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This profile was last updated on 1/24/15  and contains information from public web pages and contributions from the ZoomInfo community.

Ms. Elizabeth O'Bagy

Wrong Elizabeth O'Bagy?


Local Address: Washington, United States
Institute for the Study of War
1400 16th Street NW Suite 515
Washington DC , District of Columbia 20036
United States


Employment History


  • Ph.D.
  • Ph.D. degree
    Georgetown University
  • masters
    Georgetown University
  • Ph.D. program
    Georgetown University
  • Ph.D. program
    Georgetown University
186 Total References
Web References
Institute for the Study of War - Profile - Right Web - Institute for Policy Studies, 24 Jan 2015 [cached]
Elizabeth O'Bagy, a researcher who led the organization's Syria Team for much of 2013, advocated more forceful strategies while based at ISW, including pushing direct U.S. attacks on critical regime infrastructure and supplying the rebels with heavy weaponry. O'Bagy outlined this case in a controversial August 2013 op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in which she also argued that reports of extremist involvement in Syria's armed opposition were overblown-a claim that was subsequently repeated by intervention advocates like Sen.
More controversially, the Journal initially failed to disclose that O'Bagy had been a paid consultant-with the title "political director"-for the Syrian Emergency Task Force, an interest group deeply linked to the Syrian rebels that has advocated similar position's to O'Bagy's. "O'Bagy seems to pass herself off as an impartial observer of the situation," said one Center for Security Policy staffer quoted by the Daily Caller. "Her access to Congress, intelligence services and to think tanks should be regarded as what it really is, which is a reflection of the Syrian rebels' cause and aspirations."[3] ISW stood by O'Bagy's impartiality, but subsequently fired her after learning that she had exaggerated her credentials in claiming that she had earned a PhD from Georgetown when in fact she was not even enrolled in a program.[4]
Elizabeth O'Bagy claimed ..., 11 Sept 2013 [cached]
Elizabeth O'Bagy claimed she earned a Ph.D. she had not, Wall Street Journal says
Elizabeth O'Bagy
Elizabeth O'Bagy, who was an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, said she had earned a doctorate from Georgetown University when she had not, the organization announced 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. ISW has accordingly terminated Ms. O'Bagy's employment, effective immediately," the institute posted in an online statement Wednesday.
The decision to terminate O'Bagy's employment at the institute was made later that day, Kagan said.
O'Bagy was hired a year ago as a research analyst, after she had been working as an intern at the institute for a few months. O'Bagy proved to be an exceptional researcher and analyst, and Kagan said she was "pleased and proud to move her forward."
Last week, both Kerry and McCain cited O'Bagy's op-ed piece, which was published in the Wall Street Journal on August 30, titled "On the Front Lines of Syria's Civil War.
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."
Initially, the Wall Street Journal only recognized O'Bagy as a "senior analyst" at the institute, but a clarification was later added, stating her affiliation with the Syrian Emergency Task Force, a non-profit organization based in Washington that advocates a free and democratic Syria.
O'Bagy responded on Twitter last week to scrutiny over her association with the Syrian rebel advocacy group, writing she never tried to conceal her ties with opposition and rebel commanders and is not being paid to advocate her views on Syria. Rather these connections allow her to travel more safely in Syria, she wrote.
"I'm not trying to trick America here," O'Bagy tweeted on September 7.
Before accepting her position as political director of SETF, O'Bagy had to ask Kagan for approval.
Elizabeth O'Bagy" to its Washington staff. The news release has since been removed.
It's unclear whether O'Bagy still holds her position at the SETF in light of the revelations about her non-existent doctorate degree.
O'Bagy was not immediately reached for comment Wednesday.
O'Bagy received a Master of Arts degree in Arab Studies from Georgetown University in May and was allegedly working on her dissertation for a Ph.D, which she told Kagan she had completed later that month, Kagan said.
"I hired (O'Bagy) without (a doctorate degree) and would have kept her if she hadn't pursued it.
Also, O'Bagy never had the administrative power to enter data into the institute's resource database, she said.
O'Bagy has appeared on several television networks, including BBC, CNN, Fox and PBS. Last week, she was a guest on CNN Newsroom and Fox News, speaking about Syria. Because of the revelation about her false doctorate, O'Bagy will not appear again as an analyst on CNN networks.
Academia | Daniel W. Drezner, 16 Nov 2013 [cached]
