Pentagon absolves itself after Austin’s secret hospitalisation

Austin failed to disclose a prostate cancer surgery in December and a subsequent hospitalisation in January

By REUTERS
February 27, 2024
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin waits for the arrival of Kenyan Defense Minister Aden Duale on February 07, 2024. — AFP

WASHINGTON: The Pentagon on Monday released the results of a 30-day review that effectively absolved itself of any wrongdoing in US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin’s secret hospitalizations in December and January.

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The report is unlikely to quell political furor or temper expected questioning of Austin by lawmakers later this week when the Pentagon chief appears before the House Armed Services committee to address the matter.

Austin failed to disclose a prostate cancer surgery in December and a subsequent hospitalisation in January, even to President Joe Biden. Austin’s own deputy, who was on vacation in January and took over his duties, was not informed for days that he was in the hospital.

The review, which was carried out by Pentagon officials, said “nothing examined during this review demonstrated any indication of ill intent or an attempt to obfuscate.” Austin also reviewed the report.

Earlier this month, Austin apologised for failing to tell President Biden and senior staff about his recent prostate cancer diagnosis ahead of time, adding that the health scare was a “gut punch” that had shaken him.Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers criticized Austin for failing to disclose a cancer diagnosis and subsequent hospitalizations.

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