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Air Force One fiasco -- Obama demands review

By Jimmy Orr / April 29, 2009

President Obama told reporters that the Air Force One photo op was a "mistake" and "would not happen again." His press secretary later announced that Obama called for a "review into how the decision was made to conduct the flight."

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As President Obama addresses the nation tonight (unless you're watching FOX - they're opting out) it seems likely that at least one of the questions will be about the ill-advised Air Force One photo op that panicked New Yorkers Monday.

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Although Arlen Specter's announcement yesterday has moved the national discussion forward, the photo shoot -- intended to capture a patriotic image of Air Force One with the Statue of Liberty beaming in the background -- isn't going away.

It's still big news. The president's press secretary announced yesterday that the White House will “conduct a review into how the decision was made to conduct the flight."

The goal? "To understand why the decision was made and to ensure that it never happens again."

The public relations disaster cost taxpayers $328,835. And everyone's pointing their fingers at one guy -- Louis Caldera.

Caldera

He's the individual -- in his role as the director of the White House Military Office -- who took full blame for the photo shoot in a statement emailed out by the White House press office Monday.

"Last week, I approved a mission over New York," Caldera said. "I take responsibility for that decision. While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it’s clear that the mission created confusion and disruption. I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused."

He may be feeling a lot of distress himself following the review. Administration officials are saying that Caldera could lose his job over it.

"The president will look at that review and determine what action to take," Gibbs said, adding that the review could take "a couple weeks" to complete.

Only him?

Although he rubber stamped the deal, there were plenty of others who could have spoken up to stop it.

Like the NYPD. They knew about it, but they say their hands were tied.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told Newsday that said his agency received an email from the FAA about the upcoming photo shoot, but were advised "under penalty of law do not put this information out."

WCBS-TV obtained a copy of the memo where an FAA employee noted "the possibility of public concern regarding DOD (Department of Defense) aircraft flying at low altitudes" in New York City. But apparently that possibility wasn't enough to make them re-think their approach.

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