Monday, April 27, 2009

September 10th Thinking

Does an administration focused on protecting us from terrorists really do something this boneheaded?

An airliner and supersonic fighter jet zoomed past the lower Manhattan skyline in a flash just as the work day was beginning Monday. Within minutes, startled financial workers streamed out of their offices, fearing a nightmarish replay of Sept. 11.

For a half-hour, the Boeing 747 and F-16 jet circled the Statue of Liberty and the lower Manhattan skyline near the World Trade Center site. Offices evacuated. Dispatchers were inundated with calls. Witnesses thought the planes were flying dangerously low.

But the flyover was nothing but a photo op, apparently one of a series of flights to get pictures of the plane in front of national landmarks.

It was carried out by the Defense Department with little warning, infuriating New York officials and putting the White House on the defense. Even Mayor Michael Bloomberg didn't know about it, and he later called it "insensitive" to fly so near the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

I guess nobody in charge at the White House thought this might be alarming. A low flying passenger jet with an Air Force fighter shadowing it around downtown New York? That might be worrisome? Huh. Go figure.

But instead of showing some common sense, the administration just ended up air raiding New York and terrorizing civilians.

Perhaps Secretary of State Clinton will come to New York City to reassure those people, after experiencing the administration's policies. That does seem to be her job.

UPDATE: I was almost going to update this by noting that the administration had indeed warned the state and city of the flight, but the blame for the scare still falls on the White House:

The email sent to City Hall describes a "flying photo op" -- government-speak for a publicity photo -- to include two or possibly three passes over the area. The email, sent by an FAA official and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, lists flight patterns and specifies a photo-op altitude of 1,000 to 1,500 feet.

The email specifies that the information "only be shared with persons with a need to know" and "shall not be released to the public." It also says that, "Due to the possibility of public concern regarding [Department of Defense] aircraft flying at low levels, coordination with Federal, State and Local law enforcement agencies...has been accomplished."

You can understand why the federal government would be reluctant to let the public know. I mean, one of those recently returned veterans home from air raiding villages and terrorizing prisoners might have hooked up with right wing fanatics and plotted to shoot it down.

On a serious note, I'm glad people wisely evacuated those buildings. Based on what they could see, it was the smart thing to do. I hope this doesn't dull reaction time should it be a real attack the next time.