BEIRUT: Former Syria analyst Elizabeth O’Bagy, who was recently fired when it was discovered she had lied about having a Ph.D., began work Monday for the office of Republican Senator John McCain. O’Bagy, 26, had been working for the Institute for the Study of War but came under scrutiny when her research – in particular an article in the Wall Street Journal in which she claimed jihadists were not overly influential on the ground – was cited by McCain himself as evidence for the U.S. to intervene in Syria.
McCain referenced O’Bagy’s work in a Senate foreign relations committee hearing in early September, as the U.S. administration was upping rhetoric on the possibility of striking the Syrian regime militarily.
It then emerged that the ISW had not made clear that O’Bagy was also working as a consultant for the Syrian Emergency Task Force, which lobbies on behalf of the Syrian opposition in Washington, and channels aid on the ground in Syria.
O’Bagy is due to begin working for the McCain campaign as a legislative assistant.
Asked whether there were doubts over her credibility, given her exaggerated claims about her educational background McCain told The Daily Star, “Elizabeth is a talented researcher, and I have been very impressed by her knowledge and analysis in multiple briefings over the last year.” He added, “I look forward to her joining my office.”
In May she had also helped coordinate a cross-border trip by McCain into rebel-held territory in northern Syria. During the trip, the U.S. senator met with rebels, including some that were associated with the kidnappers of Lebanese pilgrims. Nine of the hostages are still being held in northern Syria, after being abducted over a year ago.