Biden Admin Debacle: Chinese Spy Balloon Got Intel From US Military Sites
The Chinese Spy Balloon that flew over the United States was gathering intelligence for days.
It was able to transmit data back to Beijing in real-time.
The Chinese spy balloon that flew across the U.S. was able to gather intelligence from several sensitive American military sites, despite the Biden administration’s efforts to block it from doing so, according to two current senior U.S. officials and one former senior administration official.
China was able to control the balloon so it could make multiple passes over some of the sites (at times flying figure eight formations) and transmit the information it collected back to Beijing in real time, the three officials said. The intelligence China collected was mostly from electronic signals, which can be picked up from weapons systems or include communications from base personnel, rather than images, the officials said.
The three officials said China could have gathered much more intelligence from sensitive sites if not for the administration’s efforts to move around potential targets and obscure the balloon’s ability to pick up their electronic signals by stopping them from broadcasting or emitting signals.
The National Security Council referred NBC News to the Defense Department for comment. The Defense Department directed NBC News to comments from February in which senior officials said the balloon had “limited additive value” for intelligence collection by the Chinese government “over and above what [China] is likely able to collect through things like satellites in low earth orbit.”
The Biden administration waited days to shoot down the balloon.
Republican U.S. lawmakers on Sunday criticized President Joe Biden for waiting days to shoot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon as it floated over the United States, accusing him of showing weakness toward China and initially trying to keep the breach of U.S. airspace undisclosed.
A U.S. Air Force fighter jet on Saturday shot down the balloon off the coast of South Carolina, a week after it first entered U.S. airspace near Alaska, triggering a dramatic spying saga that has further strained American-Chinese relations.
“We should have shot this balloon down over the Aleutian Islands. We should never have allowed it to transit the entire continental United States,” said Republican Senator Tom Cotton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, referring to the chain of small islands that arc off the coast of mainland Alaska.
Cotton told the “Fox News Sunday” program that he believed Biden had waited to disclose the penetration of U.S. airspace because he wanted to salvage Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s planned diplomatic trip to Beijing, which ultimately was postponed.