President Joe Biden’s attempt to shift blame for the Chinese spy balloon debacle to former President Donald Trump continued to fall apart Thursday as he proposed actions that had been presented under his watch nearly two years prior.
(Video: CBS News)
Following the initial spin that the military had delayed shooting down a Chinese spy balloon days after spotting it enter U.S. airspace for fear of causing harm to people on the ground, they were quick to take out three other objects without even knowing what they were.
Biden admitted as much during a Thursday press conference when he said, “We don’t yet know exactly what these three objects were. But nothing, nothing right now suggests they were related to China’s spy balloon program, or that they were surveillance vehicles from…any other country.”
While the president went on to rattle off steps he wanted his administration to take, he made no mention of the fact that much of his proposed action had already been introduced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in their June 2021 congressionally-mandated preliminary report that communicated the progress of the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force, established under Trump.
“The limited amount of high-quality reporting on unidentified aerial phenomena hampers our ability to draw firm conclusions about the nature or intent of UAP,” the report explained, while noting that between 2004 and 2021 only one of 144 UAPs had been successfully identified.
Congress reacted to the findings by ordering the Pentagon in November 2021 to create the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) meant to resolve that problem, but according to the latest from the ODNI in their 2022 Annual Report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, released January 12, 2023, just 16 days prior to the Chinese balloon being spotted near Alaska, “Limited data on UAP continues to be a challenge.”
Despite that, Biden boasted Thursday, “When I came into office, I instructed our intelligence community to take a broad look at the phenomenon of unidentified aerial objects,” after further admitting that roughly $1.6 million worth of sidewinder missiles were used to shoot down what may have been property of lawful American citizens.
“The intelligence community’s current assessment is that these three objects were most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation, or research institutions studying weather or conducting other scientific research,” the president said.
His four-step plan to prevent a repeat of this fiasco included two steps that had already been undertaken in establishing a “better inventory of unmanned airborne objects” and improving “our capacity to detect unmanned…objects in our airspace.”
From the time of the preliminary report in June 2021 to August 2022, the ODNI had accounted for 247 UAP sightings, up 58 percent from the total sightings between 2004 and 2021.
“[The UAP office] and ODNI assess that the observed increase in the UAP reporting rate is partially due to a better understanding of the possible threats that UAP may represent,” the new report said, “either as safety of flight hazards or as potential adversary collection platforms, and partially due to reduced stigma surrounding UAP reporting. This increased reporting allows more opportunities to apply rigorous analysis and resolve events.”
Biden’s next steps were to further regulate what American citizens were allowed to do and push closer to global governments as he described, “we’ll update the rules and regulations for launching and maintaining unmanned objects in the skies above the United States of America. And fourth, my Secretary of State will lead an effort to help establish a global…a common global norms in this largely unregulated space.”
Not wanting to let a crisis go to waste, 16 senators that included Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) used the present concern over UAPs to push for increased funding for the AARO, circling back to the purpose of the ODNI report mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022.
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