Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, 70, secretly had prostate cancer surgery on December 22, Walter Reed doctors revealed in a statement on Tuesday, adding Austin was placed under general anesthesia for the operation. The Pentagon said yesterday that Austin did not inform Joe Biden, the White House or Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks about the medical procedure.
Austin was secretly taken back to the hospital by ambulance a week later on New Year’s Day in “severe pain” from complications from the cancer surgery where he then spent a week being treated in the Intensive Care Unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
Austin kept just about everyone in the dark about his condition until last week, including Joe Biden even though the U.S. is involved in conflicts in the Middle East and Europe and a hot zone in the South China Sea.
Austin was gravely ill with a spreading infection and intestinal issues requiring a tube to drain his stomach. Austin is now out of the ICU
Statement by Austin’s Walter Reed doctors:
White House spokespersons told reporters on Monday that Biden has no intention of firing Austin.
At Monday’s Pentagon press briefing by Ge. Pat Ryder, it was revealed the White House (meaning Biden) was not told about Austin’s surgery, nor was Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, reported CNN’s Haley Britzky, “NEW from gaggle today w/ @PentagonPresSec: The Pentagon did not inform the White House of Austin’s elective procedure on Dec 22, which led to the recent complications and hospitalization. DepSecDef was also not informed of the procedure despite being delegated some authorities.”
NEW from gaggle today w/ @PentagonPresSec: The Pentagon did not inform the White House of Austin’s elective procedure on Dec 22, which led to the recent complications and hospitalization.
DepSecDef was also not informed of the procedure despite being delegated some authorities.
— Haley Britzky (@halbritz) January 8, 2024
Q: So you mentioned that the — the NSC was informed on Thursday. Was that the first the White House — anyone at the White House had — had been informed of this?
GEN. RYDER: To my knowledge.
Q: OK. And then what about Congress? When — when was the first communication about this to — to Congress?
GEN. RYDER: Congress was notified Friday afternoon.
GEN. RYDER: Late Friday afternoon before our statement went out.
Q: All right, thank you.
GEN. RYDER: Natasha?
Q: I just have a few questions about the December 22nd surgery. So he transferred certain authorities to the deputy secretary of defense while he was undergoing a procedure, right? So was she made aware that he was undergoing surgery?
GEN. RYDER: No.
Q: And was the White House made aware that he was undergoing surgery?
GEN. RYDER: No.
GEN. RYDER: Don’t have a answer to that question other than, again, you know, the secretary, as he highlighted in his statement, he has taken full responsibility and has committed to doing better when it comes to transparency.
Q: So for the second time — this is then the second time that the White House was not notified that the secretary was in the hospital undergoing surgery. Was he at any point incapacitated during that surgery, under anesthesia?
GEN. RYDER: I highlighted that in the top, that during his hospital stay, he underwent an elective medical procedure, and during that stay, he transferred certain operational authorities to the deputy. Does that…
Q: But was he unconscious during that?
GEN. RYDER: Yeah, that I don’t know, so I’ll have to take that question.
Q: Pat, is “surgery” the right word?
GEN. RYDER: Procedure.
Q: You guys keep using “procedure”. I want to know if “surgery” is accurate or not.
GEN. RYDER: I’ve been told “procedure”. I’ve been told “procedure”. So…
This is a huge deal that the civilian head of the military was unconscious during surgery and neither the White House nor his deputy knew. Austin repeated this pattern a week later when he went to the ICU.
Before this latest revelation there have been calls for Austin to resign or be fired made by Republican congressmen and senators, but so far no Democrats.
The latest Republicans to call for Austin’s resignation:
Four House Republicans who are former military pilots are calling on SecDef Lloyd Austin to resign or be fired
Signed by Reps. August Pfluger, Mike Garcia, Scott Franklin & Jake Ellzey pic.twitter.com/JN4x1kqQ4D
— Liz Elkind (@liz_elkind) January 9, 2024