Yes, Chinese Spy Balloons Flew Over The U.S. When President Trump Was In Office Too
Talking heads on cable TV are up in arms about the Chinese spy balloon that’s currently floating across the continental U.S., last spotted over North Carolina. Conservative commentators insist President Joe Biden should order the balloon shot down, and that such a thing never would’ve happened under President Donald Trump. But it did happen under Trump, according to several new reports.
The Chinese government claims the balloon, which was first spotted by civilians on Wednesday over Billings, Montana, is actually just a weather balloon that’s been blown off course. But the Pentagon says it’s definitely a surveillance balloon and China has the ability to maneuver the aircraft.
“I can nearly guarantee you that that balloon would not still be flying if we were still there,” Mike Pompeo, former Secretary of State under Trump, told Sean Hannity on Friday.
But is Pompeo telling the truth? The Pentagon was quick to point out on Thursday that this kind of thing has happened before, though it didn’t get into specifics.
“Instances of this kind of balloon activity have been observed previously over the past several years,” Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder said in a statement published online.
But several reports have been published in the past two days that give us a better sense of when spy balloons operated by New Cold War adversaries have sailed into U.S. airspace. Bloomberg News reported on Friday that Chinese balloons flew over the U.S. while President Trump occupied the White House.
“The balloon spotted this week over Montana was not the first time the U.S. has detected Chinese balloons over their territory—with previous incursions occurring during the Trump Administration,” Bloomberg reported.
But an unnamed source from the Trump administration insisted to Bloomberg in that same article that it wasn’t a big deal.
“One top national security official from the administration of former President Donald Trump said none of the Chinese spy balloons were near sensitive sites or had payloads as large as this one appears to carry,” Bloomberg continued.
And if you can’t trust an unnamed official who worked for Trump, who can you trust, right?
The Associated Press also has a new report that quotes a defense expert who said that Chinese spy balloons have been detected near sensitive sites in Hawaii, home to a large U.S. military presence, during the past five years.
“Craig Singleton, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said Chinese surveillance balloons have been sighted on numerous occasions over the past five years in different parts of the Pacific, including near sensitive U.S. military installations in Hawaii,” the Associated Press reported on Saturday.
President Biden has been in office for two years, leaving three years of Trump’s presidency in that window of five years.
The Wall Street Journal also independently reported that Chinese spy balloons have flown over the U.S. before, though didn’t specify the era.
“China has sent surveillance balloons over the continental U.S. on at least a handful of occasions, U.S. officials said,” the Journal reported on Friday.
And all of this still leaves open the possibility that other adversary aircraft have flown over the U.S. during the Trump years, aside from balloons. We still don’t know why swarms of drones were flying over Colorado and Nebraska in December 2019 and January 2020. If you’ll recall, President Trump was president at that time and we never got an answer to who was behind that.
Trump himself posted a video to Twitter yesterday, rambling about how the University of Pennsylvania might be compromised by Chinese spies, an accusation for which he provided no evidence. Trump, a known liar and continued threat to the safety and security of the United States, also called for a the U.S. government to shoot down the Chinese spy balloon.
Ignoring the incoherent ramblings of Trump for a moment, the Chinese spy balloon situation still leaves plenty of valid questions about what should be done. Pentagon officials reportedly considered shooting down the balloon, but didn’t want to have debris hit anything on the ground. But the U.S. is a very large place with plenty of farm land. It seems illogical that there’s not at least a stretch of land where the military could safely force the balloon down.
As things continue, it appears the U.S. military will most likely let the balloon float over the Atlantic Ocean before shooting it down and recovering the debris. And reasonable people can disagree on whether that kind of waiting game is the right course of action.
But the question of whether something similar would’ve happened under Trump appears to have been answered. It did.