The Wayne Simmons Operation

In August 2008, in the waning days of Bush Administration, GOP hack Wayne Simmons got a job with a Defense Contractor (I’m not sure, but it may be BAE Systems) to serve as a Human Terrain System team Leader. He told the contractor he had worked for CIA for decades, and as such was eligible for security clearance. He got an interim security clearance for the role. He completed training for the role, but never deployed, and appears to have ended that relationship in March 2009, after President Obama’s election and inauguration.

From April 2010 through August 2010, presumably relying on the representation a security clearance was already in the works with the earlier Human Terrain contract and relying on a second interim security clearance, Simmons contracted with the subcontractor to another company and deployed to Afghanistan to serve as a senior counterinsurgency consultant to ISAF. This would have put him in the vicinity of Stanley McChrystal and — after McChrystal’s Rolling Stone related downfall — David Petraeus during the early days of the surge.

These details from the Simmons indictment released yesterday make me wonder whether there’s not something more to this case.

The case ties its jurisdiction to Eastern District of Virginia — where local spooks and the Pentagon can bury really inconvenient facts — through three different charges. The first is a scheme, dating from 2011 to 2013, to get Virginia bank account holder E.L. to send him $125,000 for some kind of land deal, which seems like an add on to the indictment that otherwise ties to fraudulently getting clearance. There’s a separate part, tied to the invoices from the ISAF subcontractor in MD to its prime in VA, that ties it to VA, as well, but that’s an attenuated basis (not that that ever stopped EDVA).

And then there’s the false statement Simmons made in 2009 to State (but in a letter sent to Arlington, VA) to support his security clearance application. As part of his false statements, Simmons hid a felony weapons possession conviction that dates to 1984, which in turn dates back to a 1980ish Maryland conviction.

The indictment is silent about how Simmons’ lies were discovered. It is also silent on whether he ever actually received a full clearance. (I wondered, when I first heard of this, if his lies were discovered in the aftermath of the OPM hack, since his attempts to get clearance, and potentially any record of the 1984 felony, would have shown up there; remember that records dating back to 1984 were stolen.)

In his online bio (which is presumably facetious as well), Simmons claims to have done the following:

1973: Join the Navy

1973: Recruited by the CIA where he joined the “Outside Paramilitary Special Operations Group,” working in Central and South America and the Middle East

[1984: Possession of a firearm with prior felony]

2002: Joins Fox

2004: Joins Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon Outreach Program for Military and Intelligence Analysts propaganda program (which would probably not be unrelated to his ties to Fox)

July 2005: First trip to Gitmo as an “outside Intelligence officer”

July 2006: Second trip to Gitmo [see below for update]

July 2006: Consultant to write Military Commissions Act of 2006

March 2008: Third trip to Gitmo

2014: Citizens Commission for Benghazi serves to drive “demand” for Benghazi committee (though curiously, the report tied to this actually offers more serious critiques of our engagement in Libya than any other right wing attack, which is rather interesting given Simmons’ past association with Petraeus)

Media Matters has a summary of the stances he has taken on Fox, which are core anti-Democratic attacks and Islamophobia.

All of which is to say that Simmons seems to be a long time conservative covert operative and propagandist, with (if his claims about Gitmo are true) ties to torture and similar. Which would make his deceitful efforts to get himself stationed in ISAF at a key time of particular interest.

Update: Thanks to Konrad Roeder for the link to Simmons’ firearms charge, which notes he was convicted of something else in Maryland in 1980.

Update: I asked Joseph Hickman, author of the (highly recommended) Murder at Camp Delta whether he had ever run into Simmons. Hickman was at Gitmo from March 2006 through March 2007. He responded,

One of my responsibilities at GTMO was to keep track of every person coming in and out of Camp America (Camp America housed all of the DOD detention facilities at the time: Camp Delta, Camp 5, Camp Echo, and Camp Iguana). I had several soldiers under my command for this task. I can tell you Wayne Simmons Never went to any of those facilities. I never saw him. I contacted two of my soldiers after you raised the question to me, and asked them as well. Neither of them ever saw him at GTMO.

That doesn’t mean Simmons wasn’t at Gitmo, but if he was, he was somewhere else, such as at the Camp No facility where three detainees died in June 2006.

Update: I pinged Cannonfire, who’s great at digging into these half-live frauds. He’s got a post on what he found on Simmons here.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

10 replies
  1. scribe says:

    Under the Confrontation Clause jurisprudence of today, he may well have won that 1984 case.
    .
    Have to wonder what the underlying earlier felony conviction supporting the early 80s gun charge was for.
    .
    I have to say, this whole case smells funny. I can see him being exactly the kind of off-the-books operative he claims he is, with the prior felony conviction being the government’s leash. They let him have his run and have guns around the house so long as he was useful. Once he either decided it was time to go of the reservation or they needed to pinch off whatever operations he had been involved in, they lay a felony charge on him to keep him on ice for some years, until Benghazi or Camp No are only dim memories. Ask Noriega about that.

