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ICYMI: Rubio Joins The Guy Benson Show
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined The Guy Benson Show to discuss classified briefings on unidentified flying objects and his legislation to ban TikTok. See below for highlights and listen to the full interview here.
On the Senate briefing on the downed Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs):
“95 percent of what they shared with us in that briefing today may be classified, but it doesn’t need to be. There’s nothing classified about it. That’s my first observation.
“My second is this: we need to stop acting like this is new, that this is some unusual thing. It’s unusual that we shot three things down over a weekend. But that’s the only thing unusual about it. We knew what the Chinese balloon was. The other three cases are basically similar to, and in some cases eerily identical to, long-time reports on this.
“To give you an example: from March to December of 2022, the new office that was created under the Director of National Intelligence had 247 new reports of instances of objects flying over US skies, often over sensitive or restricted airspace. About 170 of those remain uncharacterized [and unattributed] according to the report. And some of them appear to have demonstrated unusual flight characteristics or performance capabilities and therefore require further analysis.
“To shoot down [UAP] is very unusual. But the stories that they tell, the attributes you hear of these flight patterns, are in some cases identical to some of these reports that have come in, over 500 of them, under the AARO program.”
On the continued observance of UAPs:
“200 and some-odd were reported last year. 171 of them are uncharacterized. A bunch of them they were able to characterize, and others may have explanations once further analysis is done on data that’s collected. I think it’s possible it’s a combination of things….
“We set up an office through the ODNI, the ARRO program, and it is supposed to be the task force that takes in all this data. These planes went up and intercepted these things. Those planes collected data. They collected video data. They collected telemetry data. You don’t just shoot missiles at something and not collect data. That data needs to be given immediately to ARRO so that they can compare that data to all of these other cases. What they may find is this is just like the one we identified two years ago, and we know what it is now, it was X. And you’ve solved the problem. Or it may just add further to the study.
“That’s not happening. Instead what you have is them talking about creating a brand new task force that Jake Sullivan is going to head up. We don’t need another task force. We already have one that exists for this very purpose, and it’s not filled with political appointees. It’s filled with data scientists, aerospace scientists, people that specialize in this. That’s the only way we’re going to get answers on this.
“What do I think? One of my suspicions has always been that our adversaries know that the United States protects its airspace against missiles and airplanes, but it doesn’t protect its airspace against slow-moving objects at 20,000 feet that are small. We don’t protect against that, because we don’t look for that. We finally started looking for that after the Chinese spy balloon. All of a sudden we start spotting things because we never looked for it before.
“My sense is it’s an adversary…. But you can only start to answer that on the basis of the data you collect. And the fact that that data is not being shared in real time shows you that overlapping bureaucracies can often get in the way of answers.”
On whether the UAPs should have been downed:
“Maybe. I’m curious why now, after 200-some-odd cases, we finally start shooting at these things. Maybe it was the right thing to do. But until we know more about what they have on them, I’m not going to second-guess.
“My point is these things aren’t new. And if these things at 20,000 feet posed a risk to civilian aircraft, then the 171 cases that preexisted them, that we know about just last year, were similarly dangerous. But they were not intercepted or shot down.
“I’m not here to blame anybody on this, because I know it’s a new issue in some ways, but it certainly is one that merits more serious attention and certainly more disclosure to the American people. Because the absence of disclosure leads to widespread, wild speculation and things that really are not productive to getting answers.”
On the interception of a Russian plane near Alaska:
“I’m not diminishing that, but that happens often. The Russians are always sending out these bombers accompanied by jets. It’s strategic muscle-flexing. We’ve seen that before. We know what those are. They do it multiple times a year in different parts of the world, but certainly over the Bering Strait. It doesn’t surprise me, because that’s been going on for a long time, certainly during the Cold War. And we’ve seen it in the last 10 years as well. So that does not surprise me.”
On the bill to ban TikTok:
“It has a lot of support now in the House and Senate. ByteDance has to [obey] a Chinese law that says that if we tell you you have to give us data, you must turn it over to us. Should they be allowed to operate in the United States when they can, on a daily basis, collect all kinds of personal data on 55 to 60 million American users of their app?
“If tomorrow the Chinese government tells Bytedance, ‘We want you to give us all the data you’ve collected on the 50 or 60 million American users, and we want you to use it to ensure that we are spreading information that favors the Chinese narrative or just sows division in America or supports China invading Taiwan,’ ByteDance has to do it. They won’t exist if they don’t do it. So should companies like that be allowed to operate in the United States?
“My answer is no, they should not. If they divest, if they’re sold, if they’re no longer owned by a Chinese company that has to comply with Chinese law, that would be different. But they’re owned by a Chinese company that has to answer to the Chinese Communist Party. No company in China exists if the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t allow it to exist.”
On the threat posed by TikTok:
“My concern is not that they have the individual information of any American who has no problem with it. I have to act in the national interest, and it is not in the national interest for any foreign power, not to mention a hostile one, to be able to collect the personal data of 50, 60 million American users, which they can use for everything from shaping narratives to their benefit to managing their commercial entities over ours to, frankly, collecting data on people that are not on TikTok.
“They can pull all the data off someone’s phone, even if they don’t have TikTok. If they are a contact of mine, I text them, I communicate with them, it crosses over and it cross-pollinates, and suddenly they can do geolocation. Just a few months ago it was discovered that TikTok was collecting the location information of journalists that were reporting things that the Chinese government didn’t like. That’s just the tip of the iceberg of the way this could be used.
“It’s very simple. TikTok could be sold to another company, and if that company no longer responds to the Chinese Communist Party, they can continue. I know we all like buying products that are made in China because they’re cheaper, but it was not in our national interest to destroy our manufacturing capability and become heavily dependent on Chinese supply chains. It’s given them tremendous leverage over our country.”