(NewsNation) — Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized the Biden administration’s handling of a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon spotted over Montana last week, saying “we detected it, the whole world watched and we did nothing.”
The Air Force shot down the balloon Feb. 4 — three days after it was first sighted over Billings, Montana. President Joe Biden said taking the roughly 200-foot-tall object down sooner might have caused undue risk to civilians.
In an exclusive interview with NewsNation’s partner The Hill, however, Pompeo said the risk of “global shame” should have outweighed that of “some falling debris.”
“I am confident that in capitals all across the world, our friends were saying, ‘What on Earth is going on?’” Pompeo said. “And our adversaries were saying, ‘Green light.’”
Multiple unidentified objects have been spotted and shot down in the U.S. and Canada since.
China has denied any involvement with the latest three objects that were shot down over the weekend.
At a news briefing Monday, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said there’s no reason to suspect the objects were conducting surveillance. The possibility couldn’t be ruled out, however, and because they were also operating at an altitude that posed a risk to civilian aircraft, officials acted with an abundance of caution.
Although the recent sightings have dominated the news, they’re not the first of their kind.
Chinese government surveillance balloons hovered over the continental U.S. “at least three times” during the Trump administration, and one additional time at the beginning of the Biden administration, The Hill reported last week, citing a senior Pentagon official.
Pompeo on Monday joined a chorus of former President Donald Trump staffers who say they weren’t aware of three balloons spotted during Trump’s presidency.
“This wasn’t remotely the same thing,” Pompeo said. “As best I can tell, no one was aware. And this is fundamentally different from what has transpired over the past two weeks.’”
Pompeo is touring to promote his new book “Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love.”
The book’s introduction hints at a possible Pompeo presidential bid, but when pressed on the matter Monday, he said he hasn’t come to a decision yet.
“I don’t know if Susan and I will run in 2024,” he said. “We’re still thinking our way through that. In the next handful of months, we’ll sort our way.”