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Tipsheet

Pentagon Gets Snarky When Asked Whether Americans Have a Right to Know More About the Spy Balloon

Screenshot via KSVI-TV

The Pentagon's press secretary, Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, held a briefing Friday afternoon but refused to provide much new information about U.S. knowledge regarding the Chinese spy balloon that was detected over Montana surveilling Malmstrom Air Force Base where ICBMs are maintained.

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Beginning his briefing by noting he was "not going to have much new information to provide," Ryder said that China's claim that the balloon is merely a "civilian airship" was false. Ryder reiterated that the identified flying object is "a surveillance balloon" that "violated U.S. airspace and violated international law." Ryder called these facts "unacceptable" but insisted that no action to bring the balloon down was imminent.


When asked who was in control of the balloon's movement and whether China remained able to direct its movement, Ryder said he was "not going to go into any specific intelligence we may have." However Ryder said at another point in the briefing that the Balloon had "changed course," confirming that the balloon could be steered — hence the ability for China to direct the balloon over Malmstrom AFB. Still, we don't know whether China is still controlling the balloon as it makes its way across the United States. 

Ryder would only confirm that the "balloon continues to move eastward" across the continental United States at "about 60,000 feet." When asked whether the location of the balloon was classified, Ryder refused to comment. He was pressed on the question and asked whether the public has a right to know where the balloon is. Ryder unhelpfully replied that the American people certainly have the ability to look up in the sky. 

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Ryder also had little-to-nothing to say about options to take the balloon down, refusing to answer whether the military would shoot it down once it's over a body of water. Citing "the size and payload" — reportedly larger than two school buses — and the potential for a large debris field that could impact citizens and cause property damage on the ground, Ryder argued that it's better to let the spy balloon that may or may not be actively steered by China continue its trip across the United States that expected to take a "few days."

To recap, the Biden administration won't tell Americans where the spy balloon is, if China is directing its path and controlling its instruments as it moves across the United States, or what information gathering capability the spy balloon's payload has. All we know is that China violated U.S. airspace and international law and the Biden administration doesn't have any plans to share other than watching China continue to violate our sovereignty.

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The message the Biden administration is sending to the American people is muddled at best, but the message he's sending to the Chinese Communist Party is that they can float spy balloons over our nuke silos and the United States won't do a thing. 


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