Senior U.S. government officials aren't ruling out a disturbing possibility regarding the Chinese surveillance balloon that was shot down off the coast of South Carolina.
Two Republican senators told reporters that officials from three different agencies declined to rule out the possibility that the aircraft was manufactured with the help of American companies, according to Fox News.
Sens. Josh Hawley and Dan Sullivan say they asked officials about the prospect in a Thursday classified briefing -- only for the briefing staff not to provide a "definitive answer."
The two senators spoke to reporters after the classified briefing and acknowledged some disturbing possibilities.
"American companies shouldn't be helping build spy satellites that are used against their own citizens," Sullivan said. "Maybe there's nothing to be said about that, but somebody asked about it, and nobody, nobody in that briefing said, 'oh, it's not a problem.'"
Officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the State Department, and the Department of Defense briefed the two senators, according to Fox.
The balloon ended up traversing the entire continental United States, and was first spotted in Montana. The sighting swiftly drew the attention of the national media.
Hawley's attention, meanwhile, was drawn to national security officials, whom he accused of negligence over the balloon's traversal.
"Obviously, the other thing that it made was crystal clear from this briefing was how unprepared, totally unprepared the administration and frankly, the Pentagon was for this to happen," the Missouri senator said the situation.
Sullivan is calling for national security officials to make the details of the classified briefing public.
"What we were just briefed on there, I think it should just be made public, right. Let the American people know the extent of the challenges," he said.
The balloon was ultimately shot down over the United States' territorial waters beyond South Carolina -- a decision made to prevent risks to civilians on the ground of a potential crash site.
A source familiar with the briefing told Fox News that western-made parts with English-language branding had been recovered at the balloon's crash site.
📍ATLANTIC OCEAN - @USNavy Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 recover a high-altitude surveillance balloon off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Feb. 5, 2023. pic.twitter.com/QwjSFQEw1b
— U.S. Fleet Forces (@USFleetForces) February 7, 2023
The State Department indicated that the balloon's manufacturer was already known as a supplier of the Chinese military in a Thursday statement.
"We are confident that the balloon manufacturer has a direct relationship with China’s military and is an approved vendor of the [People's Liberation Army,] according to information published in an official procurement portal for the PLA."
Interesting detail in today's State Dept. statement about the Chinese balloon: Some of the US's info about the balloon's origins and uses came from a PLA online portal and from the website of the company that made the balloon pic.twitter.com/S5pe1KDZ1x
— Chris (@chrstphr_woody) February 9, 2023
The FBI is studying the remains of the spy balloon, according to NBC News.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.