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Recovery operations for aerial objects to end in Alaska and Lake Huron


U.S. and Canadian authorities are ready to cease recovery operations for debris from the aerial objects they shot down last week over Alaska and Lake Huron, defense officials said in a news release late Friday evening, ahead of the Presidents’ Day long weekend.

The move — recommended by the U.S. Northern Command and with which Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin concurred — came after American troops, federal agencies and Canadian officials discovered “no debris from airborne objects” after a search using airborne imagery sensors as well as subsurface scans in Lake Huron and the Alaskan town of Deadhorse, according to the release.

Since downing a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon Feb. 4, the Biden administration has faced pressure to disclose more information about how a foreign craft had entered and lingered over U.S. airspace.

New images of the Chinese balloon recovery show the closest glimpse yet

The following week, officials said they had taken down three more high-altitude unidentified objects that they later said were probably not from China, but harmless objects tied to private companies, recreation or research institutions. Those objects were shot down over Alaska on Feb. 10, Canada’s Yukon Territory on Feb. 11 and Lake Huron on Feb. 12.

The Pentagon has rejected accusations that defense officials bowed to political pressure and were overreacting by shooting down the three airborne objects last week. Lawmakers from both major parties — had pushed for a more aggressive response to the suspected surveillance balloon before it was shot down on Feb. 4, calling it a clear example of Chinese provocation.

The recovery efforts for the aerial objects shot down over Alaska and Lake Huron appeared to be significantly less robust than that dedicated for the balloon taken down near South Carolina, terminating after several days.

The U.S. military said earlier Friday that it had concluded operations aimed at retrieving debris from the Chinese balloon shot down on Feb. 4. Navy sailors had recovered parts of the balloon itself and parts of its structure, according to earlier photos released by the Navy. The debris is being sent to an FBI lab for “counterintelligence exploitation,” the Northern Command said.

Blake Herzinger, a nonresident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said it was “credible” that the aerial objects shot down over Alaska, Yukon and Lake Huron were harmless. “But that prompts a question as to why the administration would sortie fighters and shoot them down without correctly identifying them in the first place,” he said.

The timing of Friday’s announcement about the suspension of two recovery operations — the news dropped at about 10 p.m. before a three-day holiday weekend — also raised eyebrows. “The decision to then bury that in late Friday news before the holiday looks like avoiding the question,” said Herzinger.

The Biden administration may be seeking to lower tensions with Beijing to set up conditions for high-level talks, said Chong Ja Ian, a scholar of U.S.-China relations at the National University of Singapore. He noted that such discussions could take place this weekend in Munich, where Vice President Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken are attending a security conference. Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat, is also in attendance.

Canada is continuing search efforts for the object shot down over the Yukon. But harsh winter conditions and mountainous terrain, combined with a search area spanning more than 1,100 square, miles render the operation “extremely challenging,” Canadian officials said Thursday.

*This story has not been edited by The Infallible staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.