Top officials in the Biden administration allegedly sought to conceal the presence of a Chinese surveillance balloon from Congress and the public.
Initially detected in late January, the balloon's existence came to light only after it was shot down off the South Carolina coast in early February.
This incident has raised significant concerns regarding national security and the transparency of the government's actions.
Gen. Mark Milley and Gen. Glen VanHerck's phone call on January 27th revealed that officials were aware of the balloon's ability to gather and transmit sensitive data.
This contradicts earlier public statements denying any knowledge of such capabilities, Fox News reported.
The surveillance balloon spotted first over Alaska, traversed the U.S. airspace for approximately a week. Military analysis determined its size to be equivalent to three school buses, equipped with a large surveillance apparatus, though devoid of offensive capabilities.
The public and President Biden himself were kept in the dark until February 1st, with the news breaking to the public via NBC on February 2nd. This delay in information has raised questions about the decision-making process at the highest levels of government.
General VanHerck's warning about China's active balloon program and its exploitation of U.S. surveillance vulnerabilities has brought to light the challenges facing national security. He emphasized the significant gaps in long-range surveillance capabilities that this incident has exposed.
A former senior U.S. official mentioned the initial intent to study the balloon discreetly and allow it to pass without public disclosure. This strategy, however, was upended once the balloon was spotted and became a subject of public scrutiny and concern.
"Before it was spotted publicly, there was the intention to study it and let it pass over and not ever tell anyone about it."
Following its detection, the U.S. military took decisive action, shooting down the balloon on February 4th off the South Carolina coast. The recovery operation by the U.S. Navy, completed on February 10th, is expected to provide further insights into the technology and objectives of the surveillance device.
The incident has sparked a debate within the Biden administration about the public's reaction to the balloon. Senior officials privately expressed frustration over the public outcry, believing that the incident had caused more problems than necessary.
A senior Biden administration official highlighted the balance between protecting intelligence related to tracking such threats and the need for transparency with Congress. They refuted any claims of intentionally keeping Congress in the dark.
"To the extent any of this was kept quiet at all, that was in large part to protect intel equities related to finding and tracking them. There was no intention to keep this from Congress at any point."
The unfolding of events surrounding the Chinese surveillance balloon has not only exposed gaps in U.S. surveillance capabilities but also sparked a nationwide discussion on the adequacy of the government's response to such intrusions.
The Chinese surveillance balloon saga has unfolded as a complex mix of security concerns, political maneuvers, and public reactions.
Please share this article on Twitter and Facebook to further the discussion on this important national security issue.