A top Biden administration spokesperson used the Chinese spy balloon scandal on Monday to take a shot at former President Donald Trump.
John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council, told reporters that when President Joe Biden came into office, he tasked the intelligence community with conducting "a broad assessment of Chinese intelligence capabilities" to ensure the U.S. is properly defending itself from those threats.
That's when Kirby appeared to take a shot at "the previous administration."
"We were able to determine that China has a high-altitude balloon program for intelligence collection that's connected to the People’s Liberation Army," Kirby said.
"It was operating during the previous administration, but they did not detect it," he added. "We detected it. We tracked it."
It's true that multiple Chinese spy balloons transited parts of the U.S. under Trump's watch. These alarming incidents, however, were only discovered after Trump left office. Apparently, no one in the government detected these balloons when they operated.
That balloons had crossed parts of the U.S. under Trump became a significant talking point just as Biden was taking heat for not preemptively downing the Chinese spy balloon. Instead, Biden allowed it to cross over sensitive sites critical to national security.
However, when the Pentagon first revealed the ballon incidents under Trump, the "senior defense official" who disclosed the flights omitted that no one in the government knew about them when they happened, but had only recently learned about them. It remains unclear how the balloons went undetected or how the government subsequently learned about them.
Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, took credit for the security lapse and described the security failure as a "domain awareness gap."
"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," VanHerck said. "And that's a domain awareness gap that we have to figure out."
Thus, while Kirby put his partisan spin onto the problem to boost Biden, what VanHerck made clear is the entire government, regardless of its partisan leaders, missed the balloons. Those same career national security and military officials who missed them, then, are probably the same ones who uncovered them now.
02/13/23: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierrewww.youtube.com
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