Wayne Simmons

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  • Wayne Simmons, Right Wing Media’s Benghazi Expert, Pleads Guilty To Fraud

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Wayne Simmons

    Wayne Simmons, who presented himself as a national security expert and was a part of the conservative media push for a congressional investigation of the Benghazi attack, has pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges.

    In an April 29 press release the Department of Justice noted that Simmons “falsely claimed he spent 27 years working for the Central Intelligence Agency” and had pleaded guilty “to major fraud against the government, wire fraud, and a firearms offense.”

    The release further noted, “Simmons admitted he defrauded the government in 2008 when he obtained work as a team leader in the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain Systems program, and again in 2010 when he was deployed to Afghanistan as a senior intelligence advisor on the International Security Assistance Force’s Counterinsurgency Advisory and Assistance Team.”

    Dana J. Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said, “Simmons admitted he attempted to con his way into a position where he would have been called on to give real intelligence advice in a war zone. His fraud cost the government money, could have put American lives at risk, and was an insult to the real men and women of the intelligence community who provide tireless service to this country.”

    Simmons was a frequent guest on Fox News, appearing on the network dozens of times purporting to be a former CIA operative. In those appearances, Simmons regularly criticized Democrats on foreign policy and national security issues. In one instance, he said, “If the Democrats come into power in the United States and re-employ their vision of defense for this country, we will have 9-1-1s unabated.”

    Simmons was a member of Accuracy in Media’s (AIM) “Citizens' Commission” on Benghazi -- part of the conservative media’s ultimately successful push to get House Republicans to set up a panel to investigate the Benghazi attack. In that capacity, Simmons appeared on Fox and falsely claimed that the Obama administration had decided “to not rescue our former CIA operatives and our military” in Libya.

    When Simmons was first arrested for the fraud charges, AIM scrubbed references to his role from its website. Fox News acknowledged that he had appeared on the network as a “national security and terrorism expert,” but said he “was never employed by the channel and was never paid by Fox.”

  • After Arrest Of Wayne Simmons, Conservative Benghazi Group Scrubs Him From Its Website

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    The conservative group Accuracy in Media (AIM) has removed references to Wayne Simmons from its Benghazi commission website after he was arrested on "charges of major fraud against the United States, wire fraud, and making false statements to the government," including allegedly falsely claiming he worked for the CIA.

    Media Matters this morning reached out to AIM about the removal of Simmons from its website, which at the time did not include any explanation for the deletions. This afternoon the group released the following statement about Simmons on their website:

    We were stunned and saddened to hear the news about Wayne Simmons. He has been a colleague of ours on the Citizens' Commission on Benghazi since we were established in 2013. We have removed Wayne's name from the list of members on the website of the CCB, pending the outcome of the legal proceedings. As with everyone charged with a crime or crimes in this country, he is innocent until proven guilty. We wish him the best. 

    On July 29, 2013, AIM announced in a press release that it was launching the Citizens' Commission on Benghazi (CCB) "with some of the country's top retired military officers and national security officials," including "Wayne Simmons, former CIA officer." That press release is no longer online. Other deletions include:

    • AIM removed Simmon's commission biography page, which boasted of how he "spent 27 years working with the CIA to combat terrorism, narco-terrorism and narcotics trafficking, arms smuggling, counterfeiting, cyber-terrorists, and industrial and economic espionage."
    • AIM removed a transcript of Simmons' speech at a September 16, 2013, press event.
    • AIM removed a press release announcing Simmons' presence at a July 30, 2013, press event.
    • AIM removed a March 7, 2014, release announcing that Simmons and other CCB members signed a letter calling on House Speaker John Boehner to form a select committee on Benghazi.
    • AIM removed an April 24, 2014, release announcing the "Citizen's Commission on Benghazi Reveals Damning New Report."
    • AIM removed an August 1, 2013, column touting Simmons' remarks at the July 2013 Benghazi press event. The column criticized Media Matters for calling AIM a "fringe" group. From the since-removed column:

    The speakers stressed the importance of the press, the Fourth Estate, in continuing to call for answers. Unfortunately, the George Soros-funded Media Matters, which attended the event, hyper-focused on the praise at the event for Fox News' reporting, calling AIM a "fringe" group promoting "outlandish conspiracies about the incident" which had questioned the credibility of generals and repeated the "stand down" controversy. When questioned about the role that Fox has played in the Benghazi scandal--a question posed, in fact, by Media Matters--Simmons told Media Matters that he "would suggest that, fortunately for the country, that Fox had the foresight to recognize early that there really was something dramatic and very important to the country that happened in Benghazi and the decision makers at Fox chose to not allow that to fall to the wayside."

    AIM's Benghazi commission still has other questionable characters including birthers and anti-Muslim advocates. AIM itself has frequently pushed fringe rhetoric relating to LGBT issues, President Obama's birth certificate and Vince Foster's suicide. 

    Simmons was a frequent and favorite guest on Fox News, where he pushed for the House to form a Benghazi Select Committee and claimed the White House decided "to not rescue our former CIA Operatives and our military" in Benghazi.

  • Wayne Simmons, Right-Wing Media's Benghazi Expert, Declared Fraud By Federal Prosecutors

    ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Wayne Simmons has been arrested after a federal grand jury indicted him on "charges of major fraud against the United States, wire fraud, and making false statements to the government," including allegedly falsely claiming he worked for the CIA. Simmons was a frequent and favorite guest on Fox News, and was one of the conservative media's purported experts on the 2012 Benghazi attacks. Simmons joined several prominent conservative activists and media figures in calling for the House to convene a Benghazi Select Committee.

  • At Fringe Press Conference, Fox News Figures Call For New Benghazi Investigation

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Wayne SimmonsFox News figures took part in a press conference today announcing a "citizen's commission" to investigate the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. In the process they promoted outlandish conspiracies about the incident while re-hashing false stories that have been investigated and debunked.

    The event was organized by Accuracy in Media (AIM), a fringe conservative group responsible for promoting many conspiracy theories over the years. Roger Aronoff, AIM's editor, led the event.

    In attendance were Admiral James Lyons (Ret.), General Thomas McInerney (Ret.) and former CIA officer Wayne Simmons. McInerney is a Fox News military analyst, while Simmons is a frequent guest on Fox. Lyons regularly writes opinion columns for the Washington Times.

  • Forgetting Iran-Contra? Simmons Bizarrely Invokes Reagan To Attack Obama Over Iran Policy

    Blog ››› ››› CHELSEA RUDMAN

    Right-wing media love to invoke former President Reagan to call for a course of action -- even when Reagan himself took the exact opposite course. Conservative media, for example, often call upon Reagan's legacy to call for tax cuts, ignoring the fact that Reagan did, in fact, raise taxes while in office -- several times.

    This morning, former CIA operative Wayne Simmons took to Fox News' airwaves to invoke Reagan in a particularly ironic way -- to call for the Obama administration to take harsh action against Iran, ignoring Reagan's actual history with Iran. Following yesterday's news of an alleged plot by Iranian officials to murder the Saudi ambassador in the U.S., the co-hosts of Fox & Friends hosted Simmons to discuss and asked him how the Obama administration should respond.

  • On Hannity & Colmes, Lowry and Simmons teamed up to smear Murtha

    ››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

    On Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, guest co-host Rich Lowry asserted that Rep. John P. Murtha was "again sounding like the grim reaper when it comes to the war on terror." Lowry also asked whether Murtha has "already decided to undermine another American war effort." Former CIA operative Wayne Simmons attacked Murtha for "running a psy-op [psychological operation] against his own people and against his own military," adding that Murtha "has come out and talked poorly about the military."