Senior Biden leaders, Pentagon officials unaware for days that defense secretary was hospitalized

U.S. officials say that senior Biden administration leaders, members of Congress and top Pentagon officials were unaware for days that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had been hospitalized since Monday U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin makes a joint statement with Israel Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, after their meeting about Israel’s military operation in Gaza, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, Dec. 18, 2023. (… WASHINGTON — Senior Biden administration leaders, top Pentagon officials and members of Congress were unaware for days that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had been hospitalized since Monday, U.S. officials said Saturday, as questions swirled about his condition and the secrecy surrounding it. The Pentagon did not inform the White House National Security Council or top adviser Jake Sullivan of Austin’s hospitalization at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, until Thursday, according to two administration officials. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. The Pentagon’s failure to disclose Austin’s hospitalization for days reflects a stunning lack of transparency about his illness, how serious it was and when he may be released. Such secrecy, at a time when the United States is juggling myriad national security crises, runs counter to normal practice with the president and other senior U.S. officials and Cabinet members. Still, President Joe Biden spoke with Austin on Saturday, and expressed confidence in him, according to a White House official who was not authorized to speak publicly about internal discussions and spoke on condition of anonymity. In a statement issued Saturday evening, Austin took responsibility for the delays in notification. “I recognize I could have done a better job ensuring the public was appropriately informed. I commit to doing better,” said Austin, acknowledging the concerns about transparency. “But […]

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By Donato