Author Topic: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments  (Read 917 times)

Seriati

  • Members
    • View Profile
Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« on: February 07, 2023, 09:57:43 AM »
Anyone else notice that the unnamed Biden Administration leakers of the story that the Trump administration missed Chinese spy balloons cite to an intelligence "assessment"?  Multiple references today pin that on an Air Force intelligence, that from "other sources" pieced together that Chinese spy balloons passed near Hawaii and across Florida.  So not to photos, or radar reports, or even eye witness accounts, to an "assessment."   

The media seems - once again - remarkably willing to take off the record information that they believe helps Biden and hurts Trump.  Why does that matter here?  Because this "assessment" should generate about a million questions and not a one of them gets answered by an anonymous source.

So my first question is what is meant by "assessment," cause it sounds to me like what they mean is that they have unconfirmed reports (which would be odd given our radar and satellite coverage), or even that someone just "concluded" that "it must have happened."   Maybe what they have is literally a spy on the ground that's seen Chinese reports.  Maybe, what they have is an analyst in Langely that just decided it must of happened because balloon technology exists and it would be impossible to prove it didn't.  Heck, given the locations cited, maybe all they really have is a "Florida Guy" who saw a balloon while he was drunk in the back of a pickup at a Walmart parking lot.

Depending on what evidence they have to support the claim, it opens up a whole stream of competence questions and even questions about our strategic planning.  It's trivially easy to picture a cheap and effective EMP balloon strike force.  It's trivially easy to picture balloon driven biological or chemical warfare.  Particularly if these balloons are somehow slipping through our passive defenses.

The accounts from those familiar with our defensive Radar systems seem to say it would be impossible for a such a balloon not to be tagged by the radar systems.  If that's true, then it would reflect a fundamental strategic incompetence on the part of the military's high command not to have identified this balloon (and "previous" balloons) as potential threats.  If it's not true that a balloon that is hundreds of feet tall carrying an estimated payload weighing a ton is detected by our systems, then we have an even bigger problem.

In any event, pointing the finger at Trump, makes this administration look even worse.  Biden's claim is that they "caught" this problem missed by Trump (which would actually just be the generals, unless they'd reported it to the civilian leadership) and through Biden's amazing leadership implemented a program to "close the Trump balloon gap" and stop the threat.  And after all of that, including the leaked Air Force assessment which supposedly dates to last year (presumably important to the anonymous account to lend credibility when it "blames" Trump that this isn't just in reaction to current events), Biden's "strategic" pre-planning led to Biden waiting four days after they spotted the balloon (and "coincidentally" just after it was detected by the public) to decide to shoot it down "immediately," which by "immediately" meant roughly four days later after the balloon had fully traversed the US and completed any intelligence gathering mission that it was on. 

So the Biden administration seems to have conclusively established that Trump and his team were never told of a the threat, but that Biden and his team knew about it for over year and were taking it seriously, and that they still managed to be utterly incompetent and indecisive when the threat they knew about and planned for presented itself.

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2023, 10:31:36 AM »
Seriati,

I had read about the balloon incident quickly but not about the issue you mention. Here's a Reuters article about the whole thing:

https://www.reuters.com/world/us/republicans-criticize-biden-waiting-shoot-down-chinese-balloon-2023-02-05/

Quote
Former President Donald Trump and his former national intelligence director, John Ratcliffe, denied Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's assessment that similar balloons had transited the United States during his presidency.

"China had too much respect for 'TRUMP' for this to have happened, and it NEVER did," Trump wrote on social media site Truth Social.

But Republican Representative Michael Waltz backed up Austin, telling the Washington Post that the Pentagon had notified Congress that Chinese balloons were spotted near the United States several times during Trump's tenure.

He said balloons had been spotted near Texas and twice near Florida, as well as previously known sightings near Hawaii and Guam.

I suppose that should answer some of your questions about who's saying this, although you may well still ask where they got their information. Regarding biased reporting, the Reuters article does give some space to shed negative light on Biden toward the end:

Quote
Republican Mike Turner, chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, said he believed China was using the balloon to figure out how to counter U.S. nuclear weapons and missile defense systems.

"The president has allowed this to go across our most sensitive sites and wasn't even going to tell the American public," Turner said on NBC's "Meet the Press" program.

