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Defense Sec. Austin apologized directly to Biden over hospitalization controversy: ‘Did not handle this right’

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday that he directly apologized to President Biden for not notifying him in advance of his hospitalization for prostate cancer treatment.

“I want to be clear: We did not take care of this right, and I did not take care of this right,” Austin said at a Pentagon news conference Thursday. “I should have told the president about my cancer diagnosis. I should have told my team and the American people. I take full responsibility. I apologize to my teammates and the American people.”

He cited concerns about who was in command at the Pentagon during a period of heightened tensions in the Middle East, saying, “There were no gaps in authority and there was no risk to the command and control of the Pentagon. I want to make it clear,” he said. east. Austin returned to the Pentagon on Monday for the first time since his hospitalization. His attack came a day after a drone attack by Iranian-backed militants killed three U.S. service members and injured at least 40 others at a military post in Jordan near the Syrian border.

“At every moment, either I or the deputy chief took full responsibility,” Austin said. “And we have already put in place new procedures to ensure that there is no failure to notify in the future should a deputy chief need to take over duties in my office on a temporary basis. She and several White House staff will return immediately.”Government officials, including the White House Situation Office, will be notified, as will key personnel across the department, and the reasons for assuming the role will be provided in writing.” “Ro”

White House establishes Cabinet notification guidelines following Austin hospitalization controversy

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Pentagon, Monday, January 29, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Austin also said he apologized to Biden after the incident.

“As a general rule, I don’t talk about my conversations with my boss, but I can tell you that I apologized directly to President Biden, and that I was deeply sorry for not letting him know sooner that I had received his resignation.” He was seriously ill and was receiving treatment.” “And he has responded with the grace and warmth that anyone who knows President Biden would expect. And I am grateful for his full confidence in me.”

Austin denied the idea of ​​resigning because of the controversy.

Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin noted that while Austin was in intensive care, there was a drone attack on an Iraqi leader of a militia group.

“Do you regret that the authorities weren’t clearer at that point? And what can you explain about what was going through your mind at that time?” Griffin asked during a press conference. “And apart from that, there were a lot of cables being sent about the targets of drone strikes and responses to them, so much so that Iranian proxy leaders left the country. Some returned to Tehran. Were there too many telegrams or were there no point in killing the Iranian commander? ”

Austin said the strike was “planned and we have made recommendations to the president on actions to take.”

Lloyd Austin

Pentagon officials have finally confirmed that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been in the hospital for nearly two weeks after being admitted to the hospital due to complications from surgery for prostate cancer. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

“The president made a decision, and based on that decision, authority was pushed down to the Central Command commander. No. “We want to minimize collateral damage. We want to make sure everything is correct. So the subordinate commander had command for that particular attack. So I was very involved in that planning and that recommendation, and we knew it was going to happen within a few days. ”

Mr. Austin said he would not speculate “in terms of strikes and telegrams about whether people left and what they left behind,” but said the United States was committed to a “multilayered response.”

Mr. Austin denied creating what another reporter called a “culture of secrecy” at the department.

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The secretary explained that he underwent “minimally invasive surgery” on Dec. 22, 2023, to treat his recently diagnosed prostate cancer.

Unexpectedly, he said he felt severe pain in his legs, abdomen and hips on January 1, and was taken by ambulance that night to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where doctors diagnosed him with a bladder infection. He was diagnosed with several problems that required treatment, including a bladder infection. Abdominal problems. On January 2nd, Austin remembered that he too was experiencing fever, chills and shallow breathing, so medical staff kept him in critical care for several days for close monitoring and increased “physician team care.” He was transferred to the ward.

Our soldiers killed in Jordan

Sergeant William Rivers, Spc. Breonna Moffett and Spc. Kennedy Sanders were killed in a drone strike by Iranian-backed militants near Jordan’s border with Syria. (Fox News)

“The deputy chief will assume the functions and duties of my office, as appropriate,” he said. “Her senior staff, my senior staff, and the Joint Staff have been informed of this through a regular email notification process, and I have directed everyone from the White House to postpone my January hospitalization. It is not.”

Mr. Austin said he resumed his duties and duties as hospital secretary on January 5th.

“I was functioning well mentally, but not so well physically. So I had some lingering problems with my legs, so Walter put in extra time for additional treatment, including physical therapy. -I stayed in Reed,” he said. “Right now, I’m offering all of this as an excuse, but it’s not an excuse. I’m very proud of what we accomplished in this department over the past three years, but not this time.” Department of Defense announced that Mr. Austin was released from Walter Reed on January 15th.

Austin also said Thursday that he missed an opportunity to speak about important health issues that particularly impact the Black community.

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“I was diagnosed with a fairly common cancer that has a good chance of being cured. One in eight American men will have prostate cancer. One in six black men will have prostate cancer. I get cancer,” he said. “So I’m here with a clear message to other men, especially older men: Get tested and get tested regularly. There’s a glass bottle for prostate cancer. “If doctors can find it, it can be treated and overcome.” “The side effects that I experienced are extremely rare. That’s why today, and for the rest of my life, I hope that I won’t have this problem.” You can expect us to set a better example in this regard.”

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