Senior Officials Unaware of Defense Secretary’s Condition
The Pentagon has revealed a delay in disclosing Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s hospitalization, causing concern among both Democrats and Republicans for the lack of transparency. Austin has been in the hospital since January 1 due to complications from elective surgery. Pentagon press secretary Major General Pat Ryder stated that Austin remains in contact with his senior staff and continues to monitor the Department of Defense’s operations worldwide.
Surprise and Concern
The surprise revelation that the media, as well as top officials in the White House and the Pentagon, were unaware of Austin’s hospitalization until January 4 has sparked bipartisan concern. Lawmakers from both the House and Senate Armed Services committees are calling for greater transparency in the handling of such situations.
White House Expresses Confidence in Austin
Despite the delay in disclosure, the White House has expressed full trust and confidence in Secretary Austin. President Biden’s spokesperson confirmed that the President looks forward to Austin’s return to the Pentagon. Furthermore, the White House has stated that Austin has no plans to resign.
Internal Communication Breakdown
Internal communication breakdown is believed to be the cause of the delay in disclosing Austin’s hospitalization. It was revealed that Austin’s chief of staff, Kelly Magsamen, was aware of his hospitalization on January 2 but did not inform Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks. It was only on January 4 that Magsamen notified Hicks’ chief of staff about Austin’s condition.
Biden Supports Austin
During a visit to small businesses, President Biden affirmed his confidence in Austin’s leadership despite the hospitalization debacle. When asked if it was a lapse in judgment on Austin’s part not to inform the President about his condition, Biden replied, “I do.”
Austin’s Health and Recovery
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center reported that Austin underwent a prostatectomy on December 22 and was released the following morning. The surgery was successful, and Austin’s prognosis is described as “excellent.” His prostate cancer was detected early.
Lawmakers Seek Answers
Several House Republicans, led by Rep. Claudia Tenney, have written a letter to Secretary Austin seeking answers about the decision to delay disclosure. They are particularly interested in understanding who was involved in the decision-making process and who was aware of the situation from the beginning.
Sources: Associated Press, Fox News