According to a senior administration official working under President Joe Biden, the recent sighting of the spy balloon from China is not the first time one has appeared in the US in recent years. In fact, three suspected spy balloons from China appeared over the US during the Trump administration, but were not discovered until Biden took office.
The official told CNN that the intelligence committee is currently preparing to give briefings to key Trump administration officials regarding the surveillance program from China. The Biden Administration believes that the program has been deployed in five continents within he past several years.
The Pentagon initially stated that similar balloon sightings had been reported during Trump’s administration following the suspected Chinese spy balloon sighting over Montana last week.
“I don’t ever recall somebody coming into my office or reading anything that the Chinese had a surveillance balloon above the United States,” said former Trump administration Defense Secretary Mark Esper to CNN.
A former national security adviser under Trump, John Bolton, reasserted Esper’s point stating that the former administration had knowledge of the surveillance program: “Did the Biden administration invent a time machine? What is the basis of this new detection?”
“The very fact, if it is a fact, that the Chinese tried this before, should have alerted us and should have caused us to take action before the balloon crossed into American sovereign territory.”
An official with the Biden Administration stated the previous incidents were not discovered until Trump had already left office, but no information has been given regarding when these supposed previous sightings happened or how.
The Pentagon has reportedly briefed Congress regarding the precious Chinese balloon surveillance sightings during the Trump administration that, at the time, flew over Texas and Florida.
Representative Michael Waltz said in a statement to CNN that “currently, we understand there were incursions near Florida and Texas, but we don’t have clarity on what kind of systems were on these balloons or if these incursions occurred in territorial waters or overflew land.”
“Another Chinese spy balloon also transited the continental US briefly at the beginning of the Biden administration, the senior administration official said. But the balloon that was shot down by the US military on Saturday was unique in both the path it took, down from Alaska and Canada into the US, and the length of time it spent loitering over sensitive missile sites in Montana,” officials stated to CNN.
“Closely observing the balloon in flight has allowed us to better understand this Chinese program and further confirmed its mission was surveillance.”
Biden acknowledged that he ordered the Pentagon to shoot the balloon down last Wednesday when he was initially briefed of its presence over Montana.
“Shooting it down over water also maximized the possibility of recovering the payload – the equipment carried by the balloon that the US says was being used for surveillance – intact and able to be examined further by the US intelligence community,” officials said.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.