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ICYMI: Rubio Joins the Mike Gallagher Show

Feb 3, 2023 | Press Releases

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined The Mike Gallagher Show to discuss the Chinese spy balloon in U.S. airspace, the dangers posed by TikTok, the mishandled classified documents scandal, and more. See below for highlights and listen to the full interview here.

On the Chinese spy balloon:

“This is not complicated technology, but it’s ingenious in the sense that they [the Chinese Communist Party] can argue, ‘Well, that’s just a balloon, and we put it up in the atmosphere to monitor [weather patterns].’ 

“It seems so silly, in the 21st century, that they think they can get away with it with some level of deniability, including saying: ‘Well, we didn’t mean for it to go over there, but just it’s a balloon. Know how balloons are?’ That’s actually not accurate. These things are maneuverable to a certain degree. I mean, they’re not as precise as a UAV, a drone, or an airplane, but they are maneuverable. They can generally know where they’re going to go. And I mean, this thing wasn’t going over tourist destinations. It went over the northwest. It went over Montana, where we have ICBM fields. 

“It’s not the first time, by the way. We’ve seen these before. I think yesterday the acknowledgment of it is because they knew people were going to be seeing it, and there were going to be reports about it, and [they] couldn’t hide it. 

“I think it is disappointing that they [the Biden Administration] chose not to bring it down when it was over a sparsely populated area where they could have retrieved it and sent a pretty strong message.”

On the timing of the balloon’s incursion into American airspace: 

“It’s not coincidental that this is happening right before [U.S. Secretary of State Antony] Blinken was supposed to visit Beijing. They do these sorts of things to humiliate the other side, project strength and send a message. I don’t think this was coincidental. I think it was certainly tied to that.”

On what the U.S. should do about the balloon now:

“If these things are flying over our airspace, and there’s an opportunity to bring them down, we’re going to do it. We’re not going to do it in a way that’s going to fall on a major city and kill anyone. It can be a little unpredictable, so it’s not as easy as just going up there and knocking this thing down. [But] we have to make that pretty clear. 

“There’s those sensors [on the balloon], and they’re gathering information, but they can also get that information from satellites. They can get that information from all of the Huawei equipment and routers that are still installed across the United States. There’s a million ways they can gather this information that they want, and they are doing it. Espionage levels have grown. This is just one more method that they use to collect intelligence on us. We have to be cognizant of it and protect ourselves against it. By the same token, we need to wake up. 

“The most important thing we need to do now is wake up and finally, for those who are still resistant to this notion, understand that China is a geopolitical competitor and adversary, the first we’ve had since the end of the Cold War. They’re actually a bigger and stronger adversary than the Soviet Union, which was a military superpower but not an industrial or technological or economic power. 

“The rest of the century will be defined by this relationship between the U.S. and China and their strategic competition. We need to readjust everything we do in this country to that reality.”

On why TikTok is dangerous:

“I start by explaining why it’s not dangerous. The danger here is not what are interesting videos that people put up there. It’s a platform that certainly is very successful because it uses artificial intelligence and knows exactly what you like. Every time you’re on it, it learns more and more about you. 

“But how is it learning about you? Well, one of the ways it’s learning about you is it’s collecting all of the data, not just on your app, but on your phone. It is collecting, even without your permission, your photos, your texts, your location, your friends, everything. It knows more about you than you know about yourself. And it can use that data to predict what it is you like to look at and what kinds of videos you’re likely to to stay on versus others. Every time you use it, it learns more and more about you, to the point where it is ahead of you. 

“Now, why is that a danger? It’s not a danger because it’s some 16-year-old’s data, it’s because it’s the data of 50, 60 million Americans and everyone they interact with, to the extent it touches your device. And what does that allow [the Chinese Communist Party] to do? Well, a lot of things. 

“First, just on a commercial front, imagine the advantage that that kind of information on Americans would be for Chinese companies looking to market here, to destroy an American company with American jobs and replace it with a Chinese company that does it better. People will say, ‘How does that Chinese company sell so well?’ Because they know more about Americans than what American companies know, than what Americans know themselves. 

“And what about in a moment of conflict? What about in a moment of conflict where they [the Chinese Communist Party] decide: ‘All of the videos that talk good about why China has a right to take Taiwan, those were the videos that TikTok is going to show. All of the videos that talk bad about China, we’re not going to let those trend on it.’ You can influence society [with this app]. 

