• March 25, 2023

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The U.S. Navy released the first official photos of the Chinese spy balloon being recovered from the Atlantic Ocean after it was shot down Saturday afternoon. And it’s an interesting peek at how the military has gone about wrangling such an enormous aircraft.

Previous photos released by the U.S. Coast Guard didn’t show the balloon actually being recovered. And it’s a big aircraft, as you can see from the remains being fished out of the Atlantic. The balloon was up to 200 feet tall, which CBS News points out is taller than the Statue of Liberty, which is roughly 151 feet.

The Pentagon made the decision to shoot down the balloon on Saturday only after it had traversed from Alaska into Canada, then through the continental United States by way of Montana to South Carolina. The balloon was over the Atlantic Ocean when it was finally shot down.

The U.S. military also published a new transcript on Tuesday from a phone call with reporters about the balloon on Saturday. The call is described as being “on background” meaning it wasn’t for official attribution to any U.S. defense official, which is a funny way to do a briefing for reporters when you wind up publishing a word-for-word transcript anyway.


The transcript does provide some new context on the thinking behind not shooting the balloon down earlier, straight from the horse’s mouth as it were.

“Ultimately our military commanders recommended that while we had a shot window to take it down over Montana, we just didn’t feel like we could buy down the risk enough over land. So the president was comfortable with us taking the balloon down if we could avoid undue risk to civilians. And so we worked up an option to take it out over the water. And that’s what we did this afternoon,” an unnamed defense official said on the briefing call with reporters on Saturday.

The fight over whether or not waiting was the right call will surely continue, as many talking heads on Fox News keep insisting that President Biden was showing weakness by not blasting the balloon out of the sky earlier. Some commentators even insist President Donald Trump never would’ve allowed such a thing to happen on his watch. Except that it did.

Spy balloons flew near California, Virginia, Guam, Hawaii, Texas and Florida while President Trump was in office. There were even balloons spotted over sensitive military equipment and aircraft carriers in Virginia and California, according to Bloomberg News.

So much for that theory.


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