Saturday, May 9, 2009

Air Force One Goes On A Joyride

I have a really silly question. Now, keep in mind, this is just a question, so -- please, everyone -- don't read more into the question than is actually there. It's just a question, and enquiring minds want to know: If folks are planning to take Air Force One -- the President of the United States' airplane -- for a joyride over New York City, wouldn't it be understandable to assume that the President knew about it beforehand? And if he did not know about it, would it not also be safe to assume that he should have known about it? Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the photo shoot was only part of the plane's mission, which also included practice instrument approaches and landings at Atlantic City International Airport. The entire mission had been coordinated with officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and air traffic control representatives in the New York area. Gates said planning for the mission began in late March 2009 and resulted in numerous teleconferences to coordinate and finalize the flight.

March? Teleconferences? And still the President of the United States did not know?

I think I am missing something here. I work in a building with about 600 people. My boss knows when someone on the fourth floor sneezes, how many times, and what kind of tissue he used to blow his nose. The President of the United States did not get even the slighest wind of the planned escapade with Air Force One? I have just enough cynicism that I don't believe it. Too many other people knew about it far in advance. The Defense Secretary, the Federal Aviation Administration and air traffic controllers knew about it, and no one told the President? If it really is possible to successfully keep a secret like that from the President of the United States, well, then ... that's an even more frightening thought.

28 comments:

TheChicGeek said...

He knows very well where his jet is and you are right, if he doesn't we should be scared :)

Have a Happy Mother's Day, Jo!
xox

mo'ikeha said...

Sitting here in 'Old Europe' I am always surprised by the way things are going in the U.S.

Russell said...

I found this whole business rather embarassing. You would hope with the unlimited resources that the United States government has, well, it would not make a screw up like this!

I have heard the White House say that everything they do is always under the microscope and, yes, they are right. But you did not need a microscope or even glasses to see how incredibily stupid this whole thing was!

But you are so right. It is not this particular incident that is disturbing - it is what it represents... very good post!

Take care and wish us the best down here in the states...! We may need it!

Joyce said...

The incident was daunting, alarming, frightening, discouraging...need I go on? It's a dog and pony show in Washington. & People wonder why we can't dismantel the taliban? Good thought provoking post. Thanks for sharing your views.
Joyce

Butler and Bagman said...

Russell may have accidentally hit on it. Everything is under the microscope. But it is very difficult to see a 747 under the microscope.

Jo said...

TheChicGeek, yes, I think he knew about it all along. Happy Mother's Day...! :-)

Mo'ikeha, oh, yes, I think the whole world will agree with you there.

Russell, yes, it's what it represents. It would have taken a lot of work to keep this from the President. I don't believe they did.

Joyce, the whole idiocy of the plane thing makes me laugh. Where was Homeland Security in all of this? They must have known too, but the President didn't?

Butler and Bagman, *heh* yes. Hiding in plain sight. Oh, heck, hiding in plane sight?

Anna Kauz said...

I think he must have known about it, but didn't say anything until he heard the reaction, then acted as he didn't? I don't know how he got away with it though.

If they only would have made it a big news story before they did it, I think people would have actually gone out to watch it and not freaked out!

Maureen said...

Living here in Manhattan, I don't think he knew. He would have let the city know ahead of time. Mayor Bloomberg didn't know either, and was furious that the agencies involved told each other but not him. This happened a few years ago too when a plane of returning vets from Iraqi wanted to see Ground Zero and FAA allowed them to zoom downtown as they were heros but didn't tell NYC in case a potential terrorist might try to shoot it down. If you don't live in New York, especially downtown, you simply don't understand how frightening it is to be here or how traumatized by 9/11 we still are. They probably thought it was a good idea and we'd all be thrilled to see it instead of totally freaking out.

Jo said...

Anna, I think he knew about it too. And I agree, if the folks in New York had been advised ahead of time, they might have enjoyed it. As it was, it scared the h*ll out of them, and I'm not surprised!

Maureen, if you really think about it, the fact that the President of the United States did not know his Air Force One was going to buzz New York City, is even more frightening. The FAA knew, the Secretary of Defense knew and the air traffic controllers knew -- weeks ahead of time. How did the President manage to stay out of the loop? How did they manage to keep him out of the loop? What else is he kept out of? If he or Homeland Security did not know about it, what other planes can do it and get away with it?

Yes, I think for New Yorkers, after 9/11, it would be horrifying to see a 747 and a jet fighter flying over New York. It would be traumatizing!

Paula Slade said...

The whole incident is embarrassing. I'm sure the Presidnet was kept aware of the planned maneuvers, but the question is - what did his staff tell him about clearances?

Alissa said...

Paula, I think you may be onto something. He probably knew, but he probably didn't realize that nobody had bothered to tell the city of NY. Having a family with severe communication issues, I can see this happening very easily. Perhaps there may have even been some sort of security reason for not making the flight plans public.

It was a mistake to be sure, but in the end not a big deal, and certainly not something likely to go down in the history books.

Jo said...

Paula, well, the President is claiming he did not know, so I'm wondering how that could happen. To me, it indicates a lack of leadership.

Alissa, it's not a huge incident, but it's the facts surrounding it. It reminded me a bit of the movie "Wag the Dog" in a way, where things can be planned behind the President's back, and he's the last to know.

