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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

White House Photo Op Panics Manhattan

I am not sure whether to call this a ridiculous item of the day or create a new series called "stupidest stunts".

A low-flying 747, used as a back up for Air Force One, buzzed the skyscrapers in Lower Manhattan as a photo op for the White House which would show Air Force One against the New York Skyline.

The NYPD was told of the planned event, but no one bothered to share the information with the Mayor, Bloomberg (Seen in above video) or the residents of the state.

So, when the Air Force One look-alike, followed by two fighter jets, performed this stunt, people panic and started streaming out of their buildings thinking it was another terrorist attack on New York.

Bright huh?

A jumbo jet being chased by a F-16 fighter jets buzzed Lower Manhattan this morning, panicking New Yorkers, many of whom were forced to evacuate their office buildings.

It was not a terrorist attack, however, but a photo opportunity for Air Force One, sources told the Post.

President Obama was in Washington at the time, but the low-flying 747 circling the Statue of Liberty was one of the planes used as Air Force One, sources said.

The NYPD and the city were notified of the planned flight, but did not share that information with Mayor Bloomberg and other New Yorkers, many of whom said they were terrified.

Mayor Bloomberg was furious and called it "poor judgment". His exact words were "First thing is I'm annoyed - furious is a better word - that I wasn't told. Why the Defense Department wanted to do a photo op right around the site of the World Trade Center catastrophe defies imagination. Poor judgment would be a nice ways to phrase.

Had I known about it I would have called them right away and asked them not to. The good news is it was nothing more than an ill considered, badly conceived, insensitive photo op - with the taxpayers' money."

Of course the White House issued an apology and ABC reports that Obama was also "furious" at the obvious communication issue.

It seems that while the FAA was notified, they were told it was classified, therefore didn't warn the citizens of the planned event, thereby causing the panic that ensued.

An explanation was forthcoming in a mea culpa statement issued from the White House.

“Last week, I approved a mission over New York," Louis Caldera, director of the White House military office, said. "I take responsibility for that decision. While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it’s clear that the mission created confusion and disruption. I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused.”

When President Obama was told about the incident, he was "furious," a White House official says.

The New York Post gets headline of the day with "Plane Dumb."

Hot Air has more videos, so take a look at a few.