The White House wants you to put away your tin foil hat.
It was an unusual denial to hear from the podium in the White House press room. “There is no, again no, indication of aliens or extraterrestrial activity with these recent takedowns,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday. “I loved E.T. the movie, but I’m just going to leave it there.”
“I don’t think the American people need to worry about aliens with respect to these craft. Period,” the White House national security council spokesman John Kirby told reporters later in the press briefing, speaking about three unidentified flying objects—one shot down by a U.S. fighter jet off the Alaskan coast on Friday, another shot over northern Canada on Saturday, and a third blasted apart on the Canadian side of Lake Huron near Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
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But the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence agencies still have not figured out how those three airborne craft got into the skies over North America or who may have put them there. “We don’t know who owns them,” Kirby said. Asked if the U.S. has seen any special interest by a foreign government in the debris, Kirby said, “No.”
The wreckage could shed some light on where they came from. But so far, the U.S. military hasn’t been able to examine the debris because the bits fell in hard to access places. The debris of the “object” shot while flying at 20,000 feet over Lake Huron on Sunday fell in deep water in the lake and U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian authorities have not reached it yet, Kirby said. The remaining parts of the object shot off the coast of Alaska have been hard to find because of sea ice, he said, and the unidentified object over Canada fell in an area of remote wilderness.
The comments from Jean-Pierre and Kirby dismissing the prospect of any of the objects having an extraterrestrial source came a day after General Glen VanHerck, commander of U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, refused to rule out the possibility.
“I haven’t ruled out anything,” VanHerck said when asked by a reporter if aliens could be involved. “At this point, we continue to assess every threat or potential threat unknown that approaches North America with an attempt to identify it.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin separately told reporters on Monday that the Pentagon still couldn’t be sure where the “objects” came from, but he acknowledged that they all could’ve been flying for commercial reasons without posing ill-intention. “We, of course, know that a range of entities, including countries, companies, resource research organizations, operate at these altitudes for purposes that are not nefarious, including legitimate research,” he told reporters in Brussels, where he was set to attend a North Atlantic Treaty Organization ministerial meeting that would be focused on Ukraine.
Adding to the mystery, those three unknown objects were shot down within a week of a U.S. F-22 downing an alleged Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4. The Pentagon has been definitive in saying that China owned that floating object.
But efforts to learn more about the Chinese balloon and its purpose have been slowed by bad weather off the coast of South Carolina. What’s left of the massive device the size of three school buses is on the sea bed in 45 feet of water not far from the resort town of Myrtle Beach. A few parts have been recovered from the bottom, Kirby said, but there’s more to retrieve.
U.S. intelligence officials believe the balloon was part of a sprawling intelligence collection operation by China. President Biden has been criticized for not stopping that surveillance sooner. Kirby noted that when Biden came into office, Biden asked for “a broad assessment of Chinese intelligence capabilities.” That assessment found that China was using a “high-altitude” balloon operation to collect intelligence.
That Chinese spy program, Kirby said, “was operating during the previous administration but they did not detect it. We detected it.”
—With reporting by W.J. Hennigan
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