A top military commander admitted Monday there had been a "domain awareness gap" during the Trump administration, allowing three Chinese spy balloons to gather intelligence on the U.S. undetected.
"Every day as a NORAD commander, it's my responsibility to detect threats to North America. I will tell you that we did not detect those threats," said Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command.
"And that's a domain awareness gap that we have to figure out, but I don’t want to go into further detail," he added.
What is the background?
The shocking disclosure comes after an unnamed senior defense official claimed on Saturday that three Chinese "government surveillance balloons transited the continental United States briefly" under former President Donald Trump's watch.
Democrats immediately used the allegation to defend President Joe Biden from criticism stemming from his response to the spy balloon recently seen in American air space and subsequently criticize Trump.
But a score of senior Trump administration officials, those who led the national security apparatus, quickly pushed back on the allegation and publicly disputed it. None of them had recollection of any such event occurring under Trump.
Gen. VanHerck confirmed what the Wall Street Journal and Fox News reported earlier — that Chinese spy balloons did cross over the U.S., but they somehow went undetected.
Unfortunately, it's not clear exactly who told the media about the Chinese spy balloon incursions under Trump only to mislead reporters by conveniently omitting the fact that the incursions were not discovered until after Trump left office. The Washington Free Beacon noted the identity of the "senior defense official" could help inform the public "whether the Pentagon is also helping Biden combat the public relations crisis over the balloon."
The Pentagon, however, refused to identify the "senior defense official" because Saturday's media briefing was conducted on "background" and thus was not officially on the record.
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