A former cable news pundit whose claim of a CIA career got him a distinguished visitor’s tour of Guantánamo has been himself sentenced to nearly three years in prison.
Wayne Simmons, 62, of Annapolis, Maryland, appeared frequently as an unpaid contributor on Fox News before his arrest last year. He pleaded guilty in April to defrauding the United States by lying about his credentials to obtain work with government contractors, among other charges.
But he maintains, despite all evidence to the contrary, that he’s telling the truth about a 27-year CIA career that supposedly began in 1973 and included involvement in missions with names like “Operation Iranian Trust,” “Operation Alloy” and “Operation New England.” The CIA has explicitly denied any connection to him.
Friday, U.S. Senior Judge T.S. Ellis III ordered him to serve a 33-month sentence, in line with prosecutors’ request.
Ellis expressed bewilderment that so many people had been taken in by Simmons’ assertions, which were backed up with no evidence. Ellis said the CIA claim allowed him to escape an assault charge. Court records show the IRS reduced a delinquent tax bill of $1.1. million by $430,000 in 2008 because Simmons invoked his supposed CIA connections.
“It’s not just implausible,” he said. “The claim that Mr. Simmons was a CIA operative, or a CIA employee ... for 27 years is, if I were to use a less offensive term, buffalo chips. It’s astonishing to me how many people believed otherwise.”
The Pentagon believed him in 2006, and included him on a “media analysts” visit to Guantánamo with several other retired military officers.
Simmons was listed as “CIA (RET)” — short for retired —in logs of visitors maintained by the detention center’s Distinguished Visitors bureau and released under the Freedom of Information Act in 2010.
It showed he visited the detention center, including Camps 5 and Delta and the Top Secret prison headquarters known as the “Red Roof Inn” in the company of Department of Defense public affairs specialists. Camps X-Ray and Iguana were not included in his tour.