NSC Spokesman John Kirby: Put Yourself in Biden’s Shoes

(CNSNews.com) – NSC Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby asked a reporter on Friday to put himself in President Biden’s shoes when asked whether the president now thinks the decision to shoot down three unidentified flying objects over the United States was an overreaction.

Meanwhile, an Illinois-based hobby club known as the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade said it believes one of the balloons shot down belonged to them. Their balloon is described as “a silver-coated, party-style ‘pico balloon’” whose last known position was at 38,910 ft. off the west coast of Alaska on Feb. 10. It’s valued at $12 to 180, Aviation Week reported on Thursday.

“Have you seen the story in Aviation Week that an Illinois hobby club feels like their balloon might have been a candidate for the balloon shot down? Any response to that? Because it’s a very particular location in the last set of data that they got?” a reporter asked.

Kirby said the administration couldn’t “confirm those reports are or what the remains of that balloon might end up being, and we haven’t recovered it, so it’s very difficult ‘til you can get your hands on something to be able to tell, and because of where it is over Lake Huron.”
“We all have to accept the possibility that we may not be able to recover it,” he said.

REPORTER: A quick follow-up on what the president said yesterday, he stood by it that it was out of an abundance of caution, but an anecdote like this, does it make any sort of reconsideration of perhaps this was an overreaction at any point over the past week?

KIRBY:  So I would ask you to just for a second put yourself in his shoes. Certainly in light of the Chinese spy balloon and what was a very real, certainly very sizeable and tangible security threat, surveillance threat, to the United States in the wake of that. So, the military fine tunes their radar parameters to see more, and of course they are finding more. 

When you have these three, and they are unidentified. They’re not responding to any kind of communication, so we don’t know who owns them or what the purpose is. 

You know, and they are flying in sovereign U.S. Air space and they are also at altitudes that could affect the safety of civilian air traffic and based on the flight path and the prevailing winds potentially moving over sensitive military sites, and the military leaders come to you and say Mr. President, we don’t know what these are. 

We are concerned about what they could be, and about where they could be going and what the purpose might be, and we recommend that you take these down in the safe, you know, in the interest of safety and security of the American people and out of abundance of caution and the president acted on that recommendation because he takes so seriously his responsibilities to protect this country, our secrets, our interests and our people.

So the short answer to your question is absolutely not. Given the situation we were in, the information available, the recommendation of our military commanders, it was exactly the right thing to do at exactly the right time. 

Now, going forward, and you heard the president talk about this yesterday, we are going to make sure we’ve got some new rules in place for how we make decisions in future circumstances. That doesn’t mean — it doesn’t mean, and you heard the president say this yesterday, it does not mean there won’t be additional shootdowns if he believes there’s a legitimate threat to our safety and security, but it does mean that we are going to put a new set of parameters on the decision-making process going forward. 


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