selfish, always ME ME ME... Good grief New York, get over yourselves and take a chill-pill, the world doesn't revolve around your little lives.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  52. Mary

    Felony stupidity really sums it up!!!! Did they think that, wait let me stop here. The point is they WERE NOT thinking!

    April 28, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  53. Tom

    Just more inexperince coming out of a amateur led government. God have mercy on us.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  54. Tom Jones

    Steve April 28th, 2009 12:13 pm ET
    New Yorkers need to get a spine. What? Are you going to panic every time you see a low-flying plane?

    Steve and some others don't have a clue !

    April 28, 2009 at 1:03 pm |
  55. Aubree

    The real issue with this incident is the fact that if terrorists ever attempt to attack NYC again, people may think it is another stupid government stunt and NOT self-evacuate like so many did this time.

    And I'm going to repeat what so many have already said... WHY is the government wasting money on photo ops at a time like this??

    April 28, 2009 at 1:03 pm |
  56. Howard

    Felony stupidity? Like what happened in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina came ashore?

    At least the President didn't tell Caldera he was doing "a heckuva job."

    April 28, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  57. Michael Martin

    what was it a month or two ago a low flying plane landed in the river?
    where was the panic, the fleeing to New Jersey? the hang the devil?
    that day people came together and rushed to save people.
    New York will handle things just fine, the experts should talk to themselves. As they add nothing positive to this situation

    April 28, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  58. Shai

    WOW, I'm a Canadian, Living in Toronto, and If I was the guy who approved this stupidity I would resign !

    Regardless how harmless, regardless how long it's been, regardless of who in authority was notified or not...

    This should have never even been considered to be done in and around the Manhattan area.

    I feel nothing bot sorrow for the people who went through 9/11 and still live in the Manhattan area. Look at the videos, read the blogs and listen to the comments made by councilors who helped traumatized New Yorkers... only one word comes to mind for the person who thought of this, and approved it... SHAME !


    April 28, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  59. Mary CA

    Has anyone heard of GPS?

    April 28, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  60. Ed

    Aside from all the comments posted on this article. There are other reasons why an apology is not good enough not only for NY but for everyone who lives in this country.

    For instance, this tells a lot about the lack of communication between goverment agencies. How is it possible that the President or even the mayor or governor of new york did not know about this?

    Wasn't this lack of communication between goverment agencies a contributing factor to the sucess of terrorists attacks the country has been subject to?

    This is definately more than a mistake or a “felony stupidity”. It is an event that has shown how inneffective our goverment is with regards to clear and transparent communication.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  61. Stew Pid Steve

    When there is reason to think your life is in danger, I don't think "having a spine" is the sentiment I'd convey.

    That "nothing happened" is irrelevant except that we're lucky no one got hurt. In a totally different scenario, there could have been a stampede that killed a few people. Happened on Christmas, happens on flea markets across the world, could've happened here.

    So, Ian and Steve, maybe you need a plane to fly into your buildings to "get a good laugh" or "grow a spine." And Barack, make sure your idiot appointees stop wasting our money. I could Photoshop your plane by the Statue of Liberty for free if you could ensure your staff had a little more common sene and decency.

    April 28, 2009 at 1:00 pm |
  62. Tom

    Who was the jenius (note the "j") who came up with this idea?

    I agree that this isn't Obama's fault, but also agree that if this was under George Bush's watch, the liberal press - CNN included - would be having a proverbial "field day."

    April 28, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  63. Dennis

    Keep telling Al'Qaeda how successful they were at breaking the people of NY.

    Or quit the drama...either way.

    April 28, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  64. Becky

    This was hardly a mishap. I do believe no casualties resulted from this. Everyone needs to relax and quit being so dramatic. Get over it and move on. Go to work people.

    April 28, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  65. Dave from Jersey

    For all of those that are posting "get over it" or "it was just a low flying plane"; 9/11 was obviously just some day to you that you watched from the comfort of your home/office/bar, and not something that you experienced FIRST HAND, or LOST A LOVED ONE TO.

    Manhattan (up until this) no longer allows low flying planes to pass over it. There are three International airports and anybody from the area knows generally which direction they are in, and how low the planes going there should be. SO WHEN A 747 WITH 2 F-16'S BEHIND IT ARE RUNNING PARALLEL WITH BROADWAY; THERE IS EVERY REASON FOR ALARM!!

