Marco Rubio and Mike Turner slam Biden over alleged Chinese spy balloon


On Sunday, top Republicans slammed the Biden administration for waiting to shoot down a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon until it was over the ocean, arguing a more aggressive response was needed in the face of an obvious Chinese provocation.

“It’s not just the ball,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told CNN. “That’s the message they’re trying to send to the world: ‘We can do whatever we want and America can’t stop us.'”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) Told CBS, “I think this whole episode telegraphed weakness to [President] Xi [Jinping] and the Chinese government.

House Republicans are also would have considered by passing a resolution on Tuesday criticizing President Biden’s actions in this episode, the day Biden delivers his annual State of the Union address. Resolutions are non-binding, mostly symbolic statements, often conveying a message from one party to another. This resolution could pass the House, where Republicans have a narrow majority.

An email seeking comment from House Republicans was not immediately returned Sunday afternoon.

The balloon – whose equipment was about the size of three large buses, according to US officials – was shot down on Saturday, once it moved off the coast of South Carolina, ending his eight-day journey.

A senior defense official said there have already been four known Chinese balloon incursions over the continental United States: one during the early Biden administration and three during the Trump administration.

US military shoots down Chinese balloon over Atlantic Ocean

Democrats defended Biden’s handling of the matter, noting that the ball was brought down without hurting Americans.

“The president has called for this to be handled in a way that balances all the different risks,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “That’s exactly what happened. The soldiers did a wonderful job.

Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, noted that the balloon was detected in late January and said he wanted to know, among other things, “why didn’t they act at that time?”

Timeline: The eight-day journey of a suspected Chinese spy balloon

Rubio also dismissed comparisons to previous episodes of Chinese planes illegally entering US airspace. “What’s unprecedented,” he told the network, “is a balloon flight that came in over Idaho, Montana, all these sensitive military installations: bases of the air force, ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile] fields, right in the middle of the country. This has never happened before.

An aircraft that “flew briefly over part of the United States, or the continental United States, is one thing. But what we have seen this week is unprecedented. He also called the response a “dereliction of duty”.

A US defense official said the balloon’s capabilities did not appear to be “superior” to those of Chinese satellites and other tools.

Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, called the Biden administration’s decision to wait to knock the ball down “a bit like tackling the quarterback after the end of the game”.

Turner told NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that the U.S. military should have shot down the balloon days earlier as it hovered over sparsely populated areas of Alaska. He accused the Biden administration of lacking sufficient urgency. And he called China’s decision to fly a balloon over the country a “crisis”.

“I believe they were trying to get information on how to defeat command and control of our nuclear weapons systems and our missile defense systems,” Turner said.

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Sen. Cory Booker (D.-NJ), who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the balloon was just one example of how China “is not respecting the rules of the world order “. But, Booker said, Biden’s handling of the ball situation was “very fair and very defensible.”

According to David Martin, national security correspondent for CBS News, letting the plane hover over parts of the United States may have given government officials time to figure out what the Chinese were looking for.

Martin noted that the United States had photographed the plane before shooting it down. “I think you have to assume that the United States got some intelligence value out of it,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. The US was “essentially watching China watching us”.

And retired Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told ABC’s “This Week” that shooting down the balloon while it was over the continental United States posed potential risks. for civilian life that were not justified.

“It’s very clear to me that the intelligence value of this from the perspective of what he was getting, was not worth the risk of killing an American in the field,” Mullen said. He added: “I know that’s why we’ve waited until this point to pull it.”

Mullen said that while it’s important to learn more about this episode, “Most importantly, we need to make sure we can move this relationship in the right direction.”

Todd C. Frankel and Akilah Johnson contributed reporting.


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