The Senate will receive a classified intelligence briefing Feb. 15 from the Pentagon on threats posed by China after the military shot down a spy balloon deployed by the communist nation, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Sunday.
Speaking at a press conference in his home state of New York, the Democrat described Republican criticism of President Biden’s delay in shooting down the surveillance device as premature and political.
“We sent a clear message to China that this is unacceptable. We protected civilians. We gained more intel while protecting our own sensitive information. The bottom line here is that shooting down the balloon over water wasn’t just the safest option, but it was the one that maximized our intel gain,” Mr. Schumer said. “Republican critics were breathless, political and premature. President Biden and his team were calm, calculating and effective.”
Republicans have questioned why Mr. Biden waited until the balloon was in open water off the South Carolina coast rather than downing it when it was first discovered in U.S. airspace in Alaska.
The balloon traveled across the country, with its path passing over several sensitive military sites, prompting national security concerns.
The Department of Defense said it was worried that shooting down the balloon over land could lead to debris hitting humans and damaging property.
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The briefing will present lawmakers an opportunity to press Pentagon officials about their course of action.
“While I haven’t received the briefing yet, the parameters usually involve where we stand with respect to China on everything from surveillance capabilities, research and development, advanced weapons systems, and other critical platforms that would allow for either side to have an upper hand in a conflict,” Mr. Schumer said. “This will be a useful and bipartisan briefing.”