The Chinese surveillance balloon that traveled across the United States this past week before being shot down Saturday off the coast of the Carolinas should have been taken out before it entered the country, House Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner said Sunday.
"This should never have been allowed to enter the United States and it never should have been allowed to complete its mission," the Ohio Republican said in an interview on NBC News' "Meet the Press." "The president taking it down over the Atlantic is sort of like tackling the quarterback after the game is over."
President Joe Biden said Saturday that he ordered the Pentagon to bring down the balloon Wednesday after he was briefed about it, but the Pentagon opted to shoot down the Chinese aircraft when it was over water to avoid damage to property or injuring people.
However, Turner said the reaction to the balloon shows the lack of urgency when it comes to threats from China, and commented that there was no attempt to notify Congress or the Gang of Eight leaders concerning the balloon.
The balloon came into U.S. airspace on Jan. 28 north of Alaska's Aleutian Islands before heading into Canadian airspace on Monday, according to senior defense officials. It then reentered U.S. airspace Tuesday in northern Idaho and floated above several areas in the continental United States, including nuclear silos in Montana, before it was finally taken down Saturday in the U.S. territorial waters off the South Carolina coast.
"If you ask somebody to draw an 'X' at every place where our sensitive missile defense sites, our nuclear weapons infrastructure, our nuclear weapon sites are, you would put them all along this path," Turner told NBC. "Clearly, this was an attempt by China to gather information, to defeat our command and control of our sensitive missile defense and nuclear weapon sites; and that certainly is an urgency that this administration does not recognize."
The congressman further disagreed with the administration's stance that China had nothing to gain by sending the balloon across the United States.
"This was quite a risk by China, quite a calculation that they would take a balloon, put it up in China, take it across the United States where it's clearly going to be discoverable by us," he said. "They clearly had some information that they were trying to garner, that they can't garner from space, that they did not have otherwise."
Turner further pointed out that the key issue is not just that there was a balloon, but that it had a payload attached to it that was the size of three buses.
"It was being commanded and controlled by mainland China, and delivering data and information back to mainland China," he said. "I believe that they were trying to gain information on how to defeat the command and control of our nuclear weapon systems and our missile defense systems. That's a crisis. That certainly should've had an urgency to the president, and not just wait until this gets to the Atlantic to take it down."
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.