Austin apologizes for keeping hospitalization secret

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin apologized for not informing the White House and the American people about his recent hospitalization and for the deadly drone attack in Jordan that killed three American soldiers. He acknowledged that the Defense Department fell short in handling these situations and apologized directly to President Biden. He also clarified that he did not instruct his staff to keep his hospitalization a secret. Austin, who is still experiencing leg pain, shared that his prostate cancer diagnosis was unexpected and difficult to process. He initially wanted to keep it private, but recognized that his role in the administration comes with a loss of privacy. He admitted that a wider circle should have been notified, especially the president. The Pentagon is conducting an internal review and the inspector general is also investigating. In response to the soldiers’ deaths, Austin warned that the U.S. will retaliate at a time and place of their choosing. Plans for retaliatory strikes in Iraq or Syria have been approved. During his news conference, Austin also addressed questions about the drone attack and stated that the U.S. will respond in a multi-tiered manner. He emphasized that this is a dangerous moment in the Middle East and the U.S. will take away even more capability than in the past. Austin returned to work at the Pentagon on Monday after being hospitalized on New Year’s Day due to complications from prostate cancer surgery. He and his staff did not inform the White House or the public for several days. In a written statement, Austin took full responsibility for the decisions made regarding his health, but Thursday’s news conference was his first opportunity to explain those decisions to the public.  

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