Skip

Has There Ever Been a Good Air Force One Photo Op?
April 27, 2009 6:09 PM   Subscribe

A Presidential Boeing 747 along with two fighter planes continuously circled jarringly close to the tops of buildings in Lower Manhattan and Jersey City this morning. From the ground it looked as though a plane had been hijacked again, and the Air Force was attempting to force it down. Panic ensued. Another terrorist attack? No, just a top secret photo op.

The White House apologizes .
posted by stagewhisper (207 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I am sure all those panicky New Yorkers will now apologize for mocking Bostonians a while back, right?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 6:12 PM on April 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Somebody should tell the White House about this spiffy "Photoshop" thing all the cool kids are playing with these days....
posted by Floydd at 6:14 PM on April 27, 2009 [12 favorites]


What the hell were they thinking staging this? Do they just want to throw softballs for the right-wing nutjob machine to play with as a distraction? Odd.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:14 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not top secret. Authorities in NY and NJ were told that this was planned.
posted by sfts2 at 6:14 PM on April 27, 2009


Man, Obama was so close to finishing his first 100 days without being the worst president ever!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:16 PM on April 27, 2009 [10 favorites]


sfts- read the links now that they work (oops). Only a few people were notified, not including the Mayor. Those that were notified were told that they were barred from alerting the public. Most of the police force and even the NY/ NJ Transit Authority had no idea what was going on.
posted by stagewhisper at 6:18 PM on April 27, 2009


I am sure all those panicky New Yorkers will now apologize for mocking Bostonians a while back, right?

Excellent analogy... because Boston really was attacked by a Lite-Brite once.
posted by Poolio at 6:18 PM on April 27, 2009 [82 favorites]


Excellent analogy... because Boston really was attacked by a Lite-Brite once.

Sure, make fun. I, for one, will never forget the day that Tom Goes to the Mayor almost crashed into Boston Common in that Boeing.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 6:21 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Somebody thought this was a good idea, and made it happen.

That someone needs to be fired, because, quite simply, they don't have the judgement needed to be working in the Executive Branch of the United States of America.

I don't care if that person's title is Assistant to the Deputy Secretary, or President.

This was stupid. How much money did we spend scaring the crap out of New York for a goddamn photo op? Which, of course, will now never be used?

Stupid. Just fucking stupid.
posted by eriko at 6:21 PM on April 27, 2009 [15 favorites]


If Obama's gang DOES actually name and fire someone quickly and cleanly, that'll actually be so refreshing I'll forgive the stupidity here.
posted by rokusan at 6:26 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


If Obama's gang DOES actually name and fire someone quickly and cleanly, that'll actually be so kneejerk and stupid. This thing was clearly a disaster on many levels, but to fire one person as a scapegoat for a project that involved federal, state, and city officials in many separate departments would be a complete overreaction.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:32 PM on April 27, 2009 [8 favorites]


...to fire one person as a scapegoat for a project that involved federal, state, and city officials in many separate departments would be a complete overreaction.

You misspelled "completely appropriate reaction".
posted by The Tensor at 6:36 PM on April 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


It's a sad day when New Yorkers scatter like mice instead of extending their middle fingers and yelling, "Hey, I'm walkin' here!" The terrorists have won.
posted by mattdidthat at 6:37 PM on April 27, 2009 [32 favorites]


Aviation buffs & radio operators with scanners should have been able to tune in the approach control frequencies (which would be responsible for airspace over Manhattan) and figure out what was going on. All this communication is in the clear (discussed here for example) on designated frequencies that can easily be looked up on airnav.com and elsewhere, part of the "seen and be seen" ATC philosophy (and I don't buy that it would have been scrambled because the media reported a "classified mission"). It seems some of the confusion would have been figured out if people knew how to tune in ATC and Twitter or blog about it. Not criticizing, of course, just reminding that there's information there for the taking if you have a scanner.
posted by crapmatic at 6:37 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I know that I am in the minority, but I don't think this deserves all the outrage. Poor judgement or lack of sensitivity for sure though. I'm not sure what the authorities were told to say or not say, and I don't think anyone else is either, so the way I read it I'd be more pissed at the state and local guys.
posted by sfts2 at 6:37 PM on April 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


...to fire one person as a scapegoat for a project that involved federal, state, and city officials in many separate departments would be a complete overreaction.

Firing one person would actually be the opposite of a complete overreaction.
posted by gman at 6:38 PM on April 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Jesus, I've been hearing about this all day and still that video scared the shit out of me.
posted by WolfDaddy at 6:38 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


If Obama's gang DOES actually name and fire someone quickly and cleanly, that'll actually be so refreshing I'll forgive the stupidity here.

They released a statement a few hours ago. Louis Caldera, Director of the White House Military Office, apologized and claimed to be the responsible party.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:38 PM on April 27, 2009


Bloomberg knew, or didn't have his internal communications well enough set up to know. He's no doubt delighted to be making political capital out of it now in any event.

Politicians really need to have Austin's concept of perlocution explained to them though. Caldera said:
Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision... I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused.
This "taking responsibility" means what exactly?
posted by GeckoDundee at 6:38 PM on April 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


America - waiting patiently to be terrified.
posted by fire&wings at 6:40 PM on April 27, 2009 [7 favorites]


I know that I am in the minority, but I don't think this deserves all the outrage. Poor judgement or lack of sensitivity for sure though.

A good chunk of New York City was terrorized by these... these... what's the word?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:42 PM on April 27, 2009


In a related story, fire trucks and police cars in New York have had their sirens replaced with wind chimes and a recorded voice that softly repeats, "Excuse me, please . . . Pardon me . . . "
posted by mattdidthat at 6:44 PM on April 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


Oh, figures, Bush leaves office, and now Obama himself is attacking New York.

DO YOU SEE PEOPLE? DO YOU SEE?!
posted by graventy at 6:49 PM on April 27, 2009 [3 favorites]




That video on Gawker is not in lower Manhattan, its in Jersey City, in front of the Goldman/Sachs building. That thing in the background is the Colgate clock. I used to work 2 blocks from there on the 36th floor of 101 Hudson, and this would've scared the piss out of me. That plane is scarily low, and with the jet tailing it, you feel like its gonna get shot down. I definitely want to see this guy fired, that was really dumb.

video location.
posted by Mach5 at 6:52 PM on April 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


WolfDaddy , I was about two blocks from my house when I heard the noise and the planes passed overhead the first time. I've never seen a plane flying that low unless they were coming in for a landing. It was completely freakish to take in the two fighter jets (one was beside the plane, one trailing behind) because the stream of consciousness went something like this:

"What is that noise, what is that plane doing flying so low? Omigosh, it must be making an emergency landing, it's circling looking for a place to land. Try the Hudson? Seems like a good idea.Wait a sec! What are those two small planes doing flying right up beside it? Is that plane under attack? Oh no, I bet it's been hijacked! Those poor people. Here it comes again- are they going to force it down? Shoot it down? Is it going to hit my house? Oh it's turning around again, heading toward lower NYC. I should call my husband at work at the World Financial Center. It's heading that direction! Maybe I'm over-reacting? Holy shit! etc."

There's no alternate reality I can think of where this sort of stunt wouldn't be met with anxiety if not outright panic from the public, especially if said public has been specifically excluded from knowing ahead of time this was going to be taking place.
posted by stagewhisper at 6:55 PM on April 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


"Excellent analogy... because Boston really was attacked by a Lite-Brite once"

Yeah, and New York really was attacked by Air Force One and an F-16.

Seriously, have you all gone that soft? I am so disappointed.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 6:57 PM on April 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Hey, it's possible to still have a man-crush on Obama, and recognize this was a completely, jaw-droppingly stupid idea. Good lord.
posted by the bricabrac man at 6:59 PM on April 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


The appropriate reaction is to quickly find peace within yourself so that you can enjoy the sight of a huge jet flying so close by. The only downside is the disappointment when you don't actually die in a massive fireball of jet fuel. Also, achieving inner peace can dull that edge you've been honing all these years.

Alternately, this might be a perfect time to revive the traditional american punishment of tarring and feathering.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:01 PM on April 27, 2009


well, I couldn't help myself...the folks over at hotair.com are exploding with outrage/glee. I have to say, though, they have a couple of clips from people with video cameras on the ground, and to those folks, it definitely looked SCARY AS FUCK.
posted by the bricabrac man at 7:07 PM on April 27, 2009


ChurchHatesTucker

The word you are looking for might be...bureaucrats?
posted by sfts2 at 7:07 PM on April 27, 2009


I'm not so outraged about the lack of notification and the terrorizing of people downtown (and I'm a lifelong NYCer who watched the WTC go up and come down) but WHAT THE FUCK are we doing in this catastrophic economic moment spending $$$ on fuel and staff to fly an empty 747 and an F-16 in circles so one can take pretty pictures of the other?
posted by nicwolff at 7:08 PM on April 27, 2009 [14 favorites]


Well I work just off Canal street all the way on the west side and when I say that plane and those fighters looping around I rushed outside with a broken bottle of Heineken and tore off my shirt and screamed to the sky "Come on you MOTHAFUKKKASSSSSS!"

Jesus wept, y'all still have disaster envy about New York? We're not all self-involved dicks (mostly just the recent imports). Boston I'm looking at you, half my people are from Boston and I'm still confused about the rivalry you all promote, ain't there.

I didn't see the plane and if I had I would have had a regular person reaction to seeing a low flying plane that I don't normally see over my place of work, we don't all 9/11 out when a car backfires.

posted by Divine_Wino at 7:09 PM on April 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Is it just me or did they run towards the hypothetical impact point?
posted by Submiqent at 7:17 PM on April 27, 2009


Here's what I don't understand about this incident: this photo-op, if that's what it was, would have required agency approval from DHS, FAA, NORAD, ATC, AF, NYPD, NYFD, etc etc, and would have required diverting any incoming or outgoing planes: all regional ATC, and every regional airport and flight path and security apparatus would have had to have been notified months in advance.

