Biden addresses recently shot down objects in speech

President Joe Biden walks aboard Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on Thursday.
President Joe Biden walks aboard Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on Thursday. (Evan Vucic/AP)

President Joe Biden is now at the White House to speak on the U.S. military’s response to an unidentified high-altitude object in North American airspace in recent weeks after the U.S. military shot down a Chinese spy balloon.

Federal officials have said the Chinese surveillance balloon, which initially went down off the coast of South Carolina, was capable of conducting signals intelligence-gathering operations with a payload about the size of three busses. In contrast, follow-on objects that are not believed to be attributed to a specific country or entity are much smaller.

The US is also now increasingly convinced that the three objects shot down between Friday and Sunday were “benign” balloons.

A new agreement on how the U.S. will handle similar unidentified objects in the future is expected to be released this week.

Administration officials from the Pentagon, State Department and intelligence community briefed lawmakers on Capitol Hill in recent days about the original Chinese spy balloon.

Republicans on Capitol Hill criticized Biden for not approving the military to drop the first balloon quickly enough to sail east for a few days. They also called on him to speak on the matter.

But administration officials argued that the U.S. did not act sooner to shoot down the balloon, in part because of fears it would spark an escalation of military tensions with China. They also told lawmakers that the balloon was not shot down first when it entered Alaskan airspace because the cold and deep waters there made it unlikely they would recover the balloon.

Officials have been wary of letting the president speak publicly about the three unidentified objects that were shot down over the weekend until more information is gathered.

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