President Joe Biden on Thursday downplayed the threat posed by the Chinese spy balloon that floated across continental America last week. In an interview with Noticias Telemundo, Biden claimed the spy balloon was not a significant breach while likening the incident to other countries’ intelligence-gathering attempts.
“It’s not a major breach. Look, the total amount of intelligence gathering that’s going on by every country around the world is overwhelming,” Biden said during the interview.
Biden, however, maintained that China sending the balloon over the U.S. airspace violates international law and that the U.S. could do whatever it wanted with the balloon once it entered U.S. airspace.
Biden made the comments after the State Department reported that the balloon had intelligence-gathering equipment and was equipped with antennas capable of collecting communications signals.
Republicans have criticized Biden’s handling of the Chinese spy balloon after his administration failed to take down the balloon the moment it crossed into U.S. airspace. Biden’s administration claimed it did not take down the balloon immediately but chose to wait until it got over the South Carolina coast because it did not want Americans harmed by the falling debris.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) rejected the excuse while expressing doubts about the administration’s claims that there was no way the balloon could have been shut down safely before it got to the coast of South Carolina.
“By the administration’s logic we would allow the Chinese to fly surveillance balloons over the Pentagon or other sensitive sites and populated areas,” Collins said.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) slammed Biden for letting China off the hook. Jordan added that former Presidents Donald Trump, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan would never have let China fly a spy balloon over U.S. airspace.
Would Trump have let China fly a spy balloon over our country?
No, no, no, and no.
So why’s Biden letting China off the hook?
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) February 3, 2023
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) maintained that the Biden administration’s response to the balloon “reeks of indecision and weakness.”
Everything about the Biden admin's response to the Chinese spy balloon reeks of indecision and weakness. They can't decide whether to shoot it down or not. They can't decide whether to go to China or not. 1/x
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 3, 2023
“They can’t decide whether to shoot it down or not. They can’t decide whether to go to China or not,” Cruz said in a tweet.