A furious President Barack Obama has ordered a probe of a bungled New York flyover by his spare plane which sparked panic and outrage when it buzzed lower Manhattan for a photo shoot.
The White House was pressed into an apology over the Monday incident, characterized by the president as a “mistake” that would not be repeated.
In announcing the review, expected to take up to two weeks, the administration strongly hinted action would be taken against the White House official who approved the mission.
The flying photo op backfired badly, with New Yorkers fearing a new 9/11and triggering an angry outburst from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“It was a mistake, as was stated. It was something we found out about along with all of you, and it will not happen again,” Obama told reporters at the Federal Bureau of Investigation before talks with FBI director Robert Mueller.
According to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, “the president was furious upon learning of this decision” and directed White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina to undertake a review “as to how the decision was made to conduct the flight.
“And the president will look at that review and take any appropriate steps after that,” Gibbs said.
The White House military office apologized late Monday after the 30-minute incident in which the customized presidential Boeing 747 – accompanied by two military fighter jets – repeatedly swooped low over the island of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty in the Hudson River.
Louis Caldera, director of the White House military office – personally apologized for approving the mission.
“I take responsibility for that decision,” Caldera said.
Stunned office workers who failed to spot the plane\’s presidential markings feared a repeat of the September 11, 2001 attacks in which two hijacked airliners smashed into the World Trade Center towers, killing almost 3,000 people.
Bloomberg insisted that no one had told him of the visitors to New York\’s skies, and denounced the flight as deeply insensitive to New Yorkers still reeling from the worst acts of terrorism on US soil.
“Why the Defense Department wanted to do a photo op right around the site of the World Trade Center catastrophe defies imagination,” he said Monday.
Officials said afterwards that the commander-in-chief\’s aircraft had merely been conducting an exercise.
Obama himself was not on the aircraft, which is designated Air Force One when he is aboard.
The US Air Force and Federal Aviation Administration described the exercise as a photo shoot. Authorities said the maneuver was coordinated in advance with FAA and state and local officials.
But many New Yorkers didn\’t get the memo, and local media roundly pilloried the flyover, with the cover of Tuesday\’s New York Post blasting “Scare Force One.”