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WASHINGTON — President Biden gave the order over the weekend to shoot down a Chinese spy balloon after it had trekked across the US from Montana to South Carolina.

The White House has taken some criticism for deciding not to shoot the balloon down sooner. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, said that they had to take into account many risks in deciding when to shoot it down.

“The debris field that was created by this balloon when it was shot down was about seven miles long,” Buttigieg told CNN. “Any time the military is considering an operation like that they have to consider the safety of the American people.”

Buttigieg did not discuss specifics on when they became aware of the balloon.

China has stuck to its story that the balloon was “civilian in nature” and that it was a weather balloon that had drifted off course. However, US intelligence says they have confirmed the balloon was meant for spying.

According to the White House, it’s unclear if the balloon successfully gathered any sensitive data.

“This Chinese spy balloon is an egregious breach of U.S. airspace and demonstrates China’s mounting aggression towards the U.S,” said Rep Jim Baird (R-IN-4th) on Twitter.

“Well at least we finally shot down the Chinese spy balloon,” said Rep Larry Bucshon (R-IN-8th) on Twitter. “After it traversed the country. Very poor decision by the Biden administration not to shoot it down as soon as it hit our airspace.”

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