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Pentagon finishes review of Austin's failure to tell Biden and other leaders about his cancer

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, and Kenya's Defense Minister Aden Duale, left, listen during the National Anthem during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon has completed its review of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin 's failure last month to quickly notify the president and other senior leaders about his hospitalization for complications from prostate cancer and how the notification process can be improved, but no other details were provided.

The 30-day review was submitted to Austin on Thursday.

Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said portions of the review are classified but the department will release what it can of the review.

Austin has been scrutinized for keeping secret his prostate cancer diagnosis in early December, his surgery and his hospitalization on Jan. 1, when he began suffering complications from the procedure.

Ryder has acknowledged that he and other public affairs and defense aides were told on Jan. 2, that Austin had been hospitalized but did not make it public and did not tell the military service leaders or the National Security Council until Jan. 4. Only then did President Joe Biden find out.

It took another four days before the reason for his hospitalization was disclosed.

And while he transferred decision-making authorities to Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks during his initial surgery on Dec. 22, and then again when he was in intensive care in early January, he did not tell her why.

The review was directed on Jan. 8, by Austin's chief of staff, Kelly Magsamen, and was done by Jennifer Walsh, the Pentagon's director of administration and management.

In a memo released at the time, Magsamen said the review should include a timeline of events and notifications after Austin was taken to the hospital by ambulance on Jan. 1. She said it must examine the existing process for when a secretary transfers decision-making authorities and who should be notified, and make recommendations for improvement.

Magsamen's memo also made some interim changes to vastly expand the number of people who must be notified in future transfers of authority and that they must provide a reason.

Officials have said that the reason has never been included in routine transfers. According to the memo, a wider array of officials will be notified, including the Pentagon’s general counsel, the chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the combatant commanders, service secretaries, the service chiefs, the White House Situation Room, and the senior staff of the secretary and deputy secretary.