Former Trump administration Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Friday on CNN’s “The Lead” that the United States has to defend its sovereignty which means protecting our airspace, while discussing the military shooting down a high-altitude object over Alaska earlier today.
Esper said, “Who would think we’d have another unidentified object, if you will, flying throughout our airspace? I think it’s good that the administration reacted quickly and shot it down. But I’m curious to find out more about it.”
He continued, “I know everybody wants to jump and assume it’s a Chinese balloon. Last week’s balloon came from the southwest. This one came from the north, so I think we should withhold judgment about how it got there. It may be just a weather balloon. So it will be very curious to see where this came from. My goodness, if it was another Chinese balloon, that raises some serious questions about what’s going on in Beijing.”
Esper added, “I do think we need to have a clear policy. We have to defend our sovereignty and that means defending our airspace. We need to improve our procedures. It seems like the administration’s procedures have improved in the last week given what happened in the last few hours. And we should declare very clearly how we will treat certain things. I don’t think as a rule of thumb we should allow balloons carrying surveillance equipment to traverse the United States. We just cannot tolerate that. But it is important to have procedures.”
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