Pentagon Review Finds SecDef Austin Did Not Act With ‘Ill Intent’ When He Lied About His Hospital Stay

The Pentagon’s internal review of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s secret week-long absence from work due to the side effects of cancer surgery found no fault in Austin’s actions or the actions of his office.

The review instead retreats behind paragraphs of heavy legalese that do little to disguise the lack of accountability. It is a strange document, with recommendations signed by Mr. Austin himself. 
“The director of administration and management will develop and codify internal guidance for making determinations regarding the assumption of functions and duties of the secretary of defense, minimizing subjectivity in any guidance, and will provide me with a proposed communication and training plan for all relevant organizations and officials,” the recommendations say. 
The closest the review comes to any self-criticism is contained in a paragraph about the transfer of authority, referred to in the document as “T.O.A.” 
“The secretary’s staff focused on ensuring continuity of the mission following standing processes,” the document said. “Their efforts, while respecting the secretary’s privacy, combined with the uncertainty of a medical situation and its bearing on how best to execute a T.O.A. in the absence of an established methodology for making such an unplanned decision, may have contributed to the lack of comprehensive information sharing about the situation.”

Here is Pentagon spokesman Major General Pat Ryder setting his personal integrity on fire and chasing it around the briefing room.

They found nothing during the review that demonstrated any indication of ill-intent or attempt to obfuscate.

Let’s review the bidding.

Austin underwent surgery for prostate cancer and was under general anesthesia. No transfer of authority memorandum was executed. We don’t know if the president, national security advisor, chairman of the joint chiefs, or any other party with a need to know was informed. What we do know is that when Austin was readmitted to the hospital, it was to intensive care, and it was done under a cloud of secrecy.

As I note in my post, The White House’s Attempt to Whitewash Lloyd Austin’s AWOL Makes Things Worse, the issue is not a single event. It is a pattern of deceit that involves lying to colleagues, deceiving his boss, and refusing to act with the level of professionalism that one would expect from a new enlistee.

Late Friday afternoon, the Department of Defense released a statement saying that Austin was in the intensive care unit at Walter Reed NMC due to “complications” from an unspecified “elective” surgical procedure. The statement revealed that he’d been admitted to the ICU on New Year’s Day. As happens with these things, more facts started dribbling out. As it turned out, Congress wasn’t informed of Austin’s incapacity unit 15 minutes before the rest of the world. The service chiefs, service secretaries, and other senior Pentagon staff found out two hours before the public announcement. We were told that Austin’s deputy, Kathleen Hicks, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Joe Biden got the news on Thursday (keep this sentence in mind because we’re going to talk more about that later). Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman C. Q. Brown was told on Tuesday. Supposedly, Austin’s chief of staff, Kelly Magsamen, found out on Tuesday, but she was home with the “flu” and decided to wait until she got back to work on Thursday before telling anyone.
At some point, Austin’s personal staff started telling people that he was “working from home.” At that point, the problem stopped being just an Austin problem and became an issue of his entire staff being loyal to him and not to the institution or president they served.

To cap it off, the person who led this inquiry was intimately involved in Austin’s dishonesty.

The DOD IG is also investigating, but the odds of that producing any results are nearly zero.

The bottom line is that Austin’s dereliction of duty can be seen across most aspects of Joe Biden’s administration. The crisis on the southern border, the flaccid response to terrorists closing the Red Sea to US shipping, and the transportation secretary waiting three weeks to show interest in a devastating train derailment in East Palestine are just the highly visible tip of the iceberg in how Biden and his cronies have excised duty and responsibility from their jobs and filled the gaping holes left behind with arrogation of power and acquisition of perquisites.

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