    Whoever called for this should be dismissed; it wasn't some little mistake; it was a COLOSSAL mistake which is indicative of poor judgement all around.

    April 28, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  66. JDC

    Good running practice for the coming 911 attack. The looney terrorists know they have Obama conned and will strike again.

    April 28, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  67. Audra

    As a non-native resident of Jersey City (I've lived across the Hudson from Lower Manhattan for 4 years,) I have seen many planes flying low over the skyline here, landing nearby at EWR, and while at first it scared the living daylights out of me, I've grown accustomed to it. This incident was something else altogether. Never have I seen an F-16 fighter pilot block out the sun the way these two jets did. If you want to take your fighter pilot on a joyride between–not above–buildings in the NYC metro area, then do it at the risk of your own career. It's one thing to fly low for fun in the middle of nowhere, and something completely different to exhibit a gross lack of judgement and respect in a place where so many lives were lost. New Yorkers don't need to get a spine; they experience so much change and violence on a daily basis that they don't need to have to be reminded of such a tragic incident by their own government as well!

    April 28, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  68. George

    It's no surprise she's a Republican under Georgie which is really the only reason why she's opening her mouth. All the people putting up a stink about it , get over yourself, bunch of Drama Queens !! I was in NYC during 911 too and this was scary but geez !!!

    April 28, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  69. Jerry

    The fact that our government under BO needs to spend money (hundreds of thousands of dollars) to update a photo of airf orce one says it all. He and his cast of characters are out of touch with america.

    I'd like anyone to defend that spending this money is a good thing.

    100 days down. He will be out of office soon and will be back in Chicago wondering why he failed.

    Lets restore america to its values and get of the Tax and Spend strategies that BO is putting into place – and the stupidity of spending money on a photo shoot. Are you kidding me?????

    April 28, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  70. Bobby

    What do you people mean "nothing happened"? Buildings were evacuated, 1000's were in panic, security measures were enacted at a cost of millions of dollars in lost business and wages.

    Ah, but nothing happened.

    April 28, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  71. Lee Green

    Fire the person who authorized this. Do it now, before he does something else equally dumb and insensitive. As Ron White says, "You can't FIX stupidity!"

    April 28, 2009 at 12:56 pm |
  72. BigCity

    Looks like the critics are more Drama Queens than anything else. Willing to let the last president and his help destroy the country (including their jobs and retirement savings by deregulating everything) but first on the bandwagon to execute who was responsible for a dumb photo-op mistake. No ownder you folks got voted out – might want to re-evaluate what is REALLY important.

    April 28, 2009 at 12:55 pm |
  73. Ron

    I can understand NY reaction. But, get over it. City all across the US have low flying planes as part of daily life. Phoenix, San Diego, St. Louis, Oakland and SF to name a few have airports thats flight patterns that require planes to fly much lower and closer to builds than 1500 FT.

    April 28, 2009 at 12:55 pm |
  74. LB

    Yes indeed it's insensitive but whoever is even thinking about filing a law suit over this should think twice. That's our tax money again going out the door over a mistake that none of us should dwell on. Yeah it is alarming but we have bigger things to solve. It's a mistake... move on!

    April 28, 2009 at 12:55 pm |
  75. Jesse Rose

    It's amazing how ignorant some people truly are about how big the implications of this irresponsible act where. I'm the type of person that finds the reasons that most people are called to resign ridiculous, but with that said, this person should voluntarily resign without question and without hesitation and there should be a public outcry until this action takes place. I still can't believe it. I hope to God that more people like Louis Caldera do not work in our government.

    April 28, 2009 at 12:54 pm |
  76. Tom

    Bingo. The terrorists have won. I'm sure they watched all of the panicking New Yorkers with glee.

    April 28, 2009 at 12:54 pm |
  77. Aaron

    Really? Someone is that upset? There are low flying planes all the time around here. You don't have to be from NYC or known someone who died to be afraid. The best way to get over falling off a horse, get back up on it.

    I say, fly a few more planes low over that city until people aren't so scared!

    April 28, 2009 at 12:54 pm |
  78. Evie

    The difference is that GWB would have been on that plane still saying "mission accomplished"! Obama was just trusting government workers to get on with their work. Personnel DID inform local government entities.

    April 28, 2009 at 12:53 pm |
  79. Cris Craft

    This was truly unbelievable, someone should be fired for this. It was all about a photo op for the aircraft; well I guess it got one. THERE IS PHOTO EDITING SOFTWARE TO DO WHAT THEY WANTED TO DO. They didn't have to fly over any city to get this picture. What kind of stupid people do we have in charge of things anyway?

