There's so much going on this week and so many opportunities for me to get on my soapbox. Swine flu yesterday and today low flying planes over Ground Zero and the Statue of Liberty.
Yesterday's flyby over downtown Manhattan and New Jersey to take pictures of the president's 747 with F16's following was, in my opinion, foolhardy, insensitive and a colossal waste of money. How much fuel was used flying Air Force 1 from Andrews AFB to New York City and back? It probably cost about $240,000 for a few pictures.
How can the president justify such an expense in a time of huge deficits just to take pictures of the Statue of Liberty? Aren't there any stock photos? I would think it would have been possible to get these shots from a satellite, or even Google Earth without flying so low. Don't they have any cameras with zoom capability?
Now to the point of the fears of the people. The president's office has said that a deputy mayor and the police department were advised this would take place but they were asked to keep it quiet. Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commisisoner Kelly should have been notified directly, if not personally, by the president and it should have gotten full publicity. Some of the buildings were evacuated and workers stood around the building while others started walking away from the area, heading north.
I can only imagine the fear those people felt when they saw this low flying plane directly overhead. I would have been a wreck. I know when I see tape of that flight, I get a sinking feeling and I know that it was a harmless flight. You don't get over 9/11 if you were anywhere in the vicinity of NYC on that horrible day.
I have some questions for the White House. Why all the secrecy? Why was this on a "need to know basis"? What was so important that this flight had to be taken on a workday when so many office buildings were occupied? Why couldn't the people be given a heads up? Again, why was it so important that this fly-over be kept secret? Who was on that plane and why were pictures needed? Why all the secrecy from an administration that promised transparancy. We deserve answers.
The White House has now banned such flights. Too little, too late.