Concerns Raised After Secretary of Defense Goes MIA

Concerns Raised After Secretary of Defense Goes MIA

( – The Pentagon is under fire for failing to immediately notify the rest of the Biden administration about Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s hospitalization, which has prompted lawmakers and the White House to begin investigating the incident. Austin was hospitalized on January 1.

However, Austin did not notify the White House and lawmakers of his incapacitation for several days. The lack of immediate transparency sparked concerns in Congress, as well as calls for accountability.

The House Armed Services Committee released a bipartisan statement expressing concerns about Austin’s handling of the situation. Transparency on such matters is “vitally important,” the statement said. The lawmakers also wished Austin a speedy recovery from his health issues.

Congressman Matt Gaetz called on the Armed Services panel to hold a hearing and receive testimony from Austin on the incident. Gaetz also urged the committee to get testimony from Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, who temporarily took over Austin’s duties while on a vacation in Puerto Rico.

The Pentagon’s failure to inform the White House and lawmakers about Austin’s hospitalization reflects a broader lack of leadership and transparency in the Biden administration, Gaetz said.

The White House claimed that it would investigate whether processes and procedures related to such notifications require modification, but indicated President Joe Biden’s intention to keep Austin in his role. The Defense Department has likewise said that Austin has no plans to resign.

Austin has resumed his duties from the hospital. He is receiving treatment for complications from prostate cancer treatment. The defense chief’s hospitalization comes amid heightened tensions in the Middle East, including in Israel and the Red Sea. Biden maintains “complete confidence” in Austin despite the debacle, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

Hindsight reveals how lucky the United States was not to face any serious threats during Austin’s incapacitation, but whether Austin or any other Biden administration official will face accountability for the situation remains to be seen.

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