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ICYMI: Rubio Joins This Week

Feb 5, 2023 | Press Releases

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined This Week to discuss the Chinese spy balloon. See below for highlights and watch the full interview here

2023 this week

On the message China is sending:

“I can assure you that if we fly a balloon over China, they’re going to shoot it down, and probably a lot sooner than we did. But there’s intelligence value to what this balloon did. That’s why they [the Chinese Communist Party] have them. That’s why they’ve used them. We’ll learn more about it in the days to come. 

“There’s a symbolic issue at play here. This is not a coincidence that this thing traversed the United States over sensitive military sites leading up to what was scheduled to be his [Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s] visit to China. This is deliberate. They did this on purpose. They understood that it was going to be spotted. They knew the U.S. government would have to reveal it to people. And the message they were trying to send is what they believe internally, and that is that the United States is a once great superpower that’s hollowed out and in decline.

“The message they’re trying to send the world is: ‘Look, these guys can’t even do anything about a balloon flying over U.S. airspace. How can you possibly count on them if something were to happen in the Indo-Pacific region? How are they going to come to the aid of Taiwan or stand with the Philippines or Japan or India when the Chinese move on their territory?’ 

“That’s really the key part here. They knew exactly what they were doing, and there was a message behind it.”

On President Biden’s handling of the situation:

“Look at the flight path this thing took. It went over ICBM fields, some of the most sensitive military sites we have, and then exited the seaboard of the United States and [went] into the ocean. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered. When was it spotted? Why was it not brought down sooner over other areas?

“I’m open to listening to the arguments they [the Biden Administration] make about why it wasn’t dealt with sooner. But this is what they [the Chinese Communist Party] wanted the world to see, that they could send a balloon at 60,000 feet over U.S. airspace, over military facilities, and that we would be unable to stop it.”

On broader nature of Chinese spying threat:

“Obviously countries spy on countries. China has satellites. China, unfortunately, has embedded in our country all kinds of Huawei software and hardware that could potentially be used for espionage. But what was the value of this particular platform? Because it’s one we’ve seen them use now for a handful of years here. 

“What are we going to do about it in the future? Because I don’t believe this is the last time we’re going to see this sort of thing happen again. I don’t think this is coincidental. I think they did this on purpose to send a message to the world that they can enter American airspace and do so without us being able to do or willing to do much about it.”

On potential intelligence retrieved from the Chinese spy balloon:  

“It depends on what we retrieve. And frankly, it also depends on whether the Chinese sort of suspected that this might happen. They flew this thing across the middle of the United States. So I imagine whoever designed this thing and put it up there realized, ‘Hey, at some point the Americans may get their hands on this.’ It’s quite possible that it was designed in such a way where there wouldn’t be much value to us in that regard.

“We’re going to find out more. Those are the kinds of things that obviously will not be discussed publicly, because if they knew what we’d gleaned from it, they’d protect themselves from it in the future. And it also depends on what they’re able to retrieve here. When you shoot something out of the sky and it goes into the ocean, you don’t always get it back in a neat package.”

On the cancellation of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to China:

“I don’t know how you could possibly make that trip happen at this point. I think these two things were linked. Most troubling, and I hope it’s not true, but there are reports in Bloomberg and other outlets that the Biden Administration did not disclose this balloon earlier to the American public because it [the administration] didn’t want to endanger or imperil his [Blinken’s] ability to travel. Certainly once this happened there was no way he could have possible made that trip.”

On when the balloon should have been downed:

“When did we first track it over airspace? Theoretically, if it entered through Alaska, NORAD (our system of spotting things and protecting both American and Canadian airspace) should have spotted it a lot earlier. I’d love to hear from military officials about why it wasn’t addressed earlier.

“Maybe they have some real good arguments about why it couldn’t be done earlier. I recognize that if you shoot something out of the sky that’s the size of three buses and it lands in the wrong place, it could harm or kill people and damage infrastructure.

“But by the same token, if that was the case, I think it really would have been helpful for the President of the United States to get on national television and explain to the American people: ‘This is what we’re dealing with. This is what I’m going to do about it, and this is why I haven’t done it yet.

“None of that happened, and I don’t know why. In fact, I don’t know why they waited so long to tell people about this. They knew the trajectory that it was on, it seems, from late last week or early last week.”