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- GOP House Intel Chair Mike Turner said the Biden admin “lacks urgency” following the balloon incident.
- The Chinese surveillance balloon “completed its mission” in observing US military sites, Turner said.
- Defense Department officials recommended against downing the balloon until it was over the Atlantic Ocean.
House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Turner criticized the Biden administration for lacking “urgency” in addressing the Chinese surveillance balloon.
The balloon, which spent five days drifting over the US and Canada at 60,000 feet, was shot down on Saturday over the Atlantic by an F-22 Raptor. US military officials have been recruited to recover and analyze the debris.
On Sunday’s “Meet the Press” on NBC News, GOP Rep. Turner expressed skepticism at President Joe Biden’s response to the international incident.
“Clearly, the president taking it down over the Atlantic is sort of like tackling the quarterback after the game is over,” Turner said. “The satellite had completed its mission. It should never have been allowed to enter the United States, and it never should have been allowed to complete its mission.”
Turner added: “If you asked somebody to draw an X at every place where our sensitive missile defense sites, our nuclear weapons infrastructure, our nuclear weapons sites are, you would put them all along this path. Clearly, this was an attempt by China to gather information to defeat our command and control of our sensitive missile offensive nuclear weapons sites. And that certainly is an urgency that this administration does not recognize.”
—Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) February 5, 2023
US officials previously said the balloon did not pose a great threat in terms of physical danger or intelligence it could gather.
Turner joins a legion of Republicans blaming Biden for the balloon gaining access to US airspace and remaining there for several days. Several have called Biden’s response slow, suggesting that his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, wouldn’t have allowed it to happen, Insider’s Lloyd Lee previously reported. Three Chinese surveillance balloons were found over the US during the Trump administration, according to the Associated Press.
Senior officials at the Defense Department recommended against downing the balloon over the mainland due to the risk of falling debris injuring people on the ground, according to a DOD briefing on Thursday. The day before, Biden requested officials shoot down the balloon “as soon as possible.”
“The president allowed this to go across our most sensitive sites and wasn’t even going to tell the American public. If you hadn’t broken this story, the American public would not have even known. There was no attempt to notify Congress, no attempt to put together the Gang of Eight,” Turner said, referring to senior congressional leadership. “I think this administration lacks urgency.”