Americans were lied to by the Biden administration, which falsely claimed the Chinese spy balloon did not pose a threat to national security and did not gather information about the U.S. military.
A new report confirms that the Chinese balloons were able to fly across the U.S. multiple times and successfully gather intelligence from several sensitive American military sites.
— New York Post (@nypost) April 3, 2023
The balloons primarily gathered electronic signals about our weapons systems as well as communications between personnel on the base. The balloons were not looking to gather images, which satellites can already capture.
The spy balloons sometimes flew using “figure eight formations” and actively transmitted the information it collected back to Beijing in real-time.
— Reuters (@Reuters) April 3, 2023
China even placed “self-destruct mechanisms” on the balloons so they could destroy them remotely from China.
Two current senior U.S. officials and one former senior administration official confirmed that China was able to control the balloon so it could make multiple passes over some of the sites.
— Daily Wire (@realDailyWire) April 3, 2023
More on this story via CNBC:
The three officials said China could have gathered much more intelligence from sensitive sites if not for the administration’s efforts to move around potential targets and obscure the balloon’s ability to pick up their electronic signals by stopping them from broadcasting or emitting signals.
The National Security Council referred NBC News to the Defense Department for comment. The Defense Department directed NBC News to comments from February in which senior officials said the balloon had “limited additive value” for intelligence collection by the Chinese government “over and above what [China] is likely able to collect through things like satellites in low earth orbit.”
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China has said repeatedly that the balloon was an unmanned civilian airship that accidentally strayed off course, and that the U.S. overreacted by shooting it down. Officials have not said which company, department or organization the balloon belonged to, despite several requests for comment by NBC News.
After the balloon was shot down in February, Biden administration officials said it was capable of collecting signals intelligence.
The balloon first entered U.S. airspace over Alaska on Jan. 28, according to the Biden administration, which said it was tracking it as it moved. Within the next four days, the balloon was flying over Montana — specifically Malmstrom Air Force Base, where the U.S. stores some of its nuclear assets.