Why classify a photo shoot with millions of witnesses?


After a YouTube video showed panicked New Yorkers scrambling as a Boeing 747 flew frighteningly close to the lower Manhattan skyline, a former Homeland Security adviser questioned whether the man who approved the flyby should remain in his White House office.

Fran Townsend, who advised President George W. Bush for more than three years, called the move "crass insensitivity" in the wake of 9/11.

"I'd call this felony stupidity. This is probably not the right job for Mr. Caldera to be in if he didn't understand the likely reaction of New Yorkers, of the mayor," Townsend said Tuesday on CNN's "American Morning."

Louis Caldera, director of the White House Military Office, quickly apologized for Monday's incident after the planes prompted workers and residents to evacuate buildings in New York and New Jersey. Video Watch Townsend slam Caldera »

"Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision," Caldera said. "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."

The Federal Aviation Administration said the aircraft, which functions as Air Force One when the president is aboard, was taking part in a classified, government-sanctioned photo shoot.


Classifying something that is going to have over a million witnesses makes little sense.

I do think it is safe to say that this will not be the biggest screw up of the Obama administration. There is a lot of time and certainly bigger issues to mess up on.

One thing the fly by did accomplish is take Democrats off message on the likelihood of future al Qaeda airplane attacks. Some Democrats have been suggesting that the planned attack on Los Angeles was not likely because of new airplane security measures, but you would have had trouble convincing New Yorkers yesterday of that theory.


  1. There is a corollary question here. Were any non-military or non-administration passengers aboard during the fly-by? If so, who were they and why were they there? I'm hoping the answer is "No, there were not". But in light of the sensitivity of the incident, the question now needs to be clarified.


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