The US commander-in-chief “ordered” the Pentagon to shoot down the suspected Chinese surveillance device days ago
© AP / Patrick Semansky
President Joe Biden has said that he gave his authorization to shoot down a Chinese high altitude balloon a day after he was first briefed on the suspicious device hovering over “sensitive” US military sites, but his defense officials convinced him to wait until it was “safe” for people on the ground.
“I ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down on Wednesday as soon as possible,” Biden told reporters on Saturday. “They decided, without doing any damage to people on the ground… they decided that the best time to do that was when it got over water outside within a 12 mile limit.”
Biden was first briefed on the situation on Tuesday, according to his press secretary’s statement earlier in the day. When pressed on whether he had given any explicit orders and who recommended him to wait, the US leader reiterated that he “told them to shoot it down… on Wednesday.”
President Biden: "When I was briefed on the balloon, I ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down on Wednesday as soon as possible. They decided without doing damage to anyone on the ground […] they said to me let’s wait for the safest place to do it." https://t.co/TpagFSpIoxpic.twitter.com/GmPAgOEePZ
— The Hill (@thehill) February 4, 2023
The US administration came under heavy criticism from Biden’s detractors for allowing the foreign craft to breach the US airspace, and seemingly sitting idly while it flew over multiple “sensitive” military locations.