Ex-ABC Adviser Faces New Allegations

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 14, 2007

Alexis Debat, the terrorism consultant who put his name on a bogus interview with Barack Obama, now admits he never spoke to several other prominent people whose interviews were published in a French magazine under his byline.

Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan "has never spoken with Debat," said Tracy Locke, associate publisher of Penguin Press, which is bringing out Greenspan's memoir. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she never talked with Debat either. "Perhaps he cribbed it from somewhere," said her spokesman, Brendan Daly.

Debat, 35, also published interviews in Politique Internationale with Microsoft founder Bill Gates and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg without speaking to them, according to ABCNews.com.

"I did not conduct any of the interviews. . . . I helped draft the questions and translated and edited the answers (as well as wrote the introduction), but they were conducted separately by Politique Internationale," Debat said yesterday by e-mail. "They put my name on it because I was their main U.S. correspondent and I did most of the work."

The prestigious French journal, however, has removed all of Debat's work from its Web site. "This guy is just sick," Patrick Wajsman, the magazine's editor, told ABC, adding: "I was a victim of this man. I had no reason to suspect someone like him could lie."

ABC quoted a U.N. official as saying he told Politique Internationale in 2005 that an interview with then-Secretary General Kofi Annan was fabricated. Wajsman blamed his failure to take action on a misunderstanding. Debat said he had no involvement with the Annan interview and called his dispute with the magazine "a case of he said/she said."

Paul Saunders, director of the Nixon Center, which employed Debat for 15 months, said that on Wednesday "we had a number of extensive and difficult conversations with him, and not long after that he submitted his resignation."

Debat was prominently quoted last week by London's Sunday Times as saying the Pentagon had drawn up plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran.

Debat was dismissed as an ABC News consultant in June after the network could not confirm that he had a PhD from the Sorbonne, as he claims on his r?sum?.

The former French defense official said Wednesday that he had been "scammed" on the Obama interview by a Chicago freelance journalist named Rob Sherman, who Debat said claimed to have conducted the interview with the Illinois senator for a $500 fee. No evidence has surfaced to confirm the freelancer's existence, but another Rob Sherman -- an atheist activist and radio host in Chicago -- got plenty of unwanted calls. Debat told Sherman in an e-mail that he was "obviously" not implicating him.

"The bad guy is now affirming that he is not referring to me," Sherman said. "I am the only prominent Rob Sherman in the Chicago area."

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