A balloon that US authorities are calling a Chinese spying weapon spent days soaring above the entire US before being shot down on Saturday by an F-22 fighter jet.
According to a senior defense official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Pentagon leaders cautioned President Joe Biden against instantly firing the flying orb out of the sky owing to safety concerns for civilians, as the high-altitude object was huge enough to create a large debris field.
Many Republicans criticized the Biden administration for what they saw as a slow response to the foreign object, while some conservative leaders and pundits used the opportunity to attack the Biden administration’s confidence in general, claiming that no other leader, such as Donald Trump, would have let a Chinese spy balloon fly over the US.
“Would Trump have allowed China to launch a spy balloon over the United States?” Rep. Jim Jordan tweeted about it. “Would Reagan agree? JFK? Truman? No, no, and no again.”
Before Biden, Chinese Spy Balloons Had Entered Into Us LandBefore Biden, Chinese Spy Balloons Had Entered Into Us Land
According to the Associated Press, senior Pentagon officials stated on Saturday that suspected Chinese surveillance balloons came into the US at least three times under the Trump administration and once earlier in the Biden era.
A senior defense official who spoke on the condition of anonymity also stated that “a balloon of this sort” passed over the continental United States prior to the Biden administration, but declined to identify when.
“It has occurred several times in recent years, including before this government. But I’m not going to get into the specifics “According to the official.
It’s also unclear whether balloons sighted during Trump’s presidency were shot down. A request for comment was not returned by a Pentagon official.
According to Craig Singleton, a senior scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Chinese surveillance balloons have been spotted multiple times in the last five years. He added some of them have been observed near US military sites in Hawaii, but he didn’t say when.
Trump reposted a message on Truth Social from rightwing activist Jack Posobiec on Thursday, in which he claimed without evidence that the Pentagon was stating “Out loud, the quiet part. We will do nothing if the Chinese Communist Party sends spy balloons over our nuclear installations.”
Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker said in a statement that “if news allegations are right, the Biden Administration hoped to conceal this occurrence from the American people.”
However, before last week’s incident, the times when suspected surveillance balloons crossed into the US during the Trump administration were never made public.
South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott jumped in as well, tweeting that “the balloon should have been shot down before it crossed the continental United States, not after,” calling the incident a “dereliction of Biden’s responsibility.”
It’s unknown what information the suspected Chinese spy balloon gleaned from its various settings. The Malmstrom Air Force Base, which has intercontinental ballistic missiles, is located in the Montana location where the balloon passed over.
According to US officials, the balloon poses little risk in terms of intelligence gathering.
The device’s exact dimensions were not revealed to the public, but one senior official told ABC News that it was estimated to be the size of three buses.
The length of time the object has been around being a distinguishing aspect in this week’s balloon event, which the senior defense official did admit.
“It appears to be staying for a longer period of time this time, more persistent than in past occasions. So there would be one point of differentiation “He stated.