Jason Dempsey, a military veteran and former White House staffer who is now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, said the affair was “certainly a mistake” and should be a lesson for staffing practices going forward. He said Austin’s command background — the very thing that made his appointment somewhat controversial — also made it unlikely his reputation in the military ranks would be damaged.
“He has a wellspring of reputation, and he’s going to get some grace from his military counterparts,” Dempsey said. “If this was some congressman who was walking into the building for the first time and did this, it would be different.”
Dempsey said that the entire situation was somewhat ironic given the stress that Austin’s military training would have put on passing along all relevant information to his superiors: “The first thing they teach you in the military is that bad news doesn’t get better with age.”
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