The Biden White House was not informed for several days that U.S. Defence Secretary, Lloyd Austin, had been hospitalised. Mr. Austin, 70, was admitted to the Walter Reed Medical Center on Monday due to post-surgery complications. At least one official claimed the White House learned about Mr. Austin’s condition only on Thursday morning, sparking concern over a communication breakdown in the top echelon of the U.S. government.
Mr. Austin acknowledged his part in the inadequate communication, stating that he could have ensured better public information sharing. He expressed his determination to improve in this regard, while also underlining the personal nature of his medical situation. “I am very glad to be on the mend and look forward to returning to the Pentagon soon,” Austin said, adding that he resumed his full duties on Friday, as confirmed by a Defence Department spokesperson.
The delay in disclosing Mr. Austin’s health status has prompted criticism from Republican lawmakers and journalists alike. Senators Tom Cotton and Roger Wicker expressed severe consternation over the apparent withholding of such pivotal information. The Pentagon Press Association, comprising journalists covering the defence department, also highlighted the importance of transparency regarding Mr. Austin’s health, given escalating military tensions in the Middle East, Israel and Ukraine. This incident presents an opportunity for dialogues about transparency in high-ranking positions, even amidst personal health conditions.
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