Until yesterday, Elizabeth O'Bagy was a senior analyst at the Institute for the Study of War and an increasingly prominent expert on the Syrian rebel groups. Then the institute announced the following:
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.
O'Bagy's exact academic status was unclear in the reportage. According what O'Bagy told Politico, "she had submitted and defended her dissertation and was waiting for Georgetown University to confer her degree. However, according to BuzzFeed, "O'Bagy has a masters from Georgetown University and was enrolled in a Ph.D program, but had not yet defended her dissertation.
O'Bagy was enrolled in the Arab Studies Master's program, which only partners with three departments for joint doctorate programs: Government, History, and Arabic Language, Literature, and Linguistics. Given her purported topic, she would have partnered with Government - according to one Georgetown PhD student who met O'Bagy, she had claimed a distinguished member of the Government Department as her adviser.
She is not listed as a PhD student on the Government department's website. She does not exist in the university directory. A search of the entire Georgetown website turns up only one hit, a congratulations notice for her Master's graduation.
sources at Georgetown confirm Beauchamp's account, telling me that there is zero evidence that O'Bagy was ever enrolled in any Ph.D. program at Georgetown.
O'Bagy's Aug. 30 op-ed piece for the Journal, "On the Front Lines of Syria's Civil War," was cited by both Kerry and McCain last week.
"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 added in its clarification.
Or, as CNN's Jake Tapper pithily put it: "It's all part of the weird world of Washington - a doctor who is not a doctor writes an op-ed testifying for the rebels, without disclosing that she is paid for by a rebel advocacy group, and her words are seized as evidence by experts - Kerry and McCain."
So there's that. It is certainly possible that O'Bagy's WSJ op-ed is 100% accurate. The thing is, misrepresenting one's affiliations and credentials go to credibility, and O'Bagy now has two strikes against her.
The other thing is why O'Bagy felt the need to misrepresent her credentials, and why the hell it took so long for Kagan and the ISW to ferret this out.
O'Bagy is hardly the first person to misrepresent her academic credentials -- nor is she the most egregious example.
Michael Weiss and Elizabeth ..., 6 April 2014 [cached]
Michael Weiss and Elizabeth O'Bagy
Elizabeth O'Bagy is a senior research analyst at the Institute for the Study of War and the policy director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force.
Researcher Elizabeth O'Bagy ..., 16 Sept 2013 [cached]
Researcher Elizabeth O'Bagy was fired from her post at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) after it was learned that she had reportedly falsified her claim of having received a Ph.D. from Georgetown University.
"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 statement read.
In the segments, O'Bagy, who claimed to have made several trips back and forth to Syria to assess the conflict in recent months, routinely argued the rebel forces were largely moderate and only minimal numbers of those fighting al-Assad were affiliated with radical jihadists.
It was later discovered that O'Bagy, who claimed to be objective and was generally introduced as an analyst, was in fact the political director for the Syrian Emergency Task Force, a nonprofit rebel support group based in Washington D.C.
Before her affiliation with the Syrian Emergency Task Force became widely known, O'Bagy had published a column in The Wall Street Journal on Aug. 30, where she wrote, "The war in Syria is not being waged entirely, or even predominantly, by dangerous Islamists and al Qaeda die-hards."
Last May, O'Bagy and others at the Syrian Emergency Task Force organized a short trip by McCain into Syria to meet with General Salim Idriss, commander of the Free Syrian Army, Reuters noted.
Though O'Bagy has yet to respond publicly to her dismissal from the Institute for the Study of War, which the Daily Caller describes as a "neoconservative think tank," the 26-year-old defended her analysis of the Syrian conflict and claimed she never receive a salary from the Syrian Emergency Task Force.
"My salary comes from the Institute for the Study of War. I don't get a salary from working with the Task Force," O'Bagy said. "I get paid contracting fees for very specific contracts."
When asked about the potential conflict of interest, O'Bagy said she was working for the Syrian people, the Daily Caller noted.
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"Frankly I mean the humanitarian crisis is just so horrific that I honestly could not spend significant amounts of time there without trying to contribute to the humanitarian situation in one way or another and that's just kind of me as a human being," O'Bagy told the Daily Caller.
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