      • scribe says:

        Yup. And because of the way the charges are structured, the pliant EDVa judge assigned the case will rule all his stories about what he was really doing and how he was told it was OK to be inadmissible because they’re irrelevant. Even if they’re really, really true. Especially if they’re really, really true.
        .
        Best thing he could do is make his statements of his history in open-court filings, name names and let it fall where it will.
        .
        But, more to the point, I got my doubts about them not knowing about his felony convictions when the clearances were being processed. Two examples: a few years back I was summoned for duty as a grand juror. In the state where I then resided, the law provided one had to be not-a-convicted-felon to sit as a grand juror. In the course of lunchtime they ran the convicted felon background checks on the dozens of us. (They were forming several grand juries at the same time, thus the large number of jurors. I was fortunate to not have been assigned to the sex crimes GJ.) But the point is, they did several dozen checks to see “convicted felon or not” in the course of an hour for lunch.
        .
        Second example: every gun instant background check includes the question whether the applicant has a prior felony conviction or pending indictment/charge. Every time I’ve gone through the background check, it’s taken less than 5 minutes. Usually almost real-time. (I’m clean living, stay out of trouble and have a low-density name. But they also use SSN to suss out among high-density names.)
        .
        So I find it close to incomprehensible they did not know he had two convictions when they ran his clearances.

        • emptywheel says:

          Unless he was vetted by one of the contractors who was just rubber stamping. As I suggested, I think it’s possible they just discovered this in the damage assessment process for the OPM hack.

          • scribe says:

            If that’s the case, then there would be a trace left of the searches and inquiries done, or undone. And then the question would be why the contractor isn’t getting prosecuted for screwing up. (Or maybe there’s a qui tam suit out there ….)
            .
            That’s the one distinction between “regular” criminal background searches and background checks for the instant gun background check. In the latter, the feds are statutorily prohibited from keeping records of who sought a background check (and passed) as well as of what they were buying and from whom. They are allowed to do a check of the serial numbers of the guns to compare it to lists of stolen guns, and they occasionally get a hit. But if there’s no hit, then the record is supposed to be destroyed.
            .
            This was hashed out when the instant background check was being written into law. The driving concern was that the government would use the information on background checks to develop a database of who owned what. History showed that every time a government built a database like that, sooner or later it turned into the road map for confiscation. (Indeed, the only time I’m aware of that such a list didn’t turn into a road map for confiscation was in Canada. There, when Harper took office, he carried out one of his campaign promises which was to order the destruction of their database. As of the last time I checked, Quebec is still fighting to keep their provincial database.)
            .
            People say that it would never happen here, but we’ve seen a lot of database things in this country get built and developed over the last 15 years. Something about a “turnkey surveillance state”. And that data complex in Utah would surely never be used for anything perfidious. And few gun owners really believe the feds don’t keep the information on background checks, statute to the contrary notwithstanding.
            .
            BTW, the whole idea of “closing the [so-called] gun show loophole” is a PR name for requiring all private sales (and trades and intrafamily and testamentary transfers) to be registered with the government. I haven’t seen any of the bills in detail, but I’m willing to bet that buried in all of them somewhere is a repeal (implied, probably) or an administrative authorization whereby the feds would be able to build their database.

  2. P J Evans says:

    There apparently was some kind of charge in 1992, involving drugs or alcohol, if Google’s search is turning up the correct guy (Prince George’s county, ‘driving while impaired’).

  3. qweryous says:

    Also is this Wayne Simmons is the same as the Wayne S. Simmons mentioned as the subject of this SEC Civil injunction?

    https://www.sec.gov/news/digest/1988/dig100688.pdf

    WAYNE S. SIMMONS ENJOINED
    The Commission today announced that Wayne S. Simmons consented to a permanent injunction, enjoining him from future violations of the registration and antifraud provisions
    of the Securities Act of 1933.

    From July 1987 through June 1988, Simmons was the president and a member of the Board
    of Directors of Blood-Check Inc., a company headquartered in Greenbelt, Maryland
    which offered blood-screening services to test for AIDS. The Complaint alleges that
    in January and February 1988, Simmons was responsible for Blood-Check’s offering to
    sell unregistered shares of its common stock by means of a prospectus which contained
    materially false and misleading statements concerning Blood-Check’s liabilities and
    its history of operations and revenues. It further alleges that Simmons violated the
    registration provisions of the Securities Act by advertising the availability of the
    prospectus through tombstone advertisements placed in The Washington Post, The Wash-
    ington Times, The Annapolis Capitol, and The Baltimore Sun.
    (SEC v. Wayne S. Simmons, USDC DC, Civil Action No. 88-2899).
    (LR-11884)

  4. P J Evans says:

    According to Reuters

    The suspect, Wayne Simmons, 62, of Annapolis, Maryland, was denied release by U.S. Magistrate Ivan Davis. He cited Simmons’ 11 arrests for driving under the influence, an arrest for a 2007 assault and firearms convictions as reasons to keep him behind bars.

    Eleven DUI arrests and he wasn’t grounded?

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