The White House has apparently had a change of heart, and will release "a photo" from the pricey, fright-inducing Manhattan flyover photo-op involving an Air Force fighter jet and a Boeing 747 which is sometimes used as the president's plane.
The White House has said it is conducting an internal review of the fiasco, which cost over $328,000 in taxpayer dollars and frightened a broad swath of lower Manhattan, site of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center towers.
"The report I believe will be concluded at some point this week. We'll release its findings and release a photo," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Wednesday.
At a press briefing a day earlier, Gibbs had dodged reporters' questions about the photo-op. "I've watched CNN. . . I didn't notice a lack of archival material from that flight," Gibbs cracked, an apparent reference to the prevalence of shaky video shot last week by witnesses on the ground.
Gibbs said then the White House anticipates completing a review of the incident this week, but did not answer questions about why it would not release the pictures or when it might do so.
Earlier, White House officials had said they had planned not to release the photo since news of the incident broke last week.
The Air Force referred all questions on the matter to the White House.
The White House Military Office had reportedly organized the event, but made no arrangements to alert Manhattanites that a large plane would fly very close to their tall buildings. As a result, many fled the area at the sight of the plane, believing it could be another 9/11-style attack.
The Department of Defense photo shoot involved a Boeing 747 used as Air Force One and one fighter jet flying at low altitude in the area around Ground Zero.
Residents and workers in Lower Manhattan and New Jersey, unaware of the photo op, ran into the streets, traumatized by memories of 9-11 and afraid of another attack. Emergency offices in both cities were inundated with hundreds of frightened calls. "It scared a couple of million people," one airport official said.
President Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had not been told about the photo op, were both infuriated by the incident.
Bloomberg called it "ill-conceived" and a "waste of taxpayers' money." A White House official told ABC News that President Obama was "furious" when he found out, and the Director of the White House Military Office, Louis Caldera, who approved the photo op, was called into a meeting with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina.
"It didn't sound like a fun meeting," the White House official said.
Later, Caldera apologized in a statement, saying, "Last week, I approved a mission over New York. 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."
At a photo op last week with FBI Director Robert Mueller, President Obama said, "It was a mistake, as was stated. It was something we found out about along with all of you. And it will not happen again." The President did not answer a follow-up question on whether or not Caldera is the right man for the job.