The skies above the United States are becoming a little more crowded. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has requested a briefing from the Gang of Eight after government officials reported that a suspected Chinese spy balloon is hovering over the continental United States. This alarming news is a sign of China’s brazen disregard for U.S. sovereignty and a destabilizing action that demands an immediate response from President Biden.
The Gang of Eight is a group of eight congressional leaders from both the House and Senate who are briefed on classified matters by the executive branch. This includes the House chair and ranking member on the Intelligence Committee, Senate chair and ranking member on the Intelligence Committee, Speaker of the House, House Minority Leader, along with the majority and minority leaders in the Senate.
The Pentagon has confirmed the presence of the balloon and said that it is currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground. A senior defense official has stated that the U.S. government is “confident” that the surveillance balloon belongs to the People’s Republic of China.
The U.S. government has considered bringing the plane down with military assets, but decided against doing so because of the risks associated. President Biden was briefed on the situation and asked for military options. The U.S. government has also taken measures to protect against the collection of sensitive information.
The Chinese spy balloon discovery comes as the U.S. and Philippines have reached an agreement to increase military presence on the islands amid escalating tensions between China and Taiwan. The U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin held a meeting with senior Department of Defense leadership and it was decided not to take military action due to “the risk to safety and security of people on the ground from the possible debris field.”
The presence of a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the continental United States is a concerning development that demands an immediate response from the Biden Administration. The U.S. government must take action to protect against the collection of sensitive information and provide a response that will ensure the safety and security of people on the ground.