A top Democratic Party senator reacted strongly to a report that a Chinese spy balloon that was allowed to travel across half of the country before President Joe Biden belatedly ordered it shot down had indeed transmitted sensitive intelligence back to Beijing as many had warned at the time.
On Monday, Senator Jon Tester of Montana blasted the Biden regime over the NBC News report which cited multiple senior US officials that the surveillance balloon was able to gather intelligence from a number of military sites and transmit the data back to the communist country in real time despite efforts to prevent it from doing so.
Tester, whose state was where the balloon was initially sighted, took to social media where he tweeted out a link to the NBC News bombshell and vowed to hold the Biden administration “accountable” for the incomprehensible national security breach.
“We knew all along that China’s invasion of our airspace was no accident. There’s nothing more important than keeping America safe, and I’ll keep holding the Biden Administration accountable to ensure Montanans’ freedom and privacy are protected,” the senator tweeted.
We knew all along that China's invasion of our airspace was no accident. There's nothing more important than keeping America safe, and I'll keep holding the Biden Administration accountable to ensure Montanans' freedom and privacy are protected.https://t.co/Qj3ppgitr8
— Senator Jon Tester (@SenatorTester) April 3, 2023
“China was able to control the balloon so it could make multiple passes over some of the sites (at times flying figure-eight formations) and transmit the information it collected back to Beijing in real time,” according to the three unnamed officials cited by the outlet. “The intelligence China collected was mostly from electronic signals, which can be picked up from weapons systems or include communications from base personnel, rather than images, the officials said.”
The presence of the balloon, which was first spotted in late January, was a major public relations problem for an administration that is obsessive about the management of public perception, and Biden was fiercely criticized for days until the aerial surveillance vehicle was blasted out of the deep blue sky by fighter jets off the South Carolina coast on February 4, but only after being allowed to meander over the U.S. for a week while the commander in chief inexplicably dithered.
Following the shootdown and after the administration and media flew into action to blame it all on former President Donald J. Trump, Biden was dismissive of the idea that the Chinese balloon’s flight was a significant breach of national security.
“The idea that a balloon could traverse… break American airspace is — anyway. It’s not a major breach,” the geriatric leader told Telemundo host Julio Vaqueiro in response to a question about the spy balloon.
Biden: “The idea that a balloon could traverse — break American airspace is — anyway, this is not a major breach.” pic.twitter.com/evpA40u7K2
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) February 10, 2023
The NBC News report would seem to shoot down Biden’s assertion and Senator Tester is one of the few Democrats willing to break from the party’s usual lockstep protection of its leader to ensure that it isn’t allowed to happen again.
The administration said it could not confirm the NBC report that the balloon had collected data in real-time and transmitted it back to the Chinese homeland.
“I could not confirm that there was real-time transmission from the balloon back to (China) at this time,” said Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh, “that’s something we’re analyzing right now.”
White House flack John Kirby told reporters that he could not confirm the NBC report and that the US limited the surveillance balloon’s “ability to be able to collect anything additive”.
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