What the hell is going on over America’s skies?

In barely a week, America’s skies have been transformed into a real-life version of the classic Asteroids video game and there is plenty of reason to believe the Biden Administration might not be completely honest as a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter claims we destroyed the Nord Stream pipelines last year.

The US military has shot down three objects that had illegally entered our airspace over the course of nine days.  The first was the infamous Chinese spy balloon on February 4.  Last Friday, another object which remains unidentified but was apparently not a balloon was shot down over a remote part of Alaska.  On Saturday, the third was downed in collaboration with the Canadian government in the largely unpopulated Yukon Territory.  The third object was said to be “cylindrical” in shape, and also not a balloon.  All three were shot down by an F22 Raptor fighter jet using AIM-9X guided missiles.  In what appears to be an unrelated incident, the skies over Montana, where the spy balloon had previously been spotted, were closed briefly on Saturday to investigate another potential intrusion.  At least this is how I started writing this post on Sunday morning, but by the afternoon another unidentified object had been downed over Michigan and airspace was restricted briefly there as well, for a total of four objects in all.  Government officials and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are now claiming the other objects were also balloons, albeit smaller ones, floating much lower at some 40,000 feet compared to the 60,000 of the original spy balloon.  In the meantime, CNN keeps making valiant attempts to report on “what we know about the unidentified objects shot down over North America,” but the facts keep changing and the full article amounts to not much more than my summary here, plus a few additional details about the bases from which these missions were flown and reaction in political circles.  Either way, it suddenly seems like we are living in a real life version of the classic Asteroids video game, shooting everything in sight without even knowing what it is.

What’s missing from much of this reporting is the obvious:  When was the last time anything like this happened, much less four times in barely a week?  I tried, but could not find a similar situation.  There were occasions in recent years when Russian jets intruded into US airspace and were chased away by our own fighters, but nothing similar as far as I could tell.  I even asked GhatGPT, and was informed, “I’m sorry, I don’t have an exact date for you, but it is important to note that incidents of objects being shot down over US airspace are relatively rare and generally kept confidential due to national security concerns. Information about such incidents is typically not made public unless it is deemed necessary for the public’s safety or if it has already been reported in the media.”  The commander of NORAD himself, General Glen VanHerck, said these were likely the first “kinetic action” that NORAD or the US Northern Command has undertaken in its entire history.  Therefore, it sounds like this is something new, prompting me to ask:  Why is it happening now?  I chose my words carefully here, saying it “sounds” like something new because the Biden Administration previously claimed that there were multiple intrusions in our airspace under former President Donald Trump, he just wasn’t informed or we didn’t know for sure at the time and somehow identified the object after he left office.  This introduces the possibility that our skies have been filled with similar objects for years, but we didn’t do anything about it until now.  If that’s the case, why are we suddenly shooting them down like fish in a barrel?

These are pretty basic questions that the Biden Administration has so-far refused to provide adequate answers and we have no idea why that is the case either.  The need to preserve sources and methods aside, there is no reason not to disclose a general history of these incidents and how we responded in the past, compared to why we are responding with “kinetic” action now.  Instead, they promised to form an interagency team to analyze the situation and report back.  The goal will be to “study the broader policy implications for detection, analysis, and disposition of unidentified aerial objects that pose either safety or security risks,” national security spokesperson John Kirby explained on Monday, meaning this will disappear into the fog of government bureaucracy forever if they have their way.  At this point, they aren’t even willing to share how these objects were able to fly in the first place.  “I’m not able to categorize how they stay aloft. It could be a gaseous type of balloon inside a structure or it could be some type of propulsion system. But clearly, they’re able to stay aloft,” General VanHerck said Sunday.  Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was forced to bizarrely explain that it wasn’t actually an alien invasion. For its part, the mainstream media seems content to accept this lack of transparency for now, preferring to spin wild fantasies about what organization might be behind these unidentified objects.  CNN’s Stephen Collinson recently pondered whether it was China, “some other hostile power or group, corporate or private entity” as if James Bond’s SPECTER might have sprung to life and set its sights on us.  To be fair, he does take the time to note that the President himself has refused to comment and doesn’t appear to be satisfied with the Administration response to date.  In that regard, he quotes Melissa Dalton, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and hemispheric affairs.  “Because we have not yet been able to definitively assess what these recent objects are, we have acted out of an abundance of caution to protect our security and interests.”  “The spy balloon from (China) was of course different in that we knew precisely what (it) was. These most recent objects do not pose a kinetic military threat, but their path in proximity to sensitive (defense) sites and the altitude that they were flying could be a hazard to civilian aviation and thus raised concerns,” she added.  Beyond the suggestion that we might be shooting first and asking questions later, that statement is not exactly easy to follow.  They don’t believe these objects are actual weapons, though they might well be aimed at our defense sites.  Do you feel comforted?

