I Am Befuddled

As Moneyrunner notes, there’s a very good question behind the latest Charlie Foxtrot by the administration.

Why in the world were they willing to create a huge carbon footprint for an ad campaign that consisted (apparently) of having Air Force One flying past the Statue of Liberty? Particularly when it could have been photoshopped for a tiny fraction of the cost? At least there was a hypocritical political excuse for that last carbon indulgence. It reminds one of the notion of saving a “Hundred Million Dollars” from a multi-trillion deficit.

But the bigger question, at least to me, is: why did whoever came up with this idiocy decide that the public shouldn’t be informed about it ahead of time, and why were instructions given to that effect to local officials? Why was it to be kept secret, particularly given that it’s hard to keep secret a 747 dressed as Air Force One flying down the Hudson, particularly being tailed by a military fighter?

If they had informed the public, some who hadn’t been informed would have still panicked, but it would have at least reduced the numbers of people running though the streets terrified and abandoning high rises in lower Manhattan. Why make it a secret? What was the rationale?

Most of the Obama administration screwups have an explanation, usually attributable to a grab for increased government power, but this one is a complete mystery. And it’s possible that it can simply be attributed to abject stupidity, but it’s hard to do so without at least an attempt of an explanation, in this case.

This is not the end of this story. Or at least I hope not.

[Update, late evening]

They knew it would cause panic, but did it anyway?

Is there an explanation for this insanity? I start to wonder…

[Evening update]

Commenter Stephen den Beste (who I would like to thank for his early contributions to the blogosphere, and apologize for any contributions of mine that may have helped drive him from it) has the only plausible explanation so far:

If people had been told, they might have objected and prevented it.

That fits with the overall theme of Obama wanting what he wants, and not accepting anything that gets in the way of his getting what he wants.

I’d sure like to think that there’s another and better explanation, but I’m still awaiting one.

35 thoughts on “I Am Befuddled”

  1. If people had been told, they might have objected and prevented it.

    That fits with the overall theme of Obama wanting what he wants, and not accepting anything that gets in the way of his getting what he wants.

  2. Who was on the plane? The White House should make the passenger/crew manifest public.

    You know, transparency and all.

    FOIA, anyone?

  3. Was the fighter jet taking the photos? (Would be an odd angle – it was trailing in the footage I saw). Or was a camera attached to the wing of AF1?

    When can the taxpayers see the set of photos that were taken that day?

    20-30 minutes of photo-op. Should be hundreds of photos we can see. I would like to see them.

  4. And, just what was this “publicity” for? The government? Why are my tax dollars paying for publicity for the government? I know damn well what a shitty job they do without any publicity.

    And if it wasn’t publicity for the government, it must have been publicity for Obama. Again, why are my tax dollars paying for publicity for the president.

    Look for this “publicity” meme to morph into something else very quickly.

  5. It was a dry run for when B. Hussein Osama enables AQ to topple the new Freedom Tower. They had to check if the Manhattan airspace was porous.

    The Wright ‘Chickens coming home to roost’ rhetoric, the Ayers connection, the 9/11 v2.0 dry run…..it all makes sense now.

    Hey, can’t we give the leftards a taste of their own medicine?

  6. A stupid idea, to be sure. But it seems to me that if you’re flying AF1 around a localized area at a relatively low altitude, the possibility of someone with a smuggled manpads would mitigate against informing the general public.

  7. When Michelle Obama wants a photo-op like this, she gets it. Don’t you dare suggest that photoshop would be cheaper. It would be tacky, and hence unacceptable for her.

    She hugged the queen, get’s to be the first lady with a trillion-dollar credit card, and gets to play the race card at will. Getting something like this is just par for an average day for Queen Michelle.

  8. “Why are my tax dollars paying for publicity for the government? ”

    Because they are not YOUR dollars, you uppity serf. They are the tithe (actually, the six tithes you will soon be paying) that you pay for the privelege of being allowed to worship Michelle Obama and her figurehead boytoy.

    No further questions will be allowed.

    You don’t think this is still a democracy, do you. USA 2008 = Germany 1933. Thus, things should get interesting by 2014 or so….

  9. Letalis Maximus, Esq.

    I agree, but why not demand that the Defense Department release it. It was their operation. They should have the manifest. Put Secretary Gates on the hot seat for not blowing off that clown at the White House Military Office, Louis Caldera.

    But let’s not forget there’s a backlog of document requests, so if the White House is going to be asked for a release of the passenger manifest, ask them to throw in the interrogation memo’s Cheney wants at the same time, else that might slip right off the back burner, where it mighty coincidentally is now, and sit behind the stove, forever, as we Move On.

  10. I would have thought that putting it out in the morning news would have been sufficient for the public. Enough people would have heard about it to calm most anybody who had not heard. People might even have turned out to see it make those circles.

  11. The only thing I can figure is that they *planned* to fly the plane low enough that it would be within range of someone with a manpad, and advance notice just makes that worse.

