A Democratic senator said on Monday that China intended to invade the airspace over the U.S. when a balloon traversed over the country for days in February, and he plans to hold the Biden administration accountable.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., turned to social media on Monday after reading an article from NBC that said the Chinese spy balloon collected intelligence from multiple military sites in the U.S., even though the Biden administration attempted to stop it from doing so, citing two senior U.S. officials and a senior administration official.
“We knew all along that China’s invasion of our airspace was no accident,” Tester said. “There’s nothing more important than keeping America safe, and I’ll keep holding the Biden Administration accountable to ensure Montanans’ freedom and privacy are protected.”
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The NBC article points out that China could control the balloon and make multiple passes over sites before transmitting the information back to China in real time, according to the three officials.
The same officials told NBC that China may have gathered more intelligence from military sites had it not been for the Biden administrations attempt to block the electronic signals front he balloon.
Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh was questioned extensively about the Chinese balloon during a press briefing on Monday.
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She reiterated comments made early on that the balloon could hover and be maneuvered so it purposely followed along a specific track.
“What we did do is take precautionary steps to limit the intelligence value that it would be able to collect,” Singh said. “…we took steps to protect our own military installations from foreign intelligence collection.”
She went on to say because of the steps taken, the U.S. was able to prevent the transmission of certain aspects of the sites, but in terms of what was transmitted back to China, she could not answer.
“We’re still doing an assessment of what exactly the intel was the China was able to gather,” Singh said. “But we do know that the steps that we took provided little additive value for what they’ve been able to collect.”
The data, she said, is being analyzed in Quantico, Virginia, though when it will be available is unknown.
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