Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, said Sunday that he has “real concerns” about the Biden administration's transparency about the unidentified objects that have been shot down in recent days.
In an interview Sunday on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” Himes, who is part of the "Gang of Eight," the top leaders of Congress and of the House and Senate intelligence committees, said those lawmakers received a “very extensive briefing” about the Chinese spy balloon that was shot down over water this month.
Himes expressed concern that the administration has been less forthcoming about the unidentified objects shot down over Alaskan and Canadian airspaces on Friday and Saturday, respectively, although he acknowledged that information may be scarce.
"Part of the problem is that the second and the third objects were shot down in very remote areas. So my guess is that there's just not a lot of information out there yet to share," he said.
“The one thing I see troubling ... is massive speculation about alien invasions and additional Chinese or Russian action,” Himes said, adding that the “absence of information” will make people anxious.
“So I do hope the administration has a lot more information for all of us on what’s going on,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Sunday that the U.S. believes the unidentified objects shot down over Alaskan and Canadian airspaces were balloons smaller than the Chinese spy balloon shot down Feb. 4.
Schumer said in an interview on ABC's "This Week" that national security adviser Jake Sullivan briefed him Saturday night, hours after the unidentified object in Canadian airspace was downed. Asked whether the two objects that were shot down in recent days were balloons, Schumer said, “They believe they were, yes, but much smaller than the first one.”
Himes said on “Meet the Press” he has not been briefed on the matter yet when he was pressed about whether he thinks the administration is not being forthcoming or whether it is a situation in which it does not have enough information.
“I really can’t answer that question, because I haven’t been briefed,” Himes said. “I got a very detailed briefing on the first Chinese balloon, and I think the decision-making process there was very good. We now own something that we’re going to exploit for intelligence. I think the decision-making was good.”
Himes noted that people had not heard about the Chinese spy balloon until it was spotted flying over Montana this month. NBC News broke the news that the U.S. was monitoring the high-altitude surveillance device as it hovered on the U.S. for days.
“There may be reasons for it. In the absence of information, people will fill that gap with anxiety and other stuff,” Himes said. “So I wish the administration was a little quicker to tell us everything they do know.”
Officials confirmed Saturday that a U.S. fighter jet had shot down an unidentified object over Canada on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s orders. The decision was made in consultation with President Joe Biden, White House and Pentagon officials confirmed Saturday.
It was the third object to have been shot down over Northern America this month.
On Friday, the U.S. military shot down a “high-altitude object” flying over Alaskan airspace and Arctic waters. At a White House briefing that day, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. does not know who owns the object, which he declined to call a balloon, such as the one allegedly owned by the Chinese government that was shot down off the Carolinas.
CORRECTION (Feb. 12, 2023, 8 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated when the U.S. military shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off South Carolina. It was Feb. 4, not last week.