BEIRUT: A young researcher whose work was cited by U.S. Senator John McCain and Secretary of State John Kerry at congressional hearings on Syria and who accompanied the senator on a visit to the country has been fired from the Institute for the Study of War for allegedly lying about holding a doctorate.
Elizabeth O’Bagy, 26, was dismissed from her role as senior analyst with the ISW, according to a statement issued by the think tank Wednesday.
“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,” the statement read. “ISW has accordingly terminated Ms. O’Bagy’s employment, effective immediately
O’Bagy is no stranger to controversy. Last month, she came under fire after penning an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, later cited by McCain during last week’s Senate Foreign Affairs Committee meeting ahead of a planned congressional vote to clear U.S. strikes against Syria.
The WSJ issued a clarification after observers claimed she had misrepresented herself by failing to include her advocacy role with the rebel Syrian Emergency Task Force in her biographical details attached to the piece.
“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 WSJ said in its clarification.
O’Bagy accompanied Republican McCain, a fierce advocate for arming the Syrian rebels and intervention in the country’s civil war, in her capacity as an advocate with the Task Force, on a visit to Syria in May.
McCain, who has argued a majority of Syrian rebels are moderate in making his case for arming the opposition, was then unwittingly photographed alongside an affiliate of a group behind the kidnap of several Lebanese Shiite pilgrims.
The photograph sparked widespread ridicule and controversy.