A member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee wasn’t satisfied by what he heard from senior Biden administration officials on Monday during a closed-door briefing on the Chinese spy balloon incident.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) characterized the briefing as “unspecific, insufficient and backward-looking,” according to Fox News Digital, further telling the outlet that officials didn’t provide evidence to back up weekend claims by Defense officials that three similar flights took place when former President Donald Trump was in office.
“What I took away from this briefing confirmed that this administration and not the previous one had plenty of advance warning of an escalating Chinese espionage program, failed to act, and has now humiliated this country on the world stage,” Issa told Fox News Digital.
The Pentagon informed the public on Thursday that a Chinese spy balloon had intruded US airspace, with officials noting that the device had first been detected five days earlier off the coast of Alaska.
The Biden administration allowed the balloon to continue on its voyage across the US mainland, only shooting it down Saturday off the coast of South Carolina.
Soon after the balloon was taken down by a US fighter jet, an anonymous senior defense official told reporters that similar Chinese balloons “transited the continental United States briefly at least three times during the prior administration and once that we know of at the beginning of this administration.”
The claim was vehemently denied by several former Trump administration officials, and by Trump himself.
On Monday, Air Force Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, the head of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, told reporters that his agency never detected the incursions.
“I will tell you that we did not detect those [previous] threats. And that’s a domain awareness gap that we have to figure out,” VanHerck said.
Later, VanHerck and NSC spokesman John Kirby clarified that US intelligence agencies had used “forensics” to identify the Chinese spy craft incursions only after President Biden took office in January 2021.
Kirby said the Biden administration would offer classified briefings to some senior Trump officials about the three balloons and how the intelligence community determined their existence so late.
Ric Grenell, the former acting national intelligence director under Trump, told The Post Monday that he wouldn’t accept any such briefing.
“They are scrambling to justify their lack of action,” Grenell told The Post. “If they believe a bureaucrat failed to notify politicals about a national security threat, then they should demand that the DOJ prosecute the individuals for treason — if the persons even exist.”