How Biden Decided To Shoot Chinese ‘Spy’ Balloon Down


China said the balloon took off and accidentally. Entered US airspace, adding that it “regrets” the incident. And that the balloon was intended for climate research.
Stargazing is not uncommon in Montana, where the sky is forever. But when Chase Doak looked up on a cold winter’s day after leaving work on Wednesday. He saw a mysterious round white object that was clearly neither the moon nor a star.
He began to film something that could have come straight. Out of a movie where science fiction meets the Wild West. Within 48 hours the strange thing. That had been perplexing Billings residents was revealed. To be a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon.

How Biden Decided To Shoot Chinese 'Spy' Balloon Down

“Not going to lie,” Doak tweeted as his video went viral. “First, I thought it was a #ufo. Then, I thought it was @elonmusk in a Wizard of Oz cosplay scenario. But it’s just a run-of-the-mill Chinese spy balloon!”

Its journey across the ocean drew world attention. And forced the top US diplomat to cancel a visit to Beijing. Leaving the two superpowers scrambling for ways to ease tensions. A US military jet shot the balloon out of the sky on Saturday afternoon.

This account of how the balloon burst in diplomacy. Just as Secretary of State Anthony Blinken traveled. To China to meet with President Xi Jinping is based on conversations. With many officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

As it turns out, US authorities were well aware. Of the unidentified object that entered American airspace on January 28. Which passed over northern Idaho on Tuesday and re-entered. But with such a high-profile trip at stake, keeping it low-key was key.

By the time the thing became visible in Montana, President Joe Biden had already been briefed. And the White House was scrambling to decide whether to blast it out of the sky.

The gravity of the situation is only compounded. By Montana being home to Malmstrom Air Force Base. Which houses a large part of the United States’ Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The Biden administration knew it had to be especially. Cautious in a heated political environment ahead of the 2024 election. With Republicans agitating over. Which party might strike a harder or harder line on China.

As the balloon hovered over the Big Sky State on Wednesday. Biden bound for a detailed briefing with his national security team. The president argued for shooting down the object. But was urged against doing so by his most senior military advisers.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs. Of Staff Chairman Mark A. Milley stressed. That such a move would put civilians at risk.

Catch the guards off

The president finally decided to let the balloon go on its way. As the US sought answers from the Chinese embassy in Washington. But they struggled to get a satisfactory response. US officials said they were confused by China. Which itself seemed offended by the bizarre incident.

For now, the White House has decided not to inform the American public. Events, yet, soon forced Biden’s hand.

On Thursday afternoon, the Billings Gazette. A local Montana paper, published a photo of the balloon. Meaning it was only a matter of time until the national media picked up. On the report and the Biden administration would have to face the question.

Negotiations at the White House have accelerated.

On Thursday, the administration finally went public in a call. That began at 5:15 p.m. It drew a crowd to brief lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The Biden administration will hold a briefing next week for the “Gang of Eight.” A group of lawmakers including the chairs. And ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

Republicans screamed

In an attempt to keep the situation calm, administration. Officials stressed that this was not the first such incident. And that similar activities had been observed for the past several years. Including during the previous administration.

The Pentagon’s announcement sparked outrage from Republicans. Former President Donald Trump posted. On his Truth Social website to “shoot the balloon.” Others, from former Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene. Framed Biden’s decision not to release the balloon as a sign of weakness.

The bigger question was how China would respond to all the anger that was rising at a rapid pace as Asia fell asleep.

After urging the US to refrain from “hyping” the incident. China finally commented directly. On the balloon in a statement Friday morning Washington time, calling. It a “force majeure” for which it was not responsible.

China said the balloon took off and accidentally entered US airspace, adding. That it “regrets” the incident and that the balloon was intended for climate research.

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