    April 28, 2009 at 12:53 pm |
  80. RJ

    Yes it was stupid. Very stupid, with a capital V.

    But to make an international crisis out of this is even More stupid, with a capital M.

    It's not about "if Bush were in office", blah blah blah.
    It's not about "because Obama is in office", blah blah blah.

    It's about human stupidity – period. Give someone a vicious ass-chewing and let's move on. We need to stop sensationalizing our errors and chalk them up to "We won't do that again!".

    Everyone wants someone to pay – someone to blame. The rest of the world is watching us come out from so much in-fighting – it would suck to have this drag out for months with INVESTIGATIONS, HEARINGS, PERSECUTIONS, etc...

    So, "SORRY" should suffice, followed by the decision-maker getting a good smackdown and then MOVE ON.

    This is not meant to be insensitive to NYers – it's just that we cannot dwell on this stupidity for too long.

    April 28, 2009 at 12:53 pm |
  81. Don in Grand Rapids, Mi

    A major example of President Oduma's capibilty! NONE! "Mission Accomplished" Pale in comparison and you liberals and your soicialist Media buddies had a field day with that one! But you want to ignor this fascio? Get a life folks, this is right oit of Looney Tunes!

    April 28, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  82. Pat

    I cannot comprehend this level of stupidity and I question the intelligence of every human being that had any part in this decision. I cannot find a single justification for it. It was expensive, exploitive, and insensitive beyond my power to describe it.

    As much as I support the Obama team, anything this stupid should trigger questions about the competency of anyone who signed off on it. I will leave to the administration to decide what happens next unless this joker decides to do what is right – resign. There really are mistakes that you can make that are just too dumb to keep your job.

    April 28, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  83. Life

    It is well past the point of time for people to put the past behind them and move forward. I was there and had staff that were there to. People can no longer walk around NY with their tail between the legs. Be proud and stop being so afraid of all the things you can not change or control. Just think of all the things you all are missing. Live for the day because we all will die sooner or later. Make the most of life every day. People need to start to trust again or we all have lost to the terrorists and we have lost our freedom.

    April 28, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  84. Drew

    I can't believe that in the economic state we are in someone would find it fiscally responsible to do a live photo shoot for PR photos. A small private plane and a photographer could have shot aerial photos and Photoshop could have done the rest for what might well be a $500,000 bill. Not to mention the lost time of all the workers who fled there buildings in terror and most likely refused to return for the day; I would have.

    We are giving out taxpayer’s money to support our economy and we have others in the administration doing financially irresponsible crap like this! Secondly, what did they think would happen when NY saw a jet being pursued by an F16? We all witness 9/11 and one of the first thing we heard of was a jet being pursued by F16’s to be shot down… he should be publically fired for these actions. For those of you that think an apology will suffice I ask you what you would have thought if it was over your downtown core without any prior notification. These are public officials and they have to be held to a higher standard than a regular Joe (plumber).

    April 28, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  85. Butch Dillon

    Issuing an "I'm sorry" does not work. The head of Louis Caldera needs to drop, if only in a metaphorical sense. The sooner he's dispatched to the unemployment lines the better. Please give us public servants with intelligence

    April 28, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  86. RWalker

    The president can blame it on some underling all he wants, but this is just the first from this administration. They are arrogant, elitists that are going to trample all over your little lib's rights. Who will be the first pea-brained lib to come out and declare the emperor is not wearing any clothes? Huh?

    April 28, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  87. Marilyn M. Cottrell

    This was an insensitive decision that could have caused serious problems for the citizens of NY. I imagine that many people living with emotional turmoil of varying degrees due to 9/ll, have been set back due to this event. Looking at the videos, it is obvious that fleeing lower Manhattan would have been the smart thing to do. How else would an intelligent person interpret what he was seeing? Mr. Caldera may have great qualities but good judgement is not one of them. We do not have the luxury of a second stupid action on his part. He should be fired immediately.

    April 28, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  88. Bob

    Of course it seems "dumb"....but what were the options...notify everyone incl the public at large, and see if some "idiot" takes a pot-shot at the plane with a high powered rifle? Pick a different venue? Maybe... but that depends (in part) on WHAT the purpose and final use of the photo was to be. It might not convey the desired "message' if you placed the Grand Canyon (which i dearly love from a photographer's standpoint BTW) in the background. Perhaps a different city? Again , maybe, but shipping a 747 ( and crew, and photographers, etc) to Chicago for a photo shoot might have been a "wee bit" more expensive??

