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DEVELOPING STORY: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center since New Year’s Day. His illness has been cloaked with secrecy.
Not even President Biden was told that the man in charge of the Pentagon had been hospitalized.
Austin reportedly had an elective medical procedure on December 22 and was sent home – only to return in severe pain on January 1st.
There’s no word from the Pentagon on when Austin will be released from the hospital nor is there any word on the nature of his health problem.
Asked why the Pentagon kept Austin’s hospitalization secret, Ryder told NBC News, “This has been an evolving situation in which we had to consider a number of factors.”
Pentagon reporters are rightfully furious and fired of a letter complaining about the lack of transparency.
President Trump says Austin should be fired for “improper professional conduct and dereliction of duty.”
“He has been missing for one week, and nobody, including his boss, Crooked Joe Biden, had a clue as to where he was, or might be,” the former president wrote on Truth Social. “He has performed poorly, and should have been dismissed long ago, along with ‘General’ Mark Milley, for many reasons, but in particular the catastrophic surrender in Afghanistan, perhaps the most embarrassing moment in the history of our Country!”
Department of Defense press secretary Major General Pat Ryder told Fox News Digital that Austin doesn’t have any plans to leave his post.
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“Secretary Austin has no plans to resign,” Ryder said. “He remains focused on conducting his duties as Secretary of Defense in defense of our nation.”
Members of Congress are now demanding to know who was in charge of military orders during Austin’s hospitalization.
“When one of the country’s two National Command Authorities is unable to perform their duties, military families, Members of Congress, and the American public deserve to know the full extent of the circumstances,” said Sen. Roger Wicker (MS), top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), which has oversight of the Pentagon.
“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,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), another member of SASC, said, adding, “There must be consequences for this shocking breakdown.”
The Pentagon Press Association wrote a letter to public officials at the DOD, stating that the “public has a right to know when U.S. Cabinet members are hospitalized, under anesthesia or when duties are delegated as the result of any medical procedure.”
Former CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr wrote on X that “The lack of disclosure that SecDef was ill is a huge strategic failure,” and that she doesn’t “see a way forward for believing the Pentagon tells the truth on anything.”