It would have required one hell of a lot of logistical work and bureaucratic inter-departmental agreement for just a photo op--when it would have been much easier and probably cheaper to just hire a Hollywood image specialist in CGI or photoshop to create the desired image. So why do it? On top of it, why not publicize it beforehand so as not to induce heart attacks?
posted by ornate insect at 7:18 PM on April 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I guess this sort of thing is less impressive if you grew up about 15 miles away from an air force base and were more or less right in line with the runway.

That being said, Nicwolff, feel free to come stand in my parents yard and watch the same C-9 do touch and goes every 15 minutes. As I understand it, they call it getting their hours in.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:31 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


This about how scary it would have been if Harrison Ford jumped out in a parachute.
posted by Slap Factory at 7:31 PM on April 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Okay, maybe some people weren't scared by seeing this event - or maybe wouldn't have been scared, according to them - but that doesn't mean that the people who were scared ought to have felt differently.

Many people were evacuated from their office buildings by legitimately safety-conscious workplace officials, and I'm sure that added to the freakiness for those people. Building safety managers in New York have gotten pretty hardcore about this stuff, and it was happening right outside their windows. Thousands of offices face this part of New York, both in the city and in New Jersey.

I don't consider myself particularly tweaked by the 9/11 attacks, but I still look askance at planes that look like they're flying really low, especially if they're heading in the direction of the Financial District. A big plane, wheeling around that area, and then followed by fighter jets? I'm glad I didn't see it.
posted by dammitjim at 7:34 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


This thing was clearly a disaster on many levels, but to fire one person as a scapegoat for a project that involved federal, state, and city officials in many separate departments would be a complete overreaction.

Yeah, because this guy totally should not have been a scapegoat, since his disaster was on many levels and involved federal, state, and city officials in many separate departments.

(To be clear, I do think that Michael "heck of a job" Brown should have been immediately fired.)
posted by The World Famous at 7:34 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


The official story is am improbable scenario. What kind of photographer would need to take actual photos of a plane over the statue of liberty? What kind would ever consider that they could convince the proprietors of air force one to actually do it?

This was some sort of power play. Its scary to ponder the implications.
posted by Osmanthus at 7:35 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


mr_ed was mr_crash_davis' father?
posted by gman at 7:36 PM on April 27, 2009


What planet do you people live on where it's the President who:
- decides to do an AF1 photo op
- decides where it's going to happen and when
- is responsible for calling people to warn them about the photo op

There are two 747s that are used as AF1, and I'm very sure they didn't put the President on board the one they zoomed around NYC. I don't think the process is "sup B, we're thinking of taking some pics, can we take a quick run around the block? You're not busy right?"
posted by Super Hans at 7:39 PM on April 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


I've heard they are staging a fake tsunami in New Orleans....
posted by dov3 at 7:39 PM on April 27, 2009


I'm still not clear on just what it was they were doing. All we have been told is that it was a "photo-op". Who was taking photos, of what, and why? What was it they wanted the photos for? Why was the Presidential 747 involved? Why the F-16's?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:40 PM on April 27, 2009


Clearly, lower Manhattan needs a public-warning system so fragile New Yorkers aren't sent scurrying for their Xanax and therapists when they hear a low-flying jet.

The city should build a bell tower, and when planes fly overhead, a Herve Villechaize lookalike rings the bell and yells, "Ze plane! Ze plane!"
posted by mattdidthat at 7:40 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


The official story is am improbable scenario

Yeah, it's very, very strange that the mayor of NYC did not know about this. All three of the major NYc airports would have had to have been informed, as well as the smaller ones. Incoming and outgoing flight schedules would have HAD to have been staggered for something like this: the number of planes buzzing in and out of NYC on an average Monday means you can't just take up airspace this way without a serious logistical plan in place. The whole thing is very strange, to put it mildly.
posted by ornate insect at 7:41 PM on April 27, 2009


At least Caldera had the decency to schedule it early enough in the day for the Daily Show to make fun of it tonight.
posted by photoslob at 7:41 PM on April 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


We were laughing in my office when people streamed form the building until we heard what happened - some of those people who ran lost people on Sept 11th. One of my friends went to 13 funerals and then couldn't go to the any more.
Until you stand in their shoes save the sarcasm about "panicky" NY'ers.
I saw the best in NY right after 9/11 - everyone pulled together and respected everyone. I saw the rest of the country freaking out and acting out.
posted by hooptycritter at 7:41 PM on April 27, 2009 [12 favorites]


Ah yes, just another in-air photo op. Makes sense.
posted by FuManchu at 7:53 PM on April 27, 2009


I can't believe people think that people need to get fired over this. Puhleeze. No one was harmed.

Bush killed by the thousands and no one was harmed. Bush literally tortured humans in the name of the USA and no one was fired.

Nobody died here. Not a fucking person.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:53 PM on April 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


NEVAR FORGET 4/27!
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 7:55 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


No one was harmed.

How can you say that?
posted by gman at 7:55 PM on April 27, 2009


Also, NY was not the only place hit on September 11th.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:55 PM on April 27, 2009


posted by gman How can you say that?

4/27 changed everything.
posted by mattdidthat at 7:56 PM on April 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, NY was not the only place hit on September 11th.

You're right. What does that have to do with anything?
posted by dammitjim at 7:58 PM on April 27, 2009


U.S. Plans Attack and Defense in Cyberspace Warfare: that ought to make for a good photo-op: a picture of a Mefite in pajamas cursing as the screen goes blank
posted by ornate insect at 8:01 PM on April 27, 2009


Also, NY was not the only place hit on September 11th.
I suspect that a 747, closely followed by a fighter jet, buzzing the pentagon, would certainly have lead to major concern. This would be especially true if nobody had told the folks in the offices what was going on.
posted by jenkinsEar at 8:02 PM on April 27, 2009


Its scary to ponder the implications.

No kidding.

I mean, does this mean that the Gnomes of Zurich are in cahoots with the New Nebraska Nudists? Has the GOP moved in on Crip turf and installed a Waffle House beach-head in South Central? Does this mean that the Mafia has purchased eight million white Cadillacs and installed license plates that say "XBOXHUEG" on each and every one? What will they do with this gigantic fleet, and what does that mean for the Cosa Nudista?

And what of the gay pink australian unicorn-fairies? What of them? For the love of god, what of them?
posted by aramaic at 8:03 PM on April 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Bush killed by the thousands and no one was harmed. Bush literally tortured humans in the name of the USA and no one was fired.

First, the assertion that nobody in the Bush administration was ever fired in relation to torture is one I have a hard time believing.

Second, a lot more people should have been fired, and the fact that high profile people were not fired by the Bush Administration is not a good argument in favor of not firing other people for something else. The "but Bush didn't fire the torturers" defense, if valid, would immunize federal officials from termination for pretty much any atrocity you can name. I don't think we want to allow Bush to have set a precedent like that.
posted by The World Famous at 8:03 PM on April 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


This was some sort of power play. Its scary to ponder the implications.

Yeah because Obama's trying to intimidate all of those right-wing New York City folk.

Get real.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:04 PM on April 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


pink australian unicorn-fairies

Not to get all 4/27 Truth on you, but it's not really normal to stage a 9/11-style photo-op in some of the busiest airspace in the world and forget to notify the mayor. I mean just the other day the WH itself was on lockdown b/c of an errant plane that accidently entered its airspace.
posted by ornate insect at 8:08 PM on April 27, 2009


The "but Bush didn't fire the torturers" defense, if valid, would immunize federal officials from termination for pretty much any atrocity you can name.

Bush immunized them long ago. Do a Lexis search on "qualified immunity" at work tomorrow. Everyone of those dudes is gonna walk. That was the entire purpose of those memos.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:09 PM on April 27, 2009


A good chunk of New York City was terrorized by these... these... what's the word?

Republicans.
posted by rokusan at 8:12 PM on April 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


Our war on this emotion has not yet run its course.
posted by felix betachat at 8:12 PM on April 27, 2009


Bush immunized all federal officials, including those in the Obama administration, from being terminated from their jobs regardless of what they do? That's news to me.

I don't think you understood my point. You appear to be arguing that, because "those dudes [are] gonna walk," that means that the Obama administration should not fire anyone for doing something they should not do. I disagree with your assertion above that, because (in your estimation) Bush fired no one in connection with torture, Obama should therefore fire no one in connection with this screw up.
posted by The World Famous at 8:12 PM on April 27, 2009


to fire one person as a scapegoat... would be a complete overreaction.

I didn't ask for a scapegoat. I asked for the actual responsible party. That's a big difference.

You can try to spread the blame around all you want, but someone was in charge, and someone made the decision, and that person should be fired.

That's not scapegoating. That's textbook ABC accountability.
posted by rokusan at 8:13 PM on April 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Not top secret. Authorities in NY and NJ were told that this was planned.

False. I was not told, and I am an authority on jaw-droppingly stupid decisions.
posted by rokusan at 8:14 PM on April 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


It appears to have occurred to none of you that the military machine might have wanted to frighten people and show off their might? That this might be absolutely deliberate?

Consider if you're planning this. Wouldn't you want to make a big deal of it? Get people to watch? Send press releases to the newspapers, a little bit on the TV? I mean, this is second nature to someone doing PR, right?

Just the image they are trying to convey, a huge jetliner and a powerful fighter jet flying over the head of liberty, is one of fearsome strength. Even if it's a mistake, it's simply that they accidentally unleashed their propaganda weapon onto Americans at the wrong time.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:16 PM on April 27, 2009


LOLNYERS
posted by Bovine Love at 8:17 PM on April 27, 2009



Yeah, and New York really was attacked by Air Force One and an F-16.

Seriously, have you all gone that soft? I am so disappointed.


