President Joe Biden tried to take a victory lap Saturday afternoon after the U.S. military shot down a Chinese spy balloon that Biden allowed to travel across the entire country before destroying.
Biden claimed in remarks to reporters that he “ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down on Wednesday as soon as possible,” but that the decision was made to not shoot it down over land because debris could cause damage when falling to the ground.
U.S. officials were reportedly “well aware” that the balloon had crossed into American airspace on January 28 and that it was over Idaho on Tuesday, but decided not to inform the public to not upend Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s diplomatic trip to China.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that the spy ballon was sent to the U.S. “in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), the Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee and a member of the Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that Biden should have taken out the balloon much sooner “over remote areas of Alaska or Montana.”
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Greene (R-NC) said that it was “indefensible that this threat was eliminated only after great public outcry and the damage to U.S. national security and American sovereignty was already done.”
“The fact remains that President Biden, when faced with the opportunity to protect the homeland from our adversaries, chose yet again to demonstrate weakness on the global stage,” Greene added. “From the Southern border to Afghanistan and, now, Chinese surveillance directly above our homes and sensitive military installations, this President shows he is not interested in protecting American interests.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) said that Biden should have “taken care of this before it became a national security threat.”
“I hope we will be able to recover the wreckage to help determine what intelligence the CCP collected while its spy balloon was over our country for days,” McCaul said. “I will be demanding answers and will hold the admin accountable for this embarrassing display of weakness.”
Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-MO) said that while he was glad the U.S. military shot down the spy balloon, “the damage has already been done.”
“We need answers from the Biden Administration on why it took this long to bring the Chinese spy balloon down and we need [to] ensure that this never happens again,” Schmitt continued.
Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) slammed the entire episode as “a tremendous embarrassment for the United States of America.”
Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL) called the ordeal “an abysmal security failure by Biden.”
“Allowing China to fly its spy balloon from coast to coast was a test. Biden failed. With Biden as President, our enemies no longer fear us. China must be held accountable,” wrote Congressman William Timmons.
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