One of the central figures in the bizarre tale of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin going AWOL for four days and lying about his whereabouts is now leading the inquiry into what went wrong.
In a memo addressed to the “senior staff of the secretary and deputy secretary of defense,” among others, Austin’s chief of staff Kelly Magsamen ordered a review of the “relevant fact and circumstances during this period and evaluate the processes and procedures through which the Deputy Secrectary of Defense was notified.”
The review should include the following:
- A timeline of events and notifications beginning from the hospitalization of the Secretary of Defense on January 1, 2024;
- Examination of the current process for determining whether the Secretary is or will be able to perform the functions and duties of his office and how such notifications will be made; and
- Recommendations for improving the existing processes for notification of the President of the United States, senior officials within the Department of Defense, and other relevant parties as appropriate.
The memo validates the timeline reported by various sources since Friday. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was notified that Austin was in the ICU on Tuesday. Some duties of the Secretary of Defense were transferred to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks on January 2 without her being informed of the rationale for the delegation of authority. The national security adviser Jake Sullivan was notified on Thursday, as was Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The service chiefs and other senior Pentagon staff were told Friday afternoon about two hours before the public announcement. Congress was notified a mere 15 minutes prior to the public disclosure of Austin’s hospitalization.
What made this memo so bizarre is that Austin is basically being given the authority to investigate why he didn’t direct someone to notify the president and Congress he was hospitalized and delegate authority to his deputy. The person who probably had that responsibility is the person who signed the memo ordering the investigation. (i say “probably” because, in a sane and functioning headquarters, the chief of staff has that responsibility, but as we’re discussing the clusterf*** that is Austin’s office, I don’t want to unfairly blames someone.”
Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said Monday that Austin’s chief of staff, Kelly Magsamen, was out with the flu early last week when she learned the news and did not make any moves to notify parties outside Austin’s immediate team until she after returned to work on Thursday.
Think about that. She learned about Austin’s hospitalization, but because she was out with the flu, she didn’t tell anyone until she returned to work.
This inquiry in not a serious activity.
“We’ll do what’s akin to a hot wash and try to see if processes and procedures need to be changed at all or modified so that we can learn from this,” John Kirby, the National Security Council spokesman, said when asked whether Biden wanted a review of what happened.
The inquiry of a breach of protocol of this magnitude should have been assigned to the DOD IG. It certainly should not be controlled by anyone in Austin’s office, particularly one of the people who is unibrow deep in the coverup.
There are two underlying problems that need to be fixed to prevent this from happening. First is the total lack of discipline inside what passes for the executive branch under Joe Biden. That problem (hopefully) will be fixed by the voters in November. The second problem is that Austin has surrounded himself with people who are loyal to him personally and not loyal to the institution or the nation at all. His office lied about his whereabouts, claiming he was “working from home” when he was in the intensive care unit at Walter Reed National Medical Center. Joe Biden can fix that problem by close-of-business today if he has the guts to do it.