Aaron Bushnell’s self-immolation sparks Pentagon inquiry from Tom Cotton on how he was ‘allowed to serve’

Sen. Tom Cotton is demanding answers from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin about why the airman who lit himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy over the weekend was allowed to join up.

Air Force engineer Aaron Bushnell, 25, self-immolated in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington on Sunday while screaming, “Free Palestine!” in what he billed as “an extreme act of protest.”

“You have made it a top priority to address ‘extremism’ amongst our total force, and this act of horrific violence—in support of a terrorist group—raises serious questions about how this individual was allowed to serve on active duty,” Cotton (R-Ark.) wrote to Austin Wednesday.

The Republican, an Army veteran who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, contended that Bushnell “obviously harbored extreme, anti-American views.”

Air Force engineer Aaron Bushnell lit himself on fire in front of the Israeli Embassy in DC on Sunday (face blurred by The Post). X/Talia Jane

Bushnell made his contempt for US policy regarding Israel’s war against Hamas crystal clear when he live-streamed his suicide on Twitch.

“Hi, my name is Aaron Bushnell, I am an active-duty member of the United States Air Force, and I will no longer be complicit in genocide,’’ he said before setting himself ablaze.

Bushnell worked as a cyber defense operations specialist for the 531st Intelligence Support Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio, according to the Air Force.

Cotton, 46, demanded answers about whether Bushnell’s views slipped under the Pentagon’s radar or whether his opinions were known but unaddressed.

Sen. Tom Cotton wants to know why Aaron Bushnell was allowed to serve. CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The senator also asked whether Bushnell exhibited “any concerning behavior prior to this incident,” whether he had access to classified material, whether the Pentagon has flagged evidence of sympathy for Islamic extremists within its ranks, and whether other “military members participated in anti-Israeli actions” that breach DOD policies.

Cotton gave Austin a deadline of March 7 to answer his questions. The senator sits on the Senate’s Armed Services Committee.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has been rocked by controversy over his decision not to disclose multiple trips to the hospital related to complications from his prostate cancer diagnosis. Getty Images

Air Force officials confirmed Monday that Bushnell had died from his injuries.

Aaron Bushnell came from a Cape Cod town in Massachusetts. Facebook / Aaron Bushnell

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Senior Airman Bushnell. Our thoughts and prayers are with them, and we ask that you respect their privacy during this difficult time,” US Air Force Col. Celina Noyes said in a statement.

A Pentagon spokesperson declined to comment on Cotton’s letter when contacted by The Post.

Written by SaleemBaloch

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