Elizabeth O’Bagy (COL ’09, GRD ’13), a researcher whose analysis of Syria had been quoted by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Secretary of State John Kerry, was found to have falsely claimed to have a Ph.D. from Georgetown this week.

O’Bagy, who did earn a master’s degree in Arab studies, was fired from her position as an analyst for the Institute for the Study of War on Wednesday after the group confirmed she had lied on her resume.

“I believe that we, as an institution, have the responsibility to represent ourselves and our work accurately to one another and to the public,” ISW President Kimberly Kagan said. “That is why we publish long reports with documentation and biographies of our authors. And so, it is simply unacceptable to me that any employee should misrepresent his or her credentials.”

O’Bagy began as an intern at ISW while she was simultaneously earning her graduate degree from Georgetown. She was officially hired as an analyst last year after the alleged completion of her doctorate program.

According to ThinkProgress, O’Bagy originally told her ISW associates that she was in a combined masters/Ph.D. program and writing her dissertation on “Female Militancy in Islamic Extremist Organizations,” but ThinkProgress found that the professor who was supposedly advising her dissertation had never heard of her.

Moreover, at Georgetown, the master’s program in Arab studies partners with three departments for joint doctoral programs: government, history and Arabic language, literature and linguistics. There is no record of O’Bagy on any of the three websites.

Georgetown government professor Daniel Nexon, who served as the director of admissions and fellowships for all but one of the years O’Bagy could have applied for the program, told ThinkProgressthat there was “no evidence that she is associated with [the government] department in any way.”

Kagan would not comment on how the falsified academic record was discovered, but the recent attention around O’Bagy’s work with Syria caused increased scrutiny on O’Bagy, particularly when her work was cited by Kerry and McCain.

A discussion started Sept. 9 between a group of scholars, including Georgetown faculty members, regarding O’Bagy’s alleged Georgetown credentials, Think Progress reported. The experts were skeptical of her records, and a participant allegedly expressed the intent to contact ISW with the group’s concerns.

Kagan stressed that she was impressed with the fact that O’Bagy confessed to her in person.

“Elizabeth told me herself [Tuesday]. I confirmed, and I terminated her employment immediately,”Kagan said.

Kagan added that, despite O’Bagy’s deception, she still held a high level of respect for the researcher.

“I have an extraordinary degree of admiration for Elizabeth’s work ethic and her capabilities, and I sincerely hope that she will succeed,” Kagan said. “She is an outstanding researcher and incredibly hardworking analyst, and her work that she had published at ISW is extremely impressive and well-documented. I stand by her work.”

Following her termination, O’Bagy told Buzzfeed that she was no longer legally allowed to discuss her employment or affiliation with ISW.

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