File picture of health-conscience SecDef Lloyd Austin.
Secretary of Protection Lloyd Austin, age 70, issued a press release Saturday night on his secret hospitalization that failed to clarify his surprising failure for days to tell Joe Biden or White Home employees, Congress and even Pentagon officers that he had been laid up within the Intensive Care Unit at Walter Reed Nationwide Navy Medical Middle in Bethesda, Maryland all week whereas the U.S. was participating terrorists in Iraq and the Crimson Sea.
Biden and the White Home weren’t knowledgeable till Thursday whereas Congress was notified on Friday. Some Pentagon officers discovered about it from information reviews Friday night time.
In his assertion, Austin took full accountability for retaining his hospitalization a secret, however didn’t say why he saved it secret or what his ailment is.
Austin’s deputy, Kathleen Hicks, is reported to be on trip in Puerto Rico this week and didn’t return to Washington. The Pentagon claimed Hicks was in a position to handle the Pentagon from her trip spot within the Caribbean.
Austin’s assertion was an effort to wash up the Friday night time information dump through which the Pentagon announced Austin had been within the hospital since Monday for undescribed “issues following a current elective medical process”:
Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder supplied the next assertion on Secretary of Protection Austin:
On the night of January 1, Secretary of Protection Lloyd J. Austin III was admitted to Walter Reed Nationwide Navy Medical Middle for issues following a current elective medical process. He’s recovering properly and is anticipating to renew his full duties at present. Always, the Deputy Secretary of Protection was ready to behave for and train the powers of the Secretary, if required.
Assertion by Secretary of Protection Lloyd J. Austin III on Medical Care
I wish to thank the superb docs and nursing employees at Walter Reed for the distinctive care they’ve delivered to me and for the non-public heat they’ve proven my household. I additionally admire all of the outreach and properly needs from colleagues and pals. Charlene and I are very grateful in your assist.
I’m very glad to be on the mend and look ahead to returning to the Pentagon quickly.
I additionally perceive the media issues about transparency and I acknowledge I may have performed a greater job making certain the general public was appropriately knowledgeable. I decide to doing higher.
However that is essential to say: this was my medical process, and I take full accountability for my selections about disclosure.
NBC News reported Nationwide Safety Advisor Jake Sullivan was not knowledgeable till Thursday that Austin had been hospitalized (excerpt):
Amid tensions within the Center East, Secretary of Protection Lloyd Austin was hospitalized, together with spending 4 days within the intensive care unit, in keeping with two senior administration officers.
The Pentagon didn’t inform senior officers within the White Home’s Nationwide Safety Council of Austin’s hospitalization till Thursday — three days after he arrived at Walter Reed Medical Middle, a U.S. official confirms. Politico first reported the delay.
…Deputy Secretary of Protection Kathleen Hicks, who was on depart, has picked up his duties, the senior protection official mentioned.
Hicks was on pre-scheduled depart when Austin was hospitalized this week, in keeping with a protection official. She has been on trip in Puerto Rico, the official mentioned.
She “has maintained full communication with the DOD employees all through,” the official mentioned. “She has monitored DOD’s day-to-day operations and performed some routine enterprise.”
Politico updated its reporting Saturday including that nobody informed Joe Biden till Thursday (excerpt):
The Pentagon didn’t inform President Joe Biden and different prime officers about Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin’s hospitalization for 3 days, three U.S. officers mentioned.
Nationwide safety adviser Jake Sullivan and different senior White Home aides didn’t know of Austin’s Jan. 1 hospitalization till the Protection Division despatched over phrase Jan. 4, two different U.S. officers mentioned. Sullivan knowledgeable Biden shortly after DOD’s Thursday notification.
…The information of Austin’s state of affairs got here as a shock to all White Home employees as they have been unaware the Pentagon boss was coping with issues following an elective medical process, the officers mentioned. Nationwide Safety Council staffers have been stunned it took the Pentagon so lengthy to allow them to know of Austin’s standing. The Pentagon didn’t make the data public till Friday night, notifying Congress about quarter-hour earlier than releasing a public assertion.
