First Photo Revealed As Air Force Dumb Official Resigns

Here it is: the Air Force One photo that the White House needed so badly that it needlessly struck 9/11 fears into the hearts of thousands of New Yorkers.

The Obama administration released an official photo from the infamous Lady Liberty flyover this afternoon as it was announced that the White House official behind the stunt offered up his resignation.

Louis Caldera, who served as the secretary of the Army in the Clinton administration, apologized for the “distraction” that approving the flyover caused.

President Obama, who was said to have been infuriated by the flyover, accepted Louis Caldera's resignation today, the White House said. Caldera said the controversy had made it impossible for him to effectively lead the White House Military Office.

"Moreover, it has become a distraction in the important work you are doing as president," Caldera said in his letter to President Barack Obama.

The development came as the White House released a photo and report of the incident that sparked panic in Lower Manhattan, saying such an event should "never occur again."

Caldera, the director of the White House Military Office, said he had wanted the photos of Air Force One and the F-16 fighter jet coasting past the Statue of Liberty for promotional purposes. 

The White House report indicates a breakdown in communications with local officials and also a lack of awareness of how a low-flying plane near Manhattan could cause such a fright. Click here to read the full report. 

“If he (Caldera) had been aware that the flight would cause so much trouble or any embarrassment to the president or to the White House,” the report said, “he never would have allowed it to go forward.”

The Pentagon said today the stunt did not have adequate review and will also conduct its own investigation.

"I am concerned that this highly public and visible mission did not include an appropriate public affairs plan nor adequate review and approval by senior Air Force and DOD (Department of Defense) officials," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.

In a letter to Sen. John McCain, Gates also confirmed that the photo-op cost more than $328,000.

McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has called the incident an "Air Farce 1 photo op."

The Obama administration this week reversed course on its baffling decision to try and classify photos of the well-documented flyovers involving Air Force One.

The April 27 photo-op caused quite a fright in Lower Manhattan, as many people who had lived through the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks thought the city was again under siege.  Workers poured out of office buildings as the planes buzzed the city near the Financial District.

Gates wrote that the FAA notified multiple agencies in New York and New Jersey about the planned flight, but gave no insight as to whether local authorities were told not to share the information.

Mayor Bloomberg took a little shot at Team ABM earlier in the week, questioning the public relations-savvy of the administration's decision to keep the publicity photos of low-flying plane under wraps.

"If I were them, I think I'd get less publicity by putting them out rather than by keeping them in," Bloomberg said. "They did not ask about coming up here and flying that plane around and they did not ask me about the photos either."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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