Former CIA Director John Brennan (left) does not support calls for the downing of a suspected Chinese spy balloon (right). AP/Reuters
Former CIA director John Brennan said he was “impulsive” to shoot down the alleged Chinese spy balloon.
Republicans, including Donald Trump, have called on Biden to kick the ball.
Brennan told NBC News that China may have sent the ball up to test the American response.
Former CIA Director John Brennan says it would be ‘impulsive’ to shoot down Chinese surveillance balloon flying over US – despite Republican calls for Biden to stop floating device .
While speaking with Chuck Todd on NBC News on Friday, Brennan – who served as spy chief under Presidents Obama and Trump – told the Meet the Press Now host that he believed officials had taken the appropriate measures so far.
“I think it’s been wise for the government so far to watch this closely, to acknowledge it, to confront China head-on, to cancel Minister Blinken’s trip, but also not to take the rather impulsive action of putting him down,” Brennan said. “I think they’re trying to get China to understand that’s unacceptable.”
A former Navy pilot previously told Insider’s Natalie Musumeci that launching such a balloon was no easy task.
China admitted on Friday that it had the balloon that flew over the country, but claimed it was a wayward “civilian airship” that was for “primarily meteorological” purposes, insiders previously reported.
The US Department of Defense said it was a spy balloon that would have flown over sensitive US sites to gather intelligence.
“This balloon is now hovering 60,000 feet above US territory. I’m sure he has both visual observation and technical collection skills,” Brennan said Friday. “Although the Chinese have quite extensive satellite coverage of the United States, it’s not 24/7 to every square inch of American territory. So I think the question is whether there will be some kind of additional information that they can gather or not through this balloon.
The balloon could also have been sent to China to test the American response, particularly the Biden administration, Brennan said.
“It also might not have any intelligence value. Let them try to see what the response from the United States will be and see whether or not the way we respond gives them a framework,” Brennan recommended. .
The former CIA director also asked if Chinese President Xi Jinping “was personally aware of this hot air balloon ride”.
“I think the Chinese military would have raised this with him if it was a deliberate flight plan,” Brennan said.
The balloon was spotted over North Carolina on Saturday afternoon, blown east by air currents.
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