Elizabeth O’Bagy is a frequently-cited “expert” on Syria, a popular talking head on cable news, and recently wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that Senator John McCain and State Secretary John Kerry both cited as evidence for bombing Syria. (She was later outed as an employee of a pro-Syrian-rebel group.) You can watch her arguing with Fareed Zakaria on CNN in the video above. The only problem: she faked her credentials at Georgetown, where she claims to have earned a PhD. Zack Beauchamp at ThinkProgress tracks how O’Bagy claimed she was a “doctor” even though anyone could have easily proven otherwise:
She is not listed as a PhD student on the Government department’s website. She does not exist in the university directory. ... There is “no evidence that she is associated with our department in any way; she’s not among our students as far as we can tell,” [said] Daniel Nexon, a Government Professor who served as the Director of Admissions and Fellowships for all but one of the years she could have applied.
O’Bagy, who completed bachelor’s and a master’s degrees at Georgetown, appears to have been enrolled in a combined MA/PhD program, but left before successfully defending her dissertation. Her employer, the Institute for the Study of War, fired her yesterday for misrepresenting her credentials.
It’s not clear if O’Bagy actually ever wrote a dissertation (and simply failed to adequately defend it). A degree verification certificate obtained by Gawker from the National Student Clearinghouse indicates that O’Bagy enrolled in Georgetown’s Arab Studies graduate program in August 2011 and graduated two years later with a master’s degree. Doctoral dissertations usually take several more years to research, write, and defend.
Still, up until her firing on Wednesday, O’Bagy continued to defend her research (and honesty):
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.— Elizabeth O'Bagy (@lizobagy) September 7, 2013