Sunday, May 10, 2009

Missing Details

As some have observed, the recently-released White House report on that New York City "fly-by" is short on details and credible explanations. Despite a week of "digging," the administration has been unable to determine (1) Who had the bright idea for an Air Force One photo-op over the Satute of Liberty, and (2) How the former Director of the White House Military Office (Louis Caldera) wasn't aware of the project until one week before the flight.

Not that it really matters. Caldera has taken the fall for the debacle, and the administration is hoping the whole matter will simply go away. But hoping won't prevent the steady drip of additional details about the mission.

In our latest article for, we note that "official" accounts haven't explained several details, such as how an Alabama Guard unit was selected for the flight (despite the presence of other F-16 units closer to New York), and how much the mission actually cost. By our calculations, the official price tag doesn't seem to include deployment costs associated with sending the Alabama jet to Andrews AFB, Maryland, the staging point for the photo mission.

And, there's the added expense of flying an Air Force photographer from South Carolina to Andrews to participate in the mission, and the disposition of images he recorded from the backseat of the F-16. To date, only one of those photos has been released.

Back to you, Mr. Gibbs.


davod said...

This, if you can believeit, from Confederate Yankee:

" That seems to be Ann Althouse's main question in this post, to which I can only answer what the Air Force told me:

Mr. Owens--
Documents related to your inquiry may be requested through
the Air Force Freedom of Information Act office: request options and
instructions are available at However, the flight in question occurred as part of a scheduled training mission, so there were no passengers on board. Requested documents therefore will only list military personnel.

Lt Col Tadd Sholtis
Deputy Chief, Current Operations
Secretary of the Air Force Office of Public Affairs

No passengers = No VIPs = No conspiracy theory (or... a bigger one!)."

Unknown said...

Ah yes, the good ol' FOIA, the last refuge of scoundrels and public affairs officers. I filed a FOIA request almost two years ago, for a redacted copy of a nuclear surety inspection at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. Still waiting for that report.

And, here's something I didn't include in the Examiner article. I had a brief conversation with Lt Col Sholtis last week, about the "training" that occurred during the photo op. He described it as "continuation training."

In response, I reminded him that continuation trng is a catch-all for the requirements that all pilots and aircrew must complete to maintain their currency. For a fighter jock, that's everything from basic fighter maneuvers (BFM) and bombing range work, to night flying. I've asked him for the specific types of training conducted and have not received a reply. The pilots would probably get credit for formation flying--but that was only 10 mins of the mission. What exactly happened during the other 90 minutes (or so) that the aircraft were airborne.

To be fair, Lt Col Sholtis did confirm that no tankers were involved. But, based on my rough calculations, the price tag for the mission (apparently) does not include the cost of sending the F-16D from Montgomery to Andrews; TDY expenses for the AL ANG F-16 driver and the combat camera rep, and transportation (commercial air for getting the photog from Charleston to D.C.