What’s internal China’s eye balloon? Ancient CIA director explains


Let me bring in John Brennan he's the former CIA director and of course an NBC News senior National Security and intelligence analyst I also got Richard Haas with US president of the Council on Foreign Relations and he's author of the book The Bill of obligations the 10 habits of good citizens John I want to start with you on the.

Sort of spycraft here China surveils us in a number of ways satellites uh through we think and fear through Tick Tock things like that what does a surveillance balloon like this get them that their other Technologies do not well Chuck I think it's unclear um the obviously this balloon is now.

Hovering 60 000 feet above U.S territory and I'm sure it has visual observation capability as well as technical collection capability and so it's a lot closer to the Earth um and although the Chinese have a pretty extensive satellite coverage United States it's not 24 7 on every inch of U.S territory so I guess the.

Question is whether or not there is going to be some type of additional intelligence that they can glean as a result of having this balloon it also could be that there's no intelligence value to this that they just are trying to see what the U.S reaction is going to be and to see whether or not uh the way we respond to it provides them some type.

Of framework that there are some disputed areas in East Asia that along near Taiwan and China both in terms of territorial Waters as and sea airspace and so I I do think it's been prudent so far for the administration to be closely monitoring this to acknowledge it to confront China directly to cancel.

Secretary blanken's trip but also not to take uh in rather you know impulsive action in terms of shooting it down uh and that's why I think what they're trying to do is make sure that China understands that this is unacceptable do you think it's a uh the issue of whether or not to shoot it down how important is it for the.

United States government to know what what that balloon was doing the reason I asked that question is it seems to me I assume the answer is it's pretty important and the only way to do that is we're gonna have to get our hands on this thing oh I'm sure this is probably the most intensive Target of intelligence.

Collection in quite some time uh and so I think a fair number of our intelligence assets are directed against it uh it's very clear as the Pentagon said this morning that they are confident that this is a surveillance balloon that the Chinese have control of it and that it has changed course and so I think they are collecting uh regularly.

On this uh so um you know whether or not they're ultimately going to shoot it down if they may decide to do that and looking at the various options there they don't want to endanger people or facilities on the ground but I I do think that every hour that goes by they're probably getting more intelligence both in terms.

Of in the air against that balloon as well as other intelligence assets that might give them some insight into what the Chinese really have in mind here and whether or not Xi Jinping himself was personally aware of this balloon flight prior to it I would think that the Chinese military would have raised this with him if it was an intentional.

Um a flight pattern but I guess anything is is possible um in terms of what the motivation and the the initiative was uh here John I know that there's some things you can't share about sources and methods of how spycraft is done in this country but I would like to ask in a general question are surveillance balloons an effective.

Tool anymore generally not because technology has advanced to such a degree I don't know the type of of sensors um and the rest of the payload on this balloon obviously the Chinese have very Advanced technologically might they have been able to develop some things to be able to to map the the technical the.

Cyber environment uh in the areas where some of our air bases and nuclear sites are who knows but again it's only 60 000 feet above the Earth which is a lot lower than even the lowest Chinese satellites so I mean and that's the part of this that I I guess it does seem as if that it's not 100 clear what they're up to.

And I guess it gets me to don't we need to know what's on that balloon before we start changing policy and and uh postmoding further meetings and I think that's what the U.S intelligence community and the US military is trying to do now trying to understand as much as possible about what's inside that balloon and I know.

That they can they can access some of that information from a distance uh would you like to get your hands on it absolutely but you can also acquire a lot of insight into its capabilities from afar and I'm sure that's what the U.S military and intelligence Community are doing right now Richard Haas this didn't happen in a vacuum and that's of.

Course why I think um we're all a bit tensed up today I mean I had you know flashbacks to to my childhood and the Cold War and Soviet tit for tats but I think about just the last let's just take the last 12 days bands on Tick Tock we've got um a general predicting War by 2025 military bases in the Philippines.

