Murkowski: why wasn’t spy balloon shot down over Alaska?

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is commending the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) for shooting down high-altitude suspicious objects over the United States and Canada.

“For the third time in the past week, U.S. forces have brought down a high-altitude object that was violating sovereign airspace — this time, just across the border in the Yukon, in direct cooperation with our Canadian allies and at the direction of Canada’s Prime Minister,” she said last Saturday.

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, and U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, also commended NORAD and its action in taking down the unidentified aircraft.

Still, Murkowski wants answers from the Defense Department on why a Chinese surveillance balloon was allowed to travel over Alaska and the Lower 48 before it was shot down over the Atlantic Ocean several days earlier.

Murkowski posed her question about the earlier delay to Jedidiah Royal, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Defense Department’s Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, during a Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee oversight hearing in Washington D.C. on Feb. 9.

She asserted that Alaska is ready to defend the U.S., but “it’s like this administration doesn’t think that Alaska is part of the rest of the country.” Murkowski said the U.S. government is sending “a clear message China: ‘You’ve got free range in Alaska.’”


The senator earlier released a statement on the Chinese surveillance balloon on social media saying: “Taking this Chinese surveillance balloon down was the right call and I commend all who played a role in the successful execution of that mission. I look forward to being fully briefed on the incident, but find it unacceptable that the balloon crossed into U.S. airspace over Alaska en route to the Lower 48.”

Murkowski said Alaska is the country’s first line of defense.

“If you’re going to have Russia come at you, if you’re going to have China coming at you, we know exactly how they come. They come up, and they go over Alaska,” the senator said. “Sometimes they go on the top, sometimes they go straight across, but Alaska is it. And thank goodness the Pentagon, the Department of Defense have recognized where we sit on the globe to take care of the rest of this country.”