Biden Admin Shocker: Defense Secretary Hospitalized Days Ago, Press Alarmed By Late Notice

Biden Admin Shocker: Defense Secretary Hospitalized Days Ago, Press Alarmed By Late Notice

The Biden administration waited until Friday to announce that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had been hospitalized on Monday, a delay of several days that alarmed the Pentagon press corps.

Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder provided a brief update on Austin in a statement that was released by the Department of Defense (DoD) at around 5 p.m., or the close of business, right as the weekend was getting underway for many in the country.

“On the evening of January 1, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for complications following a recent elective medical procedure,” Ryder said.

“He is recovering well and is expecting to resume his full duties today. At all times, the Deputy Secretary of Defense was prepared to act for and exercise the powers of the Secretary, if required,” he added.

Members of the media, some with decades of experience covering the Pentagon, voiced shock and concern in response to the announcement that some billed as a “Friday night news dump.” The Pentagon held a press briefing as recently as Thursday, and made no mention of Austin’s health scare.

Barbara Starr, a former Pentagon correspondent for CNN, said in a thread on X that the “lack of disclosure that Sec Def was ill is a huge strategic failure. As of tonight I do not see a way forward for believing the Pentagon tells the truth on anything. Reporters are always skeptics but this goes far and deep beyond that always professional skepticism.”

While Starr wished Austin well and noted “there was a desire for patient privacy,” she also said “this is now a fundamental change in a DOD that claims it supports the press with disclosure and truthfulness.”

“NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt said the Pentagon “refuses to say how serious his condition was or why he was not able to perform his duties.”

ABC News senior Pentagon reporter Luis Martinez said in a post to X, “Lots of questions being asked why it took the Pentagon so long to acknowledge this.”

The board of directors of the Pentagon Press Association, of which Martinez currently serves as president, sent a letter to DoD public affairs officials requesting a meeting on the “troubling situation as soon as possible.”

The letter, which called the late notice an “outrage,” said the Friday announcement “falls far below the normal disclosure standards that are customary by other federal departments when senior officials undergo medical procedures or are temporarily incapacitated.”


“The public has a right to know when U.S. Cabinet members are hospitalized, under anesthesia or when duties are delegated as the result of any medical procedure. That has been the practice even up to the president’s level. As the nation’s top defense leader, Secretary Austin has no claim to privacy in this situation,” the letter added.

“At a time when there are growing threats to U.S. military service members in the Middle East and the U.S. 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,” the letter said.

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[By: Daniel Chaitin

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