Obama Furious Over Manhattan Flyover Snafu: He is Taking Names

April 28, 2009

(ChattahBox)—President Obama is furious about the boneheaded, military aircraft photo op yesterday and he is taking names. Thousands of terrified residents of New York City looked to the skies on a beautiful sunny day yesterday afternoon, to see the shocking sight of a jumbo jet and an F-16 fighter jet swooping low over the Manhattan skyline. The sight of aircraft flying in the vicinity of the site of the former World Trade Center, destroyed by a low flying hijacked plane on September 11, 2001, killing thousands, evoked terror in the hearts of many New Yorkers.

Thinking they were about to be hit by another attack, they evacuated office buildings rushing out into the city streets, desperately phoning 911. It wasn’t an attack; it wasjust a military exercise and a combined photo op, to snap a new photo of Air Force One near the Statue of Liberty. The White House military office combined the two events to save money.

On March 27, officials from the White House military office obtained all the necessary authorizations and clearance from the FAA, and even notified dozens of law enforcement officials, in both New York and New Jersey, including Mayor Bloomberg’s office. So, what went wrong? Well, a couple of things.

First, military officials ordered the FAA not to notify the press, because the exercise was classified. This decision to not notify the public, in light of recent terrorist attacks in NY, was not well thought out, to say the least. Marc Mugnos, director of the NY Citywide Event Coordination and Management department, was however informed of the scheduled exercise on April 22.

Secondly, Mayor Bloomberg’s office dropped the ball here as well. When the Mayor came out swinging yesterday criticizing the White House for the exercise, he should have placed most of the blame on his own staff. Mr. Mugnos declined to inform the Mayor of the upcoming aircraft exercise.

I wonder if Mr. Mugnos still has his job today.

Mayor Bloomberg was not informed by his staff about the exercise until after the fact. He was understandably furious yesterday, as terrified residents demanded to know what was going on and he was unable to provide answers.

President Obama found himself in the same predicament as Mayor Bloomberg yesterday, not having been informed of the NY military aircraft exercise.

Regarding the official in charge of the exercise at the White House, his name is Louis Caldera, director of the White House military office and Mr. Caldera was “called” into a meeting yesterday with White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and deputy chief of staff Jim Messina.

After the meeting, Mr. Caldera issued a statement saying: “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.”

President Obama apologized to New Yorkers yesterday for all the confusion and disruption the military exercise caused.

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