Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke (R) called the Biden administration allowing the Chinese to float a spy balloon into the United States’s airspace “an embarrassment.”
“I think it’s an embarrassment that we took no action, not even diplomatically and say, you know, ‘Warning, warning warning, don’t do this. We’re gonna follow it,’” he told Breitbart News on Friday in an exclusive phone interview.
“But just to have it drift up here, and for days loitering — I think it shows that we are ineffective,” he said.
A senior defense official told reporters Thursday said the military considered shooting it down as it drifted over “sparsely populated areas in Montana,” but that, “we just couldn’t buy down the risk enough to feel comfortable recommending shooting it down.”
As a native Montanan, Zinke scoffed at that reasoning and said “absolutely” the balloon should have been shot down over the area.
“I would have volunteered to be there and pull the trigger,” he said.
“Roosevelt County I think is the least populated in the lower 48 of any county. That’s where my family originally was from. My grandmother was a one-room school teacher out in Roosevelt County. I love Roosevelt County, but I can tell you your chances of doing harm to humans is low. And you know what, and Montanans would understand that. There’s a lot of people that probably have something in the garage that might shoot it down, too,” he said.
Zinke said the Biden administration should have stopped the balloon from even reaching Montana — home to sensitive military sites such as Malmstrom Air Force Base, which maintains 150 intercontinental ballistic missile silos.
Rather, the balloon should have taken it out over the Aleutian Islands, where it reportedly flew over before even reaching the continental U.S., he said.
“It’s a balloon, guys. This balloon didn’t get here overnight. This is not like a fast moving problem set. So certainly, we must have picked it up over the Aleutian chain and if we didn’t shame on us,” he said. “I’ve operated in the Aleutian chain, have been out there. You’re glad if you see anybody during the whole day.”
He added, “What if it was something, something that was clear and threatening? Again, this is a balloon. The balloon takes a long time to get there. You know, people have looked at it. But what if it was a formation of fighters? What if it was, you know, a ship at sea that we suspected its intention would be harmful?”
Zinke, a former Navy SEAL commander, said the balloon was a “very clear poke in the eye” from China.
“We need to make sure that one is that there’s a consequence for poking us in the eye. But when there’s no consequence of bad behavior, then really bad things can happen,” he said, citing the Afghanistan withdrawal disaster.
“We were effective in Afghanistan. That was a colossal blunder, a failure. It could have been a heck of a lot worse. And then I think that gave Putin the green light,” he said.
“And now now we have a very aggressive China in the South China Sea. And the message to them is, well we don’t know what we’re going to do. Or largely at least we can’t make a decision or or our ineptitude, of dealing with a balloon. You know, there’s a big difference between like defending Taiwan and destroying a balloon,” he said.
He said letting the balloon fly over the U.S. could raise doubts with allies.
“It also brings, you know, worldwide uncertainty — ‘Well, if the U.S. isn’t gonna get a stand up against a balloon, are they gonna stand with me as they did in Afghanistan?’”
Biden Refuses To Address Questions On Chinese ‘Surveillance’ Balloon
President Joe Biden avoided answering questions regarding the suspected Chinese spy balloon hovering above the U.S. on Friday, dodging the press on two different occasions.
Biden refused to take questions on the balloon following his speech on the economy in the morning, and walked past the press shouting questions about the balloon on his way to Marine One in the afternoon.
Reporters yelled, “are you worried about the balloon?” as Biden walked out of the Oval Office.
Biden smiled and kept walking.
The president was first briefed about the balloon on Tuesday, and has “continued to receive regular briefings and updates from the national security team,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Friday. The president chose not to shoot down the balloon after being advised that doing so could present a “risk” to people on the ground, Jean-Pierre added.
China’s foreign ministry confirmed that the balloon was theirs, but said it was used for “research.” Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder disputed China’s claim, and said it was used for “surveillance” purposes.
The balloon violated “international law” by entering U.S. airspace, and will remain above the U.S. for “a few more days,” Ryder said. He did not disclose the exact location of the balloon, but said it is hovering over the central U.S.
Montana Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont) Interview on Chinese Spy Balloon
“This provocation is completely unacceptable”
BOZEMAN — U.S. Sen. Jon Tester made an appearance on Friday’s Montana This Morning in Bozeman and shared his reaction to the Chinese spy balloon recently spotted over Montana.
Following his appearance on the show Tester, chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, issued the following statement:
“This provocation is completely unacceptable, and I am in close contact with Department of Defense and Intelligence officials. We are still waiting for real answers on how this happened and what steps the Administration took to protect our country, and I will hold everyone accountable until I get them. I will always defend Montana and our national security from hostile adversaries like China.”
