The story of the Chinese spy balloon never seems to go away. Every time China gets up to its latest suspicious activity, someone (sometimes me) will come along and say, ‘Don’t forget about the spy balloon and how Joe Biden let it fly all the way over our country.‘ Well, perhaps the White House and the Pentagon are getting tired of hearing about it. They trotted out General Mark Milley for a Sunday morning appearance on CBS, probably as part of his retirement tour, and he was willing to comment on the incident. But what he said really didn’t seem to fit with the conflicting narratives we’ve heard about the balloon ever since it splashed into the Atlantic off of our coast. He believes that the balloon never collected any intelligence data and it was simply “blown off course” mistakenly and innocently. I’m pretty sure that’s what the Chinese tried to claim at the time also. (CBS News)
Now, seven months later, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tells “CBS News Sunday Morning” the balloon wasn’t spying. “The intelligence community, their assessment – and it’s a high-confidence assessment – [is] that there was no intelligence collection by that balloon,” he said.
So, why was it over the United States? There are various theories, with at least one leading theory that it was blown off-track.
he balloon had been headed toward Hawaii, but the winds at 60,000 feet apparently took over. “Those winds are very high,” Milley said. “The particular motor on that aircraft can’t go against those winds at that altitude.”
Milley was asked, “So it was a spy balloon, but it wasn’t spying?” In response, he said he would characterize it as “a spy balloon that we know with high degree of certainty got no intelligence, and didn’t transmit any intelligence back to China.”
When it comes to that balloon, it doesn’t matter whether you’re being told things by Washington or Beijing. You should be immediately suspicious because the story has changed so often. As you may recall, right up until the day before it was shot down, China was insisting that it was “a civilian airship intended for scientific research.” On February 9, a “senior State Department official” told CNN that the FBI had determined that the balloon was capable of “conducting signals intelligence collection operations.”
They also suggested at that time that we had “blocked” the craft from sending any information back to China, without suggesting how that was even possible. Later that same day, the phrasing was changed to say that the balloon had “stopped transmitting.” By February 18th, the Pentagon claimed that we were finished collecting all of the debris and the craft had multiple antennas and had been collecting data.
And now we have Mark Milley coming out and telling us that it collected no intelligence and didn’t transmit any intelligence back to China. Who exactly are we supposed to believe here? If he’s correct, then how did we get it so wrong for most of the year? And if this is a cover story to try to make all of this go away in the press, couldn’t they have come up with something less disconnected from their previous stories?
This is what happens when an administration leads us to the point where confidence in our government, our military, our intelligence agencies, and even senior law enforcement at the DoJ drops into the gutter. Frankly, I see no reason to believe what Milley is saying. But I leave you to decide for yourselves.
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