China’s high-altitude surveillance balloon maneuvered previous delicate US missile and nuclear weapons sites in Montana earlier than being shot down off the South Carolina coast, Home Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, stated on Saturday. , stated on Tuesday.
“If you go the way that this balloon did, and you put an X on every place where you have missile defense sites, actual nuclear weapons infrastructure,” Turner stated at a briefing with reporters. You are going to observe this path.” “So I feel the pure conclusion is, that is intelligence gathering with respect to making an attempt to affect our missile protection and nuclear weapons command and management ultimately.”
Citing the classified nature of the information in some cases, Turner did not elaborate or share other details about the ongoing China balloon investigation. But he said the US intelligence community is scheduled to brief him and other members of congressional leadership later this week on efforts to glean any intelligence from the balloon and its recovery.
The Gang of Eight refers to a group of lawmakers in Congress who are responsible for reviewing and receiving highly sensitive intelligence given to them by the executive branch. This includes the top-ranking Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate, and lawmakers on the top intelligence committee.
Balloon Shooting:US shoots down suspected Chinese spy balloon off Carolina coast
Biden administration officials said Friday that Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed an impending trip to China because the Chinese surveillance balloon drifting over the US was a “clear violation” of sovereignty and international law.
That, and the removal of the balloons, has raised tensions between Washington and Beijing and prompted criticism from Republicans that the Biden administration should have done more. Beijing has also criticized Biden, saying he reacted by ordering F-22 fighter jets to take out the white supremacist.
Meanwhile, China will not be taking Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s calls, according to Air Force Brig. Pentagon Press Secretary General Pat Ryder.
“On Saturday, shortly after the PRC (Folks’s Republic of China) took motion to shoot down the balloon, DoD submitted a request for a safe name between Secretary Austin and Wei Fenghe, the PRC’s Minister of Nationwide Protection,” Ryder said in a statement. ” “We believe in the importance of maintaining open lines of communication in order to responsibly manage relations between the United States and the PRC. The lines between our armies are especially important at such moments. Unfortunately, the PRC has declined our request. Our commitment to keep the lines of communication open will continue.”
The Pentagon retains an open line with adversaries, together with Russia, to keep away from misunderstandings that might result in battle.
Turner stated on Tuesday that the balloon’s journey throughout the US – together with previous Malmstrom Air Pressure Base in Nice Falls, Montana – not solely bridged intelligence gaps in what the US is aware of about China’s intentions and capabilities however relatively “what those gaps might actually be” in precise safety threats.
“And that doesn’t just mean spy balloons or even surveillance,” he added. “It could also mean a real danger to our country that these gaps could penetrate.”
The Pentagon referred to Thursday’s background briefing by a senior protection official when requested about Turner’s remarks.
At that briefing, the protection official was requested whether or not the balloon was making an attempt to gather intelligence on psyllid nuclear weapons in Montana. “Yeah, so clearly This balloon is intended for surveillance“stated the official. “And so the current flight path takes it over several sensitive sites.”
US response:State Division calls out China for deliberately sending spy balloon over United States
“But we know exactly where this balloon is, exactly what it’s going through. And we’re taking steps to be extra vigilant so that we can minimize any foreign intelligence risk,” the official stated.
A spokesman for Turner stated Tuesday that the congressman couldn’t remark additional on the place the balloon went or what he inspected, however referred to feedback Turner made on Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.” Gave.
On that present, Turner criticized the Biden administration for ready too lengthy to shoot the balloon, describing it as “tackling the quarterback after the game is over”.
“The satellite tv for pc had accomplished its mission. It ought to by no means have been allowed to enter the USA, and it ought to by no means have been allowed to hold out its mission,” Turner advised host Chuck Todd.
The White House has said Biden waited until the balloon – which was described as the size of three buses – was over water to prevent anyone from being injured or killed by the debris .
Air Force Gen. Glenn VanHerk, commander of US Northern Command, said Monday that the balloon itself was 200 feet high, and estimated that its surveillance payload was about the size of a regional commercial airliner and weighed about 2,000 pounds. Vanherk said its size and weight factored into the decision to wait until the balloon ran out of water.
but turner said decision Despite assurances from the Biden administration that it was taking steps to cover sensitive facilities, national security was at risk as the balloons made their way from the West to the East Coast.
The balloon, with its high-tech payload of surveillance equipment, “did not go into the Grand Canyon and look. They regarded and checked out our nuclear weapons sites and missile protection sites all over the nation.”
Also on Tuesday, the Navy released the first photos of its balloon recovery effort, saying it was being led by its Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. According to the Associated Press, military officials described the mission as a comprehensive operation that included the use of underwater drones, warships and inflatable ships.
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