On Thursday afternoon the Pentagon announced that a “high altitude surveillance balloon” had been located over the continental United States over the last two days, and that steps had been taken to ensure that sensitive military and government information was not at risk of being intercepted, but that the balloon was still drifting over the country. While the official didn’t state which country the Pentagon believes owns this weapon of war, a “senior official” said they’re “confident” it belongs to China.
Many excuses have been given about why the balloon hasn’t been intercepted or shot down, and now Bill Melugin of Fox News reports that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is requesting a “Gang of Eight” briefing on the issue.
NEW: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says he is requesting a Gang of Eight briefing re: the Chinese spy balloon over the continental US. @FoxNews
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) February 3, 2023
The “Gang of Eight” are the eight members of Congress who are briefed on classified intelligence matters by the Executive Branch, specifically, the leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, and the Republican and Democrat leaders of the House and Senate. Currently, that would be McCarthy, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), Rep. Jim Hines (D-CT), Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Mark Warner, Sen. Mitch McConnell, and Sen. Chuck Schumer. It’s extremely consequential that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is no longer eligible to receive this briefing.
In our original story we reported that a “senior official” confirmed to Fox News that the US government is confident that the spy balloon belongs to the CCP/PRC. That same senior official provided the outlet with additional information about the its location and actions taken by the military:
“You did see reports yesterday of a ground stop at Billings Airport and the mobilization of a number of assets, including F-22. The context for that was that we put some things on station in the event that a decision was made to bring this down while it was over Montana. So, we wanted to make sure we were coordinating with civil authorities to empty out the airspace around that potential area. But even with those protective measures taken, it was the judgment of our military commanders that we didn’t drive the risk down low enough. So, we didn’t take the shot,” the official said.
A separate source told Fox News that the military is considering a number of options regarding how to “deal” with the balloon, including shooting it down if it’s believed there would not be civilian casualties.
This isn’t the first time such a balloon has entered US airspace, sources said, adding that “They’re trying to fly this balloon over sensitive sites, one of which was just mentioned to collect information,” but that it’s likely not collecting “information of significant value” to the CCP.
Jesse Watters reported that the balloon first went over Alaska then into Canadian airspace before entering the United States.
Jesse Watters questions why Canada didn't alert the US about the Chinese spy balloon:
"Trudeau is probably too worried about the truckers." pic.twitter.com/2MvlVLJgYR
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) February 3, 2023