Incredibly, others at CNN are claiming this might be some kind of data filtering issue.  NORAD, apparently, recently “readjusted the filters  it uses to sift data, which had previously concentrated on spotting fast-moving objects below a certain altitude.”  Security analyst Juliette Kayyem suggested this wider “aperture” is identifying more objects than before.  “They are getting lots of positives that they did not get before. Most of that is going to be airplanes, whatever it may be,” she said.  “What we can’t answer now is, is this bigger aperture picking up lots of stuff that has essentially been forgiven, around in the skies, because it didn’t pose a threat, or is it part of something organized for whatever surveillance?”  Of course, the idea that we might be targeting regular airplanes and mistaking them for UFOs does not sound comforting either.  What is the risk that they make a mistake here and shoot down something they aren’t supposed to?  Nor does it align with how we detected the first balloon, which was a high flying object at very low speed.  Based on this speculation, it should never have been detected as it traversed Alaska.   Otherwise, CNN seemed content to declare, “The preliminary descriptions of the objects’ appearances underscore the difficulty for administration officials in identifying their purpose or origin. Officials have been at a loss to say what the objects could be, and the preliminary descriptions have not lent any more clarity.”  Of course, Mr. Collinson and others in the media also see this as a communications problem for President Biden, rather than yet another international failure.   “It’s possible that in a unique, fast-moving situation, the government may not know much more than it is saying. But the piecemeal emergence of details is adding to the confusion. On issues including the Chinese balloon and the discovery of classified vice presidential documents at Biden’s home and office, the administration has sometimes struggled to control a media narrative to its own political detriment.”  This is undoubtedly true, but also misses the point.  The President has yet to deliver any substantive statement on the matter and his deputies are largely refusing to answer questions, treating each instance as an isolated event rather than sharing more general information on possible past occurrences and changes in either these occurrences or our strategy.  Ultimately, there is no reason why Mr. Collinson and I should both be left to conclude that it’s “a case of shoot first, investigate later.”

Sadly, this becomes more apparent when you consider that there are other national security issues of major importance that the Administration refuses to discuss openly, preferring secrecy if not outright lies to transparency. I’ve always believed that the criminalization and scandalization of classified documents was much ado about nothing despite any shortcomings in the President’s handling of the fallout, but the same cannot be said about the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines last September, an obvious act of war committed in international waters.  In the immediate aftermath, the Biden Administration blamed Russia for the incident, though why they would want to blow up their own pipeline, the equivalent of taking a hammer to your plumbing when you could just turn off the faucet, was left unsaid.  For its part, Russia has always denied their involvement and last week, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh claimed the United States Navy was ultimately responsible in an extensively researched piece on Substack.  “President Joseph Biden saw the pipelines as a vehicle for Vladimir Putin to weaponize natural gas for his political and territorial ambition,” he noted.  The “decision to sabotage the pipelines came after more than nine months of highly secret back and forth debate inside Washington’s national security community about how to best achieve that goal.  For much of that time, the issue was not whether to do the mission, but how to get it done with no overt clue as to who was responsible.”

