April 28th, 2009
11:33 AM ET
14 years ago

Former Bush aide: Plane photo-op was 'felony stupidity'

(CNN) – A former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush is slamming the decision by an Obama White House official to use lower Manhattan as the location for a low-flying presidential plane photo-op.

Francis Townsend, a CNN security contributor, called the fly-over "crass insensitivity" Tuesday on CNN's American Morning. "And, frankly, as I would say as a former prosecutor, I would call this felony stupidity," the lawyer and former Bush homeland security adviser added.

Townsend also suggested that Louis Caldera, the Director of the White House Military Office, may not be fit to continue serving in the Obama administration.

"What makes this almost more disturbing is the fact that that's the office responsible for the movement of the president and his staff in a time of emergency," Townsend told Kiran Chetry. "So, of course, the most important thing is that the person leading it has good judgment. . . . at its best this is bad judgment. This is probably not the right job for Mr. Caldera to be in if he didn't understand the likely reaction of New Yorkers."

"This was not necessary," Townsend added. "If you needed pictures of Air Force One over a national icon, fly it over the Grand Canyon. But flying it over lower Manhattan, which to many of us is a sacred ground now where we lost thousands of Americans, I just think it wrong."

Caldera issued a statement Monday evening regarding the fly-over. "[I]t's clear that the mission created confusion and disruption," he said. "I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused."

President Obama was reportedly furious after learning that a plane in his fleet was flown over the same vicinity as the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

At a press conference Monday afternoon, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg also criticized the flight and said had he known of the White House's plan, he would have asked that the flight not take place.

UPDATED 11:33 a.m.: President Obama said Tuesday the fly-over incident "was a mistake." "It will not happen again," the president also said.

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soundoff (329 Responses)
  1. Larry from RI

    The city officials of NY were notified in advance that this was going to take place. Sounds like NY needs work on communicating with the public.
    But instead we get the never ending whining of the right wingnuts.

    Why don't the GOP hacks just put this behind them, not focus on the past, turn the page, it is time to move on?

    Oh, almost forgot, that talk is reserved for senior members of their party are under scrutiny for the torture other human beings – – hypocrites!

    April 28, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  2. NYCFarmer

    Francis Townsend is a hack. Making this news item blown out proportion. I live downtown and wasn't affected.

    Get a real job like the rest of us Francis.

    April 28, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  3. Doug, New Jersey

    Non libs (rational, good hearted decent people) can not help but to laugh at how the libs will forever blame Bush for everything and anything that happens to them or one of their lib masters till the end of time. Nice example they show their children, never take responsibility for your actions, just bring up someone else to divert attention away from your mistake, no wonder the worst people in this nation are all in the blue areas.

    Also funny, notice that all idiotic lib hate goal post moving about Bush never is based on complete truth, it is laced in lies, distortion, and revisionist history. Take anyone from the right, even Coulter or Rush, every single one of them has a billion times more integrity than these hateful lib Obama-bots.

    Obama could do anyting to the libs family, just mention Bush and it doesn't matter if little Johnny will never be seen again. The last time such people were so paraylized by an ideology was Nazi Germany. Ooops, too much truth here, I doubt this will be posted.

    April 28, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  4. FreeNLovIt

    I thought it was kind of cute and cool to see Air Force One fly over Manhattan. Hey, Obama, you can fly it over Chicago anytime during Fourth of July....

    April 28, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
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