More on the Chinese spy balloon

This is going to be a Chines spy balloon blog post. I like stating the topic in the beginning, as sort of a warning.

Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing on the Chinese spy balloon incident. There was a public portion and then later they held a closed hearing in a classified setting. I watched the public hearing and came away with more questions than answers.

Following the hearing Senator Chris Murphy (D) took to Twitter to post this:

Well, as I mentioned many times I like to read through news articles, because often further through the article I learn important bits of information that weren’t in the flashy headlines. The idea that we learned so much information from tracking what the balloon was doing took a hit, when I read this CNN update, US officials disclosed new details about the balloon’s capabilities. Here’s what we know, which was updated at 11:13 pm Feb. 9, 2023, when I pulled this information from it:

“The officials told lawmakers that the US has assessed that little new intelligence was gleaned by the Chinese balloon operation because the Chinese appeared to stop transmitting information once the US learned of the balloon, in addition to US measures to protect sensitive intelligence from China’s spying operations, according to the sources.”

So, we couldn’t track what they were transmitting.

Then there was this information:

“Only evidence that was on the surface of the ocean has been delivered to FBI analysts so far, one official said, which includes the “canopy itself, the wiring, and then a very small amount of electronics.” The official said analysts have not yet seen the “payload,” which is where you would expect to see the “lion’s share” of electronics.”

So, how on earth we know for sure what kind of threat this balloon posed without the payload recovered yet and only a “very small amount of electronics,” I have no earthly idea. The Pentagon officials also gave some explanation about the conditions in Alaska for recovery influencing the decisions not to shoot the balloon down and also fears of provoking an escalation of tensions with China, according to this article. I heard the one Pentagon official offer a rationale on the Alaskan recovery difficulties rationale in the open hearing.

This CNN update also included this information about the classified briefing and I think this is the real reason the Biden administration didn’t act sooner:

“In the classified congressional briefings, the administration officials argued that the US didn’t move earlier to shoot down the balloon in part over fears it could provoke an escalation of military tensions with China or even a military conflict. Biden gave the order to shoot down the balloon whenever the Pentagon felt it was safe to do so, the sources said, so the Pentagon ultimately made the call on when to shoot it down.”

Our Pentagon was paralyzed for days over fears of how China might react to shooting down an unmanned balloon…


Filed under Foreign Policy, General Interest, Military

2 responses to “More on the Chinese spy balloon

  1. Sam Topeka

    We were “paralyzed for days over fears of how China might react to shooting down an unmanned balloon…”
    The Chinese will soon fly a squadron of Sopwith Camels over Guam to really intimidate Biden.

  2. Well, Sam, looks like the Pentagon spokesman said the US shot down an unidentified object in Alaskan airspace this afternoon.

    Actually, the most ridiculous Biden official yesterday was Deputy Sec. of State, Wendy Sherman, who testified about concerns about getting tough with China might lead to an increase in hate crimes in America against Asian-Americans. I doubt the people committing crimes against Asian-Americans are following US-China relations news closely.

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