The Pentagon on Monday attempted an explanation following its bombshell announcement late last week that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had been secretly hospitalized for days in the intensive care unit — without the White House or Congress being notified.
Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon's top spokesman, in a public briefing that went for more than an hour, blamed a series of issues — including Austin's chief of staff coming down with the flu and his own failure to follow up — for the public and key government officials being unaware the defense secretary was sidelined at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland.
Despite the Pentagon's explanation, it remained unclear exactly how or why Austin, a cabinet secretary and the civilian head of the military — who was still hospitalized but back in control of the Pentagon on Monday, effectively hid a health emergency for nearly four days from not only President Joe Biden but also Congress and the American people.
Read Next: Marine Units Rotating to Indo-Pacific Don't Have Their Own Counter-Drone Capabilities, Commanders Say
For any cabinet official, the White House chief of staff would typically be informed about their whereabouts and whether they may be out of reach for a period, said Peter Feaver, a professor and expert on civil-military relations at Duke University who was a White House adviser to former President George W. Bush.
Because the defense…