ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 147

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US defense chief Austin taken to hospital again with ‘bladder issue’

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks during a Pentagon press briefing at the Pentagon, Washington, DC, on February 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks during a Pentagon press briefing at the Pentagon, Washington, DC, on February 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was taken to the hospital again on Sunday, a Pentagon spokesman says, this time “for symptoms suggesting an emergent bladder issue,” weeks after previous stays he controversially kept secret.

Austin effectively vanished from the public eye for treatment for prostate cancer in December and again in January after suffering complications from the procedure, having initially concealed both the diagnosis and treatment from President Joe Biden and the rest of the government.

This time, the public was alerted around two hours after the 70-year-old was sent to the hospital on Sunday afternoon, with Defense Department press secretary Pat Ryder saying in a statement that military, White House and congressional officials had all been notified.

Austin “was transported by his security detail to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center,” Ryder says.

“The Deputy Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been notified. Additionally, White House and Congressional notifications have occurred.”

It is not immediately clear whether Austin had been admitted yet or how long he would stay, though Ryder notes that the defense chief brought along classified communications systems and would be retaining “the functions and duties of his office.”

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