Photo-Op Blunder: Official Resigns, Blames E-mail And A Bad Back

The Friday before the White House Correspondents Association dinner is as good a time to bury news like this...even as the resignation of White House Military Office director Louis Caldera was expected.  Here's the White House's internal review of the incident. Report to DCOS re AF1 FINAL.pdf   Basic conclusion: the colonel in charge of the photo-op says he recommended that the  WHMO deputy director inform the White House's deputy chief of staff. The WHMO deputy director doesn't remember that conversation. Also, the WHMO director, Louis Caldera, told the White House that he did not know about the photo op until after it took place even though he had been sent an e-mail about it beforehand. Why? He has two e-mail accounts -- one that goes through White House office servers, and another that the military controls.

The e-mail went to his military account, and wouldn't you know it, Mr. Caldera says he didn't check it very often. Also: Caldera was suffering from severe back spasms that required pain medication, so he was kind of loopy. The report concludes that Caldera "did not notify" White House officials about the photo op and "did not offer a coherent explanation" as to why -- even though his deputy apparently urged him to do so before the incident. Caldera said that he did not decide "not to notify" the White House -- he just didn't decide to do it, because he didn't know important details about the flight -- i.e., that it would be flying low over Manhattan -- and that his deputy informed him in what's known as a "pull-aside," rather than in a formal meeting.

Caldera's resignation letter is perfunctory; given the "distraction" he's causing, it's "incumbent" upon him to resign. He steps down as of May 22.

The WHMO, pronounced "Whammo" to the initiated, provides the White House and the president with 24/7/365 transportation, communication and audio-visual capabilities. Its 2300+ employees -- most of them military -- direct the activities of every presidential transportation entity and movement outside of the Secret Service, it runs the White House signals group, the White House mess, staffs the president with his military aides, keeps the nuclear "football" briefcase -- and is also tasked with very sensitive and highly classified missions involving continuity of government.