There's any number of things have taken place in the relationship between the United States and China where you could ascribe this balloon as per provocative act a responsive act Etc what's your sense of where we are and how how much of the Cold War uh flashbacks did you have today uh I'm on a different page here Chuck.

Let's talk about the context China has been on a decided charm effects offensive for several months they've clearly wanted to lower the temperature improve U.S Chinese relations Lincoln was about to be the first Secretary of State to meet with Xi Jinping in what six years or or so the idea that they would use this balloon intentionally to.

Be a provocation on the eve of this trip possible but I it's so inconsistent with everything that is going on of late if I were the Chinese thinking of provocations I would think something in Taiwan would be a much more obvious Place uh to do it this doesn't seem to me at all obvious indeed I I would raise fundamental questions of two things what.

Was the intentionality here yeah was it to fly this balloon at this altitude at this time and then the decision making all I'll say is it does not fit into the larger pattern of Chinese diplomacy of the last few months well and let's go further on that uh it's fascinating to me that the Chinese government has admitted it's theirs that's not.

Something that you would expect of uh them to do right away uh and you and they're not they're not being um belligerent uh in in dealing with this does that what does that tell you well that reinforces my doubts that the administration is reacting uh correctly I actually would have gone ahead with.

The blinking visit this is the most important critical relationship of this era of history there are genuine reasons to be extraordinarily concerned about the trends I begin with Taiwan also the South China City I've got any number of other uh issues that's why you have these trips the whole idea is to put a floor under under this relationship so I.

Just don't see why canceling the trip makes sense other again I've seen the speculation online about the domestic politics of it but again I just wouldn't assume clear either Authority behind this or intentionality uh there's enough history uh to look at including the Cuban Missile Crisis where things happen then that were not necessarily ordered.

At that point by the president of the United States this is why I think it's so important to actually find out what has actually been surveilled what that are they gathering before we do this but I I to go further um down this road if you're the child look at this from the Chinese perspective they if they.

Didn't know it they know now that the one thing that unites our politics these days is being tough on them oh absolutely and it's a rare area shall we say a bipartisan consensus you'd be hard-pressed to see fundamental differences between the Trump foreign policy toward China and the Biden Administration towards China but again.

China several months ago after you know given the covet problems after the 20th party Congress they have done a number of things sent a number of messages to lower the temperature in U.S China's relationship they wanted it as if they wanted to put off right any crisis or confrontation I think for several years so again I just think that we've got to.

Be very careful and what you pointed to the fact that the Chinese have reacted so quickly that's fundamentally different from what happened 20 years ago when we had the aircraft incident early on in the George W Bush's Administration the fact that they have not acted belligerently again they don't seem to be raising the stakes here this.

Uh just putting out there the possibility they are they do recognize that they made a mistake it was either a technology mistake or a decision-making mistake because this does not it's not consistent with the thrust of what we've seen coming out of business and do you expect them to make a another gesture to try to to try to make that clear.

It's quite possible I think now you're going to have back Channel talks to basically say what would it take to get the Secretary of State in Beijing and I would think there might be some kind of a statement some kind of an action the one thing you're not going to see or any more balloons uh anytime soon if ever John Brennan former head of the CIA.

Richard Haas uh head of the Council on Foreign Relations always a privilege to get the expertise of both of you thank you thanks for watching our YouTube channel follow today's top stories and breaking news by downloading the NBC News app

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3 thoughts on “What’s internal China’s eye balloon? Ancient CIA director explains

  1. The special espionage corps of the Communist Occasion of China has eroded the aviation rights of all international locations on the planet, the employ of dismal technology troops to manipulate and detect militia intelligence of all international locations on the planet? Within the US 🇺🇸… and other international locations… the employ of high-dawdle flying glance floats? CCP officers employ dismal technology to secure world intelligence! Utter all international locations on the planet (infringement of national aviation rights)? Which international locations bear the foresight to fight abet in opposition to this world convention and decree that does now not conform to the UN Safety Council's air rights rules (the Chinese dictator has violated the air rights of all international locations on the planet…?)

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