White House spokespeople defended the administration’s decision to shoot down three unidentified objects in three days but offered few details about the mysterious aircraft.
White House spokespeople defended the administration’s decision to shoot down three unidentified objects in three days “out of an abundance of caution” but offered few details about the mysterious aircraft.
- National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the objects were downed in the “best interests” of the American people as they could have posed a threat to civilian aviation and in case they had surveillance capabilities.
- The administration has provided scant details about the aerial intruders. The object shot down over Alaska on Friday was described as “the size of a small car,” the second, which was brought down over Yukon in Canada on Saturday, was “cylindrical,” and the object shot down over Lake Huron was described by an anonymous source as “octagonal” and lacking visible sensors.
- “We’re calling them objects, not balloons, for a reason,” said U.S. Air Force General Glen VanHerck, the military commander in charge of defending American airspace. According to VanHerck, the military has not yet deduced what the mysterious trio are, how they fly, or where they’re from.
- “I know there have been questions and concerns about this, but there is no, again no indication of aliens or extraterrestrial activity with these recent takedowns,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at a Monday briefing.
- President Joe Biden has made no public comment about aerial engagements in the skies above North America, which are virtually without precedent in peacetime.
- Several lawmakers urged the president to address the nation, including Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR). “The president owes the American people an explanation, direct and on camera, of what we know about these ‘objects’ and what steps he’s taking to protect America’s sovereign airspace,” Cotton said on Monday.
- Military recovery teams have located “significant debris” from the Chinese spy balloon downed off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4. Northern Command said in a statement that teams have found “all of the priority sensor and electronics pieces identified as well as large sections of the structure.”
- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced the Senate would conduct a bipartisan investigation into the Chinese spy balloon, the three unidentified aerial objects, and why the objects were not detected earlier.
- Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), the chairman of the House Select Committee on China, told National Review the Chinese Communist Party is “spying on us across the board. So think of this as one part of a broader effort that includes CCP police stations on American soil — which need to be shut down — PLA-affiliated researchers infiltrating our universities, CCP-affiliated land purchases — or attempted land purchases — near military bases.”
- CNN obtained a Pentagon memo sent to Congress that described the unidentified object shot down over Canada as a “small, metallic balloon with a tethered payload below it.” The object flew near “U.S. sensitive sites” before being shot down on Saturday.
- NBC News reported the Biden administration has decided to create an interagency group “to study the broader policy implications for detection, analysis, and disposition of unidentified aerial objects that pose either safety or security risks.” All 100 senators are set to receive a classified briefing on the unidentified aerial objects on Tuesday.
- The New York Times’ Maggie Astor explained how “the second of the three unidentified flying objects shot down in the past few days was downed over Canada, on the orders of the Canadian prime minister — by a United States F-22.” The pilot was a part of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which is jointly run by the U.S. and Canada. Either national leader can order NORAD to respond to a threat. President Biden “was informed of and supported the takedown of the object” on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s orders.
- Commentary’s Noah Rothman argued “the balloon really was a Sputnik Moment” that appears to have shocked Americans awake to the threat posed by China with “the skies over North America having become a live-fire zone.” Rothman noted the new “shoot-first posture” is a major contrast to Biden’s initial hesitation.
- The Wall Street Journal covered NORAD’s shocking oversight: “the Cold War-era command hadn’t been watching for balloons.” Doug Cameron wrote, “NORAD had failed to detect suspected Chinese surveillance balloons before the recent intrusion and learned about them later from intelligence agencies.” The system of radars, sensors, and other intelligence tools overseen by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or Norad, didn’t detect the suspected Chinese spy balloon shot down off South Carolina on Feb. 4, but it has been busy ever since.
- National Review’s Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote the “startling implication that the reason for the rash of sightings may be that, until recently, we’d set our radars and sensors to automatically filter out too much information… we’d been proceeding from a preconceived notion of what we should be seeing in the sky, and our systems therefore failed to see what was actually in the sky until someone in the Pacific Northwest saw it with their own eyes.”
© Dominic Moore, 2023