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U.S. Special Forces did not raid CIA facility in Germany for server

December 2, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: American soldiers died during a U.S. Special Forces operation to retrieve materials from a CIA server farm in Frankfurt, Germany, that was hiding election data that would prove fraud in the presidential election.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. There is no evidence to support this claim, which spokespeople for the Army and Army Special Operations Command have confirmed to be false.

THE FACTS: Since early November, a false conspiracy theory has been spreading that U.S. Army forces seized a server in Frankfurt with data from the U.S. presidential election.

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In the original version of the fictitious story, which The Associated Press debunked as false last month, the alleged server was owned by the election software company Scytl. Both the Army and Scytl confirmed that story was false.

The claim has since evolved. In the latest iteration, the CIA was part of a scheme to change votes for President Donald Trump to President-elect Joe Biden, and had hidden a server with election data in a facility in Frankfurt. U.S. special forces raided the facility to seize the server with evidence of the fraud, and some soldiers died in the operation.

The source of the latest version of the claim is retired Lt. General Thomas McInerney, who left the U.S. Air Force in 1994. McInerney has embraced other debunked theories in recent years. In 2010, he questioned whether President Barack Obama’s birth records were authentic.

McInerney was interviewed by phone during the online show Worldview Weekend on Nov. 28, where he claimed there was a plot to change votes in the presidential election, and the data was stored on servers abroad, including at a CIA facility in Frankfurt.

”The U.S. Army, the U.S. Special Forces Command, seized a server farm in Frankfort, Germany because they were sending this data from those five states, or six states, through the internet to Spain and then into Frankfurt, Germany,” McInerney said in his remarks.

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He went on to claim there may have been casualties in the alleged raid. “I’ve heard that it didn’t go down without incident. I haven’t been able to verify it. I want to be careful in that. It’s just coming out. But I understand my initial report is that there were U.S. soldiers killed in that operation,” he said.

McInerney suggested that when attorney Sidney Powell announced she had evidence of fraud and vowed to “release the Kraken” she was referring to the 305th Military Intelligence Battalion “because that’s the nickname.” He said the Army battalion was his source of information and suggested they were selected “because the president could trust them.”

When asked about McInerney’s claims about an operation to seize servers from the CIA in Germany, a spokesperson for U.S. Army Special Operations Command and a spokesperson for U.S. Army Public Affairs both told the AP, “The allegations are false.”

The 305th Military Intelligence Battalion that McInerney cited as his source is based at Fort Huachuca in Arizona. It is for new soldiers receiving entry-level training in military intelligence.

In the days after McInerney’s interview aired, other false claims have appeared on right-wing websites that five U.S. Army soldiers who died in a helicopter crash during a peacekeeping mission in Sinai, Egypt, on Nov. 12 actually died in Germany seizing the server.

Some posts falsely claim that CIA Director Gina Haspel was injured or killed trying to guard the server at the CIA facility in Germany. The CIA has confirmed the claims are false.

“Well…this is the most absurd inquiry I’ve ever addressed, but I’m happy to tell you that Director Haspel is alive and well and at the office,” a CIA spokesperson told the AP.

In the same Nov. 28 interview, McInerney claimed without evidence that China, Iran and Russia were involved in manipulating the vote. He also repeated other debunked election conspiracies, including that Pennsylvania mailed out only 1.8 million ballots but received back 2.5 million ballots.

He also said those who were involved in election fraud were guilty of treason.

McInerney was a Fox News military analyst for several years but the network cut ties with him in 2018. His dismissal came after falsely suggesting that torture “worked” on Senator John McCain when he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam. “That’s why they call him ‘Songbird John,’” McInerney had said in the broadcast.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536