Pentagon Watchdog Looking Into Hospitalization of Defense Secretary

Pentagon Watchdog Looks Into Hospitalization of Defense Secretary

( – The Pentagon inspector general has announced a review into Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s absence and why the White House and Congress were not told about it in advance. The inspector general said its office will look into “the roles, processes, and actions” related to Austin’s absence and review notification policies to ensure future transparency.

Mr. Austin was admitted to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in December for prostate surgery. On New Year’s Day, he was re-admitted and sent to an intensive care unit due to complications arising from the previous surgery. A White House spokesperson later said that the President was unaware of Austin’s hospitalization until January 9. Furthermore, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks did not report that she had taken over from Mr. Austin.

A group of Republicans recently wrote to the Pentagon demanding a detailed timeline of Mr. Austin’s illness and noted his admission that he had not given the notice he should have. The GOP lawmakers, led by Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, said they were “deeply troubled” by the Pentagon’s lack of transparency and the threat this posed to US security. They added that Kathleen Hicks also had a duty to inform the government and Congress of Austin’s illness but had failed to do so.

The Pentagon inspector general’s new probe will be the third into the issue, the defense secretary’s own office and the White House have ordered similar investigations. Additionally, the White House has sent a memo to cabinet secretaries making clear that they must inform the government and Congress of any upcoming absences or if they are, for whatever reason, unable to perform their duties.

On January 15, reports revealed that Austin was discharged from the hospital and would be working from home temporarily.

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