A 20-year House Democrat is facing mockery and derision for comparing the Chinese Communist Party’s spy balloon to the surveillance blimps used by the Department of Homeland Security to monitor illegal alien activity.
“People are rightfully outraged by a Chinese surveillance balloon, but when @DHSgov puts up a surveillance blimp in Arizona border communities without community consultation,” Rep. Raul M. Grijalva tweeted Friday afternoon.
Grijalva has been in office since 2003.
View his tweet below:
People are rightfully outraged by a Chinese surveillance balloon, but when @DHSgov puts up a surveillance blimp in Arizona border communities without community consultation pic.twitter.com/nqnBSyY1WC
— Raul M. Grijalva (@RepRaulGrijalva) February 3, 2023
The tweet was posted after news emerged that a Chinese spy balloon had flown into the continental United States and was, at the time, hovering over Montana.
The tweet provoked an immediate flurry of mockery given the drastic differences between a foreign nation’s spy vessel and the United States surveillance tools.
Um… those two are not equivalent. Not morally equivalent. Not factually equivalent. Not legally equivalent. Not equivalent.
— Steve Sanders (@SteveSa17523796) February 3, 2023
You actually just floated a comparison of CCP and DHS?
DHS who is trying to track illegal activity on our border vs a CCP spy balloon floating over sensitive sites in the US?
— Free Man (@mschrammbo) February 3, 2023
So a balloon monitoring illegal entry into the country, including by potential drug smugglers and human traffickers, is the same as a foreign adversary spying on our military bases? Get a grip.
— Wiffleball Tony ⚾️ (@Cardinalfan9633) February 3, 2023
Not even a close comparison. A foreign government acting over or sovereign soil, which amounts to an act of war in some countries, versus monitoring our borders… sounds like 2 very different to me.
— Keith Baker (@kubota13_baker) February 3, 2023
If this is truly the stance you’re taking here, you definitely need to retire from being a member of the United States Congress. Vast difference here and you know it. Not even remotely close to being similar. ♂️
— buddy hall (@Hawgwild85) February 3, 2023
There is obviously a big difference sir and for you to be a representative and can’t determine the differences is quite astonishing. The difference sir, is that one of them is from our adversary China which is most likely Gathering data for God knows what reasons.
— David (@Davkfb1079) February 3, 2023
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has, for its part, claimed the incident is “completely an accident” caused by winds knocking the balloon off course.
“It reiterated claims that the balloon was for scientific research such as collecting weather data, and accused ‘some U.S. politicians and media’ of taking advantage of the situation to discredit China, which ‘firmly opposes this,'” The Washington Post reported.
However, unlike Grijalva, who evidently isn’t taking this matter seriously, the Biden administration appears to at least understand that DHS blimps/drones are not equivalent to a foreign country’s spy balloon.
Indeed, Secretary of State Antony Blinken had been slated to fly to China for a visit, but that visit has since been delayed thanks to this incident.
“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with Director of the CCP Central Foreign Affairs Office Wang Yi to convey that he will not be traveling to the People’s Republic of China at this time in light of the current presence of a high-altitude PRC surveillance balloon in U.S. airspace,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Friday.
“The Secretary relayed that he had planned to visit Beijing to follow up on the agenda agreed to by President Biden and President Xi in November in Bali. The Secretary noted the PRC’s statement of regret but conveyed that this is an irresponsible act and a clear violation of U.S. sovereignty and international law that undermined the purpose of the trip. The Secretary explained that in light of this ongoing issue, it would not be appropriate to visit Beijing at this time,” he added.
— Faytuks News Δ (@Faytuks) February 3, 2023
So kudos to the Biden administration for at least taking a sort of stand on this issue … versus, say, other issues.
Other issues like the border crisis.
“China watching our border more closely than the Biden Admin,” the National Border Patrol Council union facetiously tweeted Friday morning.
China watching our border more closely than the Biden Admin.
— Border Patrol Union – NBPC (@BPUnion) February 3, 2023
That being said, congressional Republicans wish the Biden administration would take a much fiercer stance by, as an example, shooting down the balloon. Or even letting Americans shoot it down themselves.
The administration has so far pushed back on this idea on the basis that it could be dangerous for the American people.
“[W]e do recognize that any potential debris field would be significant and potentially cause civilian injuries or deaths or significant property damage,” Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder warned reporters Friday.
But Republicans like Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke weren’t convinced.
“What the Pentagon has said was we didn’t want to shoot it down because of the chances of civilian casualties. This is a balloon that didn’t get here overnight. It was over the Aleutian chain, which is one of the most sparsely populated places on the planet,” Zinke told Fox News.
He added that, one, there’s “no doubt” the Pentagon could shoot down the balloon without harming any Americans, and two, his constituents in Montana would love to see the balloon be shot down out of the sky.
“In Montana, Petroleum County, for example… the least populated county in the lower 48, I guarantee you, the fine citizens of Petroleum County would enjoy having it shot down over their county, and probably there would be a line to shoot it down,” he said.
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