On Sunday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) bashed President Joe Biden for allowing a Chinese spy balloon to fly over the U.S. for nearly a week before shooting it down over the Atlantic Ocean.
During an interview on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” with host Margaret Brennan, Cruz was asked about the balloon and his opinion on the Pentagon’s claim that they had managed to lessen the impact that it may have had.
“So this balloon traversed 11 states, but the Pentagon says they were able to mitigate some of its impact,” Brennan said. “Do you think there is upside to the fact that this was captured this time?”
“Well, listen, I want to start by doing something that I don’t do very often, which is commending Joe Biden for actually having the guts to shoot this down,” Cruz began. “That was the right thing to do. That is absolutely what the president should have done.”
“Unfortunately, he didn’t do that until a week after it entered U.S. airspace,” Cruz continued. “He allowed a full week for the Chinese to conduct spying operations over the United States, over sensitive military installations, exposing not just photographs but the potential of intercepted communications.”
“And more broadly, I think this entire episode, telegraphed weakness to Xi and the Chinese government,” he said. “And to illustrate why I would just ask one- one hypothetical question: imagine how this would have played out if nobody had taken any pictures of the balloon, if nobody in Montana had looked up and noticed this giant balloon, if it wasn’t in the news.”
“We know that when the Biden administration knew about the balloon, they said nothing, they did nothing, they didn’t shoot it down,” he added. “And at the end of the day, I think the only reason they shot it down is because it made it into the news and they felt forced to as a matter of politics rather than national security. That’s a bad message for the Chinese government to hear.”
Brennan then asked if Cruz believed that the Biden administration should take steps to penalize the Biden administration for the espionage, citing former President Donald Trump.
“Well, the Pentagon has since disclosed that it’s apparently happened four times before, never quite like this,” Brennan said. “Back in 2020, the Trump administration shuttered the Chinese Consulate in Houston after detecting espionage. Do you think there needs to be more diplomatic fallout on that scale now?”
“I think there does,” Cruz said. “When the Trump administration shut the Chinese consulate in Houston, I spoke with the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about it. And what they had discovered about the espionage activities being carried out in the state of Texas by the Chinese government was horrifying.
Cruz then discussed Mark Swidan, an American who has been “a hostage in China” for 10 years. Cruz believes that he should be released in recompense for the spying.
“This past week, I introduced a resolution on the floor of the Senate, along with John Cornyn, calling on China to release Mark Swidan. He’s wrongfully imprisoned. He’s been there 10 years, they’ve sentenced him to death on charges for which they have little to no evidence, and- and I had been urging Tony Blinken when he was going to Beijing, to raise Mark Swidan’s case and to make the case for Mark to be released,” he said.
“China, if they want to demonstrate that they’re not bad actors, if they want to demonstrate that they can aspire to being a great nation, they should release Mark Swidan because great nations and great powers don’t hold political prisoners,” Cruz concluded.
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