Tom

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2023, 10:38:49 AM »
I am highly bemused by the idea that the Republican pundit class has decided to die on this particular hill.

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2023, 10:43:01 AM »
I am highly bemused by the idea that the Republican pundit class has decided to die on this particular hill.

Bemused or amused? It doesn't seem so puzzling that they'd want to deny having ignored spy balloons for 4 years.

Seriati

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2023, 10:44:54 AM »
Fenring,

Go back and read your link carefully.  Heck you even cited to the "assessment" concept:

Quote
Former President Donald Trump and his former national intelligence director, John Ratcliffe, denied Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's assessment that similar balloons had transited the United States during his presidency.

And pay attention to what they say here as well:

Quote
He said balloons had been spotted near Texas and twice near Florida, as well as previously known sightings near Hawaii and Guam.

Near is not over, and the statement that the balloons went over the US is again an "assessment."  In fact, this makes it worse in some ways, if they had definitive sightings "near" Hawaii, Guam, Florida and Texas, why wouldn't they have sightings over those areas? 

Does this reflect that they only caught them after they had transited?  That would be a major failing and strategic weakness.  Or does it mean that the "assessment" is just an opinion that it must have happened at some time being presented as if it were proof?

Everyday this administration releases comments where the wording is set so that the statements can be "true" but the implications completely misleading.  This is one of them.  It's the media's job to nail down what those kinds of words and phrases actually mean and they are completely failing in that to everyone's detriment.

msquared

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2023, 10:46:05 AM »
Or longer.  There is no way ballons like this have not been used for years and years over many admins. To me the only suprising thing is that they were using something this low tech.

Seriati

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2023, 10:47:43 AM »
I am highly bemused by the idea that the Republican pundit class has decided to die on this particular hill.

Bemused or amused? It doesn't seem so puzzling that they'd want to deny having ignored spy balloons for 4 years.

If that happened, Republicans would be just as mad about it as we are at Biden.  But pretending it happened, if it didn't, just to help provide cover for a terrible President, is beyond insane.

yossarian22c

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2023, 10:48:52 AM »
I am highly bemused by the idea that the Republican pundit class has decided to die on this particular hill.

I don't know why you think any opinion they take matters from one day to the next. As long as they can express outrage they don't care about hypocrisy or consistency. See all their outrage about Obama's tan suit or coffee salute and how unPresidential it was while ignoring Trump's behavior. Or their hysterics over spending and the deficit when Democrats are in the white house but deficit exploding tax cuts for corporations and billionaires while Trump is in the WH.

NobleHunter

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2023, 10:54:38 AM »
To be fair, "Viewing with Alarm" is the main job of the Opposition. Anything they can make out to be a blunder is worth criticizing with as much volume as possible.

msquared

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2023, 11:01:13 AM »
Why wasn't Trump informed of previous ballon flyovers? Maybe 2 reasons?

1, he already knew from his buddy in China.
2, The miliarty knew he could not keep his mouth shut and would proabably tweet the evidence with out regard to the consequences.

Wayward Son

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2023, 11:05:07 AM »
Quote
If that happened, Republicans would be just as mad about it as we are at Biden.

Yeah, sure.

Provide a single instance when Republicans were as mad at Trump as they are at Biden.  Or was Trump a perfect President? ;D

jc44

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2023, 11:18:43 AM »
To be honest this feels like a storm in a teacup. It seems wildly implausible to me that US could fail to spot these things & track them and then if they started going anywhere that the US didn't like (the Chinese may have some control over the direction the balloon travels but its not great and they aren't fast) then I do not doubt the US has the ability to bring them down. So having said that it seems a little implausible that this is, in fact, any sort of national security issue.

Seriati

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2023, 11:25:47 AM »
So from the responses it seems as if logic and deductive reasoning are no longer practiced when you're on team Biden.

So NobleHunter, if this nothing but fearmongering by the right, why did the Biden admin leak the "you should blame Trump" angle?  Wouldn't the correct response have been to just assert that the administration had assessed the situation and decided that there is nothing to be worried about?  Of course, Biden's gravitas and credibility are garbage so it may not have been persuasive, but the angle they actually took seems to undercut the claim.

