Pentagon: Chinese Spy Balloon Flying Over Continental U.S.
Report: President Biden 'did not order military to shoot down' the balloon for fear of civilian casualties.
A Chinese spy balloon is actively surveilling the continental United States, according to numerous Thursday evening reports that have since been confirmed by the Pentagon.
“The United States government has detected and is tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States right now,” U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said Thursday evening. “The U.S. government, to include NORAD, continues to track and monitor it closely.”
The Chinese spy balloon was spotted over Montana, where a nuclear missile silo field is in operation at Malmstrom Air Force Base.
“We have communicated to [China] the seriousness with which we take this issue,” an anonymous senior defense official is quoted as saying in a Department of Defense press release. “We have made clear we will do whatever is necessary to protect our people and our homeland.”
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Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin reports that President Biden has opted not to shoot down the Chinese spy balloon thus far due to concerns about potential American civilian casualties.
US defense officials tell Fox President Biden did not order military to shoot down the Chinese spy balloon in order to avoid potential civilian casualties on the ground here in the US. https://t.co/WbQsOMGU2e
— Jennifer Griffin (@JenGriffinFNC) February 2, 2023
Griffin subsequently tweeted that the White House is still considering a “variety of options” and “won’t rule anything in or out.”
Pentagon and White House still considering variety of options for how to deal with Chinese spy balloon. Won’t rule anything in or out.
— Jennifer Griffin (@JenGriffinFNC) February 3, 2023
“We did assess that it was large enough to cause damage from the debris field if we downed it over an area,” the “senior defense official” said in the aforementioned Pentagon press release. “I can’t really go into the dimension — but there have been reports of pilots seeing this thing, even though it’s pretty high up in the sky. So … it’s sizable.”
Thursday night’s Chinese spy balloon revelation has significant national security implications for the United States, China and the entire civilized world. The Stream will be closely following this breaking news story in the coming days and weeks.
Tom Sileo is a contributing senior editor of The Stream. He is the author of the recently released Be Bold and co-author of Three Wise Men, Brothers Forever, 8 Seconds of Courage and Fire in My Eyes. Follow Tom on Twitter @TSileo and The Stream at @Streamdotorg.