    I think an earnest apology will have to suffice....unless everyone else who is complaining and looking for someone's "head" is willing to own up to their OWN screwups over the years and take an extreme punishment as a matter of conscience???? Any volunteers????

    April 28, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  89. Western New Yorker

    I wonder how long people in Hawaii cried for after the Pearl Harbor incident. I understand 9/11 was horrible but this is being blown WAY out of proportion simply because NOTHING HAPPENED. There aren't even any reports of injuries or deaths due to stampedes on the street. New Yorkers need to man up and stop complaining about nothing and the media needs to drop this whole story.

    You know it's a slow news day when NOTHING HAPPENED tops the headlines.

    April 28, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  90. Seth

    When her administration was in office:
    a) the White House never apologized for anyhing, nor admitted any mistake
    b) the White House never asked for anybody's resignation, no matter how much they had messed up
    c) The White House Military office allowed the President to read children's stories for seven minutes while we were under attack.

    April 28, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  91. Tom

    I think it's a legacy of Dick Cheney's super-secrecy that anyone in the military would try to "classify" something which would be seen by millions...

    April 28, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  92. Jody

    Before anyone is fired, I would like to hear what they were thinking. This is at least a distraction from the daily news regarding the stock market, swine flu, housing market, joblessness and financial stability.

    April 28, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  93. R. Griffin

    Another example of this president's greater concern for self image and insensitivity toward others!

    April 28, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  94. JenJess

    Mr. Caldera's head needs to roll, period. NOT Obama's fault surely. Also, better communication with a state re a "fly over" is justified.

    As someone in NYC on 9-11, yes, I STILL cower when a plane flies overhead rather low and I no longer live in Manhattan! Anyone not there that morning cannot imagine, nor should criticize others, with regard to the effect of the trauma experienced. Shame on you...

    April 28, 2009 at 12:48 pm |
  95. T1

    How much did this little photo op cost?

    April 28, 2009 at 12:48 pm |
  96. Dandrew

    As a 911 survivor and of the intial bombings of the towers , it is time for CNN and the left to stand up for Americans , which they have not done for some time. Not only should the ones responisble for this be let go ... We should not forget the terror escalation started when we last had a Democratic President. Yes Bill Clinton or have you forgot this ! 911 is a result of the Democratic leadership under Clinton and as you always forget to mention the first bombings of the towers . CNN MSNBC should be accountable in the future if once again under Democratic leadership we are put in Harms Way ! Thank you so much for caring about Americans !

    April 28, 2009 at 12:47 pm |
  97. Mere

    A photo opportunity? You're kidding me right? With everything that is going on in our country right now this administration thinks this is a smart move to spend the money for a 747 and two jets to take a freaking picture in New York City?? NOT TO MENTION THE INSENSITIVITY TO NEW YORKERS AND ALL AMERICANS WHO REMEMBER HOW THEY FELT THAT EARLY MORNING ON SEPTEMBER 11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 28, 2009 at 12:46 pm |
  98. Ponder

    Only a weak person fires a scapegoat in order to appear strong. Too much is being made of this. Yes it wasn't the best decision but looking for a scapegoat to blame is among the least evolved ways to deal with this or any other "issue" in life. With all the crises in our world today we have much more serious things to attend to. Let's grow up a little.

    April 28, 2009 at 12:46 pm |
  99. Jennifer

    Not a big deal??? Get over it????? Maybe you should watch some of the documentaries of that horrific day to help you understand why this was such a big deal!!!!! There was (and is) no excuse for scaring and tormenting the people of NYC like that!!!!! AN APOLOGY IS NOT ENOUGH!!!!!! PERIOD!!!!! WAKE UP, AND REALIZE THAT THESE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN THROUGH SOMETHING THAT THE REST OF US CANNOT EVEN IMAGINE!!!!!!

    April 28, 2009 at 12:46 pm |
  100. LK

    Are all liberals so insensitive as to tell NYers to "get over it" referring to 9/11? Could you if it was your loved one? I am appalled by the lack of sensitivity! . . . And Frank, you are poor and on welfare yet you have a computer to read and respond to this all? Something's wrong with this picture . . .like the picture whoever arranged the flight was trying to obtain!

    April 28, 2009 at 12:46 pm |
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