So Yossarian, if my post is nothing but a floating opinion of outrage and hypocrasy why did I write the fourth and fifth paragraphs in my initial response - the ones where I directly expressed a concern about our strategic gaps.  There is a fundamental difference between our military and strategic capabilities - which this does call into question - and the competence of our civilian leadership.  Biden is incompetent and this exercise just demonstrates that further.  I mean really, the leak boils down to a claim that Biden isn't a failure, because we found - after Trump left office - that maybe balloons were previously over the US - but we're not sure and didn't tell him - and Trump did nothing.  What a defense of Biden - Biden did nothing when he knew about the situation - a situation his own administration had apparently identified as a recurring threat a year ago - but hey look at Trump he also did nothing about a situation that he didn't know about and that we "discovered" after he left office.

So msquared, if 2 was true it was bordering on an act of treason not to inform the civilian leadership for those reasons.  If 1 was true it would have been directly linked, of course its the Biden admin with the links to China but hey why not pretend the other guy is worse.  And it's not just "Trump," it's literally everyone in the civilian government, including many administration officials whose competence and loyalty was never questioned who were not informed.  The real most likely reasons are: (i) we had and still have no evidence a transition occurred (other than opinions); (ii) the military made a threat assessment (potentially incorrectly) that there was no threat and did not escalate it; or (iii) it was not detected real time.  The first would mean the Biden admin is pushing propaganda to make himself look good (which is even more intel the Chinese picked up because they know with certainty whether or not their balloons transited the US.  The second would mean that certain generals need to be admonished or replaced.  The third would reflect a dangerous strategic hole in our capabilities, planning and/or strategic thinking.

Lol at Wayward, there's literally a "never Trump" branch of the Republican party.  But I assume you don't just mean any Republicans you mean what every Republican?  Or do you mean just me?  Cause I have several dozen direct critiques of Trump in the archives here that you could look to if you're being serious.  And I'm not really feeling terribly inclined to accept this nonsense when you're backing a senile Joe Biden who's best skill is to generate propaganda claiming he's doing great.  If any of our strategic  rivals push him I doubt anyone really believes he's up to the task to handle it.

yossarian22c

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2023, 11:46:27 AM »
...
So Yossarian, if my post is nothing but a floating opinion of outrage and hypocrasy why did I write the fourth and fifth paragraphs in my initial response - the ones where I directly expressed a concern about our strategic gaps. 
...

My comment wasn't addressed to you. Unless you the identify as the Republican pundit class?

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2023, 11:48:58 AM »
Fenring,

Go back and read your link carefully.  Heck you even cited to the "assessment" concept:

Yes, I said so. My link answered your question about who was saying this (i.e. not Florida Man). How the assessment is made is probably not something the journalists in question could find out unless they fluked into the actual dude sitting on radar who saw it. Otherwise it will be a series of reports and the guy highest up makes an assessment. Is that so weird?

Wayward Son

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2023, 11:58:37 AM »
Quote
Lol at Wayward, there's literally a "never Trump" branch of the Republican party.  But I assume you don't just mean any Republicans you mean what every Republican?

I was thinking of Republican leadership, like those in Congress and the heads of the Republican party.  The ones with actual responsibility, and the actual power to do something.

Sure, there are the "never Trumpers."  I believe most Republicans call them "RINOs." :D  And there are the various Conservative pundits who criticize politics from the sidelines who have taken issue with Trump from time to time.  They are now second or third tier pundits.  No one who vigorously criticizes Trump is taken seriously by the rank and file Republicans, and thus by the Republican leadership. :(

And I'm not terribly inclined to accept nonsense from a person who calls Biden "senile."  Not only is it ageist, it completely goes against observable fact.  Comparing Biden's town halls with Trump's shows that Biden is far better at extemporaneous speaking than Trump.  That is not a sign of senility.  He may not be on top of his game, but I would take him any day over that orange ignoramus who thinks a senility test shows that he is a highly intelligent.  ::)

msquared

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2023, 12:05:52 PM »
Also something the Trumpist refuse to accept is that Biden has a stutter that he has spent decades working around. And that affects his speech pattern.

Tom

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2023, 12:10:39 PM »
Quote
If that happened, Republicans would be just as mad about it as we are at Biden.
I have no idea if you genuinely believe this or not, but it strikes me as remarkably naive if you do.

