House Members to Receive Classified Briefing on Chinese Spy Balloon on Thursday

Nathan Worcester
By Nathan Worcester
February 8, 2023Politics
House Members to Receive Classified Briefing on Chinese Spy Balloon on Thursday
President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Feb. 7, 2023. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Multiple Congressional staffers have confirmed to The Epoch Times that Congressional representatives will be briefed on the morning of Feb. 9 regarding the Chinese spy balloon that flew over the United States last week.

The meeting comes after days of debate between Republicans and Democrats about how the Biden administration addressed the craft and the threat from communist China, more generally.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has pressed for just an all-of-Congress meeting, as confirmed by House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) on Feb. 7.

A message attributed to the GOP conference claims the meeting will take place at 8 a.m. on Thursday, and that it will be bipartisan and members-only. It will be a top secret-sensitive compartmented information (TS-SCI) meeting, according to that same message.

TS-SCI information is highly classified. It contains details on intelligence sources and methods.

The message did not clarify whether the meeting will only include members of the House or will also include members of the Senate.

According to the message, at least five U.S. officials will help brief Congress tomorrow.

Morgan Muir of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is among them.

In addition, the briefers will include three officials from the Defense Department.

These officials are Colin Kahl, undersecretary of defense for policy; Lt. Gen. Douglas A. Sims, director of operations at the J3 level for Joint Staff; and Joint Staff Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of the United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

Finally, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Dan Kritenbrink will also participate in the morning briefing.

The Biden administration has defended its decision to take down the balloon on Saturday after it had floated over Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, parts of Canada, and much of the United States for a week, saying the delay was to avoid possible harm to civilians if the device was shot down over land.

U.S. officials said the military took unspecified mitigation measures to thwart the balloon’s data collection, and that the United States was able to use the opportunity of the balloon’s week-long flight to conduct counterintelligence.

“We acted responsibly and prudently to protect our interests,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a Feb. 8 press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Blinken said the surveillance balloon was part of a broader global Chinese campaign that has violated the sovereignty of countries across five continents.

He added the Biden administration is currently working to recover parts of the fallen balloon, adding that the administration would “share relevant findings with Congress, as well as with our allies and partners around the world.”

Earlier on Feb. 8, Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder confirmed that new intelligence had allowed the United States to determine at least four previous spy balloon incidents in the United States, three of which occurred during the Trump administration and one during the Biden administration.

In all four incidents, Ryder said, Chinese surveillance balloons had entered the airspace of the continental United States in an apparent effort to spy on “strategic sites.”

A staffer for Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), the House Intelligence Committee’s current chair, confirmed earlier this week that an intelligence-focused “Gang of Eight” in the House and Senate would be briefed on the balloon.

The Epoch Times has reached out to multiple Congressional staffers for additional details.

Andrew Thornebrooke and Eva Fu contributed to this report. 

From The Epoch Times