It is suspected that Chinese spy balloon debris has been sighted along the coast of South Carolina, and police are asking residents if they have seen anything else peculiar.
Residents in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina were reminded not to touch debris and to report it to the police immediately using a non-emergency number. Officials warn some of the wreckage may slip through the cracks in the search for the downed balloon being worked on by the Coast Guard and the Navy.
Upon recovering debris from the area, FBI analysts will analyze it at Quantico.
Despite growing criticism that Biden allowed a Chinese spy balloon to traverse the entire nation before finally taking action, there seemed to have been a coordinated effort to rescue him. The Pentagon even commented by claiming it took steps to prevent Beijing from gathering more intelligence by taking “mitigation steps.”
There was a lot of talk about how the president was thoughtful and strategic and that his actions provided a better chance of capturing Chinese technology — the spy balloon was sunk off the coast of the East Coast — but Leon Panetta didn’t seem to get the message, as he appeared on CNN Newsroom on Sunday and criticized Biden for not taking action sooner.
While Jim Acosta pointed out that Panetta served as the CIA director, Secretary of Defense, and Chief of Staff under President Obama, he also propped up Biden by asking whether it would make “some sense from an intelligence-gathering standpoint to let it drift for a while and let it get out over the ocean where it can be brought down without really any potential for danger below.”
“There are going to be lessons from all of this with regards to this kind of spy balloon if it is, in fact, a spy balloon,” Panetta answered. “If it was that, and if we were aware of the balloon, I think we should have taken steps to prevent it from entering our airspace, and I’m not sure that we should have allowed it to simply cross over the country, cross over what were obviously sensitive military sites. I don’t see the logic of that.”
“So, the question obviously is, the Pentagon said that there were risks here. I understand that argument, that there were debris risks. At the same time, I think we should have acted earlier if our suspicions were valid that this was, in fact, on an intelligence mission,” he added. “I hope in the future we make clear to China that this kind of incident cannot happen again and it will not happen again, and in the future, if we see that kind of balloon, we are going to — if they don’t take action to prevent that balloon from entering our airspace, that we will indeed shoot it down much earlier than we did this time around.”
As Acosta sought to explain his guest’s position, he asked, “And I think if I have you straight, you’re saying that you think this should have been shot down perhaps over Montana, something like that, maybe over a sparsely populated area, that sort of thing, before it crossed over the entire — almost the entire continental U.S.?”
“Yes, that bothered me, that it was allowed to transverse the entire country. For that reason, I think it probably would have been well for the president to have been transparent with the country about what was happening here,” Panetta explained. “When they initially found that the balloon was there, when they considered it to be an intelligence-gathering balloon, and frankly, when the president made the decision to shoot it down, if he made the decision on Wednesday to shoot it down, I think that should have been made public. It would have prevented some of the criticism that occurred later. The American people, I think, are entitled to know just exactly what our adversaries are up to. So, I think greater transparency would have helped the White House as well.”
“The U.S. military had put several vessels from the Navy and Coast Guard on alert prior to shooting down the balloon. Recovery efforts began later Saturday and continued throughout Sunday, with divers facing few obstacles aside from cold water temperatures, Fox News reported.
Navy and Coast Guard ships arrived to the site where the balloon hit the water on Saturday before establishing a perimeter around the area. Pentagon officials say the recovery effort is expected to be relatively easy thanks to the shallow depth of just under 50 feet, but it could still take days.
There was a public notice this weekend from North Myrtle Beach Police regarding the spy balloon.
“Please be advised we are aware of the destruction of the balloon that was over the ocean near our City. Pieces of this balloon are being collected by the US military however it is possible some of those pieces may wash ashore. Any stray pieces are expected in the NC area but could wash ashore in NMB. If a piece is located please contact your local law enforcement agency for collection.”
“Debris should not be touched, moved, or removed. Such items are part of a federal investigation and tampering with them could interfere with that investigation,” the dept. continued.