MRE Protests Pentagon Silence On Defense Secretary’s Hospitalization

Statement from Military Reporters & Editors

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 — Military Reporters and Editors protests the Defense Department’s failure to notify the public and media about Secretary Lloyd Austin’s hospitalization.

This is a violation of the intent and spirit of the Pentagon’s own Principles of Information, and it fails to meet the standards of public disclosure for senior government officials unable to exercise their duties.

The Pentagon had ample opportunity to disclose Secretary Austin’s absence including during a media briefing on Thursday. The lack of disclosure has created a serious breach of trust at a critical juncture. It is also another troubling sign of a growing lack of transparency. That the information about a five-day absence was not released until Friday at 5 p.m. is keeping in the worst traditions of obfuscation and opacity.

There is no excuse for the lack of notification. Secretary Austin enjoys no privilege of privacy here given the important role he plays. The Pentagon only has to look at how the Marines handled the hospitalization of the Commandant, Gen. Eric Smith, to see how these matters should be handled.

We join our colleagues at the Pentagon Press Association in condemning the Pentagon’s handling of this situation and demand assurances it will not be repeated.

Howard Altman
Military Reporters & Editors

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