Reports: Defense Secretary Austin Hospitalized, Biden Didn’t Know for Days

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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized since January 1, and at one point was in the Intensive Care Unit, but President Biden wasn’t informed about it for several days, according to reports on CNN and other media sources.

The Pentagon’s lack of communication with the White House runs counter to normal procedure involving U.S. Cabinet members and other senior officals.

Austin was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center last Monday when he suffered complications from a routine medical procedure, Pentagon Spokesman Pat Ryder announced on Friday. 

As of Saturday night, Austin, 70, had not been released from the hospital, but Ryder said he was “recovering well.”

A source told CNN that National security advisor Jake Sullivan informed the president Thursday afternoon after Sullivan himself learned about Austin’s hospitalization.

The Pentagon Press Association sent a letter of protest to Ryder and another Pentagon offical, writing, in part, “The fact that he has been at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for four days and the Pentagon is only now alerting the public late on a Friday evening is an outrage,” and added,  “At a time when there are growing threats to U.S. military service members in the Middle East and the U.S. is playing key national security roles in the wars in Israel and Ukraine, it is particularly critical for the American public to be informed about the health status and decision-making ability of its top defense leader.”

Austin’s hospital stay comes at a time when Iranian-backed militias have fired numerous drones, missiles and rockets at bases where U.S. troops are stationed in Iraq and Syria, prompting the military to retaliate. Those strikes, reports the Associated Press, “often involve sensitive, top-level discussions and decisions by Austin and other key military leaders.”

Senior White House officials admitted they were shocked by the decision not to inform the president.

Austin issued a statement ackknowledging “media concerns about transparency,” and said “I commit to doing better.”

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