From the ground I imagine it would be quite difficult to tell the difference between Air Force One and any other large commercial airliner. Not to mention the fact that the exact type of plane certainly doesn't matter at all. The additional F-16's would be a rational response to another (highly unlikely) hijacking. If I had seen this I would have thought "well, at least they got the military there this time."

I'm with the people up-thread who called this for making no actual sense. What are the chances that this was a readyness test of some kind that didn't exactly work? It certainly would fit in with trying to claim it as a photo-op rather than a "we fucked up and didn't catch the plane until it was over a major metropolitan area. Again." story.
posted by odinsdream at 8:17 PM on April 27, 2009


[comment removed. hi, we don't do that "your mom fucks farm animals" thing here. Go to MetaTalk if something's bugging you that much, thanks!]
posted by jessamyn at 8:20 PM on April 27, 2009 [7 favorites]


My point is that it is an overreaction to fire anyone for an incident in which no one was hurt and nothing was damaged. To do so would set a ridiculous precedent.

My comment about the torture memos was an aside. Prosecutions will not succeed because the torture memos snugly fit a prong of the qualified immunity test. Check it out.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:20 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


This was some sort of power play. Its scary to ponder the implications.

Yeah because Obama's trying to intimidate all of those right-wing New York City folk.


Seriously though.... this is a perfect way to make Obama look like a self-centered prick, although the article states he was not aware of the scheme. Is it too TinFoilHat to speculate this is a subversive Republican stunt?
posted by CynicalKnight at 8:22 PM on April 27, 2009


a readyness test

This occurred to me too: possibly a drill or war game, but if so still strange Bloomberg was left out of the loop.

Obama's trying to intimidate

Could be the other way around; the power play could be directed his way. I admit that's total speculation, but the idea that this was just a photo-op (where was the cameraman supposed to be shooting from, the ground?) seems somewhat suspect.
posted by ornate insect at 8:22 PM on April 27, 2009


to fire one person as a scapegoat for a project that involved federal, state, and city officials in many separate departments would be a complete overreaction.

It's like the last eight years never happened. Have we not learned that irresponsible government is our biggest enemy?

We have to hold government to a higher standard than anyone else - precisely because their decisions and actions can fuck up so many people (like in this incident).

In particular, it's perfect reasonable that each group lower down thought, "OF COURSE they're going to tell people! Someone else must be doing that. I know my job and it's X." But there is no excuse for the guy at the top not doing that.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:22 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


This was some sort of power play. Its scary to ponder the implications.

Yeah because Obama's trying to intimidate all of those right-wing New York City folk.


Get real.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:04 PM on April 27


No, that is not one of the implications.
The implication is that the military is sending an message to President Obama that he is not in control of the military, his own image, or his own safety.
posted by Osmanthus at 8:23 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


From the ground it looked as though a plane had been hijacked again

You could see the whites of their crazy terrorist eyes.

And yeah a very very ill advised badly thought through insensitive thing to do.
posted by mattoxic at 8:24 PM on April 27, 2009


(and why the fuck didn't they use CGI for this stuff?! I'm sure a dozen companies would do it pro bono just for seeing their name in lights!)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:24 PM on April 27, 2009


where was the cameraman supposed to be shooting from, the ground?

I assume they were supposed to be in one of the F-16's. Interesting FOIA request waiting to happen for those negatives/digital files.
posted by odinsdream at 8:25 PM on April 27, 2009


What are the chances that this was a readyness test of some kind that didn't exactly work?

With the single most expensive passenger aircraft ever built? Seems like the dumbest readiness test ever. For something like that they would just pick an out of the way point, dub it NYC and scramble F-16s there. I'd bet any amount of money that footage is meant for an Air Force recruiting ad. They sure as hell aren't going to practice protecting Air Force One in front of millions of people. They keep that secret.

The party I don't believe is Bloomberg. He had no idea, despite the fact that other local officials did? Wrong. He's just trying to cover his ass.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:29 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm starting to think NYC is one of those topics Metafilter doesn't do well.
posted by Mitheral at 8:30 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


My point is that it is an overreaction to fire anyone for an incident in which no one was hurt and nothing was damaged. To do so would set a ridiculous precedent.

I see what you're getting at. But I think there are plenty of things that a federal employee can do, short of hurting someone or damaging something, that could justify termination of employment. Maybe someone did one of those things here. Maybe not.

My comment about the torture memos was an aside. Prosecutions will not succeed because the torture memos snugly fit a prong of the qualified immunity test. Check it out.

Yes, I am aware of that legal issue. I agree with you there.

Seems like the dumbest readiness test ever.

The thing is, whether the official version is the truth or whether the various conspiracy theories being advanced are the truth, it looks like this was the dumbest something ever, and that's troubling.
posted by The World Famous at 8:33 PM on April 27, 2009


Ironmouth: I don't think it makes much sense, but photo-op doesn't either.
posted by odinsdream at 8:34 PM on April 27, 2009


The Beckian Limbaughites are going to have so much fun with this. The whole op probably cost several million to boot. Firing someone is completely within the bounds of reason.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:36 PM on April 27, 2009


The implication is that the military is sending an message to President Obama that he is not in control of the military, his own image, or his own safety.

That sounds like crazytalk to me. I don't buy that the US military is commanded by far-right, racists ready to threaten a Coup d'état.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:37 PM on April 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


> For something like that they would just pick an out of the way point, dub it NYC and scramble F-16s there. I'd bet any amount of money that footage is meant for an Air Force recruiting ad.

I'd think that if it was going to be used as propaganda for the USAF they would've used something more sexy like an F-22. But we probably won't see the intended finished product as the project has probably been shelved now due to the uproar.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:40 PM on April 27, 2009


It just burns me up that Bush gets to fuck everything up massively, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths and Rumsfeld resigned 6 years into Bush's tenure. Obama's military office approves 2 flyovers (DC too!), with no deaths or damage and people want somebody to get fired? That's the crack talking. No, no, no. So wrong.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:41 PM on April 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: We don't do that "your mom fucks farm animals" thing here.
posted by Poolio at 8:43 PM on April 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


When we were evacuated this morning, no one knew what was going on and it was scary, but I do remember thinking "I hope I get the day off."
posted by Falconetti at 8:45 PM on April 27, 2009


[tinfoilhat]
My theory? AF1 was being moved for routine security or logistic reasons. Pilot goes bugfuck and starts joyriding around NYC. Escorts and air traffic control talk him down or he's overpowered. Air Force doesn't want to admit that their screening procedures fucked up so royally, so lame and bizarre "photo op" coverstory is spun and a few state and local officials are coopted into lying about a flight plan for "national security reasons".
[/tinfoilhat]
posted by xthlc at 8:45 PM on April 27, 2009


And just to add to the conpsiracy theorinessness, surely there are better aircraft to take photos from then an F-16?
posted by PenDevil at 8:48 PM on April 27, 2009


That sounds like crazytalk to me. I don't buy that the US military is commanded by far-right, racists ready to threaten a Coup d'état.

Just not in their own country, eh?
posted by tapeguy at 8:55 PM on April 27, 2009


Well, yeah! We hand out Coups like candy to other people.

I might just watch Dr. Strangelove this weekend though.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:58 PM on April 27, 2009


> And just to add to the conpsiracy theorinessness, surely there are better aircraft to take photos from then an F-16?

Pardon me for adding speculation on top of speculation, but it would seem that the F-16 is actually a fine vantage point to take aerial photos from, and given that the AF1 VC-25 cruises faster than commercical 747s it makes sense that you would want a fighter jet to keep up.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:01 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


The official story is am improbable scenario.

Agreed. On the bright side, I made a fortune in tinfoil futures today.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:03 PM on April 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


PenDevil, unless I'm not thinking of something, there aren't many US military airplanes that can maneuver freely around a 747 at speed and have a second seat for a photographer besides an F-16B or an F-15E.
posted by nicwolff at 9:04 PM on April 27, 2009


It's a sad day when New Yorkers scatter like mice instead of extending their middle fingers and yelling, "Hey, I'm walkin' here!" The terrorists have won.

We even allowed a private security company to offer electric dog collars to the DHS as a means to control passengers on domestic flights, without laughing them out of the country. Republicans really have turned us all into a bunch of pussies scared of our own shadows. Right-wingers couldn't have worked any harder to fulfill Osama bin Laden's agenda, if they tried.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:06 PM on April 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


An Air Force photographer taking pictures from an F-16 is not exactly a new thing.

A dumb thing in this case? Sure? But not really a reason to stock up on tinfoil with what we know about the incident right now.
posted by Cyrano at 9:07 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Right-wingers couldn't have worked any harder to fulfill Osama bin Laden's agenda, if they tried.

If?
posted by The World Famous at 9:15 PM on April 27, 2009


But anyway, they were probably trying to go for something like this, only with the Statue of Liberty and the various bridges to Manhattan in place of the dead white guys.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:18 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


DC doesn't have this problem of collective over imagination.
posted by stbalbach at 9:18 PM on April 27, 2009


I didn't notice it when it was happening (then again, my office is at 23rd Street) but my friend who had to run down 46 flights of stairs this morning is livid.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:20 PM on April 27, 2009


I watched a movie a couple nights back. It was set in New York, and the plot involved large areas of the city being buzzed by bombers and fighter jets, tanks moving in, and the whole freaking city being stomped over by some kind of giant lizard.

What I want to know is, where was this panic when they were filming Cloverfield? I mean, the lizard alone must have freaked out thousands of people. And how did they keep it sedated between shots, when it had to be so angry during the action? That lizard must be one heck of an actor.

(Seriously, yeah, CGI is cheaper, easier, and won't lead to calls for sackings. Unless Uwe Boll is allowed to direct the commercial.)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:29 PM on April 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


When I was younger an aerial event, spectacle, such as this would have been savored. The terrorists have truly won. We're, Americans, are now a bunch of wimpy, over-reactive, hysterical crybabies.

