Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.
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Three Chinese spy balloons traversed United States territory unseen during former President Donald Trump's presidency due to a "domain awareness gap," CNN reports.
U.S. Air Force General Glen D. VanHerck, who serves as commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, confirmed to CNN that the successful balloon transit was due to the domain awareness gap but also said he did not "want to go into further detail."
“Every day as a NORAD commander, it’s my responsibility to detect threats to North America. I will tell you that we did not detect those threats,” he said.
This comes after the Pentagon said last week that "balloon incidents occurred during the Trump administration," of which former Trump Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he was “surprised," according to CNN.
“I don’t ever recall somebody coming into my office or reading anything that the Chinese had a surveillance balloon above the United States,” Esper said.
Additionally, former National Security Advisor to Trump, John Bolton asked, “Did the Biden administration invent a time machine? What is the basis of this new detection?”
Trump administration staffers assert “they were not aware” of the balloons during Trump's term, and the former president called reports of the three undetected balloons under his leadership "fake disinformation" on his social media site Truth Social.
John Kirby, National Security Council strategic communications coordinator,attributed the "difficulty" of detecting the balloons to a few factors, CNN reports, such as the balloon "altitude and speed."
He said, “They fly very, very high, very, very slow and in order to track, you’ve got to run the traps along many different lines of information and technology. Their dynamics, their trajectory, their flight behavior complicates the ability to know exactly where one is at any particular moment in time depending on where it is over the Earth’s surface.”
VanHerck noted intelligence officials were later "able to gather intelligence 'from additional means that made us aware of those balloons that were previously approaching North America or transited North America.'”
An official told CNN "the intelligence community is prepared" to brief top Trump administration staffers on "the Chinese surveillance program."
The Biden administration says the program "has been deployed in countries across five continents over the last several years," CNN reports.
Reprinted with permission from Alternet.
After days of nonstop coverage of a Chinese balloon crossing the continental United States, far-right influencers are now using it to sell prepper supplies for what they claim is an imminent collapse of the American economy. Right-wing media personalities Charlie Kirk and Steve Bannon are hyping the recent Chinese spy balloon saga to sell prepper supplies on their shows.
Both Kirk and Bannon have plugged the preparedness company My Patriot Supply during their recent broadcasts, claiming that the balloon incident — which has been a major subject of fearmongering and conspiracy theories in conservative media — should prompt viewers to amass large quantities of food and other supplies in case of an apocalyptic disaster.
During an ad read on his February 3 radio show, Kirk mentioned the Chinese spy balloon and told his audience they are “nine meals away from anarchy,” adding, “As the Chinese Community Party takes pictures and spies on you, gets your kids addicted to fentanyl and also hooked on TikTok, at least you will be well fed when anarchy comes.”
\u201cCharlie Kirk is using the chinese spy balloon to sell prepper supplies\u201d— Madeline Peltz (@Madeline Peltz) 1675450018
On February 7, Bannon hosted My Patriot Supply Vice President of Sales Joe Rieck, who said that the balloon posed such a threat that “literally we were seconds away from being pushed back to the dark ages” and has sparked an increased interest from the public in his company’s products. He then plugged “Faraday bags,” “anti-radiation tablets,” and “dosimeter cards” as the items his customers are “stocking up on right now” because “we were so close to having something catastrophic happen in our borders.”
“You’ve got to get ahead of the curve here” added Bannon, advising his audience as “rational people” to purchase My Patriot Supply products.
“These are things that are going to come in handy because we’ve all seen how close we were to a huge disaster,” said Rieck. “And if they can float a balloon and it takes the government five days to take action, then who’s to say that the Chinese couldn’t have just pushed a button and ended everything three days ago.”
Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.
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