Congressman ‘Shocked’ at US Decisions on Chinese Spy Balloon After Classified Briefing

Eva Fu
By Eva Fu
February 9, 2023Chinashare
Congressman ‘Shocked’ at US Decisions on Chinese Spy Balloon After Classified Briefing
Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) during a hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 15, 2022. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The revelations from the House-wide closed-door briefing about the Chinese spy balloon did nothing to reassure Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) about the steps the United States took to handle the incident.

In a conversation after the classified briefing on Feb. 9 morning, Higgins said he was “surprised” and “shocked at what I was hearing of the decisions that were made” and the argument top intelligence and military officials made supporting these measures.

“I can tell you that having heard their reasoning, I 100 percent disagree,” he told The Epoch Times.

Initially detected on Jan. 28, the balloon entered the United States twice with a brief incursion over Canada’s airfield, traveling through multiple sensitive military sites before an F-22 fighter jet shot it down from the sky off the Carolina coast.

As an elected representative and American citizen, Higgins said he believes the balloon should have come down “the moment it entered American airspace.”

“Based upon everything I’ve studied, read, heard, researched myself, and listened very carefully in the classified briefing today, nothing was presented to me that would put me in a different position.”

A State Department official told The Epoch Times the balloon carried antennas capable of capturing communication signals, and was equipped with solar panels to produce the power needed to operate multiple “active intelligence collection sensors.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken further described the balloon operation as part of a global campaign for Beijing that violated the airspace of countries across five continents.

Such an expanse of the operation came as no surprise to Higgins, who saw it as “not beyond the expected behaviors of China.”

“The Chinese Communist Party leadership at the highest levels and in their intelligence forces and military forces in China, they have designs upon the entire world, and they’ve made it very clear that intelligence gathering efforts will be one of their focuses,” he said. “So it should not be a surprise to the world, that China will use any technology available to them to attempt to build upon their knowledge of other nation-states. This is part of a far wider Chinese Communist Party surveillance program over the entire western hemisphere.”

Chinese spy balloon
(Left) The Chinese balloon drifts to the ocean after being shot down off the coast in Surfside Beach, S.C., on Feb. 4, 2023. (Right) The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson participates in a group sail during the Rim of the Pacific exercise off the coast of Hawaii, on July 26, 2018. (Randall Hill/Reuters; Petty Officer 1st Class Arthurgwain L. Marquez/U.S. Navy via AP)

What disturbed him more, he said, was how the balloon was allowed to remain in the air for eight days.

The Biden administration has defended the delay, saying the debris could pose harm to civilians on the ground. Officials also said the military took mitigation measures to thwart the balloon’s intelligence gathering, and argued the intelligence they gleaned was “well worth” the wait of shooting it down.

But Higgins called the argument “absurd.” He likened it to someone responding to a burglar break-in by saying “it’s okay, I’ll let them wander around my home because I’ve put a blindfold on him.”

“You can’t allow a burglar into your home,” he said. “It’s absurd.”

“We let this Chinese surveillance balloon traverse the entire country—to enter American airspace in Alaska, go all the way through Alaska, come down through Canada, enter the United States airspace again in Montana, and traverse the entire country,” he said. “Any argument that would defend that decision is not a sound argument.”

Multiple Republican senators after a classified Senate briefing later in the morning expressed similar views in interviews with NTD, a sister media of The Epoch Times, while their Democrat counterparts praised the administration’s handling.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-N.Y.) said he believed the balloon “presented a very low-level threat” and that the administration’s approach to it has helped “restore deterrence.”

“My hope is that in the aftermath of this story, we can maybe talk about the real threats posed to the United States by China activities,” he said, pointing to Beijing’s propaganda outreach and the illicit fentanyl flowing into the United States from China.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said that the administration “had opportunities to do that earlier and didn’t do so before that threat is there.”

“​​They knew that it was headed towards the continental U.S. before it actually entered,” he said.

Rubio said the balloon incident should be a reminder of the ambitions of communist China, which no amount of U.S. trade can change.

“The sooner we wake up to that reality and have policies that confront it, the better off we’re going to be as a country.”

From The Epoch Times

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