No comments here dissuade me from what appears to me to be that simple and terribly disappointing truth.
posted by bz at 9:34 PM on April 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


I guess this sort of thing is less impressive if you grew up about 15 miles away from an air force base and were more or less right in line with the runway.

Yeah, this was one of the unmentioned benefits of living in Silicon Valley near Moffett Air Field. The same military cargo plane flew over my son's little league game about 20 times during one weekend game. Another time we got the low'n'slow from some sort of fighter-trainer, maybe an F-15, I dunno. American's military pilots aren't letting themselves ge trusty in this recession.
posted by GuyZero at 9:52 PM on April 27, 2009


Mad props for Moffett Field reference! Spent 3 years at Moffett/Onizuka :-) back in the 90s.

Back on topic: I can't believe how absolutely DUMB this was. Dumb dumb and dumb. It *probably* was for a photo-op, as per the official story, but it's SO dumb that someone in the chain must have realized that it would set off tinfoil alarms, right?

And let's be honest -- how many pictures do we really, really need of AF1, or the Statue of Liberty, or the NYC skyline? We have MILLIONS of them all over the place -- surely they didn't have to go to such lengths to get *just one more* picture, right? I mean, if the opportunity presented itself in the routine course of AF1/Presidential travels, then hey, click that camera. But to spend money, and manpower, and resources on something like this - and in such a manner that it scares the bejeezus out of an understandably-jittery NYC...man, this was just dumb no matter how you slice it.
posted by davidmsc at 10:41 PM on April 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


This whole "photo op" thing sounds like standard mil-grade bullshit. I'd love to know what the real backstory is. And even if it was just a photo-op, somebody (I'm looking at you Bloomberg) is lying or playing politics. And those who are blaming Obama are also full of it. It's not like the President has enough time in his day to say "Hey the weather is great! Let's send up the spare jet to get some snaps over NY. God I love being the President!"

But I can understand the general emotional freakout from NYers, it's not weakness, it's being human.
posted by gofargogo at 10:51 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I was younger an aerial event, spectacle, such as this would have been savored. The terrorists have truly won. We're, Americans, are now a bunch of wimpy, over-reactive, hysterical crybabies.

Ditto. I'm glad it was President Obama who took the brunt of the odus of...flying jets over NYC again. New Yorkers may have all "re-lived" memories from 2001 but it had to be done. Every plane is not a terrorist, every occasion is not a crisis, and life in the 21st Century is not all bad.

As a matter of fact, I'd say as bad as things are, they're actually pretty good. Looking up even.

To be honest, sorry about the day, NY'ers. It had to happen sometime.

You're alive. You're okay. And shitty nightmarish horror atroci-perience aside, the truth here is that New York is where really world-size cool stuff actually happens ALL THE TIME!

Take it or leave it, it's why the world ♥'s you. And me too!
posted by humannaire at 10:55 PM on April 27, 2009


The terrorists have truly won.

Who the fuck even cares? How can you be human and not develop an association of fear or fright based on horrific catastrophe, loss and devastation?
posted by setanor at 11:03 PM on April 27, 2009


You're alive. You're okay. And shitty nightmarish horror atroci-perience aside, the truth here is that New York is where really world-size cool stuff actually happens ALL THE TIME!

I don't live in New York. It's the rest of the country that fetishized what happened there endlessly for years on end, why do you have to be so patronizing to them about this?
posted by setanor at 11:05 PM on April 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


As a number of people have said, this isn't something that could happen (planned or unplanned) without the involvement of all the ATC in the area. Was no one listening to the ATC traffic at the time? I'd think it would be pretty easy to tell from the traffic whether ATC was expecting this.

Thread over at Airliners.net, not much more information than here.
posted by hattifattener at 11:08 PM on April 27, 2009


Louis Caldera, Director of the White House Military Office, apologized and claimed to be the responsible party.

Then Louis Caldera should resign. He was bloody stupid, irresponsible, and inconsiderate. He has failed to perform his job to an acceptable level of competence. The only way he can adequately apologize the people he scared shitless is to resign.

He did not get to a job of that nature without having some credentials and merit, so I am certain he will easily enough find a new, equally well-paying job. That's fine and fair.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:14 PM on April 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Actually, this was a junket arranged by Timothy Geithner, for the purpose of explaining how to game the TARP to his Wall St. coterie, while they dined on savoury bushmeat, quaffed the blood of Palestinian children, and lit cubans with $10K Treasury bills.
posted by metaplectic at 11:16 PM on April 27, 2009


Burhistan: Firing someone is completely within the bounds of reason.

Oh that's nothing. Remember, we nearly impeached a president over a blow job; for making some yuppies run down 40+ flights of stairs, we need to impeach and imprison the presiddent for...something. I dunno, we'll think of something. And then give the presidency to the next person in line for the job, Sarah Palin. Because it's obvious that God wants her to be president.
posted by happyroach at 11:19 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


happyroach: yuppies

What?
posted by setanor at 11:24 PM on April 27, 2009


I don't buy that the US military is commanded by far-right, racists ready to threaten a Coup d'état.

You should read up about the Dominionist movement and its influence in West Point and the like. Parts of your military are very much moving toward the far right.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:28 PM on April 27, 2009


Oh that's nothing. Remember, we nearly impeached a president over a blow job; for making some yuppies run down 40+ flights of stairs, we need to impeach and imprison the presiddent for...something. I dunno, we'll think of something. And then give the presidency to the next person in line for the job, Sarah Palin. Because it's obvious that God wants her to be president.

Why can't you just admit that Obama fucked up?
posted by metaplectic at 11:29 PM on April 27, 2009


happyroach: put some ice on that knee before you jerk it out of place. I didn't say impeach the president, nor did anyone else. As for the Palin thing you mentioned....um, ?
posted by Burhanistan at 11:29 PM on April 27, 2009


I am with the tinfoil hats on this one. This was no photo-op.

The military has ridiculously lame regulations on conducting fly-bys, regarding minimum altitude, speed, use of afterburners, etc. They get violated routinely for football games and the like, but people dig it, the military gets good publicity, and the pilots get away with it.

These guys know what they are doing, and everybody knows that flying AF1 around NYC at low altitude with a couple of F-16s dogging it would be a bad idea - especially after they recently lost an F-18 into a house in San Diego, killing most of a family.

Now I am not suggesting that Harrison Ford was saving AF1 from terrorists, or that even an overzealous transport pilot pulled a Ferris Bueller. But photo-op? That sounds about as credible as "accidentally" transporting nuclear weapons across the country.

I don't know what would be worse: being right or being wrong. I am just skeptical, is all.
posted by Xoebe at 11:30 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


The mission on Monday, officials said, was set up to create an iconic shot of Air Force One, similar to one that was taken in recent years over the Grand Canyon.

That may help clear up what kind of photos they were trying to take.

I, for one, would like to see those photos.
posted by WalterMitty at 11:34 PM on April 27, 2009


Yeah, being from Texas I usually relish for any occasion to mock newyorkers, but I don't think this is the appropriate time to call them a bunch of reactionary pussys. I'm looking at you, crash davis. I think I'd be pretty freaked out by some crazy plane shit going on, given the last incident with that whole planes flying into the world trade center thing. I think it's pretty unfair to mock the citizens of NY for being freaked out about this.
posted by dead cousin ted at 12:08 AM on April 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


I lol'd.

It was a photo op
. Military people need to learn how to photoshop.
posted by mullingitover at 12:58 AM on April 28, 2009


The US Air Force remains the dumbest of the armed service branches. No surprise there.
posted by bardic at 1:11 AM on April 28, 2009


Bush [blah blah]. Obama's military office approves 2 flyovers (DC too!), with no deaths or damage and people want somebody to get fired? That's the crack talking. No, no, no. So wrong.

Didn't we already demolish this argument? Just because Bush was so terrible, doesn't mean that the Obama administration gets some free pass to do stupid things. I didn't want the Bush administration fired, I wanted them jailed!

The trouble with our "public servants" is that they aren't held responsible for their mistakes. With great power comes great responsibility.

Think this is no big deal? How many millions were wasted on this? Think they can use that picture now? You think that panicking thousands of people is no big deal? People die when crowds panic all the time. One of the primary responsibilities of government is preserving the public order.

[By the way, "arguments" like "that's the crack talking" don't really bolster your position one bit. If you have an argument, make it - claiming your opponents are drug addicts isn't really civilized discourse.]
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:19 AM on April 28, 2009


What will make the conspiracy theorists more nutty? Flying AF1 over actual landmarks or photoshopping it into places it's never been?
posted by PenDevil at 1:38 AM on April 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


C'mon people, open your eyes. That was no Air Force 1 747, that was a cargo plane painted to look like one. It was being flown by Bin Laden to freak out an terrorise Americans. I'm uploading a video to youtube right now to prove it.

Why can't conspiracy theorising be a two way street?
posted by Elmore at 1:42 AM on April 28, 2009


hi, we don't do that "your mom fucks farm animals" thing here

Well I guess all that research for my upcoming FPP was in vain then.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:35 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Um, guys? This is ridiculously irresponsible and someone-should-be-fired-worthy not because it might scare those poor timid New Yorkers, but because it's a fucking egregious waste of money.

The cost of that flight? For a photograph?
posted by rokusan at 4:12 AM on April 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Whatever the merits of flying AF1 over downtown Manhattan, you can't just fake this shot. AF1 is a metaphor for the president. You might as well photoshop the president meeting all sorts of otherwise unimportant people to free up his time or save cost.

To put it another way: if the president's opponents were to find out that an emblematic shot of AF1 was faked, how do you think they would react?

a) It's A-OK, because it didn't scare New Yorkers and saved your tax bill
b) It shows that Obama is nothing but a media lovin' fake.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:14 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


To put it another way: if the president's opponents were to find out that an emblematic shot of AF1 was faked.

Oh my god. Are you saying that if we use Photoshop we will embolden the terrorists?