“The third [problem] is the unknown vulnerability of this data. Maybe I’m not on TikTok, but someone I’m close to is, and somehow, through that back door, they’ve been able to gather information on me. [That gives Beijing the ability] in a moment of conflict to deny us all kinds of things, from shutting down the electric grid all the way to disrupting the basics of life, to the point where Americans will be inconvenienced and decide it’s not worth doing anything against China.” 

On how we should proceed in our relationship with China:

“I always view the word ‘enemy’ as someone that you’re involved in open, hostile, warfare-type conflict with. ISIS is an enemy of the United States. We hope that there will never be a war between the U.S. and China because it would be bad for the world. We don’t want that to happen. But they are most certainly an ‘adversary’ in the sense that they seek to do us harm to their benefit. That makes them an adversary at this point. 

“The first step forward is not just about political leaders. I think this is writ large. People used to say this: ‘You’re absolutely right. We need more jobs in America. We shouldn’t depend on China—except I don’t want to pay a lot more for my iPhone. And if we force the factories to leave China for the iPhone, it’s going to cost twice as much….’ Now what’s happening with TikTok? Everybody’s like: ‘Of course we’ve got to be tough on China, but don’t ban TikTok, because that’s going too far.’ 

“There has to come a point here where people say: ‘I get it. It’s going to be inconvenient. It’s going to be too bad that I can’t go on this platform. But maybe someone else will come on and replace it.’…It really begins before the political leaders. It is actually about society. 

“People have to accept that creating distance from China to protect America may make life not as cheap in some cases or fun in some cases as it currently is. But what’s more important here? Is it the ability to post and watch really cool videos that you like? Or is it the future of this country for the next 20, 30, 50 years, and that of the world…? That’s the point we’re at right now. If you [make progress] at the societal and public level, then I think leaders will follow.”

On how the green agenda conflicts with our need to distance from China:

“The basic materials that are needed for these electric vehicle batteries? They’re now sourced to China to [allow the Chinese to] dominate that marketplace? Look at solar panels. We were the innovators of that, and they’ve now taken that over. We’re going to be more dependent on the technology that the Chinese come to control. 

“[Green activists in the Biden Administration] want to go to Davos, they want to go to some forum somewhere and hold the hands of the Chinese and say, ‘We’ve solved climate change.’ Meanwhile, the Chinese are funding more coal-fired plants than every other country in the world combined right now.”

On the Biden Administration’s refusal to cooperate with Senate Intelligence on the mishandled documents scandal:

“Hopefully that’s going to change. On the Pence thing, what was most amazing to me was that they wouldn’t tell Congress anything, but somehow CNN had a crew at 5 a.m. outside Pence’s home ready for the FBI to show up. Funny how that works.

“Here’s the fundamental problem. The Justice Department goes in, they seize all of these documents. They start reviewing everything. When they see something that they think might be classified, they send it to the intelligence agencies and say, ‘Can you confirm that this is classified or not?’ It’s not our job to oversee whatever investigation they’re carrying out from a criminal justice perspective. We need to know [what the documents] are, which materials were the ones that were stored in a particular location or taken inappropriately. 

“Because it is our job to oversee the intelligence community. And the intelligence community’s role right now is to assess whether those materials are being exposed in a way that creates a national security problem, and if so, what can we do to mitigate it. For example, those things sitting in someone’s garage like Joe Biden’s, if exposed, would they have exposed some method of collection? Or would they have exposed some sources, like people? We need to know what the danger is and what we’re doing about it. How can we possibly conduct oversight over the intelligence agencies’ assessment of danger and mitigation if we don’t know what we’re talking about? We just can’t do our job without [that information]. 

“They’re hiding behind the DOJ thing, which is absurd. That’s an untenable position. And by the way, there is bipartisan support for the proposition that I’ve just laid out. At some point here, we’re going to need some cooperation, or things are going to start to happen.

“The intelligence community, their ability to function depends on two things: money that Congress appropriates every year and authorization. And we are the authorizers. I haven’t transitioned to the threat level yet, but I certainly am aware of what our leverage points are as overseers, and we’ll use them, if necessary, to do our job. 

“We’re in the process. I’m hoping we can get a resolution that’s good and right. I believe we will, eventually, because they’re in an untenable position. But so far, the answer is that has not happened. CNN seems to know more about it than the people in government charged with overseeing these agencies.”