Pentagon Watchdog to Investigate Austin Controversy

Defense chief failed to disclose his hospitalization
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 11, 2024 12:28 PM CST
Pentagon Watchdog to Investigate Austin Controversy
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in a file photo.   (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo, File)

The Pentagon's internal watchdog said Thursday he will review the secrecy surrounding Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's hospitalization and why the Defense Department waited days to inform the White House that he had transferred authority to his deputy. Austin, 70, is still in the hospital being treated for complications from prostate cancer surgery. His failure to disclose his hospitalization has been sharply criticized by members of both political parties and has led to some calls for his resignation, per the AP.

In a memorandum to Austin and other top officials, Inspector General Robert P. Storch said his review would "examine the roles, processes, procedures, responsibilities, and actions" related to his hospitalization. The incident led the White House and Pentagon immediately to formalize policies for which officials will be notified anytime a Cabinet member transfers authority to one of their deputies because they will be indisposed for any reason.

President Biden and senior administration officials were not told about Austin's hospitalization until Jan. 4, and Austin kept the cancer diagnosis secret until Tuesday. Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he has opened a formal inquiry into the matter. Both the White House and Pentagon previously announced they are conducting their own reviews.

(More Lloyd Austin stories.)

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