A researcher fired by a non-partisan think tank was cited by Secretary John Kerry and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) last week. The researcher, Elizabeth O’Bagy, was fired for falsifying her academic record.
O’Bagy’s work on the merits of moderate opposition forces in Syria were cited by both Kerry and McCain during a Senate hearing. She was a senior analyst at the Institute for the Study of War.
Yahoo! News reports that Kerry and McCain cited the researcher’s recent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, which talked about how moderate opposition forces continued leading the fight against the Syrian government. Her work was used by the two politicians in congressional hearings last week.
But the institute fired the researcher on Wednesday, explaining its reasoning on its website. ISW wrote that it had “learned and confirmed that, contrary to her representations” Elizabeth O’Bagy didn’t actually receive a Ph.D. from Georgetown University.
In response to the discovery, O’Bagy was immediately fired. The think tank’s president explained that the firing had nothing to do with her work, which was excellent. Kim Kagan explained, “I stand by her assignments and her work. This is a terrible tragedy.”
Reuters notes that a senior State Department official added that Kerry presumed media outlets represented O’Bagy’s credentials accurately when he referred to her work. However, it appears that wasn’t the case.
The WSJ article initially listed the researcher’s affiliation to the ISW, then later added a clarification, saying she also worked with the Syrian Emergency Task Force. The group, including O’Bagy, was responsible for arranging McCain’s secret trip to Syria in May. While there, the senator met with General Salim Idriss, commander of the Free Syrian Army.
O’Bagy has already lost her job as a researcher with the Institute for the Study of War. However, it is not known if her affiliation with the Syrian Emergency Task Force has also been compromised.
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