Tester will receive a classified briefing in a secure facility when he returns to Washington D.C.
Chinese money is flooding into American higher education — with little transparency
China, like many of our global adversaries, is attempting nothing short of espionage via America’s colleges and universities — buying its way into influencing teaching, stealing our intellectual property and manipulating US foreign policy.
This issue came further into focus when it was revealed the University of Pennsylvania received millions of dollars in secretive Chinese and foreign donations — even as the university’s Biden Center for Foreign Policy was home to scores of mishandled classified documents.
Since President Biden’s inauguration, Penn has received more than $50 million in foreign funding, including more than $14 million in anonymous gifts from China and Hong Kong. That’s on top of the more than $60 million Penn received since the Biden Center launched in 2017.
Concurrently, the Biden Center became home to what some have called a “national-security-council-in-waiting.”
Biden’s secretary of state, Antony Blinken, was the center’s director from 2017 to 2019. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl and White House counselor Steven Ricchetti both served as managing directors. Biden appointed Amy Gutmann, former Penn president, his ambassador to Germany. And the list goes on.
It’s unknown how much of the Chinese donations made it to the Biden Center or what influence that money had. But there can be little doubt the Chinese Communist Party must find a lot to like about the Biden team’s decision-making.
Consider the Biden Department of Justice decision to end the “China Initiative” — a program the Trump administration launched to counter national-security threats China poses to the United States. Among other key revelations and outcomes, the initiative led to the arrest of Charles Lieber, the Harvard chemistry department chair whose work the CCP secretly funded and who is accused of academic espionage.
As the Defense of Freedom Institute has detailed, the Biden team also scaled back enforcement of the federal law that requires colleges and universities to report any foreign money or contract worth more than $250,000 to the Department of Education.
Despite being on the books for 50 years, this simple transparency requirement has often been ignored. Reviews of just 12 higher-ed institutions conducted while I was secretary revealed more than $6.5 billion in previously unreported foreign contribution
Biden knew China spy balloon was in US airspace for nearly a WEEK but kept it secret – fearing Blinken’s planned meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing would be derailed
Joe Biden was told about the balloon on January 28 but waited a week before acting
- Biden knew about the China’s spy balloon before it’s presence became public
- The president told about the existence on January 28 but he failed to act
- On Saturday, the balloon was finally shot down as it hovered over North Carolina
Republicans are expressing outrage at the Biden administration’s lack of transparency with the American public over the Chinese surveillance balloon that has been hovering over the US for days.
The existence of the inflatable drone was first confirmed on Thursday when it was reported by the Billings Gazette after it was spotted over Montana, home to one of the US military’s three nuclear missile silos.
A subsequent report from Bloomberg found that the president was made aware of the balloon, and its dangerous threat, days earlier on January 28.
The decision to keep the story quiet as officials were worried the hysteria caused by the balloon would derail Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s upcoming meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
On Saturday, the balloon was downed as it traversed across North Carolina. An operation was underway in US territorial waters in the Atlantic Ocean to recover debris from the balloon, which had been flying at about 60,000 feet and was estimated to be about the size of three school buses.
Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis told DailyMail.com ‘Communist China’s surveillance balloon violates international law and threatens our homeland. It’s an outrage that the Biden Administration spotted this balloon days ago as it was flying over the Aleutian Islands and did nothing about it.’
The recently reelected congresswoman added: ‘The president has not even made a comment about this unacceptable act of aggression by the CCP,
‘Whether it’s our border or air space, Congress must take action to protect it, because it’s clear this President won’t,’ she continued.
While the House Judiciary GOP Twitter account tweeted: ‘Joe Biden knew the Chinese spy balloon was coming. Tried to hide it from the American people. Let it fly across the ENTIRE COUNTRY.’
The message added: ‘And only after the entire country begged him to act, our great military shot it down. Embarrassing. Scary. Sad.’
The Federal Aviation Administration and Coast Guard worked to clear the airspace and water below the balloon as it reached the ocean.
Television footage showed a small explosion, followed by the balloon descending toward the water. U.S. military jets were seen flying in the vicinity and ships were deployed in the water to mount the recovery operation.
Officials were aiming to time the operation so they could recover as much of the debris as possible before it sinks into the ocean. The Pentagon had previously estimated that any debris field would be substantial.
The balloon was spotted Saturday morning over the Carolinas as it approached the coast.
In preparation for the operation, the FAA Administration temporarily closed airspace over the Carolina coastline, including the airports in Charleston and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Wilmington, North Carolina.
The FAA rerouted air traffic from the area and warned of delays as a result of the flight restrictions.