A surprising revelation unfolded as it came to light that even President Joe Biden was unaware of the hospitalization of his Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, who had been in the ICU at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The secrecy surrounding Austin’s health has ignited criticism, questioning the transparency of the Pentagon regarding the seriousness of his condition and the lack of timely disclosure.
Lloyd Austin, 70, had undergone a small elective procedure but faced complications that extended his hospital stay. The Pentagon’s failure to inform not only the public but also high-ranking officials, including Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, until days later has raised concerns about the administration’s communication practices, especially given the multitude of national security challenges faced by the United States.
Austin, who took responsibility for the delayed disclosure, stated, “I recognize I could have done a better job ensuring the public was appropriately informed. I commit to doing better.” Despite assurances that he is on the mend and looking forward to returning to the Pentagon soon, the lack of details about his medical condition has left many unsatisfied.
The opposition, notably Sen. Roger Wicker, expressed worry about the diminishing trust in the Biden administration, emphasizing the need for a “full accounting of the facts immediately.” The Pentagon Press Association, representing journalists covering the Defense Department, also voiced their concerns, calling the delay in alerting the public “an outrage.”
In a statement, Wicker said, “However, the fact remains that the Department of Defense deliberately withheld the Secretary of Defense’s medical condition for days. That is unacceptable.”
Journalists, too, criticized the lack of transparency, highlighting the contrast with past instances like Attorney General Merrick Garland’s medical procedure, where the public was informed well in advance.
As questions linger about the handling of Austin’s hospitalization, the incident raises broader issues about transparency and communication within the highest echelons of the U.S. government, particularly when it comes to matters of national security.