Secrecy Behind SECDEF’s Hospitalization Raises More Questions as International Tensions, Danger Rise
This weekend, news broke that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin started 2024 in the hospital and remained there for days, seemingly without most of the world – including his boss at the White House – being aware. Secretary Austin’s secret hospital stay has many in Congress and the media enraged, wanting to know why the decision was made to keep the Secretary’s condition in the dark and, perhaps more importantly, who made the decision to conceal his location and medical condition.
Perhaps even more telling is the lack of notification within the Pentagon itself, let alone the fact that Secretary Austin’s boss and the Commander-in-Chief Joe Biden was only made aware days later. Did the Secretary make the decision, or while he was incapacitated, did a staffer drop the proverbial ball in notifying, at a minimum, the Secretary’s boss?
Worse still, did the Secretary’s staff consciously decide to keep the information from the public? All these questions and more remain unanswered, all while, as far as the American public knows, the Secretary is still hospitalized.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was hospitalized on January 1st and placed in an intensive care unit for four days after experiencing intense pain after an elective surgery he had undergone a few days prior. According to Pentagon Press Secretary Major General Pat Ryder, the hospitalization was due to the following:
“…complications following a recent elective medical procedure.”
At this time, the elective procedure and the details behind the complications remain a mystery, with the Pentagon citing privacy concerns as the reason behind the lack of transparency. However, it’s not the medical details that make this newsworthy, as plenty of public and high-ranking government officials undergo various medical procedures every year in every administration.
The media and the American public are up in arms because almost nobody was made aware of the Secretary’s condition and whereabouts, including the White House. The Department of Defense didn’t tell the White House National Security Council until three days after he was admitted at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General CQ Brown, wasn’t notified until the day after on January 2nd. It’s essential to recognize that General Brown isn’t actually in the chain of command for Secretary Austin.
The individual military service secretaries who are in the chain of command weren’t notified until four days later, on January 5th. The White House and, by extension, President Joe Biden weren’t informed until three days later.
Whoops, my bad
Since January 1st, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks has assumed the duties of Secretary Austin. Deputy Secretary Hicks took over while on leave in Puerto Rico.
According to a senior defense official, she:
“…has maintained full communication with the DOD Staff throughout. She has monitored DOD’s day-to-day operations and conducted some routine business.”
While assuming Secretary Austin’s duties, Deputy Secretary Hicks wasn’t informed of the reason for the assumption of responsibilities until January 4th. In response to the apparent obfuscation conducted by the Secretary of Defense’s office, the Pentagon Press Association wrote in a letter:
“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.”
Secretary Austin has released the following statement that makes no apology for keeping his condition a secret, instead saying he:
“…understand the media concerns about transparency and I recognize I could have done a better job ensuring the public was appropriately informed. I commit to doing better.”
The real issue
An unnamed Pentagon official told CNN:
“There are all of these people around the Secretary at all times, who manage him and help him on a day-to-day basis, and no one had the wherewithal to even tell the White House? I’m surprised no one is using the word ‘cover-up’ yet.”
This unnamed source brings up an excellent point not touched on by mainstream media thus far. When an individual makes it to a level like Secretary of Defense, they are afforded an entire team of individuals whose sole responsibility is, as put by the source, to “manage” the individual.
These are aids of various sorts, executive assistants, and even private aids that help with dry cleaning, laundry services, and house cleaning.
Essentially, what this unnamed source hits on is one of two things happened in this case:
- The Secretary’s staff is so ill-managed and unqualified that they at no point reached the logical conclusion that someone should tell the White House or…
- The decision to not tell the White House was made on purpose to keep it from the President and his staff.
It’s hard to know which one of those scenarios is worse. Senator Tom Cotton explained just how vital the role of the Secretary of Defense is for the nation, stating:
“The Secretary of Defense is the key link in the chain of command between the President and the uniformed military, including the nuclear chain of command, when the weightiest of decisions must be made in minutes.”
The Secretary of Defense is also the sixth in the line of presidential succession, so for all intents and purposes, the role and who fills it is hugely consequential to the nation.
What the American public needs to grapple with is that this latest incident proves a possible number of things:
- The United States isn’t run by elected and appointed officials but by unelected bureaucrats
- Those appointed by the Biden administration have no respect for the office of the President, and/or
- Incompetent, negligent individuals run the United States government
So much for transparency and accountability.