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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Defense Sec.’s Hidden Hospitalization Triggers Natl’ Security Concerns, Biden Uninformed

(Luis CornelioHeadline USA) The Pentagon took three days to inform not just White House defense officials but also President Biden about Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin‘s four-day hospitalization at Walter Reed Medical Center, several media outlets reported on Saturday evening.

The secrecy surrounding Austin’s Jan. 1 hospitalization, stemming from complications of an elective medical procedure, raised dire concerns about national security and improper communication regarding his medical condition.

Politico reported that national security adviser Jake Sullivan reportedly reacted with shock upon hearing the news on Jan. 4. Moreover, Biden was only notified after Sullivan was informed of the hospitalization, CNN reported. Additionally, the Pentagon informed Congress just 15 minutes before Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder issued a public statement on Jan. 5.

Ryder’s statement read: “On the evening of January 1, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for complications following a recent elective medical procedure.”

He added, “He is recovering well and is expecting to resume his full duties today. At all times, the Deputy Secretary of Defense was prepared to act for and exercise the powers of the Secretary, if required.”

Some U.S. officials reportedly criticized the delayed notification, with one telling Politico, “This should not have happened this way,” and another stating, “The vast, vast majority of leaders were unaware.”

Notably, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks was in Puerto Rico during the hospitalization but maintained what the Associated Press described as a “communications setup” abroad, allowing her to fulfill the duties of Defense secretary.

The Pentagon Press Association, which represents Defense Department reporters, rebuked the delay in informing the press and public about Austin’s hospitalization.

“The fact that he has been at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for four days and the Pentagon is only now alerting the public late on a Friday evening is an outrage,” the association said.

“At a time when there are growing threats to U.S. military service members in the Middle East and the U.S. is playing key national security roles in the wars in Israel and Ukraine, it is particularly critical for the American public to be informed about the health status and decision-making ability of its top defense leader.”

The details of Austin’s medical condition remain unclear.

Austin responded to the criticism in a statement on a Saturday statement. After thanking the medical team at Water Reed, Austin claimed: “I also understand the media concerns about transparency and I recognize I could have done a better job ensuring the public was appropriately informed. I commit to doing better. But this is important to say: this was my medical procedure, and I take full responsibility for my decisions about disclosure.”

Editor’s Note: This news article has been updated with breaking reporting stating that President Joe Biden was unaware of the hospitalization. It has also been updated to include a statement issued by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

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