NobleHunter

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2023, 12:43:31 PM »
Seriati, did you seriously just ask why the government tried to make the opposition look like incompetent hypocrites? Have you forgotten how politics work?

I have no idea if you genuinely believe this or not, but it strikes me as remarkably naive if you do.

They'll be so mad they'll just forget to tell anyone about it. Then they'll forget it ever happened.

TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #19 on: February 07, 2023, 01:08:19 PM »
Kinda makes me wonder how many US balloons are floating around the world. "Do as I say, not as I do!"

We've been violating foreign airspace on an annual basis, in one form or another, since before our U2 got shot down. The indignant tone makes me crazy, and that's both parties. The Chinese threat was likely about splashing our balloons.

rightleft22

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #20 on: February 07, 2023, 01:10:16 PM »
Quote
Near is not over, and the statement that the balloons went over the US is again an "assessment.

The report seems to be clear that they are reporting on a assessment. I assume the value of such a assessment is up to the reader to make and guess the information taken in or outrage or offence depends on the lenses in which they read the article.

I personally don't see why this is making Biden or Trump look bad. Its just China *censored*ing with us and laughing their heads off as to the outrage it generates furthering the divide as if that was the intent. Its not Biden or Trump that look bad, its Us that look bad - Like the man who blames the guy messing around with his wife vice holding the wife accountable.

msquared

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #21 on: February 07, 2023, 01:11:19 PM »
To paraphrase a famous movie line "I am shocked, shocked I tell you to find spying going on here."  "Here are your spy results Captain Renault."

wmLambert

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #22 on: February 07, 2023, 01:57:39 PM »
...And I'm not terribly inclined to accept nonsense from a person who calls Biden "senile."  Not only is it ageist, it completely goes against observable fact.  Comparing Biden's town halls with Trump's shows that Biden is far better at extemporaneous speaking than Trump.  That is not a sign of senility.  He may not be on top of his game, but I would take him any day over that orange ignoramus who thinks a senility test shows that he is a highly intelligent.  ::)

It is not ageist to accuse an incompetent of incompetency. Biden does have worse traits. He is a confirmed purposeful liar and plagiarist. If you don't know that -  it is not stuttering that caused his problems, then you need a better grip.

The first few posts in this thread stated all the known facts. They were simple. Biden accused Trump of allowing Chinese balloons to fly over the country - but the actual facts say only "near" Florida and Texas. I guess Chinese boats in the Caribbean launched them - so there was little substance for weather Research, neh? If they never actually crossed the border, then either they were knocked down or held back for fear of Trump's response. All in all - a good recommendation for Trump.

A three story tall balloon needed to carry a one-ton surveilance package and navigation system with fuel can easily carry a dirty bomb or biologic weapon. Biden preferred that to allowing it to hover all over the nation spying. How much did the slush money from China have to do with that?




Tom

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #23 on: February 07, 2023, 02:20:23 PM »
How much slush money would you expect someone to be paid to allow a biological weapon to float over their country?

Please stop being stupid.

rightleft22

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #24 on: February 07, 2023, 03:29:42 PM »
Quote
A three story tall balloon needed to carry a one-ton surveilance package and navigation system with fuel can easily carry a dirty bomb or biologic weapon. Biden preferred that to allowing it to hover all over the nation spying. How much did the slush money from China have to do with that?

The thought crossed my mind that such a balloon could be carrying biologic stuff which is why I assumed the Biden administration didn't go all shoot first and ask questions latter. I am assuming, hoping, that they had ways to analyze the balloon and also why they waited till the balloon wasn't over populated areas. (And or this was a opportunity to test such systems)

The real question is how or if the military missed seeing the balloon though I'll assume they were watching it all along and didn't want china or the public to know they knew and that this *censored* happens all the time.

msquared

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #25 on: February 07, 2023, 03:30:32 PM »
Ding ding ding ding.  And we have a winner.

TheDrake

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: Balloons and Intelligence Assessments
« Reply #26 on: February 07, 2023, 04:08:24 PM »
If you detect enemy surveillance it can be more valuable to feed it misinformation. Seems especially possible for signal intelligence. Also to capture encrypted data in transmission, or to examine the hardware. There are many reasons other than slush money to delay shooting it down. Number one reason cons wanted it shot down immediately is emotional, they felt violated by the Chinese incursion and felt the country was humiliated because once again BORDERS.