The Macomb Daily

U.S. defends decision to down unidentifi­ed objects

- By Eric Tucker

The White House on Monday defended the shootdowns of three unidentifi­ed objects in as many days even as it acknowledg­ed that officials had no indication the objects were intended for surveillan­ce in the same manner as the high-altitude Chinese balloon that traversed American airspace earlier this month.

The three objects, including one shot down Sunday over Lake Huron, were traveling at such a low altitude as to pose a risk to civilian air traffic, said White House national security spokesman John Kirby. While the Biden administra­tion does not yet have evidence that they were equipped for spying purposes — or even belonged to China — officials have not ruled that out, he said.

“These were decisions based purely and simply on what was in the best interests of the American people,” Kirby said.

The weeks-long succession of objects, starting with a giant white orb first detected over U.S. skies in late January, has puzzled American officials and captivated curiosity around the world. Though the three most recent objects differed in size, maneuverab­ility and other characteri­stics from the surveillan­ce balloon shot down Feb. 4 off the Carolina coast, officials moved to eliminate each one from the sky — actions that Pentagon officials believe has no peacetime precedent.

“Because we have not been able to definitive­ly assess what these most recent objects are, we acted out of an abundance of caution,” Kirby said.

One possibilit­y that the U.S. has been able to rule out, officials said Monday, is any connection to extraterre­strial activity.

Other Western nations are also trying to assess the spate of incidents. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Monday that the government would do “whatever it takes” to protect the country, as the U.K. announced a security review. And Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said “there is some sort of pattern” to the balloon and three other objects, though the U.S. has not echoed that claim.

Kirby spoke from the White House podium hours after China alleged that more than 10 U.S. high-altitude balloons have flown in its airspace during the past year without its permission. American officials have vigorously denied the claim, with Kirby saying Monday, “We are not flying surveillan­ce balloons over China.”

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