The Pentagon has downed four objects over North American airspace in eight days, raising pressure on President Biden to publicly address the situation.
On Sunday, a U.S. fighter jet shot down an “unidentified object” over Lake Huron on orders from Biden. That followed the revelation by the White House on Friday that the Pentagon had downed an object over U.S. territory, seven days after the revelation of a Chinese surveillance balloon, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed on Saturday that the U.S. shot down a third object over his nation’s airspace.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on Sunday, after having been briefed by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan Saturday night, that the government believed those two objects shot down Friday and Saturday were balloons—but smaller balloons than the one that the Pentagon shot down off the coast of South Carolina on February 4.
As of Sunday night, there had been no indication from the White House that Biden plans to address the nation about the developments. However, one person familiar with the Administration’s deliberations told CNN that as of the weekend, U.S. officials were still trying to gain an understanding of what exactly those objects are, including their country or countries of origin, and whether they pose a serious concern.
The Administration, according to this source, does not want to risk putting Biden in front of the camera before he and his top officials had a better grasp of what to make of the objects that were shot down.
The revelation and downing of the first balloon exacerbated already strained diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China. Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed indefinitely a diplomatic visit to China last weekend. And on February 7, China refused to take a call from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, which had been meant to ratchet down the tensions. China had stated the U.S. had not created “the proper atmosphere for dialogue” at this time.
On Friday the Biden Administration put restrictions on six Chinese companies that helped build that original balloon.
Meanwhile, Schumer claimed on Sunday that he believed the Chinese had been “humiliated” by the flying objects saga.
“! think the Chinese were caught lying. And I think it’s a real step back for them, yes. I think they’re probably going to have to get rid of it or do something, because they look really bad,” the Senator said.