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Unidentified objects are likely owned by private businesses, Biden claims

By Sarah May
|
February 19, 2023

After what felt to many as a suspicious extended silence on the matter, President Joe Biden Thursday finally addressed the American public on the issue of the mysterious objects recently shot down by the United States military, saying that they most likely did not originate from China, as Fox News reports.

“These three objects were most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation or research institutions studying weather or conducting other scientific research,” Biden said.

Biden addresses “objects” controversy

Amid growing criticism over his absence on the topic, Biden at long last offered some information on the three objects shot out of the sky in the span of three days earlier this month.

Biden indicated that the intelligence community is still in the process of assessing the three mysterious objects, adding, “We don't yet know what these three objects were, but nothing right now suggests they were related to China's spy balloon program or that they were surveillance vehicles from any other country.”

Biden added, “These three objects were most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation or research institutions studying weather or conducting other scientific research.”

Explaining the decisions he made regarding the objects, the president continued, “I gave the order to take down these three objects due to hazards to civilian and commercial air traffic, and because we could not rule out the surveillance risk of sensitive facilities.”

Radar tweaks to blame?

While the seeming uptick in object sightings and the recent shootdowns have caused concern and speculation among the American people, Biden attempted to tamp down any sense of alarm by distinguishing the last three incidents from that of the Chinese spy balloon, which the military took down over the waters near South Carolina after it traversed the continent for nearly a week.

“We're now just seeing more of them, partially because the steps we've taken to increase our radars, narrow our radars, and we have to keep adapting our approach to delay, to dealing with these challenges,” the president said.

“That's why I've directed my team to come back to me with sharper rules for how we will deal with these unidentified objects moving forward, distinguishing, distinguishing between those that are likely to pose safety and security risks that necessitate action, and those that do not,” Biden added.

The president then struck a defiant stance about his approach to future incidents, saying, “But make no mistake, if any object presents a threat to the safety security of American people, I will take it down.”

Mockery ensues

Reports emerged this week that one of the objects the military shot down – and which Biden himself suggested were not related to foreign surveillance – may have been a hobby balloon sent into the air by a group called the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade, which noted that one of its $12 balloons went missing at roughly the same time that Biden ordered a mystery object taken down over Canadian territory, as the New York Post reported.

As a result, the president's critics responded with a mix of bemused mockery and outrage, with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) saying, “To be fair, Biden is providing powerful deterrence for any high school science clubs that might try to invade America.”

Former Congressman Peter Meijer of Michigan also lambasted Biden over the affair, saying, “RIP to the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade's ~$80 ham radio transmitter balloon, likely the victim of friendly fire by a $143,000,000 USAF F-22 firing a $485,000 AIM-9X Sidewinder missile during the Great Balloon Panic of 2023.”

Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA observed, “Biden let an actual Chinese spy balloon cross 2,000 miles of American airspace untouched. Now he fakes being tough by shooting down a $12 science project from (I kid you not) 'Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade.'”

China: Biden response “hysterical”

Biden's handling of both the spy balloon incident as well as the subsequent object sightings and shootdowns also drew derision from China, with Communist Party outlets in Beijing declaring the response to be indicative of America's weakness, according to Fox News.

“The Joe Biden administration's handling of the Chinese balloon case last week was meant to showcase the United States' strategic strength amid fierce attacks by Republicans and the low approval ratings of U.S. official,” a op-ed piece in CCP mouthpiece China Daily said.

“But instead, it has shown to the world how immature and irresponsible – indeed hysterical – the U.S. has been in dealing with the case,” the outlet added.

Adding insult to injury, a column appearing in the CCP-controlled Global Times stated, “The U.S. did make a strong case that the F-22 is invincible, when its enemy are balloons,” continuing, “[i]s U.S. strong or weak? It looks pretty damn tough in the face of balloons, civilian airships, and other innocuous objects,” rounding out the condemnation Biden seems to be facing from all corners on what has been a most problematic couple of weeks for his administration.