A Failure of Imagination…

Screengrab from YouTube user chrisxmakk

Screengrab from YouTube user chrisxmakk

White House Apologizes for Air Force Flyover – City Room Blog – NYTimes.com.

The Police Department confirmed that it had been notified about the event but said it had been barred from alerting the public. “The flight of a VC-25 aircraft and F-16 fighters this morning was authorized by the F.A.A. for the vicinity of the Statue of Liberty with directives to local authorities not to disclose information about it but to direct any inquiries to the F.A.A. Air Traffic Security Coordinator,” the Police Department said in a statement.

So the guys who fly the VC-25’s (what we call 747’s) that are painted white and powder blue and adorned with the Presidential Seal decide they want to make a cool new postcard. No problem with that, right? That shot they got of a VC-25 with Presidential livery flying low over Mt. Rushmore is a real winner. Desktop wallpaper city – a big seller in the souvenir shops!

So, let’s see, what else would make for a good photo opportunity? Of course, the Statue of Liberty! What a great idea! This will go viral!

Well it did…for all the wrong reasons.

Air Force One flying over Mount Rushmore.

It is hard to imagine no one inside our government who knew about this did not immediately understand that the sight of a big transport jet in formation with fighters flying the “Atta-1 Arrival” to the foot of Manhattan might cause a stir.

Of course it did. Office workers were running for the exits. And the only glimmer of good news here is no one got hurt or had a coronary.

Apparently the White House did notify the FAA (can’t avoid that), Mayor Bloomberg’s office and the NYPD. But they were told not to spread the word – that it was a “need to know” operation.

Well listen up all you Secret Squirrel/Jack Bauer/Maxwell Smart types: WE NEED TO KNOW.

Next fall, we will mark the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and I have the sinking feeling the morons in our government are back in 9/10 mode.

The 9/11 commission detailed a litany of bad – or non existent – communication between the FBI and the CIA –  the FAA and the Pentagon – and the President and his own intelligence brainstrust.

The report said the system was “blinking red” and no one had the insight to put it all together.

The 9/11 report also concluded there was a “failure of imagination” in our bureaucracy – that the people charged with keeping us safe could not fathom such an attack.

Well, yesterday they didn’t fathom something very obvious (even without the benefit of hindsight): that the public (for whom they supposedly work) might view this elaborate (and, incidentally, rather pricey) photo op as something sinister and threatening.

They flunked the imagination test yet again. That makes me want to run for the exit.


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5 Responses to “A Failure of Imagination…”

  1. jamesohearn Says:

    This administration has shown itself remarkably unable to see its actions from the point of view of others. It’s a narcissism that is as breathtaking as it is ghastly.

    From the DVD set to Gordon Brown that would not work on a UK DVD player, an iPod for the Queen, the best of friends smile fest with Hugo Chavez, and the interrupting of fine programming for no good reason almost every bloody day, it all seems part of that pattern.

    • Brian In NYC Says:

      “From the DVD set to Gordon Brown that would not work on a UK DVD player, an iPod for the Queen, the best of friends smile fest with Hugo Chavez, and the interrupting of fine programming for no good reason almost every bloody day, it all seems part of that pattern.”

      The only one who seems to be bent out of shape over the things you’ve mentioned James are embittered Republicans.

      • jdhouse4 Says:

        Not true! Though I’m a Republican…ok, ok, ok, I’m probably more in line with Sen. Specter than with Sen. Cornyn, but still, I’m not embittered. Yet, I think we can all agree that this was a surprisingly small-minded act.

        OTOH, I recognize that President Obama, Emmanuel, et. al. did not pull this stunt. Rather, the idea originated in an office within the WH, one that I’m going to guess will be under new leadership very soon. Caldera apologized, Gibbs has apologized. Nothing more to say.

        To my hyper-upset Conservative Republican friends, all I can advise is lay-off the caffeine and pick-up the Scotch, smoking…anything other than what you’re doing.

  2. jdhouse4 Says:

    This was such a phenomenally stupid act, but surprisingly one that nobody caught. And that fact indicates to me that there needs to be a review.

    I don’t know, but maybe there needs to be a common sense test of some sort. Start by asking what’s wrong with the picture of a B-747 in formation with an F-16 flying low over Manhattan/DC at a fairly good airspeed?

  3. davidbuchner Says:


    I missed this news till just now, having been pleasantly immersed in space news and housework – but now I figure I know all I need to about it. I think your take on this makes perfect sense, Miles. The only thing it was lacking was the term “clue stick” anywhere in there. Geez.

    (Who’s “Secret Squirrel”?)

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