White House will probe presidential plane PR stunt

By | April 29, 2009

White House will probe presidential plane PR stunt

The taxpayer bill for Monday’s presidential plane flight over Manhattan was $328,835. The political cost to the Obama White House will be harder to calculate.

“It was a mistake … and it will not happen again,” President Barack Obama said.

But the origins of the government public relations stunt that went awry remained a mystery — and a potential political problem for Obama. The White House military office approved the photo op, which cost $35,000 in fuel alone for the plane and two jet fighter escorts.

“I think this is one of those rare cases where we can all agree it was a mistake,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said of Monday’s “unfortunate” flight low over the Hudson River that for many on the ground evoked chilling memories of 9/11.

The sight of the huge passenger jet and an F-16 fighter plane whizzing past the Statue of Liberty and the lower Manhattan financial district sent panicked office workers streaming into the streets.

WCBS-TV in New York reported Tuesday that it had obtained a Federal Aviation Administration memo outlining the photo op. The memo acknowledged “the possibility of public concern regarding (Defense Department) aircraft flying at low altitudes” around Manhattan, but the TV station reported that the FAA demanded secrecy from the New York Police Department, the mayor’s office, the Secret Service and the FBI.

A White House official has said the New York City mayor’s office and other New York and New Jersey police agencies were told about the Boeing 747’s flight. The official said the FAA, at the military’s request, told local agencies that the information was classified and asked them not to publicize it.

White House officials did not say why new photos were needed of the plane that is sometimes used as Air Force One — Obama wasn’t aboard the flight — or who the presumed audience of the planned photographs were.

via White House will probe presidential plane PR stunt – Yahoo! News.

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