US defends decision to shoot down 3 unidentified objects

By ERIC TUCKER

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Monday, Feb. 13, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House defended the shootdowns of three unidentified objects in as many days even as it acknowledged that officials had no indication the objects were intended for surveillance in the same manner as the high-altitude Chinese balloon that traversed American airspace earlier this month.

The three objects, including one shot down Sunday over Lake Huron, were unmanned and traveling at such a low altitude as to pose a risk to civilian commercial air traffic, said White House national security spokesman John Kirby. And though the Biden administration does not yet have evidence that they were equipped for spying purposes, officials have not ruled that out either, he said.

“These were decisions based purely and simply on what was in the best interests of the American people,” Kirby said Monday of the action to shoot them down.

Meantime, off the coast of South Carolina where the Chinese balloon was shot down, crews have been able to recover significant debris from the site, according to a statement Tuesday from NORAD and U.S. Northern Command. It said crews have recovered “all of the priority sensor and electronics pieces identified as well as large sections of the structure.”

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