(CNSNews.com) – The Chinese spy balloon that traversed the continental United States — as the U.S. military, the Biden administration and American citizens watched it fly overhead — “was not a one-off,” former Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News on Thursday.
“This is a program that they have developed for a broad range of capabilities, not just surveillance, but there’s offensive capabilities. And the American people deserve to know that,” Pence said.
He added that the Biden administration did not discuss the balloon’s potential offensive capabilities because it might have exposed the administration to the question, “why in the world did you let this thing travel all the way across the continental United States before you shot it down?
“This thing should have been shot down as soon as it entered our airspace in Alaska,” Pence said.
“And I think the American people are owed a whole lot more answers than they got today,” Pence said, referring to President Biden’s belated remarks about the spy balloon.
Shortly before Pence spoke to Fox News on Thursday, President Biden tried to explain why three small, unidentified flying objects were shot down on his orders, after a much larger, known Chinese balloon was left alone until it reached the East Coast.
“We don’t yet know exactly what these three objects were,” Biden said. “But nothing — nothing right now suggests they were related to China’s spy balloon program or that they were surveillance vehicles from other — any other country.
“The intelligence community’s current assessment is that these three objects were most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation, or research institutions studying weather or conducting other scientific research,” the president said.
Biden said he’s directed his team to develop “sharper rules” for dealing with unidentified flying objects in the future — “distinguishing between those that are likely to pose safety and security risks that necessitate action and those that do not.
“But make no mistake, if any object presents a threat to the safety and security of the American people, I will take it down. I’ll be sharing with Congress these classified policy parameters when they’re completed, and they’ll remain classified so we don’t give our roadmap to our enemies to try to evade our defenses.”
Ignoring the Chinese spy balloon, Biden said, “As the events of the previous days have shown, we’ll always act to protect the interest of the American people and the security of the American people.” Yet — the spy balloon sailed freely.
Biden claimed, “We were able to protect sensitive sites against collection.”
Pence said the U.S. “had every right to shoot that thing down as soon as it was in the crosshairs” over Alaska. “We can defend America’s airspace. But, in this situation, the administration failed.”
Pence said he has no doubt that the Trump administration “would have taken swift and decisive action to defend the sovereignty of the airspace over the United States of America.”
“And that’s — I think that’s what’s mystifying to the American people today, is that we saw this thing come in over Alaska. We knew what it was. We knew it was a Chinese surveillance balloon. I guess we still don’t know what these smaller aircraft at lower altitudes were.
“But the fact that it was allowed to traverse the United States and correct its course to literally go over key strategic areas of our country is utterly unacceptable.
“And, frankly, for my part, I really believe that this administration ought to be sitting down with the Chinese very soon and looking them right in the eye and make it clear, this is never going to happen again.”
President Biden said on Thursday that the Chinese spy balloon “episode” shows “the importance of maintaining open lines of communication between our diplomats and our military professionals.
“Our diplomats will be engaging further, and I will remain in communication with President Xi,” he said, although there’s been no recent conversations between the two leaders that we know about.
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