Clearly this was worth every penny, then.
posted by rokusan at 4:51 AM on April 28, 2009


Whatever the merits of flying AF1 over downtown Manhattan, you can't just fake this shot. AF1 is a metaphor for the president. You might as well photoshop the president meeting all sorts of otherwise unimportant people to free up his time or save cost.

But isn't staging the shot just as much of a fake? The only realistic scenario that would see Air Force One flying that low over Manhattan apart from this photo-shoot would be somebody hijacking it. If the president ever needed a close and personal bird's-eye view of the city, he'd be in a helicopter.
posted by rory at 5:00 AM on April 28, 2009


That's pretty f'd up.

and by 'f'd' I mean 'fucked.'
posted by shakespeherian at 5:20 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Waste of money? Probably, but I'm sure it would'nt take long to find bigger ones.

Start firing people because some New Yorkers were scared for a while? Waste of time and money. September 11th sucked, but it was a long time ago.

Grow up Gotham.
posted by timsteil at 5:22 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


lupus_yonderboy: "It appears to have occurred to none of you that the military machine might have wanted to frighten people and show off their might? That this might be absolutely deliberate?"

I'm willing to bet that I'm as paranoid by nature as anyone actively posting on MetaFilter. Plus, I'm an embittered former Obama supporter who will rail against him on wiretaps and torture at the slighest provocation.

So I think I speak with some authority when I say that your hypothesis is nuts.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:29 AM on April 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


But isn't staging the shot just as much of a fake?

In the great scheme of things, all presidential photo ops are staged to a greater or lesser degree. I think there is fairly clear water between taking a picture of something that happened and simply mocking a shot up because it looks cool.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:45 AM on April 28, 2009


The staging itself wasn't my point, MuffinMan. The scenario is fake, unless it's the hijack scenario, and I doubt they wanted to suggest that. They were presumably going for some kind of "here's our president above our biggest city" vibe, but he would never actually fly that low right over Manhattan in Air Force One, so the results will end up looking contrived.

Staging has its place. When we see a staged photo of Obama shaking another world leader's hand, it stands in for the private moments of discussion between the two that we'd never get to see; we all understand that, and the image is close enough to a real moment of meeting to substitute for it. But what's this photo meant to tell us? That the plane can actually fly? That the president visits New York? That the president visits New York on Air Force One? There are many other ways to represent those possibilities, staged or otherwise. And given that there are many opportunities to take unstaged photos of real Air Force One flights at a lower cost than staging them, the critics complaining about the cost have a point.

I don't think there is such clear water between staging an event and mocking it up if the purpose of either is "because it looks cool". Look at how easily movie audiences have accepted the shift from using casts of thousands in battle scenes to using CGI; as long as it's artfully done, either approach is just as convincing, and just as unconvincing (those thousands of extras were paid to be there, and we knew it). The stunts in a James Bond movie are "something that happened". That doesn't mean they tell us much about real spying.
posted by rory at 6:25 AM on April 28, 2009


Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

This isn't a conspiracy, this is a chair-polisher in DC who couldn't be bothered to consider the ramifications of having a 747 pursued by fighter planes fly over ground zero at 1500 feet at 10 AM on a monday morning. It seems obvious in retrospect, but bureaucrats aren't exactly known for their "out of the box" thinking skills.

The worst part is probably the political tone-deafness that it exhibits. Democrats have been tagged as having a "September 10th" mentality through the last election, and this certainly reinforces that perception- even though it was almost certainly the doing of a low-level aparatchik, and not Caldera, who will probably have to take the fall.
posted by jenkinsEar at 6:27 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


One of the CGI guys from Battlestar Galactica has some thoughts on the matter.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:58 AM on April 28, 2009


Nice work, GCI guy!
posted by Kiwi at 7:06 AM on April 28, 2009


Um, that's CGI.
posted by Kiwi at 7:07 AM on April 28, 2009


"The scenario is fake, unless it's the hijack scenario"

The scenario of a plane flying that low may be fake, but the scenario of a President flying in AF1 over New York isn't. In the same way that I'd guess you'd never shake the hand of someone you dislike intensely while turning your head a full 90 degrees and holding the guy's hand for 2 minutes, the metaphor necessarily involves some compromise - in both cases making the shot more photogenic.

Movie audiences may well accept special effects, but that is because it has been a convention for the best part of a century. Convention in politics says that there are tolerances for certain kinds of fakery (hey, I just happened to catch a jet onto this aircraft carrier) and not for others (Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your plastic turkey*).

*even if it turns out to not be a plastic turkey
posted by MuffinMan at 7:09 AM on April 28, 2009


Wow, you people just really can't see the truth can you?

1. FACT: Obama is determined to destroy the terrorists.
2. FACT: Obama acquired a pilots license in 1994
3. FACT: Obama knows that the only way to defeat a terrorist, is to get into his head, and think as he thinks.
4. FACT: Obama was FLYING AF1 on that day.
5. FACT: Obama now knows how to defeat terrorism.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:12 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


That was about some fucked-up shit. I have never even been to NYC - saw this on Countdown last night and even I got creeped out. I can only imagine how people who saw this first hand felt. Someone definitely deserves a good smack upside the head.
posted by PuppyCat at 7:38 AM on April 28, 2009


He did not get to a job of that nature without having some credentials and merit, so I am certain he will easily enough find a new, equally well-paying job. That's fine and fair

Mr. Caldera was formerly Secretary of the Army. Although he took responsibility, I highly doubt it was his job to make sure that NYC got informed. After reading the crap "Bloomberg chastizes his own office" crap, I see a huge difference between Obama's people and Bloomberg. Bloomberg blamed it on a flunky and put a disciplinary letter in his file. Caldera took responsibility. Bloomberg was responsible. His office was told. It is Bloomberg's resposibility to set up office procedures that ensure that he gets informed. He did not do so. Had he done so, he could have said--this is not going to work, people are going to freak. He did not do so.

Having said that, my argument has not been destroyed. The fact that several thousand New Yorkers were scared means nothing.

I live in DC. Marine One flys directly over my neighborhood to get to Camp David. I've seen it hundreds upon hundreds of times.

On September 16, 2001, my roommates and I were sitting on our back porch having Sunday brunch. Suddenly a loud noise filled the sky. We had no idea anything was going on and we were frightened. I suggested someone go turn on the TV. We thought it was another attack. Since I know people who were in the Pentagon parking lot where the plane hit, I was shook up, certainly. Everyone knew someone who was killed (DC is a much smaller place.) We had troops on the streets for the remainder of that week. Humvees and soldiers controlled traffic circles.

Soon enough, we spotted 2 F-18's circling directly over our house. Directly over it. Three Marine One helicopters flew over and Bush landed.

Although I was scared, I didn't demand people get fired for it. Why people are demanding this now, I do not know. No person was harmed. No property was damaged. Just because some persons become frightened does not make it a firing offense. When no one is hurt and no regulations were violated, there is no reason to fire public employees.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:01 AM on April 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


For fucks sake! Some of you motherfuckers need PTSD councelling...
posted by Jeremy at 8:16 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


If Gabriel wants to rollerblade, Gabriel rollerblades.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:25 AM on April 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


For fucks sake! Some of you motherfuckers need empathy councelling...
posted by minifigs at 8:28 AM on April 28, 2009


I am totally in the responsability camp.

People are responsible for their own emotions. When they get upset, angry, sad, happy or scared, those are their emotions, not someone else's. They are responsible for them. Your government, or employer, or spouse, or co-worker, or whatever is not responsible for your emotions, you are. If you are offended, the offence is yours. If you are scared, the fear is yours. No one else can fix that.

Now take responsibility for your own emotions and quit hoping the government will make it so you'l never be afraid again.
posted by Bovine Love at 8:37 AM on April 28, 2009


The scenario of a plane flying that low may be fake, but the scenario of a President flying in AF1 over New York isn't. In the same way that I'd guess you'd never shake the hand of someone you dislike intensely while turning your head a full 90 degrees and holding the guy's hand for 2 minutes, the metaphor necessarily involves some compromise - in both cases making the shot more photogenic.

Sure, although turning your head 90 degrees for a photo doesn't cost thousands of bucks in jet fuel. I don't doubt that Obama flies over greater New York in AF1, but the "low flight over Manhattan" angle does make a difference: we wouldn't consider a staged clip of the presidential limo doing 100mph up Fifth Avenue a believable representation of "president being driven through NYC", even though it might look cool.

Convention in politics says that there are tolerances for certain kinds of fakery (hey, I just happened to catch a jet onto this aircraft carrier) and not for others (Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your plastic turkey).

Hmm. Most of the fakery gets called out by someone or other, but it's fair to say that some of it causes more indignance than others. On the basis of today's media commentary, though, I'm not sure I'd place this example in the "tolerated" camp. Probably best to stage those Manhattan flyovers when everyone's away on vacation.
posted by rory at 8:38 AM on April 28, 2009


Let us not forget the twentieth anniversary of another similar event that scared New Yorkers in 1989.
posted by Servo5678 at 8:46 AM on April 28, 2009


Why, it is Ghostbusters II.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:51 AM on April 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


The president currently has an opposition that thinks he hasn't actually proved he's an American citizen. This photo-op was incredibly stupid if only for the level of feigned outrage right-wingers are going to get out of exploiting it. They're sort of really adept at getting pissed off about anything that's not actually important.

And yeah, it was a fucking stupid move. Not even notifying the mayor? Jesus, there was no need for this to be covert.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:52 AM on April 28, 2009


A former Homeland Security adviser today blasted the White House Military Office's photo shoot that sent a low-flying Boeing 747 over Manhattan, accusing the office's director of "felony stupidity." Fran Townsend, who advised President George W. Bush for more than three years...
Because if anyone knows about felonies and stupidity, it would be a long-time Bush advisor.
posted by mazola at 8:52 AM on April 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Anyone who wasn't in NYC on 9/11 and thinks we're being nervous Nellies about this can fuck off.

