Why was Austin’s hospitalization kept a secret?


Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was admitted to the hospital on January 1. The American public was not told of this development until Friday, January 5.

Why was there such a long delay in disclosing that fact? Remember when Joe Biden pledged to have the most transparent administration ever? Good times. Good times. Whatever Biden pledges to do, take the opposite to be the truth.

Secretary Austin was hospitalized on January 1 due to “complications following a recent elective medical procedure.” That is according to Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary. Ryder said that Austin is recuperating but did not give any specific information. He is in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The 70-year-old Austin is “recovering well and is expecting to resume his full duties today.” That is what Ryder announced on Friday.

Austin had not been capable of fulfilling his duties for five days and the Pentagon said nothing about that. WTH? There was no mention of when Austin is expected to be discharged from the hospital. And the Pentagon did not offer an explanation about the secrecy of his hospitalization.

Why are they hiding Austin's medical challenge now? We don’t need to know all the details of his personal medical records but shouldn’t someone clarify what the elective surgery was and what the complications are that he is experiencing now?

The world is on fire and Biden has involved us in the war in Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war. Iran is poking Biden in the eye. Our troops are being attacked daily on military facilities in the Middle East. There are attacks on ships in the region. There is a lot going on that the secretary has to monitor. Is the Biden administration so tone-deaf that it didn’t consider how a delay in disclosing Austin’s condition would land with the public? Apparently so.

Jennifer Griffin, FNC’s Chief National Security Correspondent, noted that this is something that happens in China. Ouch

Austin returned from a trip to Israel and other stops in the Middle East in late December. He travels frequently and there has been no mention of health concerns.

Ryder, in a statement, said that Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks had been prepared to exercise the powers of defense secretary if required because of Austin’s medical treatment. In a later email, Ryder said that Austin remained in the hospital and had fully resumed his job responsibilities on Friday evening.

He said that Hicks had “made some routine decisions on Secretary Austin’s behalf” this week.

“Of note, the secretary did not have to affirmatively delegate his duties because by statute, the deputy secretary is automatically authorized to perform the duties of the secretary if he is unable to perform them,” Ryder added.

It may be standard procedure to the Pentagon staff but I think Americans want to know when someone in such a position of power is taken off the field and replaced by a deputy. As I mentioned, especially in times like this. I don’t have a lot of confidence in Austin’s performance but it is the position he is in. Imaginations can run wild. The truth delivered by those involved is always the best option.

The Pentagon Press Association, an organization representing media covering the Defense Department, expressed frustration about the department’s “failure to notify the public and the media” about the hospitalization, and requested a meeting with Pentagon leaders to discuss the department’s handling of the matter.

“The fact that he has been at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for … days and the Pentagon is only now alerting the public late on a Friday evening is an outrage,” the group said in a letter to Ryder and Chris Meagher, another official overseeing Pentagon public affairs.

The press association said that the public has a right to know when Cabinet members are hospitalized, under anesthesia or delegate their duties as the result of a medical procedure. “This has been the practice even up to the president’s level,” the letter said. “As the nation’s top defense leader, Secretary Austin has no claim to privacy in this situation.”

To add a little more intrigue to the disclosure of Austin’s hospitalization, Ryder justified the delay as “an evolving situation.” He said there were a “number of factors, including medical and personal privacy issues.” That isn’t exactly a statement that inspires confidence. It makes Austin’s condition sound more serious than is being disclosed.

So much for transparency, eh? The man has a right to privacy but with people in top government positions, transparency is essential to maintain public confidence.

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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