By: Denise Simon | Founders Code
The administration came out with several lies about the balloon and continued to claim it had limited value to the Chinese. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs additionally along with other military officials provided China with off-ramps stating the balloon had a glitch and went astray and further told the White House not to shoot it down due to the potential debris field. The Pentagon assessed that the balloon uncovering important information was not great. Even more terrifying is what China has planned with the intelligence gathered and what other rogue/enemy nations have access to.
A balloon flies in the sky over Billings, Montana, US, February 1, 2023, in this picture obtained from social media. (Chase Doak/via Reuters)
Now, on April 3, 2023, NBC has officially reported some truths:
The Chinese spy balloon that flew across the U.S. was able to gather intelligence from several sensitive American military sites, despite the Biden administration’s efforts to block it from doing so, according to two current senior U.S. officials and one former senior administration official.
China was able to control the balloon so it could make multiple passes over some of the sites (at times flying figure eight formations) and transmit the information it collected back to Beijing in real time, the three officials said. The intelligence China collected was mostly from electronic signals, which can be picked up from weapons systems or include communications from base personnel, rather than images, the officials said.
The three officials said China could have gathered much more intelligence from sensitive sites if not for the administration’s efforts to move around potential targets and obscure the balloon’s ability to pick up their electronic signals by stopping them from broadcasting or emitting signals.
The National Security Council referred NBC News to the Defense Department for comment. The Defense Department directed NBC News to comments from February in which senior officials said the balloon had “limited additive value” for intelligence collection by the Chinese government “over and above what [China] is likely able to collect through things like satellites in low earth orbit.”
China has said repeatedly that the balloon was an unmanned civilian airship that accidentally strayed off course, and that the U.S. overreacted by shooting it down. Officials have not said which company, department or organization the balloon belonged to, despite several requests for comment by NBC News.
After the balloon was shot down in February, Biden administration officials said it was capable of collecting signals intelligence.
The balloon had a self-destruct mechanism that could have been activated remotely by China, but the officials said it’s not clear if that didn’t happen because the mechanism malfunctioned or because China decided not to trigger it.
The balloon first entered U.S. airspace over Alaska on Jan. 28, according to the Biden administration, which said it was tracking it as it moved. Within the next four days, the balloon was flying over Montana — specifically Malmstrom Air Force Base, where the U.S. stores some of its nuclear assets.
The real damage assessment at this point cannot be measured but clearly, China spied successfully, and will heads roll? Nah…