Outrage Ensues Over Hidden Hospitalization Of Pentagon Official

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center confirmed last week that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was hospitalized on January 1 for an infection while recovering from surgery for prostate cancer, CBS News reported.

The statement, released by the Pentagon on January 9, provided further details on what had become a growing controversy over the Pentagon’s failure to inform the White House or Congress for several days that Austin was hospitalized.

According to Walter Reed, Secretary Austin’s prostate cancer was first detected in early December. He underwent a “minimally invasive procedure” on December 22 to treat the cancer, during which, the secretary was given general anesthesia. Austin’s recovery was uneventful, and since the cancer was detected early, doctors said the prognosis was “excellent.”

However, during his recovery at home, Secretary Austin began experiencing “nausea” and “severe” pain in his abdomen, hip, and leg, leading to his readmission to Walter Reed on January 1.

Doctors determined that the secretary was suffering from a urinary tract infection. On January 2, he was transferred to Intensive Care where additional tests found abdominal fluid obstructing Austin’s small intestine. Doctors inserted a tube through the secretary’s nose to drain the abdominal fluid.

According to Walter Reed, throughout his hospitalization, Secretary Austin “progressed steadily” and the infection cleared up. The secretary’s doctors expect a full but slow recovery.

During his hospitalization, Austin was never under general anesthesia and had never lost consciousness, the statement said.

Despite returning to the hospital on January 1, the White House, Congress, and even Secretary Austin’s second-in-command were not informed of his illness or hospitalization for several days.

According to Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder, Austin’s chief of staff, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and several other Defense officials were informed of his hospitalization on January 2.

However, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks was not notified until January 4, at which time she was on vacation in Puerto Rico.

The lack of transparency surrounding the secretary’s hospitalization has prompted some lawmakers to call for Austin’s resignation or firing.