Biden Slams Defense Secretary Austin's "Lack of Judgment" for Withholding Hospitalization Information

Biden Slams Defense Secretary Austin's "Lack of Judgment" for Withholding Hospitalization Information

President Joe Biden criticized Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for not informing the administration about his recent hospitalization, calling it a “lack of judgment,” The Associated Press reports.

The criticism came during Biden’s visit to Allentown, Pennsylvania, where a reporter asked about his confidence in Austin after the hospitalization for complications related to prostate cancer surgery was revealed. While Biden expressed confidence in Austin, he acknowledged that the failure to notify the White House or other Pentagon officials about the absence demonstrated a “lack of judgment,” The Post Millennial reports.

Austin, 70, had been admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Jan. 1 due to complications following elective medical surgery. Despite heightened international tensions and increased demands on the Department of Defense, Austin did not inform President Biden or other high-ranking officials about his hospitalization, and the president learned about it on the same day as the public.

The lack of disclosure raised questions about the severity of Austin’s illness, the absence of a plan for his duties during his hospitalization, and why he did not inform other senior officials. Republicans in Congress expressed significant outrage, accusing the Department of Defense of intentionally withholding information in defiance of the law.

The Pentagon defended its decision not to disclose Austin’s condition, citing medical privacy concerns. They also mentioned that Kathleen Hicks, the Deputy Defense Secretary, could stand in for Austin at all times. However, reports indicated that Hicks was on vacation in Puerto Rico during Austin’s hospitalization.

As of Friday, the Pentagon reported that Austin was in “good condition” at Walter Reed and actively engaged in overseeing military operations against Houthi targets, maintaining communication with senior staff. The incident sparked a controversy over transparency and communication within the Department of Defense, with critics arguing that such matters should be handled more responsibly, especially given the critical nature of Austin’s role and the challenges faced by the military at the time.


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