Dee said...

I'm sure he did not know. I'm also sure that he certainly should have known. Actually, there are two planes, whichever one carries the president, is Air Force One, or so I"ve read. It was a terrible thing to put New York through and I'm glad to see at least one head rolled!

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I am certain that the advisors may have thought it better to keep the big guy out of the loop, providing him with the all important deniability. I am with you in that the result is scary either way you choose to look at it. Poltics.......

CTVicky said...

Just another example of the incompetent and inconsiderate people running the country in my opinion.

By the way that is an amazing photo.

Jo said...

Dee, the fact that he did not know scares me even more than the fact that he did now. That is truly frightening.

Kathy, if they were able to keep him out of the loop, then I think the US is in big trouble.

CTVicky, yes! There is a saying, "The fish stinks from the head," which means either way, the President should have known. If he didn't it is much more serious than people realize. He knows it!

Charles Gramlich said...

I don't even know about this story. Say what? I guess I have to go read some news or soemthing.

Jo said...

Charles, gosh, it was all over the news, but then the White House tried to bury it.

Maureen said...

Having grown up in the military I know how one hand doesn't wash the other. There's a need to know thing, he may have known there was some sort of maneuver since the plane is always out there doing something when he's not using it, but he didn't know they'd buzz the Statue of Liberty and not tell Bloomberg about it. Again, their defense has been they didn't want any random terrorists finding out and shooting it down. And by the way, weren't most of the people involved were leftover from Bush? Why would they ever tell him anything?

Jo said...

Maureen, there is something about it that doesn't feel right to me. Obama is the President. You folks in New York were terrified, and I believe the President needs to take responsibility. It was bad public relations, and I think he is letting someone else take the fall so he will continue to look good. He should also get rid of all the leftover Bush people -- because Bush, and anyone associated with him, were total idiots. A clean sweep, as it were.

And as I've said, if he didn't know about it, that's even more frightening. He needs to know everything -- no detail too small. "For want of a nail, the kingdom was lost."

lovelyprism said...

If it really is possible to successfully keep a secret like that from the President of the United States, well, then ... that's an even more frightening thought.
AMEN sister!

Katy said...

Just for the record. I think the whole thing was stupid and a waste of tax payer money.

That said I don't think the president knew about it. Why not? Because it's not his plane. Really, its not.

For one Air Force One is, as the name implies, owned by the Air Force. They simply LET the president use it. That helicopter he flys in all the time? Marine One... that belongs to the Marines. So really, those branches of the armed forces can do whatever they want with their air craft.

Second. I think some assistant at the White house was told about it. didn't think it was a big deal and didn't pass the information a long. Really, when you are making your list of things to breif the president on, "photo-op for plane" seems like it would be low on the list.

Finally, it wasn't really Air Force One. They didn't use the plane the president flys in all of the time, it was the back up. So the President probably didn't even notice he wasn't using it. Even more reason for the helpful assistant to decide the plans were not worth passing on.

Maureen said...

Exactly, Katy, someone on the food chain decided it wasn't important enough to bother him with and that was the end of it. For the record, when I was an army brat in the 50's, they marched us into the infirmary and fed us sugar cubes and said not to get polio shots because there was vaccine on them. Then kids got polio because it was an experiment and some of the cubes were blanks. The military saw us as expendable in their mission, in this case to test the serum, and they still think that way. And as far as getting rid of Bush's old people, there are parts of the US Government that he can't touch without Congress approving it.

Jo said...

LovelyPris, Katy and Maureen, I can see people feel very strongly about this. I still think if there is anything going on in the United States that the Secretary of Defense and the Federal Aviation Agency knows about, the President should know as well. It's his job.

Americans don't realize that when things like this happen in the US, the rest of the world gets very nervous.

I don't believe it was a small matter, particularly in light of 9/11. To me, it indicates a huge breach of security and common sense -- not to mention tax payer's dollars.

But -- that's just my opinion. :-)

Maureen said...

I agree, a huge waste of taxpayer money and stupid from the get-go, but I'm pointing out how he didn't know. US politics is about embarrassing the other guy, and a big chunk of the country wants Obama to fail. Look at the time, money and energy that went into investigating and impeaching Clinton for the Lewinsky soap opera, but those same people insist questioning Bush about Iraq is an Un-American offense. Go figure.

Jo said...

Maureen, oh, goodness, that Clinton impeachment thing looked so silly to the rest of the world, and what a waste of time. Kenneth Starr, et al, were horrible people.

I guess I am too much of a cynic. I believe the President did know about the plane. His Secretary of Defense knew. The FAA knew. Air traffic controllers knew. Too many other people knew. If I were the President, heads would roll... :-)

Wenderina said...

I honestly believe that the president doesn't track where the plane is when it is not needed by him. As a resident of the NY-metro area I can tell you that several friends working in the area who witnessed the plane and the fighter jet go by their window were absolutely shaken to their shoes. They, among others, exited their buildings immediately to avoid a repeat of 9-11. I'm horrified that anyone (presidential or staff) could have not understood the impact of this event on the psyche of a still jumpy community. But, given everything else I need President Obama is concentrating on - I certainly hope tracking his "ride" is not one of them.

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