Already a subscriber? Make sure to log into your account before viewing this content. You can access your account by hitting the “login” button on the top right corner. Still unable to see the content after signing in? Make sure your card on file is up-to-date.
United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has accepted responsibility for the lack of transparency concerning his recent hospitalization.
Secretary Austin was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on January 1 due to complications from a medical procedure, a fact not initially disclosed to top White House officials or the public. This breach of protocol has raised concerns, especially given Austin’s critical role in national security and the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East.
In a statement, Austin acknowledged his failure in communication, saying, “I recognize I could have done a better job ensuring the public was appropriately informed. I commit to doing better. But this is important to say: this was my medical procedure, and I take full responsibility for my decisions about disclosure.”
Reports indicate that top White House officials, including National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and President Joe Biden, were informed of Austin’s hospitalization several days after the fact, with Congress being notified shortly before a public announcement.
The Pentagon Press Association has criticized the secrecy surrounding Austin’s condition, highlighting the need for transparency given the current global security situation and the precedent of openness set by other high-ranking officials. They said, “At a time when there are growing threats to US military service members in the Middle East and the US 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.”