Ultimately, a team of Navy divers planted bombs underwater during NATO exercises three months before the explosion.  According to Mr. Hersh, the initial plan was to detonate the underwater explosives two days after the NATO exercises, known as BALTOPS, but the White House grew concerned that the timing would look suspicious, asking the team: “Can the guys in the field come up with some way to blow the pipelines later on command?”  “Some members of the planning team were angered and frustrated by the President’s seeming indecision. The Panama City divers had repeatedly practiced planting the C4 on pipelines, as they would during BALTOPS, but now the team in Norway had to come up with a way to give Biden what he wanted—the ability to issue a successful execution order at a time of his choosing.”  This challenge was solved by the use of a sonar buoy, which would play a complex sequence of sounds, “much like those emitted by a flute or a piano,” to detonate the device.  “On September 26, 2022, a Norwegian Navy P8 surveillance plane made a seemingly routine flight and dropped a sonar buoy. The signal spread underwater, initially to Nord Stream 2 and then on to Nord Stream 1. A few hours later, the high-powered C4 explosives were triggered and three of the four pipelines were put out of commission. Within a few minutes, pools of methane gas that remained in the shuttered pipelines could be seen spreading on the water’s surface and the world learned that something irreversible had taken place.”

The Biden Administration denies any and all involvement, labeling Mr. Hersh’s reporting “completely and utterly false.”  Adrienne Watson, a White House spokesperson, wrote in an email, “This is false and complete fiction.” Tammy Thorp, a spokesperson for the Central Intelligence Agency, similarly claimed, “This claim is completely and utterly false.”  At the same time, few still believe Russia was responsible, no one appears to know who did it, and The New York Times has concluded it’s a “mystery,” as if that was a satisfactory answer.  Given the complexity of the operation, there are few countries in the world that could pull it off and the Biden Administration itself had made repeated claims prior to the destruction of the pipelines that Russian energy would no longer flow to Europe.  Here’s US State Department spokesperson, Ned Price, in January of 2022.  “I want to be very clear: if Russia invades Ukraine one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward.  I’m not going to get into the specifics. We will work with Germany to ensure it does not move forward.”  Less than a week after the pipelines were destroyed, the administration claimed it was a tremendous opportunity.  “It’s a tremendous opportunity to once and for all remove the dependence on Russian energy and thus to take away from Vladimir Putin the weaponization of energy as a means of advancing his imperial designs,” explained Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a joint press conference with Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly.  “That’s very significant and that offers tremendous strategic opportunity for the years to come,” he added, obviously thrilled at the news.

If we had a functioning media, this alone would be enough to raise suspicions that the United States was involved, rather than simply labeling it a mystery and moving on.  Mr. Hersh is a Pulitzer Prize winner with five decades of experience who has broken big stories in the past, stories the US government would prefer have been kept hidden.  He exposed the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam in 1968, where 75 civilians were killed.  He exposed our role in a coup in Chile in 1973.  He exposed the atrocities occurring at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq after the invasion under George W. Bush.  It’s possible he got this one wrong, but given his background, the details of the reporting, and the obvious lack of another player who can operate at this scale, the odds are well over even that the Administration is lying about an act of war.  Confidence inspiring, this is not, especially in the context of everything else happening.  Hence, when I ask what the hell is going on over America’s skies, I have every reason to be concerned and you should too.  For a President who promised a return to normalcy, we are far from it and he and his team have a lot of explaining to do.


3 thoughts on “What the hell is going on over America’s skies?”

  1. “we might be shooting first and asking questions later,” my exact thoughts. The question is, Why?
    Why not just observe these UFO’s. And attempt communication? They didn’t show hostile intent, did they?
    I think, yeah, it’s a big distraction from the pipeline story.
    Man are “we” great at killing from a distance. Our (human) dominate trait.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hahaha! Unfortunately, I don’t think we can answer that question from behind our computers, but it seems clear to me that Biden has convinced himself he needs to be a tough guy, rather than a smart guy.

    Regarding observing them, I find it hard to believe we are not. The idea that we cannot glean a ton of information from radar in the year 2023 is absurd, as is the bullshit that we can’t see these things on fly by. Let’s put it this way: You can put a 4K camera in your doorbell for a couple of hundred bucks, but these geniuses in the government can’t get footage of these things to determine what they are and barring that, can’t figure it out from flight patterns? I am not a conspiracy theorist, but for some reason, they simply do not want us to know, my guess is as distraction from the Nord Stream story. That would have huge implications, so let’s chase this shiny thing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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