(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who is leading the probe into the Chinese spy balloon, told Fox News’ “Your World with Neil Cavuto” on Wednesday that what China did was “inappropriate,” and the United States needs to respond in a way that shows China that “we don’t stand for inappropriate behavior.”
“What I think is what the Chinese Communist Party did was unacceptable. The truth is, and I said this before, I would have shot it down over the Aleutians. There was an assessment made, and it ended up getting shot down over the– off the coast of South Carolina, but the bottom line is this. They invaded our airspace, our airspace. They invaded it. That is unacceptable,” he said.
“They say it’s a weather balloon. That is a bunch of baloney, and the bottom line is that you know, we have ICBMs in Montana. They’ve been a great deterrent since the 60s. We’ve got Malmstrom Air Force base, and If you take a look at the path that balloon took, there was nothing accidental about it,” Tester said.
“They were gathering information. I don’t know how much they got at this moment in time, but we’ll find out as time moves on. The fact is, it was inappropriate behavior, and we need to respond in a way that shows them we don’t stand for inappropriate behavior,” the senator said.
Tester said he got a heads up about the balloon, but he wishes it would have happened “a lot earlier” before it entered Montana’s airspace. He said it’s a “serious situation,” because there are “incredible deterrent assets in Montana in the ICBMs.”
“I’m also, chairman of the subcommittee that funds our military, which is another way by the way that we’ll get to the bottom of what happened and make sure we have a plan going forward to detect and then find out what potential problems this balloon may cause and then a way to bring it down that doesn’t cost us s $400,000 missile,” he said.
Tester said he “absolutely” worries that the U.S. military’s decision to recalibrate radar to detect smaller objects and shoot them down could get crazy, but he said he has “faith in our military to think before you pull the trigger.
“They’re gonna have an assessment. They probably already do. We just have to find out what it is. Senator Collins and myself will make sure that that assessment of protocol will be funded moving forward, but there’s no doubt about this, Neil. You absolutely have to think before you shoot. Otherwise, there will be collateral damages that you didn’t plan for,” he said.
When asked whether President Biden should address the nation about it, the senator said he hasn’t talked to the president about it, “but the bottom line is I don’t know what his plans are.”
“Maybe he’s waiting for additional information to come off the balloon that is not totally recovered but they’re well on their way to recovering off the coast of South Carolina and then make a presentation, but I do agree with you,” Tester said.
“At some point in time, the president needs to talk to the American people. There’s a lot of people that are very concerned. Freedom of privacy is a big issue in Montana and across this country. People are concerned. I think it would help allay the concerns,” he said.
When asked whether he’s worried that this could result in an economic war with China, Tester said, “Absolutely. I think there’s two really big concerns out there. These are the two biggest economies on Earth.
“We need to work together economically, because I think it’s important and then the two biggest militaries on Earth, and we need to work together and communicate particularly amongst our leadership so that mistakes, if they happen, people know they’re mistakes and not escalation,” the senator said.
“So look, China screwed up. We need to hold them accountable, but that doesn’t mean you quit talking. You continue to talk. You continue to exchange information, and where appropriate, you continue to trade,” he added.
The administration ruled out the theory that the unidentified flying objects that the military shot down are extraterrestrial.
When asked whether that was done to calm Americans down or if that is indeed the case, Tester said, “I don’t know. What I’ve been told is that the recovery of the three balloons that had been shot down last weekend is in progress, and they haven’t been recovered to the point of where identification could be made.
“Now that may have changed in the last 24 hours, but that was my last update. So do I think they’re extraterrestrial? No, I don’t think they are. I don’t know how you can say that,” the senator said.
“So this notion that UFOs, that kind of thing that goes back to the days of Harry Reid studying this and U.S. Air Force and other footage that you are familiar with. You don’t think that is the case here?” host Neil Cavuto asked.
“I don’t. I think they were balloons. They could have come from China. They could have come from somebody else. They could have come from somebody else domestically that put them up,” the senator said.
“I don’t think we know enough yet where we could make a conclusion, and might I say this, too, Neil, that I think it’s very dangerous if we suppose things before we know the facts. What the American people want is they want the facts, and I think that’s what’s really important. We need the facts. Then we need to tell the folks about what has transpired here,” Tester said.
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