Pros and cons of spy balloons


  • They’re cheap
  • They’re maneuverable
  • They’re hard to detect by radar
  • They can loiter over a surveillance target
  • They don’t have predictable flight paths like satellites
  • It can intercept short-range radio transmissions and cellphones


  • They’re more obtrusive (and intrusive) than satellites
  • They’re easy to shoot down

China acknowledged the balloon (photo, right) is theirs, but claimed it’s a private-company research balloon gathering meteorological data that flew “far off course” (and, it happens, directly over Montana ICBM sites).

That’s hogwash, the Pentagon says (read story here); but after extensive military and national intelligence consultations, advised the White House against shooting it down, because of explosion and falling debris risks, and because they concluded it’s not collecting useful intelligence (read that story here).

Instead, U.S. officials canceled a high-level diplomatic trip to Beijing, and are engaging in public hand-wringing about foreigners violating our airspace (which we never did to other countries by flying U-2s and SR-71s above their land masses snapping photos of military installations).

In the realm of politics, it gives Republicans another thing to complain about. The trouble with accusing Biden of being soft on China is the decision to leave the balloon alone was recommended by the Pentagon and NSA after carefully studying the issue, and all Biden did was accept their experts’ recommendations.

Do you really want people running our country who don’t analyze issues, listen to experts, but just react knee-jerk to everything that happens?

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