However Austin’s hospitalization was a carefully guarded secret, saved from even senior Pentagon officers and congressional leaders till simply earlier than the general public assertion, in keeping with 9 DOD officers and two congressional aides. Some Pentagon officers solely discovered of Austin’s state of affairs by means of Ryder’s information launch. One of many DOD officers mentioned their workplace was informed by Austin’s aides that the secretary was working from dwelling for the week.
The Pentagon Press Affiliation wrote a sternly worded letter complaining in regards to the Pentagon’s secrecy concerning Austin, TGP reported earlier.
Navy Reporters and Editors also sent a sternly worded letter. Reporters have been much more upset that the Pentagon held a press briefing on Thursday and did not disclose Austin’s hospitalization (excerpt):
The Pentagon had ample alternative to reveal Secretary Austin’s absence together with throughout a media briefing on Thursday. The dearth of disclosure has created a severe breach of belief at a vital juncture. It’s also one other troubling signal of a rising lack of transparency. That the details about a five-day absence was not launched till Friday at 5 p.m. is retaining within the worst traditions of obfuscation and opacity.
There isn’t any excuse for the dearth of notification. Secretary Austin enjoys no privilege of privateness right here given the essential function he performs. The Pentagon solely has to have a look at how the Marines dealt with the hospitalization of the Commandant, Gen. Eric Smith, to see how these issues ought to be dealt with.
More from the AP (excerpt):
…The Pentagon didn’t inform the White Home Nationwide Safety Council or prime adviser Jake Sullivan of Austin’s hospitalization at Walter Reed Nationwide Navy Medical Middle in Bethesda, Maryland, till Thursday, in keeping with two administration officers. The officers weren’t licensed to talk publicly in regards to the matter and spoke to the AP on situation of anonymity.
The Pentagon’s failure to reveal Austin’s hospitalization for days displays a shocking lack of transparency about his sickness, how severe it was and when he could also be launched. Such secrecy, at a time when the USA is juggling myriad nationwide safety crises, runs counter to regular apply with the president and different senior U.S. officers and Cupboard members.
…Ryder mentioned members of Congress have been informed late Friday afternoon, and different officers mentioned lawmakers have been knowledgeable after 5 p.m. It was not clear when key senior members of Austin’s employees have been informed, however throughout the Pentagon, many employees came upon when the division launched a press release about Austin’s hospital keep simply minutes after 5 p.m. Many believed Austin was out on trip for the week.
Deputy Protection Secretary Kathleen Hicks, who took over when Austin was hospitalized, was additionally away. A U.S. official mentioned she had a communications setup together with her in Puerto Rico that allowed her to do the job whereas Austin, who spent 41 years within the navy and retired as a four-star Military basic in 2016, was incapacitated.
Ryder mentioned Saturday that Austin is recovering properly and resumed his full duties Friday night from his hospital mattress. Requested why the hospital keep was saved secret for thus lengthy, Ryder mentioned on Friday that it was an “evolving state of affairs,” and that as a consequence of privateness and medical points, the Pentagon didn’t make Austin’s absence public. Ryder declined to supply another particulars about Austin’s medical process or well being.
In some organizations this may be a firing offense.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) referred to as for “penalties” in a press release issued shortly earlier than Austin’s assertion was launched:
“Secretary Austin should deal with promptly the troubling report that the Division of Protection didn’t instantly notify President Biden or the Nationwide Safety Council that he was hospitalized and unable to carry out his duties. The Secretary of Protection is the important thing hyperlink within the chain of command between the president and the uniformed navy, together with the nuclear chain of command, when the weightiest of choices should be made in minutes. If this report is true, there should be penalties for this surprising breakdown.”
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) January 6, 2024
UPDATE: Biden didn’t reply when requested about Austin whereas leaving mass at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Catholic Church in Wilmington, Delaware Saturday night, reported Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs:
As he left church in Greenville, Delaware, Biden didn’t reply a shouted query about SecDef Austin.
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) January 6, 2024
President Joe Biden leaves St. Joseph on the Brandywine Catholic Church in Wilmington, Del., after attending Mass on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. Stephanie Scarbrough – employees, ASSOCIATED PRESShttps://t.co/kQKd0I8hjv through @reflectornews
— Kristinn Taylor (@KristinnFR) January 7, 2024