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- Marjorie Taylor Greene called on the Biden admin to shoot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon.
- The high-altitude balloon was spotted over Montana, home to several sensitive nuclear sites.
- US officials said they have not attempted to shoot it down over concerns of falling debris.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene called on President Joe Biden to shoot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon “immediately,” while suggesting that former President Donald Trump would have already done so.
In a tweet late Thursday, Greene wrote: “Biden should shoot down the Chinese spy balloon immediately.
“President Trump would have never tolerated this. President Trump would have never tolerated many things happening to America.”
—Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene🇺🇸 (@RepMTG) February 2, 2023
On Thursday evening it was reported that the US military was tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon, first spotted over Montana, which it believes with “very high confidence” to be of Chinese origin.
The US military scrambled F-22 Raptors and other aircraft, but has so far held off shooting it down.
The area in which it was spotted is home to several sensitive locations, such as Malmstrom Air Force Base, which hosts intercontinential ballistic missiles.
So-called spy balloons are capable of gathering high-resolution images and potentially even intercept radio and cellphone traffic.
Greene, who has promoted conspiracy theories dealing in QAnon, 9/11 “trutherism,” and a Jewish-backed “space laser” causing the 2018 California wildfires, was recently appointed to the House Homeland Security Committee.
In a Truth Social post, Trump appeared to agree with Greene, sharing a post by rightwing activist and conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec. Posobiec hinted, without evidence, at a more nefarious reason for not shooting the balloon down.
“The Pentagon said the quiet part out loud. The CCP [Chinese Communist party] can send spy balloons over our nuclear silos and we will do nothing. [Because] we are owned,” he wrote.
Neither addressed the reasoning given by a US defense official earlier that day, who said that the US had considered shooting the balloon down but felt there was too high a risk of debris falling on people and buildings below.
After scrambling the jets, “it was the judgment of our military commanders that we didn’t drive the risk down low enough, so we didn’t take the shot,” the official said. He added that the US was taking steps to prevent the collection of sensitive information.
The official said that in communications with the Chinese government the US had “made clear we will do whatever is necessary to protect our people and our homeland.”
The official also said that the situation was not unique — the US has tracked such balloons before under other administrations, he said, leaving open the possibility that this had also happened under the Trump administration.