Pentagon Resigns After Keeping Austin’s Hospitalization a Secret

According to an internal study, the Pentagon failed to promptly inform the president and other top leaders last month about Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s hospitalization due to complications from prostate cancer surgery because of privacy restrictions and staff reluctance. Austin’s staff conducted a review that essentially clears Austin of any misconduct regarding the secrecy surrounding his hospitalization, which included multiple days spent in the intensive care unit. Furthermore, it states unequivocally that “no indication of ill intent or an attempt to obfuscate” existed.

 

Rather, the 30-day review of the lapse, which infuriated the White House and Congressmen, recommends that protocols be strengthened and that information regarding the appropriate times for the defense secretary to delegate decision-making authority to the deputy be better communicated. Austin is scheduled to appear before the House on Capitol Hill on Thursday, when he is likely to encounter harsh criticism. The inspector general of the Defense Department is also undertaking an assessment, which is still ongoing. Austin underwent surgery on December 22 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after receiving a prostate cancer diagnosis in early December. He was in severe agony when he was brought back to Walter Reed by ambulance on January 1. The following day, he was transferred to the intensive care unit.

Even though he gave Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks decision-making authority both during his first surgery and again while he was in critical care, he kept it a secret from her and the White House. Officials from the Pentagon have admitted that while they were informed on January 2 that Austin had been admitted to the hospital, public relations and defense aides chose not to disclose the information to the public or the National Security Council until January 4. President Joe Biden learned about it at that point. It took an additional four days for the cause of his hospitalization to be revealed.

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