Chinese spy balloon incident followed secret report to Congress on danger of foreign spying
Photo by Vishwas Katti on Unsplash

The Chinese spy balloon shot down today by the U.S. military had “generated deep concern” in Congress because of a classified report on aerial surveillance that was sent to it last month by intelligence agencies, the New York Times reported today.

“The (report) discussed at least two incidents of a rival power conducting aerial surveillance with what appeared to be unknown cutting-edge technology, according to U.S. officials,” the Times reported. “While the report did not attribute the incidents to any country, two American officials familiar with the research said the surveillance probably was conducted by China.”

The balloon was shot down by the U.S. military off the Carolina coast Saturday afternoon, as reported by Raw Story. The Biden Administration had decided to leave it in flight until it was over water to minimize the risk of debris plummeting to the ground.

The New York Times account provided new context about what had preceded the arrival of the spy balloon.

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“The report on what the intelligence agencies call unidentified aerial phenomena focused on several incidents believed to be surveillance,” the Times noted. “Some of those incidents have involved balloons, while others have involved quadcopter drones.

“The Chinese government said on Friday the Chinese balloon discovered over the United States was mainly for weather research. However, American officials said they have assessed it to be a collection device, though not one that could gather the kind of sensitive information that advanced Chinese reconnaissance satellites already collect.”

It was not surprising that the Chinese spy balloon set off an especially strong reaction in Congress, according to the Times report.

“The surveillance balloon stirred outrage on Capitol Hill. Some officials said the information about adversarial spying contained in the classified report on unidentified aerial phenomena had already driven up concern earlier. Both Republicans and Democrats hawkish on China called the surveillance balloon a violation of American sovereignty that highlighted the threat from Beijing.”

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