White House Official Caldera Resigns Over Air Force One Photo Fiasco

According to Mulligan, "he briefly described the plan and stated that Colonel Turner was working on the details. He also suggested that when the plan was finalized the Director may want to inform White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina."

Mulligan thought Messina would want to know because the photo shoot involved the use of a presidential aircraft because "it was unusual -- i.e., it was a photo shoot near New York City and it required a high degree of coordination."

Caldera, the report says, "does not recall the conversation. He does not deny that it took place, but rather characterizes it as one of multiple things that were happening at the time."

The defense department is conducting its own review into the flyover.

Defense Department Photo Shoot

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.

"As Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday after meeting with the President in the Oval Office, from our perspective this is history and we should be focused on issues like education reform and creating jobs," said Stu Loeser, spokesperson for Bloomberg.

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."

Click here to watch Bloomberg and Gibbs speak about the flyover.

Officials Say System Broke Down

Although the shoot was authorized, the normal system of public notification broke down, multiple officials said.

Bloomberg said he was so furious he wasn't told about the photo op, that before he talked further to his own staff and agencies about the lack of notice to him, he wanted "to calm down."

"Poor judgment would have been a nice way to put it," Bloomberg said of the government flyover.

A New York City employee was disciplined for failing to pass on the FAA fly over information when it arrived on the employee's desk at City Hall.

According to city officials the employee was "reprimanded" and a "letter was placed in his file."

Eyewitness Accounts

Click here to look at photos sent in by ABCNews.com readers.

Eyewitnesses told ABCNews.com that they were "shocked" and "running scared" when the planes flew overhead.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...