The often contentious Senate hearing underscored persistent congressional concern about gaps in the U.S. ability to safeguard its airspace, five days after a Pentagon F-22 fighter jet used a Sidewinder missile to shoot down the balloon off the South Carolina coast.
At that point, the balloon had traversed the country, sending U.S. military officials to take extraordinary steps to safeguard against Chinese intelligence collection from a balloon that could linger over sensitive sites longer than its satellites are able to do so.
“We don’t understand,” Montana Democrat John Tester said at the hearing before the appropriations committee. “You guys have to help me understand why this baby wasn’t taken out long before.”
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski from Alaska asked why U.S. President Joe Biden was only briefed about the airspace violation long after the balloon had exited Alaskan airspace and was heading into the contiguous United States from Canada….