Outcry Over Secrecy: GOP Senators Demand Answers on Defense Secretary's Undisclosed Hospitalization

 GOP senators express outrage over the "alarming lapse" concerning the undisclosed hospitalization of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Senator Tom Cotton demands an explanation for the delayed notification to the White House and senior officials, highlighting the critical role Austin plays in the chain of command. The Pentagon cites medical privacy for keeping the hospitalization secret, but even key entities like the National Security Council and congressional leaders were not informed promptly.

Senator Roger Wicker condemns the Defense Department's secrecy as a "shocking defiance of the law" and calls for immediate briefings on the situation. Wicker questions the administration's transparency, pointing to previous instances like the Chinese spy balloon and the Afghanistan withdrawal. Austin's deputy, Kathleen Hicks, temporarily assumed some duties during his hospitalization.

The delayed notification raises concerns, with President Biden and the National Security Council only informed on Thursday, and Congress on Friday just before a public statement. Austin, recovering from an undisclosed elective surgery, acknowledges transparency concerns and pledges to do better in informing the public. Senator Wicker demands an explanation for the deviation from standard notification procedures and questions the justification for withholding information from the National Security Council.

The press, represented by the Pentagon Press Association, expresses significant concerns about the delayed public disclosure of Austin's hospitalization. The letter emphasizes the outrage at learning about the hospitalization four days after the fact, citing it as a failure on the part of the Defense Department.

Amid these developments, Austin's hospitalization adds complexity to the Biden administration's challenges, including attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria, the proxy war with Russia, and ongoing conflicts in the Red Sea. The administration faces criticism for its handling of crucial information during a time of heightened national security concerns.

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