Obama Orders Review of New York Flight; Cost Was $328,835 — Not Impeachable But He Might Have Known What Was Happening Diown the Hall To His Aircraft

President Barack Obama ordered a review of a publicity-photo shoot with one of the planes that serves as Air Force One that cost taxpayers $328,835 and caused a furor in New York City.

From Bloomberg News
By Roger Runningen and Tony Capaccio

Obama said he wasn’t informed in advance of yesterday’s low-altitude flight over New York Harbor, which rattled windows in New York’s financial district and prompted some office workers to flee buildings in fear it was a terrorist attack.

“It was a mistake,” Obama said today before a meeting at FBI headquarters in Washington. “It will not happen again.”

The incident continued to reverberate in New York and Washington today with two senators demanding an accounting of how the flight was approved, its cost and procedures aimed at avoiding a repeat.

“The supposed mission represents a fundamentally unsound exercise in military judgment and may have constituted an inappropriate use of Department of Defense resources,” Senator John McCain of Arizona wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

McCain, the senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee, asked Gates to provide a description of the mission, who ultimately approved it and an estimate of how much it cost.

The flight by the VC-25, a modified Boeing Co. 747, and two F-16 fighter jets cost $328,835, Air Force spokeswoman Vicki Stein said.

Three-Hour Mission

That includes $300,658 for the larger plane, which flew a three-hour mission, and about $28,178 for the F-16 jets, which flew 1.8 hours each, Stein said in an e-mailed statement.

The total includes fuel used in flight, fuel used to power ground equipment used to prepare the aircraft, and ground maintenance, Stein said.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said yesterday’s flyover was “two training missions that became in the end a picture mission” and only Air Force personnel were aboard.

Obama has directed Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina to review “how the decision was made to conduct the flight,” Gibbs said at the daily White House briefing.

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York said in a statement that he asked Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, whose department oversee the Federal Aviation Administration, to create an “ironclad procedure” to inform the public about such flights at least 48 hours in advance.

Anticipating Concern

“Somewhere along the line, someone at the FAA should have had the foresight to realize that New Yorkers would see this stunt and think back to 9-11,” Schumer said.

McCain, who ran against Obama in the 2008 presidential election, also said that the disruption and panic caused by the flight should have been foreseeable. He wrote that the apology and acceptance of responsibility from Louis Caldera, director of the White House Military Office, “rings hollow.”

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