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US intelligence was aware of four extra Chinese spy balloons, leaked Pentagon data reveals

The leaked documents also detail a lack of ‘strong senior’ oversight of the balloon surveillance program

Maroosha Muzaffar
Saturday 15 April 2023 06:22 BST
Related: Donald Trump claims China wouldn’t send spy balloon over US during his presidency

US intelligence agencies were reportedly aware of four extra Chinese spy balloons, according to leaked top-secret data from Pentagon.

The data leaked to a Discord chatroom by Jack Teixeira, a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, reveals that the US intelligence knew of at least four Chinese spy balloons that traversed the US airspace.

According to a report by the Washington Post, a Chinese spy balloon that attracted national attention earlier this year was one of at least three other balloons documented by the United States.

The report said that another balloon flew over a US carrier strike group in an unreported incident.

Then another one crashed in the South China Sea and states that it is not clear when the other events occurred.

The US intelligence agencies referred to the Chinese spy balloon spotted in US airspace as Killeen-23.

According to the leaked data, two balloons from previous years were referred to as Bulger-21 and Accardo-21. The report mentions that it was not clear from the documents if Bulger-21 and Accardo-21 were the same balloons that flew over the carrier strike group and crashed.

Citing an anonymous senior US official, the report states that the government naming convention for such balloons is alphabetical, from A to Z. It appears that the balloons are named after notorious criminals, including Tony Accardo, James “Whitey” Bulger, and Donald Killeen, it adds.

The leaked documents also detail a lack of “strong senior” oversight of the balloon surveillance program.

The document includes an image that seems to connect Bulger-21 to one of six Chinese companies that the US sanctioned in February for supporting the Chinese government’s spy balloon program, the Post reported.

Republicans have blamed Joe Biden’s administration over its delay in shooting down the balloon from February and stated that it allowed China to continue spying on the US.

Meanwhile, NBC reported earlier this month that the balloon was still able to gather some intelligence from sensitive military sites despite the administration’s efforts to block it.

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