Passenger jets overfly Manhattan on approach all the time. It doesn't bother us; we're not scared of airplanes. But we can tell the difference between jets headed down the Hudson for 4L/R at JFK or crossing the city for 13L/R or LGA, and a 747 banking hard and low over the city for no obvious reason. And the last time that happened didn't work out so good for 2600+ people, so treating this as an attack was perfectly reasonable, and getting the hell out of Wall Street office buildings was prudent.
posted by nicwolff at 9:41 AM on April 28, 2009 [8 favorites]


"It was a photo op. Military people need to learn how to photoshop."

Assuming this would have been used in a press/news release manner they would have got pilloried for photoshopping something like this. See metafilter threads on the iranian missile test or any photoshopped news photo besides the mildest of colour correction. Everyone hates on anyone who dares misrepresent stuff like this.

"Think this is no big deal? How many millions were wasted on this?"

Going out on a limb here but I'd bet nothing. The guys flying the planes would have been flying _somewhere_ as part of training or practise.
posted by Mitheral at 9:41 AM on April 28, 2009


Why would anyone think a "top secret" photo op of any sort was a good idea?

The current government attitude, which is basically that everything is to be kept secret unless a compelling reason to make it public exists, is exactly the opposite of what we need. Photo ops, of any sort, shouldn't even be up for consideration as secrets.

The entire thing is crazy.

And, for the record, I don't buy the tinfoil. The culture of secrecy is so pervasive that I can easily see every moron in the entire communication loop thinking "it has fighter jets so its military so its secret."
posted by sotonohito at 9:44 AM on April 28, 2009


Assuming this would have been used in a press/news release manner they would have got pilloried for photoshopping something like this.

And the press release was going to be what? AF2 buzzes NYC with nobody of import aboard? This feels more like it was destined for an issues ad or website or somesuch, in which case nobody cares if it's 'shopped.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:51 AM on April 28, 2009


This could have been a great PR stunt if handled openly and well-publicized, say, a week in advance. Obama-friendly New Yorkers could have taken a half-day off and gathered to cheer the spectacle of a low-flying Air Force One as a showing of American power, solidarity, pride, and courage against terrorism. It could have been more than a botched photo op; it could have been a rah rah Go USA pep rally. Like, "Hey NYC! We got your back!!" instead of "Hey NYC.... BOOO! hahaha j/k my bad"
posted by LordSludge at 9:52 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anyone who wasn't in NYC on 9/11 and thinks we're being nervous Nellies about this can fuck off.

Should everyone in Oklahoma City be freaked if a Ryder truck parks outside? Should the driver be fired?

I understand the nervousness, but you still can't blame other people for it. It might be polite to be considerate, but it isn't required. People have to learn to control their reactions. Society doesn't function well if people are in a constant state of fear.
posted by Bovine Love at 10:03 AM on April 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Anyone who wasn't in NYC on 9/11 and thinks we're being nervous Nellies about this can fuck off.

I don't think the reaction of New Yorkers was out of line or otherwise unjustified, given what they knew (or didn't) at the time. And yet I still don't think anyone should be fired, or resign. Yes, it was poor judgment on someone's (probably several someones') part, but not so severe that they should lose their jobs.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:27 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Should everyone in Oklahoma City be freaked if a Ryder truck parks outside? Should the driver be fired?

Are you being willfully obtuse? One of these attacks exploited an otherwise normal situation, the other involved flying large planes into the side of buildings.
posted by odinsdream at 10:34 AM on April 28, 2009


While yakking on Lake Union in Seattle, I often see planes that look like they are going to hit the space needle, but it's just a trick of perspective.

Sometimes the seaplane folk on the lake seem to be aiming right for me.

I've even seen a restored B-29 flying over.

I'm just glad when the Concorde was coming to town, they let us know ahead of time so I could luck out and get a shot of it's final flight.
posted by nomisxid at 10:36 AM on April 28, 2009


Yeah, and New York really was attacked by Air Force One and an F-16.

Seriously, have you all gone that soft? I am so disappointed.



It's OK Boston, don't be jealous. One day, you too can have a terrorist attack in that overgrown 18th century town you call a city.

Maybe they'll attack your financial center (you know, the warehouse where they make all the "Yankees Suck" T-shirts).
posted by cjets at 10:46 AM on April 28, 2009


Are you being willfully obtuse? One of these attacks exploited an otherwise normal situation, the other involved flying large planes into the side of buildings.

Well, not willfully. I've been known to be obtuse unwillingly. I don't get it; people in Oklahoma are not entitled to be afraid, but you are? So what is the solution, no more low flying large jets? The situation in NY was certainly odd; one doesn't expect a large low flying jet chased by a fighter jet. Maybe even a sensible cause for alarm. But there are any number of frightening situations; NYer's are not the only ones in the world to be frightened for their lives by something unusual. I am willing to bet that there are people in Oklahoma today that get very nervous if they see a truck parked outside for too long, or the wrong kind of guy gets out of it, or whatever. Their fear is real, and has a very much concrete basis. It is *not* different then a NYer. And they still are the ones that have to deal with it, not the driver, or dispatcher, or anyone else involved with the truck. Everyone that has had a serious car accident, or lost a loved one, or friend, to a car accident probably has some bad moments while driving. Possibly extremely bad. Should all the other drivers be held responsible? Even if they were doing something out of the ordinary?
posted by Bovine Love at 10:54 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


People, people. You ALL can be paranoid and it won't take away from anyone else's paranoia! Didn't they teach you that in kindergarten?
posted by Burhanistan at 11:02 AM on April 28, 2009


Anyone who wasn't in NYC on 9/11 and thinks we're being nervous Nellies about this can fuck off.

Should everyone in Oklahoma City be freaked if a Ryder truck parks outside? Should the driver be fired?

I understand the nervousness, but you still can't blame other people for it. It might be polite to be considerate, but it isn't required. People have to learn to control their reactions. Society doesn't function well if people are in a constant state of fear.
posted by Bovine Love at 10:03 AM on April 28 [+] [!]


Bovine Love -

I read a book once called Mind Wide Open by Steven Johnson. In the book he describes an incident where he was in his apartment with his wife, watching a violent thunderstorm through an enormous window. A few moments after they stepped away from the window a gust of wind shattered it, sending huge chunks of broken glass rocketing into the apartment. It was loud and scary and he and his wife could have probably been killed.

After that incident, he found himself the unfortunate owner of a new phobia involving thunderstorms, windows, and gusts of wind. It sure would be great if he could "learn to control" his fear reaction, but I don't think he's wrong to have a nice healthy aversion to that combination of factors. His experience taught him that bad things can happen.

The poster you originally quoted went on to say...

Passenger jets overfly Manhattan on approach all the time. It doesn't bother us; we're not scared of airplanes. But we can tell the difference between jets headed down the Hudson for 4L/R at JFK or crossing the city for 13L/R or LGA, and a 747 banking hard and low over the city for no obvious reason. And the last time that happened didn't work out so good for 2600+ people, so treating this as an attack was perfectly reasonable, and getting the hell out of Wall Street office buildings was prudent.

Yeah. I'm going to agree.
posted by ben242 at 11:10 AM on April 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Everyone that has had a serious car accident, or lost a loved one, or friend, to a car accident probably has some bad moments while driving. Possibly extremely bad. Should all the other drivers be held responsible? Even if they were doing something out of the ordinary?

If you knew someone who was killed by a drunk driver, and and an assistant to the deputy of the Mayor decided that having someone drive around as if they were drunk, for a photo opp, would you be upset? Even if nobody was harmed?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:11 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


"People have to learn to control their emotions."
I bet that sounds extremely witty from the comfort of your chair in front of your computer. It is purely conjecture of course, but I wonder how many comments would be calling NYC people morons if :

1. That plane really was headed for a building

2. Everyone took note of the plane, shrugged and said "cool!" and then went and poured themselves another cup of coffee just before the impact?

I have worked at the WFC, my husband still works there now. Lucky for him, he only witnessed the towers falling from the end of our driveway. I have to tell you that in the wake of 911 security in these buildings takes evacuation plans and any sort of implied threat very seriously. The reason for this is because the office towers were NOT evacuated quickly enough when it actually was a dire emergency. Evacuation drills are a part of life. Regular evacuation drills prepare people to not stop and think about whether they are being macho, but to respond on autopilot and quickly remove themselves from potentially dangerous situations.

You can be all "LOLdeputydawg", but most residents of Jersey City and NYC have, at least at the subconscious level, had to visualize escape plans in the event of a forseeable threat. If you weren't a witness to the planes getting closer and closer, if you weren't out jogging down the sidewalk yesterday like I was as they careened overhead, you really don't have the right to criticize the public's pavolovian (and normal) fight or flight responses. We've been trained to have those self preservation reactions, and I'm glad I do, because I'd rather "be a pussy" than be cool but dead.
posted by stagewhisper at 11:16 AM on April 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


If you knew someone who was killed by a drunk driver, and and an assistant to the deputy of the Mayor decided that having someone drive around as if they were drunk, for a photo opp, would you be upset? Even if nobody was harmed?

Considering such a photo op would most likely be for an anti-drunk-driving campaign, I wouldn't be upset; indeed, I'd probably strongly approve.

Not saying I approve of the fly-by, just pointing out that the simulated-drunk-driver analogy is a very poor one.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:18 AM on April 28, 2009


I haven't said they shouldn't be upset. I said they have to be responsible for their own emotions, not hold someone else responsible. It is ok to be upset. It is not ok to have other people fired, etc. because you are upset.

The drunk driver but is really stretching it, but even still; I might be offended, I might be upset, but it is still my offence and upset, and not the mayors "fault", in the sense he should resign. The simple fact is someone might, indeed, have someone drive as if drunk for an ad, or any number of reasons. Or just to be dicks. But, assuming they have not endangered anyones lives, they should still not be held responsible for my issues.
posted by Bovine Love at 11:20 AM on April 28, 2009


I bet that sounds extremely witty from the comfort of your chair in front of your computer. It is purely conjecture of course, but I wonder how many comments would be calling NYC people morons...

a) I did not call NYC people morons
b) I did not call NYC people pussies
c) I did not consider the statement in anyway witty.

