House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) has been calling for heightened protection of American airspace since the military shot down the Chinese spy balloon that slowly crossed the nation on February 4. McCaul said the incident “did a lot of damage” by gathering intelligence on sensitive national security areas.
During an appearance, last weekend on CBS News’s “Face the Nation,” the Texas Republican revealed that the Biden administration’s decision not to preemptively take down the balloon allowed China to gather intelligence on three nuclear sites, including the North American Strategic Command and U.S. B-2 bomber placement.
"Parts [were] made in America that were put on a spy balloon from China," Rep Michael McCaul says.
"I don't think the American people accept that." https://t.co/KYRt1wlvt9
— NEWSMAX (@NEWSMAX) February 14, 2023
While the Biden administration said it mitigated the balloon’s intelligence-gathering capabilities, McCaul argued that the flight pattern tells a story about what the Chinese were up to as they controlled the aircraft throughout the country. Moreover, he said a balloon can see more on the ground than a satellite.
McCaul discussed the likelihood that China sent the spy balloon to gather intelligence data and assess U.S. military capabilities if China decides to invade the neighboring island nation Taiwan. He also vowed to take steps in Congress to stop the export of technology to China that goes into that country’s most advanced weapon and surveillance systems. He said protecting American technology will be a top priority of the Foreign Affairs Committee in this Congress.
In addition to the spy balloon taken down off of the South Carolina coast, the U.S. military has shot down more unidentified objects over American and Canadian airspace in recent days. However, it remains unclear whether those objects were balloons or where they originated.
McCaul’s assessment of the spy balloon’s effectiveness contradicts that of defense and intelligence officials who claimed that the U.S. limited the information China could have gathered from the balloon.
The balloon and unidentified flying object incidents this month have sparked criticism from several other Republicans, who have accused President Joe Biden of being too soft on China. McCaul’s statements, in particular, have drawn attention to the vulnerability of sensitive national security sites and the need for the U.S. military to strengthen its security measures to protect defense and domestic production infrastructure from foreign threats.