Buttigieg does not say whether China collected sensitive information with suspected spy balloon

Pete Buttigieg
AP/Stefan Jeremiah
U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg attends a groundbreaking ceremony for the New Portal North Bridge project held in Kearny, N.J., Monday, Aug 1, 2022. A group of environmental and racial justice organizations filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday, Nov. 17, against the U.S. Department of Transportation and Buttigieg. The lawsuit aims to halt a Gulf Coast road project that the group says will harm the environment near historic Black neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah, File)

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Sunday did not directly answer a question on what potential information a suspected Chinese spy balloon could have collected when it flew over the United States, saying it was “well outside” his “lane.”

“I’m sure there’s a similar presumption about what spy satellites do,” Buttigieg told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.” “That is well outside of my lane, I’m just glad that nobody was hurt.”

Buttigieg also said he could not speak to when the Biden administration first learned of the balloon, which spent the last week flying over the U.S.

China’s “high-altitude surveillance balloon” was first sighted over Montana on Wednesday, and it was shot down on Saturday over the Atlantic Ocean after President Biden ordered the U.S. military to take it down.

“The U.S. has made clear this is an unacceptable intrusion into American sovereignty and I think you can expect that any further developments will be … appropriate in response to what happened,” Buttigieg said on CNN.

He also said that the Federal Aviation Administration and the Pentagon cooperated in the handling of the balloon. He noted that the FAA closed the airspace near the eastern seaboard, where the military took down the balloon, saying their main concern was falling debris.

“What I can speak to is the great cooperation we have between the FAA and the Pentagon to make sure that we’ll have a special military operation like what it took to bring down this balloon, that it happens without any threat to American lives and property,” he said.

Tags Biden China Chinese spy balloon Joe Biden national defense Pete Buttigieg spy balloon

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