The Pentagon has confirmed three Chinese balloons flew over the United States during the Trump presidency, in a newly disclosed statement:
“Long before the shoot down, U.S. officials took steps to protect against the balloon’s collection of sensitive information, mitigating its intelligence value to the Chinese. The senior defense official said the recovery of the balloon will enable U.S. analysts to examine sensitive Chinese equipment. “I would also note that while we took all necessary steps to protect against the PRC surveillance balloon’s collection of sensitive information, the surveillance balloon’s overflight of U.S. territory was of intelligence value to us,” the official said. “I can’t go into more detail, but we were able to study and scrutinize the balloon and its equipment, which has been valuable.”
The balloon did not pose a military or physical threat. Still its intrusion into American airspace over several days was an unacceptable violation of U.S. sovereignty. The official said Chinese balloons briefly transited the continental United States at least three times during the prior administration.”
Presumably as well, while it is not mentioned, that the lack of public attention didn’t warrant such a military response in the past – with this new uproar being paramount (perhaps) for the perplexing pause on particular paths of pointed precision prowess. On the other hand perhaps they were just waiting for it to reach the Carolinas and were going to blow it up without warning, but it seems unlikely.