Air Force Photo Op in NYC A Gross Error in Judgement

Eight years after the worst attack on the U.S. marked by the vivid memories of airliners flying low over lower Manhattan and crashing into the World Trade Center, the United States Air Force decided to stage a photo opportunity this morning that caused buildings in lower Manhattan, not far from the Trade Center site to be evacuated.  Just imagine being a worker in lower Manhattan and seeing an airliner flanked by an F-16 come roaring by low in the sky.  How would you feel?

Well, it seems this was all part of  an Air Force Photo-op that involved using a VC-25 aircraft, the actual back-up for Air Force One and an F-16. According to published reports, the New York City Police Department, New Jersey State Police and the city’s 911 and 311 emergency call centers were notified last week that this would happen but that the public could not be told about it.  Apparently, Mayor Bloomberg was left in the dark as well, according to a story posted on Newsday.com.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the flyover, so near the World Trade Center site, showed “poor judgment” and was insensitive. He said he was furious that the NYPD and another city agency were notified last week, but did not tell him. If he had known, Bloomberg said, he would have tried to stop it.

Did anyone in the Air Force in charge of this bother to ask their public relations representatives for counsel on how such a stunt would be received?  If they did and the communications department signed off, then that makes this exercise in lousy judgement even more ridiculous.

There are just too many negatives associated with staging such a photo-op.  Someone is going to answer for this one. 

Tom Cosentino

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