The Biden administration attracted significant backlash from Republicans after allowing a suspected Chinese spy balloon to float across the continental United States before shooting it down over the Atlantic Ocean last month.
In the aftermath of that debacle, Biden allies in the media began to cite reports that the Trump administration similarly allowed such vessels to enter U.S. airspace without taking decisive action.
Since then, however, evidence has surfaced that those claims were misleading.
For starters, the previous balloons only spent a few minutes over U.S. property as opposed to the days that the latest craft spent hovering over some of the nation’s most sensitive military sites.
Furthermore, the Biden administration knew about the balloon last month and refused to take timely action, whereas confirmation of the earlier flights did not come until after former President Donald Trump left office.
Now, the identity of the official who initially released details about the Trump-era balloons has been released — and Republicans on Capitol Hill are expressing their irritation.
U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) asserted this week that the leaker was Pentagon official Colin Kahl, who is now being accused of attempting to change the prevailing narrative amid criticism of Biden’s delayed response.
Rubio and Wicker sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin making such an argument.
What happened here is that Biden appointee Colin Kahl lied to reporters about China spy balloons. Reporters described him as an anonymous “senior defense official,” not noting that he is a political appointee. https://t.co/ZQqiPMujp6
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) March 11, 2023
“It remains unclear whether this leak was cleared internally through the proper channels,” the senators wrote. “Either way, it was a brazen attempt to shift blame.”
They added that Kahl’s obvious partisan motives were further evidence that Senate Republicans were justified in opposing his nomination two years ago.
In the letter, Rubio and Wicker called on the Department of Defense to hold him “accountable for his politicization of previously classified material.”
Furthermore, they are requesting specific information from the Pentagon regarding when the White House knew about the most recent spy balloon as well as what options they considered at the time. This botched response, the senators claim, was the impetus for Kahl’s decision to leak reports designed to reflect poorly on the previous administration.
“Kahl appears to be spearheading a communications strategy that aims to hide the administration’s early missteps,” they concluded.