by White House lied about Air Force One – The Daily Mislead
(December 3, 2003 ) — In his trip to Baghdad, President Bush said he would have immediately turned around had his cover been blown. In trying to play up the secrecy and dangerous nature of the trip, Bush’s aides said that a British Airways pilot spotted the president’s plane, radioing, “Did I just see Air Force One?” The White House said Air Force One responded: “Gulfstream 5” — a code word to disguise the plane — and the British Airways pilot “seemed to sense he was in on a secret and replied ‘Oh.'” (1)
But now it appears the story was a complete fabrication, designed only to hype the story.
According to Reuters, “British Airways said yesterday that none of its pilots made contact with President Bush’s plane during its secret flight to Baghdad on Thanksgiving, contradicting White House reports of a midair exchange that nearly prompted Bush to call off his trip.” (2 )
Making things worse, the White House revised its story after revelations of the distortion. The White House now says “it had left the wrong impression” and that actually the conversation took place between Air Force One and the airport tower in London. (3) But again, British Airways refuted this tale, with a spokesman for the company telling media “that none of its pilots has come forward to acknowledge either making or overhearing the purported conversation.” (4)
1. “Bush steals away to Baghdad in a surprise visit to American soldiers”, International Herald Tribune, 11/28/2003.
2. “Pilots Didn’t Radio Air Force One, Airline Says”, Reuters, 12/02/2003.
3. “Bush Aide Clarifies Air Force One Sighting”, Washington Post, 12/03/2003.
4. “Changing a Story on the Fly”, Newsday, 12/03/2003.