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The Pentagon recently concluded a 30-day review, claiming there was no plan to hide Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s December and January hospitalizations.

The investigation, which scrutinized the circumstances surrounding the non-disclosure of Austin’s health issues, found that while procedural improvements are necessary, there was “no indication of ill intent or an attempt to obfuscate” the situation. This conclusion comes from a brief summary of the review, which remains largely classified, that noted the challenges faced was not due to a lack of transparency but was influenced by medical privacy laws and the inherent uncertainty of Austin’s medical condition.


The summary further explained the limitations faced by Austin’s staff, including legal restrictions on medical information sharing and privacy concerns that made them “hesitant to pry or share any information that they did learn.” These factors, coupled with the fluid nature of Austin’s health, made it difficult to ensure “timely secured communications.”

The review stated, “Although, as hindsight has shown, the process for making decisions to transfer the Secretary’s authority could and should be improved … nothing examined during this review demonstrated any indication of ill intent or an attempt to obfuscate.” Following the review, Austin ordered the implementation of its recommendations, including enhanced information sharing and guidelines to better prepare an acting secretary for a sudden transfer of authority.

Notably, Austin’s hospitalization for an infection related to a previous surgery was not immediately communicated to the White House or Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks, leading to delayed public and congressional awareness and subsequent criticism.

Addressing the report, Austin took full responsibility and publicly apologized, stating, “We did not handle this right. I did not handle this right. I should have told the president about my cancer diagnosis,” and extended his apology to his team and the American public.


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