White House: ‘No Indication of Aliens of Extraterrestrial Activity’ With Recent Takedowns
CBS News - February 14, 2023 6:48 am
WASHINGTON, DC –
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre sought to put to rest any questions about whether recent objects detected in the national airspace are tied to aliens, saying Monday that there is “no indication” of extraterrestrial activity related to the handful of high-altitude objects shot down in a nine-day span.
“I just want to make sure we address this from the White House. I know there have been questions and concerns about this, but there is no, again, no indication of aliens or extraterrestrial activity with these recent takedowns,” Jean-Pierre told reporters as she opened the White House press briefing. “Wanted to make sure that the American people knew that, all of you knew that, and it is important for us to say that from here.”
Jean-Pierre’s reassurances that aliens are not behind the unusual activity happening in the sky came a day after Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, who heads U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), was asked if authorities have ruled out extraterrestrials.
“I haven’t ruled anything out at this point,” he told reporters during a briefing Sunday. “We continue to assess.”
Melissa Dalton, assistant secretary of defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs, said Sunday that authorities are “working hard to understand the nature of these unidentified objects,” especially if they were for surveillance and what their capabilities are.
The nation’s eyes have turned upward after three high-altitude objects detected over Alaska, Canada and Michigan were shot down by military fighter jets in so many days. The trio of incidents, all since Friday, came after the U.S. Air Force shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4.
A U.S. official said the salvage operation off the coast of South Carolina has recovered a “significant” portion — about 30 to 40 feet — of the Chinese balloon’s antenna array from the bottom of the ocean.
The Chinese airship first entered U.S. airspace earlier that week and traversed the country, flying over or near military sites in Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska and Missouri before it was taken down. The Navy has been leading efforts to recover debris and retrieve the balloon’s payload, and salvage operations resumed Monday after they were paused due to rough waters.
In addition to the surveillance balloon, the U.S. shot down an object over Alaska on Friday and, working with Canadian officials, an unidentified object over the Yukon on Saturday. The U.S. military shot down another high-altitude object, flying at about 20,000 feet, over the Great Lakes region on Sunday.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Monday that the U.S. did not believe the three objects posed a direct threat to people on the ground, but could have been a danger to civilian commercial air traffic, given their altitude. The government is “laser-focused” on confirming the nature and purpose of the objects, he said, including through “intensive” efforts to collect debris in the areas where they fell.
Kirby said the recent increase in the objects detected could partially be explained by NORAD enhancing its radar capabilities to more closely scrutinize the airspace over the U.S. and Canada in light of the recent incursion by the Chinese airship.
“I don’t think the American people need to worry about aliens with respect to these crafts,” he said.
Kirby noted that unidentified aerial phenomena have been reported “for many years without explanation or deep examination” by the federal government, though the U.S. under the Biden administration is trying to gain greater understanding.
An assessment of reports of what the government calls “unidentified aerial phenomena” released last month said of the 366 additional reports of sightings since 2004, 163 were “balloon-like objects.”
In Belgium, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters the priority is debris recovery. He added that the Pentagon is working closely with the rest of the federal government, including the Federal Aviation Administration, the FBI and NASA, and he assured Americans that the objects don’t pose a military threat to anyone on the ground.
— Eleanor Watson and David Martin added to this report