Bogus Fox News “Terrorism Expert” Sentenced for Fraud

Also: Man who exposed him says “not one ‘conservative’ media outlet wanted anything to do with breaking this story” in 2013

Reuters reports:

A man who has appeared on Fox News as a guest “terrorism analyst” was sentenced to 33 months in prison on Friday on charges that he fraudulently claimed to have been a CIA agent for decades, U.S. prosecutors said.

Wayne Simmons… admitted that he defrauded the government in 2008 when he got work as a team leader in an Army program, and again in 2010 when he was deployed to Afghanistan as an intelligence adviser.

He said he made similar false statements in a 2009 bid to get work with the State Department’s Worldwide Protective Service.

Simmons also admitted to defrauding an unidentified woman out of $125,000…

A lengthy account of Simmons’s activities and eventual exposure was published by the New York Times Magazine in March. The author, Alex French, includes a quote from an unnamed manager with the US Army’s Human Terrain System program, who explained that

“Wayne was like a lot of folks taking advantage of the poor screening by the BAE recruiters to draw good pay during training and then cop out.”… “We had a lot of this.” He described Simmons as “a mile wide” and “an inch deep.”

Simmons’s involvement with the Defense Department’s Retired Military Analysts program brought him into direct contact with Donald Rumsfeld, and Rumsfeld provided him with an endorsement for a novel, The Natanz Directive. In fact, however, Simmons’s real history, which French says “reveals a certain sort of aimlessness”, involved working as a waiter, managing an “adult themed” hot tub, and semi-professional American football.

A central figure in French’s account is Kent Clizbe, a former CIA officer with his own line in conservative punditry (he is the author of Willing Accomplices: How K.G.B. Covert Influence Agents Created Political Correctness and Destroyed America). Clizbe first suspected that Simmons was a fraud after meeting him at a lunch in 2010; he compiled “obvious inaccuracies”, and found that no-one in spook circles seemed to know who he was. Clizbe took his concerns to his former boss, who is identified in the story by his middle initial – perhaps regrettably, this happens to be “M.”:

Clizbe pointed out the irregularities in Simmons’s biography, and M. became convinced he was a fraud.

M. alerted Paul Vallely, the retired two-star general who founded Stand Up America, an organization that promotes a conservative foreign-policy agenda through analysis on cable-news networks and talk radio. Vallely met Simmons through Fox News and invited him to serve on the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, a collection of military brass, C.I.A. officers and politicians determined to uncover the truth about the September 2012 embassy attack in Libya. M. remained suspicious when Vallely failed to respond after a month.

French also notes that two other men had suspicions about Simmons: Gary Berntsen, a former CIA counterterrorism officer, and  Colonel David Hunt. Hunt had contacted a senior Fox programming executive, Bill Shine, about Simmons, but to no avail.

Clizbe wrote an article about Simmons in 2013, which he posted to his blog in 2015. On publication, he explained:

I met, spoke with, corresponded with, and shared the results of my vetting with Fox News, other media figures, high-level CIA retirees, the Benghazi group Simmons was closely associated with, and many others. No one was interested in printing this story then.

The “conservative” media has huge problems. Wayne Simmons is a great poster boy for those problems… 

Simmons, when shown a pre-publication copy for his comments, called all his “conservative” protectors to circle their wagons around him. A host of high-level military and CIA retirees (see the Benghazi Committee roster) made clear that they would broach no criticisms of their fake “covert operator,” Simmons. Not one “conservative” media outlet wanted anything to do with breaking this story–in 2013. See the damage done when the truth finally outed in 2015.

That “damage” has included gleeful articles on Media Matters, including one noting that Accuracy on Media had been scrubbing articles about Simmons from its Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi website.

But is this simply a problem of “conservative media”?  In  2002 Christopher Hitchens related that during the 1970s he had

learned the useful lesson that the world of the ‘terrorism expert’ is made up of the most incompetent amateurs.

Certainly, I’ve seen individuals feature in mainstream media who I know for a fact to be frauds.