Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Saturday that the United States shouldn’t be “hyperventilating” over a Chinese spy balloon.
“I think the bigger issue here … is, you know, we don’t expend too much crisis energy, if you will, on hyperventilating over an air balloon,” Clapper told CNN host Fredricka Whitfield while dealing with a phone that rang during his appearance. “When you think about the crisis spectrum, the invasion of Taiwan or, God forbid, a nuclear confrontation, so I think we need to sort of put this in perspective.” (RELATED: ‘This Is Really Egregious’: Former Trump Nat Sec Official Slams Biden Admin’s Inaction On Chinese Spy Balloon)
The Department of Defense (DOD) announced Thursday that it had tracked the Chinese balloon as it crossed over Montana. The balloon drifted across Montana and is now over North Carolina, according to footage aired on CNN.
Republicans criticized the Biden administration over its handling of the spy balloon, with Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana calling the incident “a tremendous embarrassment” while Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke, a former Secretary of the Interior in the Trump administration, said the balloon should be shot down.
“I think the administration’s response has been measured, I understand the outcry for this affront to our sovereignty and all of that, but satellites are going by every day and collecting, and I think the issue is how high is sovereignty,” Clapper said.
“I’ve had some personal experience with using balloons for intelligence, and they are inefficient and difficult to use because of what’s happened to the Chinese, and that is, controlling them,” Clapper added later.
Clapper has been accused of lying to Congress about the NSA’s mass surveillance program during March 2013 testimony that was later contradicted by classified documents provided to journalists by Edward Snowden two months later. Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee released a report in 2017 saying Clapper provided “inconsistent testimony” regarding contacts with the media.
The Chinese claimed the balloon, which drifted near Air Force bases that house intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and B-2A Spirit stealth bombers, was a civilian meteorological research platform that drifted off course.
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