Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to Be Hospitalized, Temporarily Transfer Authority

He will temporarily transfer his authority to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is scheduled to undergo a medical procedure on Friday evening, the U.S. Department of Defense has announced.

Pentagon press secretary and U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said the procedure is an elective and minimally invasive follow-up non-surgical procedure related to a previously identified bladder condition. The Pentagon spokesman said Mr. Austin has determined that he will be temporarily unable to perform his duties during the course of this procedure and that he will temporarily transfer his authority to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks.

The DOD’s decision to publicly announce Mr. Austin’s scheduled medical procedure comes after a recent revelation that Mr. Austin underwent multiple hospitalizations without clearly notifying President Joe Biden or other members of the U.S. government of his reasons for his absence.

Mr. Austin, 70, underwent surgery to treat prostate cancer on Dec. 22, 2023. Mr. Austin had not notified the president about the diagnosis or the surgery at the time. Instead, Mr. Austin’s office notified the White House and Ms. Hicks of a transfer of authority but did not reveal the reason such a transfer was needed.

Mr. Austin was rehospitalized days later on Jan. 1, this time for complications arising from the earlier surgery. A Pentagon review, published on Feb. 26, states that while Mr. Austin’s team communicated with Ms. Hick’s team at times between Jan. 2 and Jan. 4, it was not until Jan. 4 that Ms. Hicks or White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan were informed of Mr. Austin’s hospitalization.

It was not until Jan. 5 that the DOD began notifying members of Congress, and then the general public, of Mr. Austin’s hospitalization.

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The hospitalization episode raised concerns about the delegation of executive branch authority, particularly at a time when U.S. forces deployed in the Middle East were facing heightened threats from drone and rocket attacks in Syria and Iraq.

Some Republican lawmakers argued Mr. Austin should resign or face removal from his position for the oversights.

“I don’t think it’s news that I’m a pretty private guy. I never like burdening others with my problems. It’s just not my way. But I’ve learned from this experience. Taking this kind of job means losing some of the privacy that most of us expect,“ Mr. Austin said in a Feb. 1 press conference. ”The American people have a right to know if their leaders are facing health challenges that might affect their ability to perform their duties even temporarily. So a wider circle should have been notified, especially the press.”

Mr. Austin again underwent hospitalization on Feb. 11, this time with the DOD notifying the public. The defense secretary was admitted to a critical care unit, for what the DOD described as an “emergent bladder issue,” requiring “supportive care and close monitoring.”

The DOD concluded in its Feb. 26 review, that Mr. Austin had not acted with “ill intent” during his December and January hospitalizations.

Mr. Austin further testified, at a Feb. 29 House Armed Services Committee hearing, that he initiated a transfer of authority for his Dec. 22 surgery, but was reliant on his staff to make the proper notifications during his Jan. 1 hospitalization because he did not have access to secure communications systems during that medical episode.

“The issue was, No. 1, that they could not get to me, and No. 2, it was access to secure communications. It had nothing to do with my physical condition at the time.”

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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