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President Donald Trump's professed love for the military attracted senior officers who have turned to political activism after their service.
Here are some of the retired generals who have promoted outlandish, far-right conspiracy theories about the president and his rivals.
Related: How the QAnon conspiracy theory seeped into Trump rallies
President Donald Trump's professed love for the military has attracted not only Republican lawmakers but senior officers who have turned to political activism after their service.
Some of these generals have been appointed to senior positions in government. But these appointments have been scrutinized by critics, particularly in light of the conspiracy theories and controversial statements they've promoted to support Trump's agenda.
Here are some of the retired generals who have made baseless claims and promoted conspiracy theories spread by far-right activists:
Mike Flynn, a 61-year-old retired US Army three-star general, joined the military in 1981. After rising through the ranks and deploying to Afghanistan and Iraq, he was selected to be director of the Defense Intelligence Agency by President Barack Obama in 2012.
Two years later, however, Flynn was ousted from the agency. Flynn's vision for the agency was reportedly "disruptive" and he was rumored to have butted heads with other senior officials.
Flynn was one of Trump's first supporters during the 2016 presidential campaign, and Trump selected Flynn as his first national security advisor. Flynn was later fired after he misled Vice President Mike Pence about previous conversations with the Russian ambassador to the US.
Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI but later renounced his plea. In November, Trump pardoned Flynn of "any and all possible offenses" related to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
Flynn previously promoted anti-Muslim sentiments, including claiming that "fear of Muslims is RATIONAL."
In October 2019, federal prosecutors argued Flynn was delaying his sentencing by relying on conspiracy theories to compel the government to embark on a "fishing expedition for documents that could offer support for those theories."
In July 2020, Flynn was also featured in a video repeating the slogan and catchphrases of QAnon conspiracy theorists, who baselessly claim that a cabal of politicians and celebrities are conspiring on a variety of nefarious acts and that Trump is leading a covert campaign against them.
Following the 2020 presidential race, Flynn promoted a press release that urged Trump to "suspend the Constitution," declare a "limited" martial law, and to hold a new election.
Flynn's representatives did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment.
Anthony Tata, a 61-year-old retired US Army one-star general, served in the military from 1981 to 2009. During his career, he commanded the 82nd Airborne Division and the 101st Airborne Divisions on a brigade and battalion level.
In November, Tata was selected to be acting under secretary of defense for policy, the Pentagon's top policy job. Tata was previously considered for the post but was rejected by Senate after past remarks came to light
In those remarks, Tata called Islam "the most oppressive, violent religion." Tata had also falsely claimed Obama was a Muslim and a "terrorist leader" with "Islamic roots," according to several reports.
After Tata's remarks were unearthed, retired senior military officers who signed a letter for his nomination withdrew their support. One government official told The Wall Street Journal in June that Tata "deeply regrets" his remarks.
"There is an extensive record of his making crazy comments that reveal he is better suited to run a QAnon bulletin board than the Pentagon's policy shop," columnist Max Boot wrote in The Washington Post.
Tata did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment.
Thomas McInerney is an 83-year-old retired US Air Force three-star general who conducted 407 combat missions throughout his 35-year career.
McInerney was one of the first forward air controllers assigned to local allies during the Vietnam War. He later became a pilot and earned over 4,100 flying hours in variants of the F-4.
Despite his illustrious military career, McInerney has became embroiled in controversy.
McInerney falsely claimed in a Fox Business interview that longtime Republican Sen. John McCain had buckled after he was tortured in the Vietnam War and nicknamed him "Songbird John." Fox News did not renew McInerney's contract after the incident in 2018, according to AZ Central.
During the 2020 presidential election, McInerney had also promoted a conspiracy theory that alleged voting machines deleted votes for Trump. In several interviews, McInerney claimed that a military schoolhouse, which is composed of troops who are fairly new to the military, had been helping Trump and his campaign's attorneys dispute the results of the election.
McInerney also claimed without evidence that US Green Berets had "seized" computer servers in Germany that held election data during a CIA operation in which several soldiers were killed.
Numerous US military officials denied McInerney's claims, according to the Military Times. McInerney could not be reached for comment.
Scott O'Grady, 55, may not have risen to the rank of a general, but he became well known after his F-16 was shot down over Bosnia in 1995.
O'Grady, then a captain in the Air Force, was patrolling a no-fly zone during the Bosnia-Herzegovina conflict when a surface-to-air missile hit his aircraft.
O'Grady was stuck behind enemy lines for six days until he was rescued by US Marines. He went on to run for a state Senate seat in Texas in 2012 but later suspended his campaign.
In November, Trump nominated O'Grady for assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, a position that requires Senate confirmation.
O'Grady has promoted several conspiracy theories in support of Trump's baseless claims that the presidential election was rife with fraud.
O'Grady recently retweeted a tweet saying that "calling for martial law is not a bad idea when there is an attempted coup against the president," according to CNN, which reported on Friday that O'Grady also shared other debunked theories about the election, insulted former military officials, and retweeted at least one pro-QAnon hashtag.
His Twitter account has since been restricted to approved users.
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