GOP Blasts Biden for ‘Misleading’ Country on China Spy Balloon: ‘Focused More on Pronouns’ than Protecting Americans

In this image released by the Department of Defense on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023, a U.S. Ai
Department of Defense via AP

Republican officials blasted President Joe Biden for “misleading” Americans and congress after he had previously assured that sensitive sites were protected from a Chinese spy balloon earlier this year. A fresh report detailed how crucial intelligence was, in fact, collected by the surveillance device.

Following a Monday report alleging the Chinese spy balloon that traversed across the U.S. before being discovered and shot down in February had collected intelligence from sensitive military sites, GOP members slammed the president for the “inexcusable” delay in response and the consequent endangerment it posed to national security.

“This is what happens when you have an administration that treats national security crises as PR challenges,” declared Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

“Apparently, the White House has NO PROBLEM with China spying on US military sites…,” wrote Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN). 

“This Biden admin is inviting #CCP aggression!” he added.

“That’s not what the Biden Admin told Congress,” wrote Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO). “They told Congress weeks ago they were confident no valuable intel had been collected.”

“Utter incompetence,” he added.

“Joe Biden allowed the CCP spy balloon to travel across the country before shooting it down. Despite the President claiming this was ‘not a major breach,’ China was able to gather intelligence from several sensitive U.S. military sites,” wrote Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA).

“Yet another Biden Administration failure,” he added.

“Now it can be told: the Chinese spy balloon got intel from U.S. military sites while Biden and the White House let it span the homeland and mislead the country,” wrote Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA).

“The Biden admin wasted critical days until they decided to shoot the Chinese Spy Balloon down,” wrote Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA). “Now we find out they were UNABLE to stop China from collecting intel and transmitting it to Beijing.”

“Biden continues to put our national security at risk,” he added.

“Reports now indicate that the Chinese spy balloon gathered intelligence from several sensitive military sites during its journey across the United States,” wrote House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).

“But Joe Biden waited until it flew across the ENTIRE COUNTRY before doing anything,” he added.

“Communist China must be held accountable for openly spying on the United States,” wrote Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL). “When will @JoeBiden stop the appeasement and start protecting Americans’ best interests?”

“The Chinese Spy Balloon was not blocked from gathering intelligence and successfully surveilled critical military sites,” wrote Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA).

@POTUS lied to the American people and endangered our national security by allowing this thing to traverse the country uninterrupted,” he added.

“Of course the spy balloon was gathering sensitive intelligence as Joe Biden allowed it to traverse the entire continental US,” wrote Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL).

“Did anyone (besides Joe Biden) actually believe China’s story of an innocent, runaway weather balloon?” he asked.

“Next time a Chinese spy balloon enters U.S. airspace – shoot it down,” wrote Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL). “The balloon ‘was able to gather intelligence from several sensitive American military sites, despite the Biden administration’s efforts to block it from doing so.’”

“Inexcusable,” wrote Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). “Confirming what we already knew, the Chinese Communist Party gathered intelligence for 8 DAYS before Biden took action.”

“Why hasn’t @POTUS sanctioned PRC actors responsible for violating US sovereignty & flying a spy balloon over TN & other states w military & nuclear sites?” asked Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN). “Some in Biden Admin desperately want this story to go away so they can ‘reset’ relations w CCP.”

@POTUS has focused more on pronouns rather than protecting the American people,” wrote Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC). “If we want to stand up to China, we need stronger leadership.”

“Biden justified waiting to shoot down the balloon because ‘we were able to protect sensitive sites against collection,’” tweeted the Republican National Committee. “Was he lying? Or did he just claim that before knowing the facts?”

“The Chinese spy balloon was a test on America to collect data and intelligence,” wrote Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

“The Biden admin’s weakness has emboldened China and left our nation’s military intelligence and critical infrastructure at risk to the CCP’s espionage,” tweeted the U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee account. “This committee will not stop demanding actions and answers from this administration.”

“When it comes to the Chinese spy balloon, the Biden Administration’s story keeps changing,” wrote Sen. Ted Budd (R-NC). “Sounds like they’re more worried about their narrative than the truth.”

“That’s wrong,” he added. “We will hold them accountable.”

“And this surprises… who exactly?” wrote Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC).

“Of course it got intel. That was its entire purpose,” he added. “A President with more resolve wouldn’t have allowed that to happen.”

“Despite the Biden Admin’s claims, it’s now confirmed that the Chinese spy balloon did gather intelligence from military sites, including Malmstrom Air Force Base,” wrote Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT).

“The American people deserve transparency — Biden needs to answer for this failure,” he added.

The matter follows the discovery in February of a rogue Chinese “surveillance” balloon — which Beijing confirmed originated in China but claimed had accidentally drifted far afield of its original course and into both Canada and America — flew for days across the western seaboard before confused onlookers in Montana began filming it in the skies, prompting the Defense Department to confirm the Chinese vessel had breached U.S. airspace. 

The balloon first entered U.S. airspace over the Aleutian island chain in Alaska on January 28 and allegedly entered Canada before reentering the U.S. over Idaho on January 31 and flying over Malmstrom Air Force Base, home to U.S. nuclear assets.

Pentagon officials originally claimed they could not shoot down the balloon — which was flying at an estimated height of 60,000 feet, far above commercial aircraft — out of concerns that the resulting debris could injure people on the ground. 

However, public pressure mounted from both citizens and members of Congress concerned the balloon was equipped with advanced surveillance technology China could use to gather intelligence on sensitive American military sites.

Flashback: Citizen Records Chinese Spy Balloon over Billings, Montana

Chase Doak via Storyful

After initially informing Americans that they should brace for the balloon to hover overhead for “a few days,” the Pentagon confirmed that an American F-22 fighter aircraft had shot down the balloon on February 4 over the waters off of South Carolina.

President Biden claimed he ordered it shot down on February 1, but military officials said the risk from potential debris was too high. Bloomberg reported the Biden administration had hoped to hide its existence from the public so as not to ruin Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s planned trip to Beijing.

On Monday, NBC News reported the balloon gathered intelligence from “several” military sites despite the Biden administration insisting measures were taken to prevent such a scenario.

According to the report, China was able to control the balloon to make multiple passes over some of the sites, including flying figure-eight formations and transmitting intelligence — mostly electronic signals from weapons systems or communications from base personnel — back to China in real time.

The report cited two current senior U.S. officials and one former senior administration official, who claimed China could have gathered “much more intelligence” if the Biden administration did not “move around potential targets” and obscured the balloon’s ability to pick up their electronic signals by stopping them from broadcasting or emitting signals.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) described the incident as potentially “one of the most staggering intelligence failures since 9/11,” insisting that it is “long past time for transparency” and that the American people “deserve to know what’s going on in the skies above their homes.”

Related: Suspected Chinese Spy Balloon Shot Down Off South Carolina Coast

@RealUSC via Storyful

Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.


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