White House Says Mystery Objects ‘Probably’ Private Craft Not Tied to Spying

Jack Phillips
By Jack Phillips
February 14, 2023US News
White House Says Mystery Objects ‘Probably’ Private Craft Not Tied to Spying
National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby speaks during the daily press briefing in the James S Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Feb. 13, 2023. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

The White House provided more details about the objects that were shot down in North American airspace in recent days, saying that a leading theory is that they were commercial balloons.

“The intelligence community’s considering as a leading explanation that these could just be balloons tied to some commercial or benign purpose,” John Kirby, a spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council, told multiple news outlets on Tuesday. Kirby further asserted that unidentified objects that were downed in Alaska, the Yukon, and over Lake Huron were not tied to spying efforts, unlike the high-altitude balloon that was shot down earlier this month over the Atlantic Ocean.

He added, “I want to caveat that we haven’t found the debris. We’re still doing the best we can with the observations that were made by the pilots, with the flight profile data that we’ve tried to collect.”

Efforts to retrieve debris from the objects have been hampered due to “pretty tough conditions,” including Arctic weather conditions in Alaska, the wilderness in the Yukon Territory, and geographic challenges around Lake Huron.

“Pretty tough weather conditions, let alone just geographically, just tough time of year,” Kirby said. For example, temperatures in Deadhorse, Alaska, where one object was shot down last week, temperatures hit minus 30 degrees F on Tuesday.

Kirby warned reporters that “it could be some time before we locate the recovered debris” and said that Lake Huron is deep. Weather conditions near where that balloon was shot down there are also poor, he noted.

“We’re taking this day by day and doing the best we can to try to locate the debris and then develop a plan to recover it,” he said.

So far, President Joe Biden and other top federal officials have said little about the multiple shootdowns, which began with a suspected Chinese spy balloon earlier this month. Three more unidentified objects have been shot down, with the latest over Lake Huron on Sunday. Pentagon officials said they posed no security threats but have not disclosed their origins or purpose.

On Monday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded to one viral claim to have emerged from the balloon saga.

“I know there have been questions and concerns about this, but there is no—again no indication—of aliens or extraterrestrial activity with these recent takedowns,” Jean-Pierre told reporters. “I wanted to make sure that the American people knew that, all of you knew that and it was important for us to say that from here because we’ve been hearing a lot about it.”

Earlier Tuesday, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a news conference Tuesday that the first F-16-fired missile that was shot at the object over Lake Huron missed. The second one hit, he said.

The first Sidewinder missile “landed harmlessly in the water of Lake Huron,” Milley told reporters in Brussels. “We’re very very careful to make sure that these shots are in fact safe,” he added.

The top general noted that the U.S. military also went to “great lengths” to ensure that the missile strikes over American territory did not put civilians or property at risk.

Operation Iraqi Freedom
An F-16 Fighting Falcon flies a mission in a file photo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cherie A. Thurlby)

“When the takedown occurred, all of the debris fell into Lake Huron, so there was no damage to property or human life,” Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.) said in a statement this week. On Sunday, Bergman told Fox News that the object was “octagonal” in shape.

In the meantime, off the coast of South Carolina where the Chinese balloon was shot down, crews have been able to recover significant debris from the site, according to a statement Tuesday from NORAD and U.S. Northern Command. The statement said crews have recovered “all of the priority sensor and electronics pieces identified as well as large sections of the structure.”

On Friday, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the combined U.S.-Canada organization known as NORAD that provides shared defense of airspace over the two nations, detected and shot down an object near the sparsely populated Deadhorse, Alaska.

Later that evening, NORAD detected a second object flying at a high altitude over Alaska, U.S. officials said. It crossed into Canadian airspace Saturday and was over the Yukon, a remote territory, when it was ordered shot down by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Around the same time, NORAD and the Federal Aviation Administration shut down airspace over a section of Montana before reopening it. A day later, areas of Lake Michigan were shut down, the agency confirmed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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