Monday, April 27, 2009

WTF? US Government tries to scare Manhattan to death

WSJ today:

Low-Flying Plane Over Manhattan Was a 'Photo Op'

NYPD Says It Was Told Not to Disclose Flight Information

A jumbo jetliner that serves as Air Force One, escorted by a military jet, flew over Lower Manhattan Monday morning, frightening office workers and causing evacuations in what turned out to be a publicity operation approved by a unit of the U.S. Air Force.

At around 10 a.m. EDT, a Boeing 747 was seen accompanied by an F-16 fighter jet flying low over the southern tip of Manhattan and at one point seen circling the Goldman Sachs Tower in nearby Jersey City, N.J.

The circling planes were part of a "photo op," a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said.

The larger plane was one of two highly customized Boeing 747-200 series aircraft that serve as Air Force One when the commander in chief is on board. Technically, "Air Force One" is the call sign of any Air Force aircraft carrying the president. But President Barack Obama wasn't aboard the plane Monday.

The "aerial photo mission," conducted by the Air Force's Presidential Airlift Group, was supposed to be in the area of lower Manhattan and New Jersey for around 30 minutes.

It involved one 747 and one F-16 fighter jet, said Vicki Stein, an Air Force spokeswoman. "You would have to ask the White House the specifics on the mission," Ms. Stein said. The plane is part of the Air Force's Presidential Airlift Group, stationed at Maryland's Andrews Air Force Base.

The New York City Police Department said Monday that the flight was authorized by the FAA for the vicinity "with directives to local authorities not to disclose information about it," according to an email advisory from Paul J. Browne, deputy commissioner of the New York City Police Department.

The low-flying 747 sent workers worried about a repeat of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks fleeing their offices in the New York City area.

Traders bolted from the floor of the New York Mercantile Exchange after seeing the jets. The exchange, which sits on the east bank of the Hudson River in Lower Manhattan and is blocks from the site of the terrorist-destroyed World Trade Center, didn't order an evacuation.

People trading oil, natural gas and other commodities on the Nymex floor apparently took no chances. A Nymex security official was "literally standing, holding his hands up in a calming gesture. Guys were running right past him," said Pete Donovan, a vice president at Vantage Trading in the crude-futures ring.

But several buildings in the area were ordered evacuated, although workers quickly returned after it became clear that the flyover was a planned event.

Lower Manhattan tenants and landlords said they weren't informed of the flyover until after it happened. A spokesman for World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein, who owns several properties near the site of the 2001 attacks, said in an email that the firm got no information ahead of time.

Construction workers fled the 43-story headquarters for Goldman Sachs Group Inc., currently under construction across the street from the trade center site. Gia Moron, a spokeswoman for Goldman, one of the largest businesses in Lower Manhattan, said: "We did not receive a heads up. Our security officers were advised after it happened."

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates bridges, tunnels and airports in the area, said initially the agency had no knowledge of the low-flying plane, according to a spokesman. But a Port Authority executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the agency was still investigating, said the Port Authority's security staff were told of the photo shoot at least by Monday morning and possibly as early as the weekend.
White House deflects questions.

Readers' comments at WSJ.

NY Times says "White House Apologizes for Air Force Flyover," with same facts as everyone else. The fall guy has been found, to "take responsibility." Which means taking blame; there's no responsibility anywhere in government. Commenters seem to think it's a bigger deal than the correspondents do.

Premeditated, using the President's plane. What's the point of the shock treatment? What's the point of the "directives to local authorities?" Incompetence and insanity at high levels.

So was it for money, or for fun? Was Soros shorting something today, and not getting enough of a drop out of the swine flu scare? Or was this done just to watch 'em scurry? Cowardly American capitalists, afraid of a couple of airplanes! Or, possibly, a joyride for some FOB? (How about that? Friends of Bill, Friends of Barack, comes out the same. We need a new one, to be able to tell them apart. Friends of Obama would be FOO. The middle name, that's only to be used abroad, to show that change has come to America, and we are now so much like our enemies that we no longer have to fight, but can discuss terms instead, so FOH wouldn't do.) The descriptions of the maneuvers by commenters make it sound like a joyride. Sharp turns, circling buildings, the triple field goal between the buildings in Jersey City, and so forth. Will we ever find out who was on the plane?

Reynolds has more, more, and more, including a link to Cuffy Meigs's photo set: Obama Tortures 9/11 Victims. Another, with an MSNBC video. And another, and another ("Is it too early to call it 'Planegate' yet?").

Ace has a post or two on this, also. Althouse has a post, and a post with a poll.

On Tuesday, an editorial from the NY Post: Plane Dumb.

A possible movie tie-in? The Obamans are clueless enough to go for this.

Later Tuesday: A training mission? See the screencap? image of a fax? at GretaWire. Well, training in the sense that it wasn't combat. Includes a cost estimate, based on cost-per-hour figures averaged over the life of each type of airplane, so the numbers being bandied about are pretty loose.

AP: White House will probe presidential plane PR stunt. Yeah, right.

At American Digest, Vanderleun has We Need a White House "Stupid Service" and The Wind in the Heights.

A couple of Photoshop contests, at Free Republic and the NY Daily News.

People are calling this "Scare Force One."

Update May 5: Scare Force One Photos Wont Be Made Public. If there ever were any photos. Via Reynolds.

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