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Report: Aide to Pentagon Chief Lloyd Austin Asked Ambulance Dispatcher to Be ‘Subtle’ When Arriving

An aide to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who made the 911 call to request an ambulance on January 1, asked that the dispatchers be “subtle” when arriving at Austin’s home, according to an audio recording of the call obtained by the Daily Beast.

According to the outlet, the aide told the dispatcher, “Can I ask — can the ambulance not show up with lights and sirens? Uhm, we’re trying to remain a little subtle.” The outlet said it obtained the recording through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in Virginia.

The dispatcher told the aide — who is unidentified — that the ambulance could do that, noting that “usually when they turn into a residential neighborhood, they’ll turn them off,” but said the ambulance is required by law to run sirens and lights on main streets, such as Georgetown Pike and Leesburg Pike.

The Daily Beast reported that the call “suggests that the effort to keep his ailment secret was well-known among his close aides.”

Austin infamously did not inform President Joe Biden, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, and Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks of his hospitalization until January 4, and members of Congress, the Pentagon press corps, and the public until January 5.

The Pentagon eventually revealed that Austin had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in early December, and he underwent surgery to treat it on December 22. During that surgery, he was under general anesthesia but did not inform the president about his diagnosis and that surgery until January. The hospitalization on January 1 was allegedly related to complications from that surgery.

The Daily Beast reported that it is “not clear” who asked the aide to request the ambulance to fly under the radar, and the Pentagon did not immediately reply to a request for comment from the outlet.

The Fairfax County Department of Public Safety Communications redacted the aide’s identity, as well as other personal and health information.

The aide said on the call that Austin was not reporting any chest pain at the time, had not passed out, and did not feel like he was going to pass out. The aide said Austin was alert and not confused.

Austin was in the hospital until Monday, January 15, according to the Pentagon.

He has allegedly resumed full duties and is working from home.

That Austin did not inform the president of his hospitalization during a time when the U.S. was involved in several wars in the Middle East and Ukraine shocked and angered both Republicans and Democrats.

Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (NY), as well as Democrat Reps. Chris Deluzio (PA) and Seth Moulton (MA) have called for Austin to resign.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) has launched an inquiry into what happened and has sent Austin, Hicks, and Austin’s chief of staff, Kelly Magsamen, a list of detailed questions to answer immediately.

The White House and the Department of Defense inspector general have both launched reviews into procedures at agencies for delegating authority after it was revealed that Hicks was asked to assume Austin’s duties while she was on vacation in Puerto Rico and did not know about Austin’s hospitalization until January 4.

White House spokesman John Kirby has admitted that what happened was “not ideal.”

“That should not happen again — that if a Cabinet official becomes hospitalized or has to be seen for medical, certainly to the degree where the authority has to be delegated, that the White House needs to know,” Kirby told reporters in a recent press briefing.

Biden has said he has complete confidence in Austin, and the Pentagon has said Austin has no plans to resign.

 

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