UNITED STATES NEWS

Pentagon watchdog will review Defense Secretary Austin’s failure to disclose his hospitalization

Jan 11, 2024, 10:03 AM | Updated: 11:08 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon’s internal watchdog said Thursday he will review the secrecy surrounding Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s hospitalization and why the Defense Department waited days to inform the White House that he had transferred authority to his deputy.

Austin, 70, is still in the hospital being treated for complications from prostate cancer surgery. His failure to disclose his hospitalization has been sharply criticized by members of both political parties and has led to some calls for his resignation.

In a memorandum to Austin and other top officials, Inspector General Robert P. Storch said his review would “examine the roles, processes, procedures, responsibilities, and actions” related to his hospitalization.

He said he would assess whether Pentagon policies and procedures “are sufficient to ensure timely and appropriate notifications and the effective transition of authorities as may be warranted due to health-based or other unavailability of senior leadership.”

The incident led the White House and Pentagon immediately to formalize policies for which officials will be notified anytime a Cabinet member transfers authority to one of their deputies because they will be indisposed for any reason. This includes not just because of medical treatment but, in an example the Pentagon used this week, when the secretary is traveling and does not have immediate access to secure communications.

Austin was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Dec. 22 and underwent surgery to treat the cancer, which was detected earlier in the month during a routine screening. He developed an infection a week later and was hospitalized Jan. 1 and admitted to intensive care.

President Joe Biden and senior administration officials were not told about Austin’s hospitalization until Jan. 4, and Austin kept the cancer diagnosis secret until Tuesday.

Both the White House and Pentagon previously announced they are conducting their own reviews.

Austin’s secrecy also prompted criticism from Congress members on both sides of the political aisle. Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he has opened a formal inquiry into the matter.

Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Thursday that the inspector general review is “good news.” Republicans on the panel had expressed concerns that an internal review would be conducted by people involved in the episode, Wicker said.

He said Republicans still want to know more about Austin’s absence from doctors or Defense Department officials.

That the defense secretary had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance “is an occurrence of such magnitude and importance and seriousness that certainly key members of the department, including his own deputy, should be notified,” Wicker said.

It is still unclear how Austin’s cancer treatment will affect his travel or other public engagements going forward. Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks has been taking on some of his day-to-day duties as he recovers.

—-

Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this story.

United States News

Associated Press

2 killed in helicopter crash in Washington state, authorities say

BLUESTEM, Wash. (AP) — Two men died in a helicopter crash in eastern Washington state, authorities said. Lincoln County Fire District 6 Chief Brandon Larmer told KREM-TV that the helicopter had two people aboard when it crashed Wednesday afternoon. The men who died were identified Thursday as 68-year-old Ryan Sandvig, of Spokane, and 63-year-old Mark […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Gold bars and Sen. Bob Menendez’s curiosity about their price takes central role at bribery trial

NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors showed jurors at Sen. Bob Menendez ’s trial on Thursday multiple instances when he researched the value of gold as he tried to help a New Jersey businessman who authorities say bribed him with gold and cash. The evidence about the Democrat’s online searches was prominently displayed to a New […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Bill allowing doctor-assisted suicide in Delaware fails in Senate

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A bill allowing doctor-assisted suicide in Delaware failed to win approval in the state Senate on Thursday after narrowly clearing the House earlier this year, but it could come back next week. The legislation failed in the Democrat-led Senate in a 9-9 tie after three members of the Democratic caucus spoke […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Amtrak trains suspended from Philadelphia to New Haven by circuit breaker malfunction

NEW YORK (AP) — Amtrak trains were temporarily suspended Thursday afternoon from Philadelphia to New Haven, Connecticut, by a circuit breaker malfunction, the national rail service said. The technical issue led to a widespread loss of power on the tracks between Penn Station in New York City and Union Station in Newark, New Jersey at […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Witnesses say Ohio man demanded Jeep before he stabbed couple at a Nebraska interstate rest area

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) — Witnesses say they heard an Ohio man demand the keys to a Jeep that was being towed behind a Missouri couple’s RV before he brutally stabbed them both and killed the man at an Interstate 80 rest area. James Thompson Jr., 22, was formally charged with first-degree murder and 10 […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

FBI raids homes in Oakland, California, including one belonging to the city’s mayor

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Federal authorities raided a home belonging to Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao early Thursday as part of a California investigation that included a search of at least two other houses, officials said. FBI agents carried boxes out of 80 Maiden Lane, a four-bedroom home that property records link to the first-term mayor, […]

5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinic visits boost student training & community health

Going to a Midwestern University Clinic can help make you feel good in more ways than one.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Pentagon watchdog will review Defense Secretary Austin’s failure to disclose his hospitalization