GOP Rep. Banks Criticizes Sec. Def. Austin for President Biden’s Unnoticed Absence

Credits: Reuters

During a hearing on Thursday, Republican Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana criticized Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, alleging that Austin “embarrassed” the United States by not informing President Joe Biden about his hospitalization.

Austin had been in the hospital for three days without the president’s knowledge, raising concerns about the chain of command and communication within the Pentagon.

According to an internal 30-day review of the incident, Austin’s authorities were transferred to his deputy as soon as he was admitted to the hospital on January 1. This ensured that there was no break in command over the Pentagon.

Jim Banks (Credits: CNN)

However, Austin was transferred to the critical care unit on January 2, where he would not have access to secure communications. Despite this, President Biden did not learn of Austin’s medical complications or hospitalization until January 4.

Banks expressed his dismay at the situation, stating that the president, as the commander in chief of the U.S. military, should have been informed earlier. He suggested that Austin’s actions had undermined the United States’ image of strength and capability on the world stage.

Banks emphasized the importance of projecting strength to adversaries and suggested that Austin’s handling of the situation had fallen short of this goal.

In response to Banks’ criticism, Austin defended the actions taken during his hospitalization, emphasizing that there was no break in command and that the deputy secretary had assumed his responsibilities in his absence.

He acknowledged the need for transparency and communication but maintained that the appropriate procedures were followed to ensure continuity of leadership within the Pentagon.

The exchange between Banks and Austin highlights the challenges and expectations placed on top military officials in ensuring effective communication and command, especially in medical emergencies.

As the hearing continues, further scrutiny will likely be placed on the protocols and procedures surrounding the chain of command within the Department of Defense.

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