Sunday, March 26, 2023

Why was the initial report on the Chinese balloon not sent as urgent to the US?

(CNN) — He told CNN that a day before the suspected Chinese spy balloon entered US airspace over Alaska, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) quietly sent an internal report that a foreign object was headed towards the area.

The report, also known as “Confidential”, was disseminated through classified channels accessible throughout the US government. But it was not designated as an urgent alert, and senior defense and intelligence officials who saw it were not immediately alarmed, according to the sources. Rather than treating it as an immediate threat, the US proceeded to investigate the object, seeing it as an opportunity to observe and gather intelligence.

It was not until the balloon entered Alaskan airspace on January 28, and then made a sharp turn to the south, that officials became convinced that it was on its way to cross the continental US. And his mission may be to spy on the country.

This previously unreported timeline of events helps explain why US defense officials refused to act before the balloon crossed US territory. The lack of urgency has become a sharp political flashpoint on Capitol Hill, as some Republicans have criticized the administration for not raising the alarm sooner.

“Our government knew that a Chinese military spy balloon was about to enter continental US airspace at least two days before it happened. However, they did not act to stop it.” Biden should tell Americans when they found out that the balloon was bursting [sic] He was on his way to America and explain why he was not taken into custody.”

Officials familiar with the DIA’s original report acknowledged Rubio’s point that they did not view the balloon as an immediate threat unless it was already over US territory, even though the country was not aware of it. New revelations emerge about what was known.

During a closed-door briefing on Tuesday, Senate staffers repeatedly pressed military officials to reveal who knew what. On Wednesday, Rubio and Sen. Roger Wicker, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent a letter to President Joe Biden’s top defense and intelligence officials about the administration’s decision-making before the balloon crossed Alaska’s airspace. The question was raised.

US officials tracking the balloon have recognized it as part of a well-known Chinese military-led aerial surveillance campaign, which officials say has flown dozens of missions around the world, CNN reported on Tuesday. including half a dozen near or within US airspace. An April 2022 military intelligence report, reported exclusively by CNN, revealed that the US had tracked previous flights with similar balloons.

A senior US official told CNN it got “strange” when the globe turned south. “We immediately started talking about tearing it down.”

fighter jets are flying

On January 28, when the balloon entered US airspace near Alaska, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, sent fighter jets to make a positive detection, marking a subtle change in urgency, according to defense officials.

Still, the officials tracking the balloon saw no reason to panic. At the time, according to US officials, the balloon was expected to fly over Alaska and continue on a northward trajectory that military and intelligence officials could track and study.

Instead, shortly after the balloon crossed land, it made an unexpected turn to the south, alerting the authorities.

On January 31, the balloon had left Canada and arrived over United States territory. And concerns that the balloon was apparently sent by Beijing to spy on the US mounted when NORAD observed the balloon “stray” over sensitive military installations, multiple sources familiar with the intelligence told CNN.

How much control China exercised over the trajectory of the balloon is a matter of debate. Although the balloon was equipped with propellers and a rudder that allowed it to turn “like a sailboat”, according to the senior US official, it largely drifted into the jet stream, one of the reasons officials wanted to determine its route. were able to predict. US in advance.

who knew what and when

It appears that senior administration officials were not informed of the balloon until on or about 28 January, when it landed in Alaskan airspace, including the ranking general of the United States, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley. had crossed.

According to senior administration officials, Biden was not informed until three days later, on January 31, when the balloon left Canada and entered the United States. Officials said at the time, Biden asked the military to “immediately” offer an alternative to shooting down the balloon.

Military officials said it was not surprising that the president was not briefed until January 31, given the expectations for the balloon at the time.

“Confidentials” sent out by the DIA also routinely make their way through government channels, and while US officials do have access to these reports, whether they read them or include those reports in briefings to top policymakers Whether included is a matter of discretion.

“Some of these places send out emails and then count on someone being tipped off,” the senior US official said.

unanswered questions

As information about the administration’s decision-making process continues to leak around the world, Congress is increasingly interested.

“There are still a lot of unanswered questions about Alaska,” a Senate Republican aide told CNN. “Alaska is still part of the United States. Why is it okay to cross to Alaska without telling anyone, but [el territorio continental de EE.UU.] difference?”

Some Republican lawmakers have raised sharp questions about why the Biden administration did not act to shoot down the balloon before it crossed into the US mainland, whereas it was in Alaska or earlier.

Military and intelligence officials who spoke to CNN said the balloon’s sinking to the south was not known until the balloon was already over Alaska. Previously, officials did not believe it posed a real risk to the US and, in fact, presented more of an intelligence-gathering opportunity.

NORAD Commander Gen. Glenn VanHerk told reporters on Monday, “Alaska had the awareness of the domain.” “Based on my assessment, this balloon did not pose a physical military threat to North America … and therefore could not warrant immediate action because it did not demonstrate hostile action or hostile intent.”

Once it was on American soil, officials argued that the benefits of gathering additional intelligence on the balloon outweighed the risk of shooting it down on the ground.

According to American officials, the US sent U-2 spy planes to follow the progress of the balloon.

A pilot took a cockpit selfie showing both the pilot and the surveillance balloon, these officials said, an image that has already attained legendary status at both NORAD and the Pentagon.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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