Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's Statement on Downing of Chinese Balloon Is Ironic Comedy at Its Best

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

After a U.S Air Force F-22 Raptor shot down the Chinese surveillance balloon with a sidewinder missile on Saturday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued an alternative-universe statement in which he lauded Joe Biden’s commitment to “always put the safety and security of the American people first.”


No, really. We’ll get back to that silliness in a bit.

Austin began by suggesting the “commander in chief” — I put that in quotes because Biden is pretty much not the commander of anything — was in charge from the outset.

This afternoon, at the direction of President Biden, U.S. fighter aircraft assigned to U.S. Northern Command successfully brought down the high-altitude surveillance balloon launched by and belonging to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) over the water off the coast of South Carolina in U.S. airspace. The balloon, which was being used by the PRC in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States, was brought down above U.S. territorial waters.

However, as we reported earlier today, Biden told reporters he ordered the Pentagon to down the balloon on Wednesday but was–in effect–overruled by U.S. military commanders.

Austin confirmed Biden’s statement.

On Wednesday, President Biden gave his authorization to take down the surveillance balloon as soon as the mission could be accomplished without undue risk to American lives under the balloon’s path.  After careful analysis, U.S. military commanders determined downing the balloon while over land posed an undue risk to people across a wide area due to the size and altitude of the balloon and its surveillance payload.

In accordance with the President’s direction, the Department of Defense developed options to take down the balloon safely over our territorial waters, while closely monitoring its path and intelligence collection activities.


Yet another “Profile in Courage” moment with Joe.

And monitoring the surveillance balloon’s intelligence activities? So what? The balloon was undoubtedly transmitting data to Chinese satellites in real-time, so to paraphrase Hillary Clinton, what difference did it make if the U.S.  was monitoring its intelligence collection activities? They think you’re stupid, America.

Then this unnecessary praise of Canada from Austin:

This action was taken in coordination, and with the full support, of the Canadian government.  And we thank Canada for its contribution to tracking and analysis of the balloon through NORAD as it transited North America.

Perhaps I’m nitpicking, but what did Canada have to do with the Biden administration allowing a Chinese surveillance balloon to traverse the entire continental United States? I realize Biden and his socialist pal Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are birds of a feather, but please.

And finally, my favorite part (emphasis, mine):

Today’s deliberate and lawful action demonstrates that President Biden and his national security team will always put the safety and security of the American people first while responding effectively to the PRC’s unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.

Wait— what?

Memo to Lloyd Austin:

Do you mean how Biden allowed the Chicom’s surveillance balloon to gather sensitive data before it was finally downed? Or, by referencing the “safety and security of the America people first,” were you also including Biden’s open border policy and continuing importation of as many illegal aliens as he can get away with? Or maybe you were also thinking about the deadly fentanyl crisis, due in large part to virtually unchecked shipments across the southern border? Seriously, Lloyd — take a seat.


The Bottom Line

Not to rain on Joe’s delusional parade, but he allowed — for a week — the balloon to collect crucial data, presumably including from sensitive nuclear sites, and transmit that data to Beijing while he did zero. The downing should’ve happened after the balloon entered U.S. territorial waters off the west coast.

And screw the balloon.

This was a serious national security escalation by China, and the U.S. must now play hardball against Chinese aggression around the world. Feckless Biden’s unacceptably slow-to-action decisionmaking demands tough questions and honest answers. The American people deserve nothing less.

As for playing hardball with the ChiComs, I’d start with positioning the Reagan Carrier Strike Group off the coast of Taiwan–but I’m not the pretend commander-in-chief, so what do I know?


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