The Chinese spy balloon is still making news and capturing the attention of Americans even though the U.S. military shot it down Saturday off the South Carolina coast. Its cross-country trip raises many questions about what it might have captured and why the Biden administration allowed it to travel five days before responding.
The Pentagon claims Chinese spy balloons have flown over U.S. territory at least three other times including during the Trump administration, a claim former top advisors tell CBN News they were not aware of.
"I never knew about it," said Mike Pompeo, who served as both CIA Director and Secretary of State during the Trump Administration. Pompeo believes if this happened, he would've been told.
"I hope it's not the case that the military knew and didn't tell its political leadership, but I can certainly say that I know of no one in the administration at the political senior level that was aware of such action taking place on our watch," declared Pompeo on Monday's 700 Club. "We wouldn't have allowed it to happen for five days."
China insists the flyover was an accident involving what it called a "civilian unmanned airship".
But that wasn't true. The incident is shedding light on China's spy program as U.S. officials have revealed that the 200-foot-tall balloon had propellers and a rudder, as well as a self-destruct system.
A special unit inside the Chinese military controls the spy balloons. Reportedly they've sent them over more than 40 nations, apparently avoiding detection until afterwards.
Pompeo says it's clear China has been lying about its spy balloon. "They are liars, they are lying about this, this was certainly an effort to collect against important information that America doesn't want in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party," he said. "I cannot figure out for the life of me why the Biden administration chose to allow this to traverse Alaska, down through the United States, across significant military installations here in the homeland they'll have to explain that to the American people."
President Biden says he ordered U.S. officials to take action before it passed through Wyoming, Kansas, Missouri, and the Carolinas. He says national security leaders did not follow his presidential order, deciding instead to wait until it was over water because of safety concerns.
"I ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down, on Wednesday, as soon as possible," said Biden. "They decided, without doing damage to anyone on the ground, they decided that the best time to do that was when they got over water."
After an F-22 fighter shot down the balloon, Navy divers, the Coast Guard, and U.S. ships spread out to search a 7-mile area off South Carolina's coast for remnants of the suspected intelligence payload that officials believe may have collected data.
Republican lawmakers have criticized the Biden administration's handling of the situation.
"What is driving the international policy when we have a country that has clearly made such an intentional incursion into America's sovereign space and we have an administration that has done nothing about it until it was too late?" questioned Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-WY).
"The fact that he did not shoot it down and deal with it immediately upon entry to the United States tells every other adversary, every country around the world that President Joe Biden will not protect the borders of our country, will not protect the airspace of our country, and that you can do whatever you like and that's the worst message we can be sending right now," Rep. August Pfluger (R-TX) told CBN News.
The Pentagon claims that waiting to shoot the balloon down allowed them to collect intel on what it was actually doing and what capabilities it has, and they believe the future will prove the wait was worth it.