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Department of Defense officials declined to rule out the possibility that objects recently shot down over the United States could have extraterrestrial origins.
"I haven't ruled anything out," General Glen VanHerck said in an off-camera briefing after an F-16 fighter jet shot down an unidentified flying object over Lake Huron on Sunday — the third such object shot down in as many days.
Gen. VanHerck was responding to a question posed by Helene Cooper, a Pentagon correspondent with the New York Times.
"Have you ruled out aliens or extraterrestrials? And if so, why? Because that is what everyone is asking us right now," Cooper asked.
"I'll let the intel community and the counterintelligence community figure that out," the general answered. "At this point, we continue to assess every threat or potential threats unknown that approaches North America with an attempt to identify it."
Melissa Dalton, assistant secretary of defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs, began the briefing by assuring listeners that U.S. officials "aim to be transparent about our military operations."
"Because we have not yet been able to definitively assess what these recent objects are, we have acted out of an abundance of caution to protect our security and interests," she said.
Dalton explained that since the military took down a Chinese balloon off the coast of South Carolina on February 4, officials had been "more closely scrutinizing our air space at these altitudes, including enhancing our radar."
She added that this radar enhancement and ramped-up scrutiny could partially explain the increase in objects detected over the past several days.
U.S. fighter jets took down the most recent object over Lake Huron on the day of the Department of Defense briefing, Super Bowl Sunday. Jets also successfully used missiles to shoot down unidentified flying objects over Alaska and Canada on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a temporary flight restriction Saturday at 3:20 local time over Harve, Montana, only to lift the TFR about an hour later.
Initially chalked up to a "radar anomaly," the object spotted over Montana on Saturday is reportedly the same object a U.S. F-16 shot down over Lake Huron on Sunday.
One congressman, Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.), shared more pointed comments. Rosendale suggested Biden administration officials can't be expected to "know the difference between a spy balloon and a cloud" since they "can't tell the difference between a man and a woman."
\u201cIf the Biden administration can\u2019t tell the difference between a man and a woman, how can we expect them to know the difference between a spy balloon, and a cloud?\u201d— Matt Rosendale (@Matt Rosendale) 1676226969
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