Greene Demands Answers on Trump-Era Spy Balloons

White House says flights weren't detected until after Trump left office
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2023 7:05 PM CST
Greene Demands Answers on Trump-Era Spy Balloons
The balloon floats over Billings, Mont., on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023.   (Larry Mayer/The Billings Gazette via AP)

Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green demanded answers Monday on what Donald Trump called "fake disinformation"—reports that Chinese spy balloons entered US airspace at least three times during his administration. "If it’s true the Pentagon purposely did NOT tell President Trump of Chinese Spy Balloons during his administration then we had a serious breach in command during the Trump admin," Greene tweeted, per the Hill. "The POTUS is the Commander in Chief. We must investigate and hold accountable those who broke rank." Officials at the Pentagon and the White House, however, said Monday that the balloon flights weren't detected until after Trump left office, the AP reports.

After Biden took office, the US "enhanced our surveillance of our territorial airspace, we enhanced our capacity to be able to detect things that the Trump administration was unable to detect," said White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. He said that with the improvements, officials were "able to go back and look at the historical patterns" and detect "multiple instances" when the surveillance balloons had crossed US territory during the Trump administration, as well as at least one previous instance during Biden's administration. Asked Monday why the balloon that was shot down Saturday had been sent, Biden said, "Because they're the Chinese.”

Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of US Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, blamed an "awareness gap" for the failure to detect the earlier balloons, CNN reports. "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 Monday. "And that's a domain awareness gap that we have to figure out, but I don't want to go into further detail." He said the US took "maximum precautions" to stop the balloon gathering information as it crossed the US, though he declined to provide specifics. (More spy balloon stories.)

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