Republican lawmakers are accusing China of deliberately surveilling sensitive U.S. military sites with a suspected spy balloon. And they say the Biden administration has given Beijing an intelligence opening by not downing the balloon during its high-altitude drift through American airspace. Democrats are defending Biden and they note that there were similar incursions while Donald Trump was president. But the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee says “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.” A missile from an F-22 fighter jet downed the balloon on Saturday off the South Carolina coast.
Eyes were locked on the Carolina skies Saturday as the suspected Chinese spy balloon drifted over the Atlantic Ocean and was shot down by U.S. military fighters. In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina people lined a boardwalk and cheered as a missile from an F-22 fighter struck the balloon and it plummeted into the water. Software engineer and storm chaser Brian Branch captured photographs of the balloon high above western North Carolina just hours before it was shot down. Branch could see a payload hanging from the round, white balloon, which officials said was about the size of three school buses. China said it was a weather balloon.