On the president’s orders, U.S. fighter jets shot down the alleged Chinese “spy” balloon that breached our nation’s air space just days ago on Saturday, effectively putting an end to the GOP narrative that President Biden is soft on China.
The country’s commander-in-chief told reporters what they wanted and needed to hear when asked how the U.S. intends to respond to the Beijing affiliated inflated aircraft that breached airspace.
“We’re gonna take care of it,” President Biden said Saturday morning. “I told them to shoot it down.”
“Wednesday when I was briefed on the ballon, I ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down on Wednesday as soon as possible. They decided, without doing damage to anyone on they ground, they decided that the best time to do that was as it got over water within a 12-mile limit,” Biden explained.
The national security maneuver took place at roughly 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time off the coast of North and South Carolina – with a single missile from an F-22 Raptor.
Residents who witnessed the balloon’s demise posted videos of the incident on social media.
Just shot at it! View from my house in Myrtle. pic.twitter.com/85EZ3EDbYq
— Ashlyn Preaux for SC 61 (@ashlynforsc) February 4, 2023
Almost immediately after the intelligence-gathering aerial device was spotted over the state of Montana, right-wing media and pundits took to social media and other conservative outlets to criticize the Biden Administration while pushing conspiracy theories and Republican talking points at the same time.
The President’s reluctance to choose brawn over brains was ultimately successful.
Biden says he told Pentagon to shoot down #ChineseSpyBalloon on Wednesday, " I told them to shoot it down…On Wednesday. They said to me, let's wait until the safest play to do it. " pic.twitter.com/1Sy6iQ0ess
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) February 4, 2023
Despite assertions from the Chinese government that the aircraft’s purpose was innocent in nature, Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled his highly anticipated and historic trip to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to meet with his Chinese counterpart while the U.S. continues to investigate whether the breach was related to a more covert operation.
It was to be the first visit since Secretary Blinken’s Trump administration predecessor, Mike Pompeo, made the trip in 2018.
“They successfully took it down, and I want to compliment our aviators who did it, and we’ll have more to report on this a little later,” Blinken told reporters after landing in Hagerstown, Maryland.
The Biden Administration proceeded with caution, over concerns that falling debris could potentially harm unsuspecting citizens.
After the balloon was previously spotted hovering over Canada before drifting into the U.S.’s airspace, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmed that the decision to down the aircraft was an agreed-upon consensus between the North American neighbors.
“Today’s deliberate and lawful action demonstrates that President Biden and his national security team will always put the safety and security of the American people first while responding effectively to the PRC’s unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” Secretary Austin said.
Chinese officials maintain the balloon was not a device meant for espionage, but the Department of Defense has studied the aircraft and its intelligence-collecting capabilities and came to a different conclusion.
In a security precaution, the FAA ordered airspace closed, and grounded airports in North and South Carolina prior to the balloon being shot down.
The United States Navy and Coast Guard were on hand to collect debris that was scattered across seven miles.
Surveillance equipment attached to the balloon is reported to be the size of two or three school buses, but what data it may have collected remains to be seen.
The Pentagon confirmed the mission was a success, saying, “The balloon, which was being used by the People’s Republic of China in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States, was brought down above US territorial waters.”
“They successfully took it down it down and I want to compliment our aviators who did it,” President Biden said en route to Camp David.
This is a developing story.
Original reporting by CBS News.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick