The Intercept, “Will Aaron Bushnell’s Death Trigger Anarchism Witch Hunt?”

Sen. Tom Cotton demands the Pentagon root out leftist extremism.

By Ken Klippenstein, March 7, 2024

Aaron Bushnell’s death by self-immolation in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington last month has provoked nationwide soul-searching about the war in Gaza. For the U.S. government though, the airman’s death excites a different kind of search: for so-called extremists, particularly left-wing ones. 

Last Wednesday, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., former Army officer and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin asking why and how the Pentagon could tolerate an airman like Bushnell in its ranks. Calling his death “an act of horrific violence” that was “in support of a terrorist group [Hamas],” Cotton goes on to ask about the Defense Department’s internal efforts to address extremism and whether Bushnell was ever identified as exhibiting extremist views or behaviors.

Cotton’s agitation to find Hamas supporters in uniform twists Bushnell’s political act, which Bushnell said was in support of the Palestinian people. But it also follows a longstanding urging by other members of Congress like Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa — ranking Republican of the Judiciary Committee and former president pro tempore of the Senate — for the military to pursue some kind of similar treatment for leftists.

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