Three suspected Chinese spy balloons pass over the continental US while Donald Trump was in the White House, according to a senior defense official who revealed that the prior administration failed to address such incursions after President Joe Biden took a good deal of abuse from Republicans over the last week.
After Biden ordered the destruction of a suspected Chinese spy balloon first seen hovering over Montana, Pentagon officials said that similar incidents had occurred during the Trump administration over Texas, Florida, Hawaii, and the territory of Guam.
“Over the past several years, Chinese balloons have previously been spotted over countries across five continents, including in East Asia, South Asia, and Europe,” said a senior defense official who gave reporters a background briefing at the Pentagon.
Trump did not disclose the three balloon sightings that happened during his term.
“The balloons that overflew Guam and Norfolk were thought to have radar-jamming capabilities, while the flights near Norfolk, where the U.S. stations aircraft carriers, came around the time China was launching its own such vessel,” according to a report from Bloomberg News.
Republican commentators who turned the Chinese airship into a political football now have egg on their faces, after insisting something like that would never happen under Trump and that the MAGA president would’ve instantly shot down any foreign blimp or dirigible.
“Would Trump have let China fly a spy balloon over our country?” Rep. Jim Jordan wrote on Twitter. “Would Reagan? JFK? Truman? No, no, and no.”
Georgia Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene falsely claimed that Trump would not have allowed Chinese balloons to reach the U.S.
Later, Greene called for an investigation into Trump-era defense officials as she walked back claims about Chinese surveillance balloons being “fake.”
“PRC government surveillance balloons transited the continental United States briefly at least three times during the prior administration and once that we know of at the beginning of this administration, but never for this duration of time,” said the senior defense official. “We spoke directly with Chinese officials through multiple channels, but rather than address their intrusion into our airspace, the PRC put out an explanation that lacked any credibility.”
Pentagon leaders advised against shooting the flying orb out of the sky due to safety concerns for civilians as the high-altitude object was large enough to create a large debris field.
U.S. military personnel took immediate steps to protect against the balloon’s collection of sensitive information, mitigating its intelligence value to the People’s Republic of China.
Biden gave his authorization to take down the Chinese surveillance balloon as soon as the mission could be accomplished without undue risk to U.S. civilians under the aerostat’s path.
Republicans have been saying that Biden should have disregarded the military’s advice and shot the suspected spy balloon down over the US mainland when it was spotted floating over Montana, near a nuclear missile base.
Republicans who are criticizing the Biden administration’s response to the Chinese spy balloon have conceded that falling debris from the device could have harmed or killed people but they insist that Biden showed weakness in the face of China’s provocations.
Florida GOP Rep. Michael Waltz expressed concern about U.S. military readiness and hinted that he is eager for a possible war with China.
Trump officials apparently weren’t sure the balloons were actually from China, though signs pointed that way.
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