    And if anyone believes that the director of the White House Military Office arranged for this photo op on his own authority, I’ve got a bridge in New York that’s yours for the right price…

  12. So much for the idea that the government is hiding proof of aliens because it might…cause a panic.

  13. What if someone, or many someones, had been seriously injured in the panic? Who would have been responsible.

    Does anyone know if there were any injuries at all attributed to the event?

  14. Since we’re asking questions, would the claimed purpose – a flyby of the Statue – require coming so low over the tip of Manhattan and Jersey City, as well as the circling around and coming back toward the buildings at low altitude that was reported by eyewitnesses?

    (This isn’t a rhetorical question – I don’t actually know the answer to this. Is it possible to fly past the Statue of Liberty without buzzing office buildings in the area?)

  15. Anybody checked the wookie’s calendar? Maybe she was on the flight with political cronies? Oprah or some such? Perhaps that was the reason for all the secrecy?

  16. I think it’s pretty easy to see why they didn’t alert the public. None of this is a good reason not to do so, but bear with me.

    I think they were afraid (and probably rightly so) that some idiots out there would hear about this in advance and attempt to get their hands on an SAM weapon of some kind, hoping to take a shot as AF1 cruised over Manhattan. If you’re a terrorist, whether Obama is on the plane or not this is big time score. And you’re crazy if you think there aren’t loose SAM’s out there for the right price.

    Still, monumentally stupid by any measurement.

  17. Following the attributable to power meme: What could be better to keep those masters of the universe on edge than buzzing their buildings with a plane? It might even keep them from paying back all that TARP money this week.

  18. What’s the obsession with the First Lady in this thread? Doesn’t sound like she was involved.

  19. Yeah, this post does seem to have flushed some … unusual sentiment from certain nooks and crannies of the Interwebs. I’m just glad the whole screwup didn’t actually kill anybody or destroy anything. After an embarrassment like this, the Administration might proceed with greater caution on any number of other risky schemes, which is all to the good.

  20. My bet is that shots like this are done on some sort of normal schedule (1/year or so), but the lack of notice was really dumb. There are email notices about flyovers at The Pentagon all the time due to flyovers at Arlington funerals.

    Claims of need for classification would only ring true if POTUS was on board.

    As for the kind of shot they were looking for, see this link with an earlier shot of AF1 flying by Mt Rushmore:


    The chaseplanes, with photographers on board, would only have to be in proper location for a short period, and they probably tried multiple angles while they were in the area.

    Watch for the released imagery to come out here (this is where it normally would be release, but given the stink it may come out somewhere else):


  21. Maybe the White House was worried that if it was announced that pictures were going to be taken, a large group of tea protesters would mob the statue of liberty and ruin it.

  22. My guess is we were going to get to see a nice patriotic shot of AF1 zooming by Lady Liberty tonight during the 100 Days Of Hope and Change Lovefest.

    I’m guessing we won’t now.

  23. My first thought also was that it was over-zealous security. This decision did come from a military office. Given the altitude and airspeed the plane could probably have been shot down with advance warning, and another 747 crashing into Manhattan (rather than just buzzing the towers a couple times) would have been pretty bad.

    It’s still absolute stupidity though, especially given the cost relative to 15 minutes in photoshop. They paid $350,000 just to get some press photos??! I’m as mad at that as the fly-by.

  24. Do you think there is any validity to the argument that the hours of flighttime were going to be spent anyway, for training? If so, unlike the stupid choice of locations, the cost of the flying time wouldn’t be an issue.

  25. Remember, NASA did the same thing in Houston with the SCA. However, NASA did try to keep it secret, they just didn’t think it was enough of an issue to notify anyone. It seems this time, someone thought notification was important, but handled that notification in a totally idiotic manner.

    NASA learned from that mistake, and when the SCA carrying the Orbiter made a few laps around JSC, downtown Houston, and IAH, emails were sent out all over the place. People evacuated buildings to get a good look and feel proud. If only the Obama Administration had been this thoughtful.

    As for the manpads issue; first, it is only a 747. The President isn’t onboard, so it’s not that great a target. Yeah, you might hit it, and put a 747 into Manhatten, but probably not. 2 hours of notification on local radio and a few key emails, and this isn’t nearly a problem. Setting up a manpad in 2 hours with any hope of hitting this particular 747 with its defenses for such a contigency is unlikely. You’d have better luck picking off planes out of Kennedy.

    Finally, I get the Statue of Liberty, but otherwise, why NY? If you just want a nice post card pick of AF1, fly it around the White House or the Capitol. No one would have been surprised in DC to see AF1 flying around. Or what about Chicago, since that’s where Obama is from?

  26. What I really don’t understand is that Zero is supposedly angry about all of this.

    Y’know, it probably isn’t fruitful to divide actions into “Those I can take credit for” and “Those I can use to throw others under the bus.”

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