Yuma Sun

Answers needed on strange objects over U.S. skies

- This editorial originally appeared in the Washington Post, and is reprinted here via the Associated Press. Read more online at https://www.washington­post.com/

The Washington Post on strange objects in the sky: When President Biden gave the order for a fighter jet to shoot down an unidentifi­ed aerial object over Lake Huron, aides said he did so out of an abundance of caution and on the recommenda­tion of military commanders, amid concern it was floating at altitudes that might jeopardize civilian aircraft. It’s the third such object downed over North America since the Chinese spy balloon that generated public outcry during its transconti­nental voyage was shot from the sky above the Atlantic Ocean the previous weekend.

Unlike China’s craft, the subsequent trio showed no signs of having propulsion systems and did not appear to target sensitive military sites. Authoritie­s say they really don’t know the origin or purpose of the three – but did tell people not to worry that they were sent by aliens.

That such reassuranc­e was deemed necessary was a sign of the panic that these objects have the potential to generate, and also of the imperative to get to the bottom of what is actually going on. As Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-mich.) put it: “We need the facts about where they are originatin­g from, what their purpose is, and why their frequency is increasing.”

The White House deserves credit for trying to be as transparen­t as possible about the most recent shootdowns, including candor about all the known unknowns. But to combat misinforma­tion, it’s vital that the current openness continues as investigat­ors are able to gather wreckage and, hopefully, discover answers to the many basic questions being asked. It is also worth noting that it is now believed Chinese spy balloons also made incursions into U.S. airspace during the Trump administra­tion, but that those went unreported – and possibly undetected.

The three objects that have been most recently shot down aren’t necessaril­y cause for alarm. Officials say one reason so many unidentifi­ed aerial vehicles are suddenly being identified is because the Pentagon has widened the aperture and search parameters.

The objects could turn out to belong to companies or universiti­es, for example. “One of the reasons that we think we’re seeing more is because we’re looking for more,” said National Security Council spokesman John Kirby. “Even though we had no indication­s that any of these three objects were surveillin­g, we couldn’t rule that out.”

Some are demanding a nationally televised presidenti­al address. That seems unnecessar­y at this juncture, unless it’s to reveal new facts.

But it also makes sense to develop a framework for how to approach future such incidents. On Monday, Mr. Biden directed an interagenc­y team, under the direction of the national security adviser, to study the broader policy implicatio­ns for detection, analysis and dispositio­n of unidentifi­ed aerial objects that pose either safety or security risks. This effort could provide important perspectiv­e. Not every balloon that appears in the sky over North America needs to be fired upon by a costly missile. It’s harder still to see the need for an even costlier balloon defense program, although military contractor­s will certainly try to pitch them to lawmakers. To best protect the American people, it’s important to approach these incursions clear-eyed, calmly and without partisan gamesmansh­ip.

 ?? CHAD FISH VIA AP ?? IN THIS PHOTO PROVIDED BY CHAD FISH, a large balloon drifts above the Atlantic Ocean, just off the coast of South Carolina, with a fighter jet and its contrail seen below it on Feb. 4.
CHAD FISH VIA AP IN THIS PHOTO PROVIDED BY CHAD FISH, a large balloon drifts above the Atlantic Ocean, just off the coast of South Carolina, with a fighter jet and its contrail seen below it on Feb. 4.

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