There was no ill will in the secrecy during Lloyd Austin's hospitalization, concludes the Pentagon

U.S. Department of Defense

An internal Pentagon investigation concluded that there was no "ill intent" in the secrecy surrounding the hospitalization of the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, due to complications from prostate cancer surgery.

The report from the internal review, released on Monday, stated that the withholding of information was not the result of deliberate attempts by government officials to conceal Austin's health status from the public or the White House. Austin, 70, underwent a prostatectomy on December 22 to treat cancer and was discharged afterward. However, on the night of January 1, he returned to the medical center for a urinary tract infection stemming from the surgery and was admitted to the intensive care unit.

His hospitalization sparked significant controversy as neither Austin nor his team informed U.S. President Joe Biden about the incident until January 4, three days after admission, and the Pentagon did not issue a press release until the following day.

Subsequently, Austin apologized for the situation and, during a February 1 appearance, acknowledged that he had not handled the situation well, took responsibility, and asked for "forgiveness" from the American people.

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However, dissatisfied with the explanations, Republican opposition alleged a power vacuum at the helm of the Pentagon during a critical moment when the situation in Gaza threatened to escalate regionally in the Middle East.

At the request of Republicans, Austin will testify on Thursday before the House Armed Services Committee, where conservatives hold the majority.