Elizabeth O'Bagy Fired: Syria Analyst Who Wrote WSJ Op-Ed Lied About PhD

Image: Elizabeth O'Bagy Fired: Syria Analyst Who Wrote WSJ Op-Ed Lied About PhD

Friday, 13 Sep 2013 09:07 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Elizabeth O'Bagy, whose Wall Street Journal op-ed was cited by Secretary of State John Kerry and Sen. John McCain to make the case for war in Syria, lost her job with the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, D.C. Wednesday.

The Institute for the Study of War in Washington, D.C. said that O'Bagy falsely claimed that she earned her doctoral degree from Georgetown University, CNN reported. The institute, which describes itself as a nonpartisan organization that examines military affairs through "reliable research, trusted analysis, and innovative education," subsequently fired the senior research analyst Tuesday.

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Kim Kagan, the president of the institute, told CNN she was surprised that O'Bagy lied about her background.

"The Institute for the Study of War has learned and confirmed that, contrary to her representations, Ms. Elizabeth O'Bagy does not in fact have a Ph.D. degree from Georgetown University. ISW has accordingly terminated Ms. O'Bagy's employment, effective immediately," the institute posted online Wednesday, according to CNN.

Georgetown’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies lists O’Bagy as one of the 20 graduates from this year’s Arab Studies master's degree program, according to Politico.

Last week, Kerry and McCain referenced O'Bagy's opinion article, "On the Front Lines of Syria’s Civil War," which the Wall Street Journal published Aug. 30, while stating their cases for war in Syria.

Part of the debate over authorizing American military action is how many of the rebel groups are extremist and how many are moderate.

According to O'Bagy's op-ed, extremists and moderates exercise control over distinct areas of the country, and checkpoints are often set up to define territory. Also, there are distinct areas where moderate rebels are in control and can keep weapons out of the hands of extremists, O'Bagy told CNN in an interview last week. Kerry and McCain agreed with O'Bagy that Syria is a secular state; McCain even called her op-ed "important."

The Wall Street Journal was forced to add clarification to the article when O'Bagy's background came under fire.

"In addition to her role at the Institute for the Study of War, Ms. O’Bagy is affiliated with the Syrian Emergency Task Force, a nonprofit operating as a 501(c)(3) pending IRS approval that subcontracts with the U.S. and British governments to provide aid to the Syrian opposition," the newspaper added in its clarification.

O'Bagy took to Twitter to defend herself.

"I have never tried to hide that I've worked closely with opposition & rebel commanders," O'Bagy wrote. "That's what allows me to travel more safely in Syria. I’m not trying to trick America here. I’m just trying to show a different side to the conflict that few people have the chance to see."

O’Bagy had traveled with rebel forces in Syria.

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