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Lloyd Austin Is The Latest Example Of The Biden Administration’s Dangerous AWOL Problem

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Apparently, the 81-year-old president had no idea the nation was without a defense chief for three days. It’s not the first time a cabinet official has gone missing during a crisis.

On Monday, the Guardian reported Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was abruptly admitted to the Walter Reed intensive care unit after “experiencing severe pain” on Jan. 1. Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks was on vacation when the principal Pentagon official was incapacitated.

“Hicks assumed some of [Austin’s] operational duties on Jan. 2,” Reuters reported, “But, Hicks was only told why Austin was unavailable on Jan. 4.”

“That’s the same day that Biden and other senior White House officials were told that Austin had been hospitalized since Jan. 1,” the wire added, citing “five officials.”

“It’s worth mentioning Hicks was notified of Austin’s hospitalization on the same day the U.S. military carried out drone strikes in Baghdad that resulted in the death of an ‘Iranian-backed militia leader,'” reported The Federalist’s Shawn Fleetwood. “The strikes came following weeks of attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-backed groups in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7, 2023 attack on Israel.”

In an interview with Politico Playbook published Thursday, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was candid about Austin’s abrupt incapacitation.

“Let’s face it, they dodged a bullet,” Panetta said, “because if something had happened in that gap that was created, that could’ve been a serious event.”

“Many questions remain about the series of events related to Austin’s stay in the hospital,” The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, “including who was in charge, when, and why there wasn’t better disclosure.”

White House officials going missing has become routine as the administration continues to be characterized by disarray under the octogenarian commander-in-chief, who is currently asking Americans for a second term. Recall that President Biden and then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki were on vacation while the American withdrawal from Afghanistan deteriorated into a global humiliation.

In January last year, records obtained and made public by the nonprofit government watchdog Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT) revealed Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was completely absent during the supply-chain crisis of 2021. As Congress put together a trillion-dollar infrastructure package in the fall, a bottleneck supply-chain crisis on the West Coast threatened to spoil the holiday season. The transportation secretary, however, went on an eight-week parental leave. While 9 out of 10 new fathers typically take leave, an overwhelming majority, 70 percent, take 10 days or less, according to the Department of Labor.

Records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by PPT show Buttigieg used his paternity leave to dodge public appearances and meetings with congressional lawmakers. While the nation grappled with struggling supply chains, bipartisan infrastructure talks ultimately led to more than $100 billion in funding for Buttigieg’s department. Emails show aides to the transportation secretary cited paternity leave to skip a meeting with Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley at the time to discuss a bridge project in the Midwest.

“Unfortunately, the Secretary is currently on leave due to the birth of his twins, and that may lead to a delay in possibly scheduling in the future,” an unnamed staffer wrote.

Even worse, Buttigieg was dismissive of traumatized residents in East Palestine, Ohio last year after a train derailment contaminated the town with toxic chemicals.

“I’m taking some personal time and I’m walking down the street,” Buttigieg told a reporter who asked questions about the catastrophe.

The situation along the southern border, meanwhile, has led millions of Americans to wonder where Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has been for the past three years. In December, more than 300,000 illegal immigrants were encountered along the border, setting a new record for the number of encounters in a single month. At least 1.7 million “known gotaways” have escaped apprehension by law enforcement since fiscal year 2021, according to the House Homeland Security Committee. In the 2023 fiscal year alone, 169 individuals were apprehended who appeared on the terrorist watchlist.

Mayorkas is now the target of congressional impeachment proceedings for having left the border open for three years.


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