I'm a paranoid person. I don't like to sit with my back to the aisle. I always look for a way out when I enter a room. I don't think being careful is a bad idea. I think evacuation plans are a good idea. I have done lots of things (just like most people) in response to a perceived threat, and I may have well been justified in my perception.

None the less, the only one who gets to suffer is me. I don't get to fire other people because I am upset or worried. The problem is mine, and mine only.
posted by Bovine Love at 11:27 AM on April 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


If you knew someone who was killed by a drunk driver, and and an assistant to the deputy of the Mayor decided that having someone drive around as if they were drunk, for a photo opp, would you be upset? Even if nobody was harmed?

That's a poor analogy, in that such a hypothetical has no relevance to what happened here.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:27 AM on April 28, 2009


My response to the car accident and Oklahoma City comparisons is that driving cars and seeing parked trucks are extremely common and usually harmless events. Seeing cars being driven and trucks being parked may cause alarm to people who've lost someone in car accidents or Ok City, but there is only a tiny chance that any particular instance of car driving or truck parking is actually going to cause harm. It's just not reasonable to assume that any given car driving or truck parking incident is dangerous.

Low-flying planes circling over a crowded metropolitan area, on the other hand, are neither common nor harmless. Before today, I would have been comfortable saying that such an event is always a harbinger of something really bad (terrorist attack or plane crash) and therefore, worthy of fear. If you're looking for comparisons, I think gun-waving-lunatic is more apt than parked truck. Sure, the gun-waver or the low-flying plane could be part of a photo-op, but it's perfectly reasonable to assume it's a dangerous situation.

And for the record, if someone parked a Ryder truck full of fertilizer in a place where OC bombing survivors would see it and know what it was, I would feel the same way--that person is a fucking idiot who should be fired.

Also, last point, if this had been another terrorist attack and people had just ignored the plane, I imagine some of you New-Yorkers-are-pussies people would be jumping on New Yorkers for being so fucking dumb they ignored the low-flying plane, OMG HOW STUPID CAN YOU BE, etc.
posted by Mavri at 11:30 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think gun-waving-lunatic is more apt than parked truck. Sure, the gun-waver or the low-flying plane could be part of a photo-op, but it's perfectly reasonable to assume it's a dangerous situation.

And, because I don't think I was really making my point clear in response to Bovine Love, if someone sent a fake-gun-waving lunatic into my office to get a photo-op and didn't tell us it wasn't real, then, yes, I think they should be fired. I expect public officials not to scare the shit out of the public with fake but looks-dangerous situations.
posted by Mavri at 11:37 AM on April 28, 2009


posted by Mavri I expect public officials not to scare the shit out of the public with fake but looks-dangerous situations.

Then you must be outraged at the DHS for broadcasting fake terror alerts and keeping the Threat Advisory Level wavering between yellow and orange.
posted by mattdidthat at 11:44 AM on April 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


I expect public officials not to scare the shit out of the public with fake but looks-dangerous situations.

This is the entire purpose of the TSA and airport "security" screenings.
posted by GuyZero at 11:46 AM on April 28, 2009


Then you must be outraged at the DHS for broadcasting fake terror alerts and keeping the Threat Advisory Level wavering between yellow and orange.

Hell yes to fake terror alerts, although the color thing became background noise a very long time ago. I also really hate airport security theater.
posted by Mavri at 11:52 AM on April 28, 2009


"Low-flying planes circling over a crowded metropolitan area, on the other hand, are neither common nor harmless."

Which maybe is some of the disconnect. Here low flying planes flying over head are about as common as Ryder trucks parked on the street. Heck during fire suppression season heavily laden waterbombers barely clear the trees around here about every ten minutes.
posted by Mitheral at 12:08 PM on April 28, 2009


Then you must be outraged at the DHS for broadcasting fake terror alerts and keeping the Threat Advisory Level wavering between yellow and orange.

That is correct, yes.
posted by odinsdream at 12:20 PM on April 28, 2009


That's a poor analogy, in that such a hypothetical has no relevance to what happened here.


All analogies are defective.

How about this: You know someone who has been raped by a guy in a ski mask. You decide to promote your brand of ski outfits, including mask, by posing on the sidewalk in front of their house. They freak out.

Are they out of line? Or are you?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:20 PM on April 28, 2009


Here low flying planes flying over head are about as common as ...

Remember, it's important to ignore the fact about the two F-16's when attempting to conflate this event with anything approaching normal.
posted by odinsdream at 12:22 PM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is ok to be upset. It is not ok to have other people fired, etc. because you are upset.

How about for costing NYC businesses thousands of employee-hours of work on a busy Monday morning?

I don't actually want to see anyone fired, but the apologies from the mayor and president are appropriate, as are the expressions of anger if they are accurately addressed at the subordinates responsible.

Here low flying planes flying over head are about as common as Ryder trucks parked on the street.

Then people there would be stupid to react when that happens. People in NYC are not.
posted by nicwolff at 12:49 PM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


The question I am trying to address, ChurchHatesTucker, is not whether or not they are "out of line" if they freak, it is whether anything should be done to you because they freaked. I would be sympathetic to the victim in that scenario, but still would say it is not your responsibility to be accommodate other peoples emotional requirements. Sympathy for a victim does not mean someone else should be punished.
posted by Bovine Love at 12:52 PM on April 28, 2009


I should add I am all for apologies and some contriteness. It would certainly seem to be the decent thing to do. But decency is not a requirement, though for an elected official it could be useful to at least be perceived as decent.
posted by Bovine Love at 12:54 PM on April 28, 2009


The question I am trying to address, ChurchHatesTucker, is not whether or not they are "out of line" if they freak, it is whether anything should be done to you because they freaked.

I should add I am all for apologies and some contriteness. It would certainly seem to be the decent thing to do. But decency is not a requirement, though for an elected official it could be useful to at least be perceived as decent.


I think this goes beyond 'decency' and is firmly on the far side of the 'mind-boggling stupid' line.

Understand, I mocked Boston for their response (I even made a video mocking them,) but buzzing (flying much lower than normal--NYC is used to the normal traffic that flies overhead) NYC with a plane that is almost identical to the planes that took out two major buildings and thousands of lives? While being tailed by fighter jets? Who is stupid enough to think that sounds just fine? And why are they still employed? It's the stupid that burns. The googles, they do nothing!

Also, I'm pissed that I'm pushed into defending the reactions of New Yorkers over Bostonians. But they are my own emotions, and I will own up to them.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:09 PM on April 28, 2009


It is not ok to have other people fired, etc. because you are upset.

It is often okay to have people fired because many people are upset. But the more basic point is to not assume that people who disagree with you (e.g., "Louis Caldera should be fired...") are necessarily basing their opinions on stupid or egocentric reasons ("...because I personally was upset.").
posted by cribcage at 2:15 PM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


$328,000, says ABC news.
posted by MrMoonPie at 3:53 PM on April 28, 2009


Remember, it's important to ignore the fact about the two F-16's when attempting to conflate this event with anything approaching normal.

What about the armed military helicopters that occasionally fly overhead where I live, not to mention the GIGANTIC ZEPPELIN HANGAR that I see every day on my way to work???
posted by GuyZero at 4:03 PM on April 28, 2009


could we get back to the crazy conspiracy theories please? (i'm on the flight path of DCA, and occasionally i will look out my window and see what looks like the biggest airplane ever screaming towards the white house. still freaks me out every time.)
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:21 PM on April 28, 2009


But the more basic point is to not assume that people who disagree with you (e.g., "Louis Caldera should be fired...") are necessarily basing their opinions on stupid or egocentric reasons

I'd like to say I wouldn't consider the reasons stupid and egocentric might be accurate, but would generally more pejorative in actual usage then I intended.

You do make a good point.
posted by Bovine Love at 6:46 PM on April 28, 2009


Stupid waste of money and painfully tone-deaf decision, politically. That's two reasons to fire someone, neither of which is an emotional judgment on my part. Obama shouldn't want such crappy decisionmakers around to make more-important decisions badly.

I wasn't in town, but it would not have "scared" me even if I was. I would have been standing there with my jaw hanging open saying "Are they crazy?" because I would be unable to think of any good reason for it. It's as if they decided to mail out a million free samples of baby powder in plain brown envelopes. Brilliant idea.

(This is not Obama-centric. I also think those fighter jet flyovers of sporting events are stupid wastes of money. It's hard to get people to take economic crisis seriously when you're pissing money away on ostentatious military wankery. If Obama is not furious about this, he should be.)
posted by rokusan at 6:49 PM on April 28, 2009


GuyZero: My apologies if you're being sarcastic and I am missing it... but:

I will go over this step-by-step since it's apparently not clear: It is normal for planes to fly over New York. It's normal for some of them to fly a little low, even, given the fact that there are airports nearby. It's normal for military craft to fly around unexpectedly sometimes. It's normal for trucks to park near buildings.

It is not normal at all for a plane of this size to fly as close as it did to the city and in the path that it did. Contributing to how abnormal this is is the fact that two military jets were accompanying it. Any rational person would observe this and at the very least classify it as "not normal".

Couple this with the fact that such a plane was used in a major attack on the same city, and that the military would likely be involved in attempting to shoot down another such attack and it's quite simple to see how this event is unlike any of the other scenarios laid out in this thread, like trucks parking, living near a military base, unexpected loud noise, suspicious behaviour, etc. It firmly puts this event into the "very closely resembles an attack of some kind" group.
posted by odinsdream at 7:23 AM on April 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


What about the armed military helicopters that occasionally fly overhead where I live, not to mention the GIGANTIC ZEPPELIN HANGAR that I see every day on my way to work???

