Latest update by newsparviews : In an effort to calm the growing outcry over the Pentagon’s choice to keep Joe Biden in the dark for several days last week on the defense secretary’s hospitalization, the White House has dismissed calls for Lloyd Austin to quit. A representative for the National Security Council, John Kirby, said reporters on Air Force One that “there is no plan for anything other than for Secretary Austin to stay in the job and continue the leadership that he has been demonstrating” when the US president was traveling to South Carolina on Monday. Kirby continued, “The president’s primary concern is his health and recuperation, and he looks forward to returning to the Pentagon as soon as possible.” The controversy surrounding Austin’s health worsened when it became known that the defense secretary had been covertly committed to the hospital on January 1st as a result of problems from an elective surgery that is still unknown, handing over his responsibilities to deputy Pentagon director Kathleen Hicks. There was a clear breakdown in both public and internal government communication when the Pentagon withheld information on Biden’s condition from the White House, including Biden, until January 4 and did not make a public statement about it until January 5. Austin had not made a resignation offer and has no intention of doing so, according to Pentagon spokesperson Pat Ryder on Monday.

 When the defense secretary was brought to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center with his security detail and an aide, Ryder claimed he was “conscious but in quite a bit of pain” and was admitted to the intensive care unit. On Monday, Austin was still hospitalized but had left the intensive care unit. Austin’s medical procedure was not disclosed by Ryder.  The fact that Austin abruptly left the office during heated discussions on the US response to mounting concerns about escalation in the Middle East has only served to intensify criticism of him. The Pentagon’s concealment of Austin’s health issues has upset a few of Biden’s closest allies on Capitol Hill. “I’m still worried,”  The Senate Armed Services Committee chair, Jack Reed, stated, “that crucial chain of command and notification procedures were not followed while the secretary was receiving medical attention.” “He accepts responsibility for the circumstances, but since this was a major incident, the agency needs to be held accountable and transparent. This kind of nondisclosure needs to stop right now. Kirby stated that although Biden still had faith in Austin, the administration would be examining its internal “processes and procedures” in an effort to “learn from this experience” and maybe make “some changes.” The seventy-year-old defence secretary has returned to work. He claimed that he accepted “full responsibility for my decisions about disclosure” in a statement on Saturday. “I acknowledge that there was more I could have done to make sure the public was informed.”  I promise to improve,” he continued. Kirby stated that the president “respects the fact that secretary Austin took ownership for the lack of transparency” during Biden and Austin’s Saturday speech. Biden “respects the magnificent job he’s done as defense secretary, and how he’s handled multiple crisis over the last almost three years,” Kirby continued.


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