Did a giant zeppelin hangar kill thousands of people? Really, are you under the impression that you're making a point? And, as odinsdream and many others have pointed out, planes fly over New York all the damn time. I probably see five or so every single day, and everyone else here does too. Small geographic area, two major airports, lots of planes. Planes flying overhead does not freak us out. It does not make us think, "that looks like that other time when some very large buildings were destroyed and 2600 people killed." I've also seen military aircraft fly over from time to time. Again, doesn't cause one to think, "man, this looks just like an attack."

I was thinking last night about the sneering response some of you have had to this. My late night theory is that some people have a knee-jerk reaction to the coopting of 9/11 by Bush et al. Maybe you have a pavlovian response to any mention of 9/11--oh god, here we go again, War on Terror, NEVAR FORGET, etc. I have this response too, when 9/11 is used to justify a war, another war, wiretapping, enemy combatants, security theater. But that politicians have abused the memory and meaning of 9/11 so badly does not mean that New Yorkers deserve derision and scorn when they respond in fear to something that looks very much like a traumatic and devastating thing that happened to them. It's like mocking a crime victim because you hate tough on crime initiatives.
posted by Mavri at 7:59 AM on April 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Any rational person would observe this and at the very least classify it as 'not normal'."

And a rational person doesn't link 'not normal' = OMG! Terrorist Attack. Planes must do something 'not normal' dozens of times a day across the US. In a hundred plus years of aviation terrorists have flown a plane into a building thrice. All within a few hours of each other in a coordinated attack. An attack vector by the way that will never be viable again. What kind of rational person panics knowing this?
posted by Mitheral at 9:25 AM on April 29, 2009


Mitheral, what would it take to make you think that it was in fact a terrorist attack? Are you going to wait until a plane hits the building before you take it seriously?

If this set of circumstances (low-flying passenger plane in restricted airspace directly adjacent to the former WTC site, making odd maneuvers while being closely followed by military jets) isn't enough to make you evacuate your 40th floor office in the financial district WHAT THE FUCK DOES IT TAKE TO CONVINCE YOU?

Either you're trolling here or you're scoring a fucking zero on the Voight-Kampf empathy test.
posted by jenkinsEar at 9:42 AM on April 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


In a hundred plus years of aviation terrorists have flown a plane into a building thrice.

I recall an incident in the weeks following 9/11 where a suicidal pilot flew a single-engine plane into a building in Florida. I'll bet there are other instances. The Columbine kids supposedly had the same plan in 1999 (to fly a jet into the Statue of Liberty), and I'd say they qualify as "terrorists." Granted, Al-Qaeda might only have done it once, and probably no other instances approach the scale of 9/11, but it's not like it was a freak circumstance that was completely unforeseeable and could never recur.

And a rational person doesn't link 'not normal' = OMG! Terrorist Attack.

That's true but disingenuous. For instance, a couple years ago, a guy in New York was caught keeping a tiger and an alligator in his fifth-floor apartment. Police had to rappel down the side of the building to tranquilize the tiger through a window before entering the apartment. (The owner later sued the city for intruding without a warrant.) That was pretty abnormal, but nobody concluded "OMG! Terrorist Attack." Presumably you can recognize that here, there was something more substantive than vague abnormality.
posted by cribcage at 10:07 AM on April 29, 2009


I'm willing to bet that none of the hurf-durf-over-reacting-New-Yorkers commenters thus far in this thread was in New York City or Washington, DC, on 9/11/2001. Seriously--Guy Zero? Bovine Love? Mitheral? Did you see smoke on the horizon, get evacuated, know someone who died on that day?
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:55 AM on April 29, 2009


jenkinsEar writes "Are you going to wait until a plane hits the building before you take it seriously?"

Pretty much. I don't think it's possible for terrorists to fly a jet into a building in NYC. That goes double when there is a pair of F-16s flying right next to it. 1st off terrorists are not going to be able to hijack the plane in the first place and 2nd the US isn't going to hesitate to down a hijacked jet enroute to NYC.

2-3000 people a year die of the flu in New York every year. Does anyone, even with the latest swine flu press, go fleeing in terror when someone around them coughs without covering their mouth? What percentage of the workers on the 40th floor of a financial building will take a sick day, if they even have sick days, when they have symptoms? How many refuse to work where people aren't required to take time off until they aren't shedding the virus?

Do subway cars empty out when someone opens a package of almonds? (I don't know, can you even eat on the subway?).

The secretive (sort of) nature of the fly over was pretty tone deaf. The panic was way over the top.

cribcage writes "The Columbine kids supposedly had the same plan in 1999 (to fly a jet into the Statue of Liberty), and I'd say they qualify as 'terrorists.'"

I'm sure plans have been made repeatedly. I'd be surprised if there isn't some home grown whack job in the US planning it right now. It's the hurdles to execution that is key.

MrMoonPie writes "Mitheral? Did you see smoke on the horizon, get evacuated, know someone who died on that day?"

I knew (as in they've been in my house for dinner) two people in the towers, thanks for asking. Yep I wasn't there. Is it possible that people who were in NYC might be just a touch too close to the incident to be thinking rationally?
posted by Mitheral at 11:00 AM on April 29, 2009


Surely there is room for a middle ground where reacting is normal, but literal running through the streets screaming is an awfully strong reaction to have, especially for people across the Hudson.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:39 AM on April 29, 2009


Is it possible that people who were in NYC might be just a touch too close to the incident to be thinking rationally?

Let's say you're absolutely right: people who were in NYC on 9-11 might be just a touch too close to the incident to be thinking rationally, that they may well over-react to something like this. Good observation. Then consider that many of those same people still live in NYC. Of course, makes sense.

Now... what would you EXPECT their reaction to a low-flying 747 with F16s in tow to be? Even if you believe their reaction was irrational (I don't), it was entirely predictable.

FWIW, it really seems like you've gone into argument-winning-at-any-cost mode. Been there, done that myself, many-a-time...
posted by LordSludge at 1:28 PM on April 29, 2009


I don't think it's possible for terrorists to fly a jet into a building in NYC.

Several times a year since 2002, I've seen some minor ruckus about a federal agent or news reporter who snuck some weapon past security and onto an airplane. There have also been some interesting articles written about the large number of "lost" commercial jets, many of which are apparently smuggled off the grid for use in drug trafficking in Africa. I can think of a half-dozen feasible scenarios where 9/11 could recur, and I'm not even particularly interested in the exercise. Imagine somebody with imagination and motivation.

That goes double when there is a pair of F-16s flying right next to it.

I'm not sure what an F-16 pilot could do to prevent this particular type of attack. If the idea is to crash an airplane into a populated area (e.g., a building), then the battle is kinda over by the time the plane is over the city. Shooting it down might prevent a particular building from being targeted, but tell that to whomever's in the building(s) hit by the flaming wreckage.

That's about what I think of the "hurdles to execution." As for the panic being "way over the top"...was it, really? It's not as if people began looting stores and cannibalizing each other. There was some yelling and running, a lot of photographs and 911 calls*, and then arguments that somebody should be fired for making what you agree was a foolish mistake ("pretty tone deaf"). The markets took a slight dip, but it was moderate, brief, and predictable given the location involved. Was that really "way over the top"? It seems about proportional to me.

* That's the part that I found odd: calling 911 to report "a 747 being tailed by an F-16" (which is what several callers said). Did they think the operator would outrank whomever dispatched the F-16?
posted by cribcage at 1:38 PM on April 29, 2009


Mitheral, you're being stupid. The only explanation that has ever been reasonable for the phenomenon people saw over NYC — a 747 banking low over the city and not landing while tailed by an F-16 — is that a terrorist is flying a passenger jet over the city. That's why the explanation we've been given this time is so mind-boggling.

The decreased likelihood since 9/11 of terrorists successfully hijacking a jet and flying it to NYC is irrelevant once the plane is there, visible, flying in a manner that has no other reasonable explanation.

And if you're claiming that, if you'd seen those planes looping around that morning, you'd have said at that time "well since it can't be terrorists, the reasonable explanation is that Air Force One is on a public-relations photoshoot, and the fighter jet holds the photographer" then you're full of shit.

Do subway cars empty out when someone opens a package of almonds?

No, because 100% of the time when people have smelled almonds on the subway, someone's been eating almonds. Before this, 66% of the times that passenger jets have looped low over the city (even without fighter jets chasing them) they've flown into buildings. (33% of the time, of course, they've landed in the Hudson.)
posted by nicwolff at 9:24 PM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


"And if you're claiming that, if you'd seen those planes looping around that morning, you'd have said at that time 'well since it can't be terrorists, the reasonable explanation is that Air Force One is on a public-relations photoshoot, and the fighter jet holds the photographer' then you're full of shit."

I'm not saying that. If a 747 was to fly-by my office I wonder what the heck was happening for sure same as I wondered why the smeg a B52 should be overflying my house when that happened a few years ago. I doubt one of my speculations would be Air Force photo-op but Canada is a lot less jingoistic than the US; we don't tend to do much in the way of military photo-ops. Whatever my speculations I wouldn't flee in terror down forty flights of stairs and I wouldn't be demanding someone be fired.

This might end up being good for both NYC and the US. Bush beat the Terrorists! Terrorists Everywhere! drum so much that some people seem to be afraid of anything out of the ordinary. A few false panics might hurry the cooling period off along.
posted by Mitheral at 6:11 AM on April 30, 2009


some people seem to be afraid of anything out of the ordinary

There's really nothing in this event to support that statement, but you're very determined to believe it.
posted by Mavri at 8:48 AM on April 30, 2009


Of course, this was only one not normal event.
posted by Mitheral at 9:09 AM on April 30, 2009




Or resigned. Either way, it's appropriate.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:12 PM on May 8, 2009


« Older Keeping America's Skies Safe From Journalism   |   I'm the healthiest 55 year old... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post