Nation & World News

From Anonymous To Media Star To Unemployed In A Week

By Greg Myre on September 12th, 2013

If you’re following the Syrian debate, there’s a good chance you’ve come across Elizabeth O’Bagy, an analyst on the Syrian war, who went from obscure think tank analyst to media darling to unemployed in roughly a week.

Here’s how she did it.

O’Bagy, 26, was a senior analyst at the Institute for the Study of War in Washington. Her specialty, the Syrian rebels, received only periodic flickers of attention.

Then came the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria, followed by President Obama’s declared intent to carry out a military strike in Syria.

Suddenly, O’Bagy, who has spent considerable time with the rebels, was a very hot commodity. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to know more about the rebels.

In an Aug. 30 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, O’Bagy challenged the conventional wisdom that the rebel forces are increasingly dominated by Islamic extremists.

“Moderate opposition forces — a collection of groups known as the Free Syrian Army — continue to lead the fight against the Syrian regime,” she wrote.

Overnight, O’Bagy was a fixture on news programs, offering her take on the Syrian war, which included a Sept. 6 interview on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Her comments often sparked a strong response, pro and con. Secretary of State John Kerry and Sen. John McCain both favorably cited her work during congressional hearings. Critics claimed she was helping push the U.S. into a Middle East quagmire.

Then, as quickly as her star rose, a backlash began to emerge.

In an interview on Fox News and in other appearances, she came under criticism for serving as a both an independent analyst at her institute and for working on a contractual basis with an advocacy group that supports the Syrian opposition, the Syrian Emergency Task Force. That group subcontracts with the U.S. and British governments to provide aid to the Syrian opposition.

O’Bagy insisted there was no conflict.

“I have never tried to hide that Ive worked closely with opposition & rebel commanders,” she said on Twitter. “Thats what allows me to travel more safely in Syria.”

“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,” she added, according to Politico.

But on Wednesday, O’Bagy was fired for another reason: The Institute for the Study of War said she had falsely claimed a Ph.D. in Arab studies.

“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 institute said in a statement. “ISW has accordingly terminated Ms. O’Bagy’s employment, effective immediately.”

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

Americans Detained In N. Korea Urge U.S. To Secure Their Release

In interviews with CNN and The Associated Press, Kenneth Bae, Jeffrey Fowle and Matthew Miller appealed to the U.S. to send a senior representative to secure their release.


The Flight Of The Passenger Pigeon, Now 100 Years Extinct

Passenger pigeons were once the world’s most abundant bird, but they were also the cheapest protein available. The last passenger pigeon, Martha, died exactly a century ago at the Cincinnati Zoo.


British Prime Minister David Cameron told the House of Commons on Monday that he wants to give police the power to seize the passports of Islamist fighters bound for Iraq and Syria.

U.K. Seeks To Expand Terrorism Laws To Target British Fighters

Prime Minister David Cameron wants to give police the power to seize passports of Islamist fighters bound for Iraq and Syria. On Friday, Britain raised its threat level to “severe” from “substantial.”


The first edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the original hero Golden Egg from the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on display at Profiles In History in Calabasas, northwest of downtown Los Angeles, on July 19, 2012.

For Anniversary, A New Chapter Of ‘Charlie And The Chocolate Factory’

The chapter describes the Vanilla Fudge Room, an extra room in the chocolate factory. In it, Charlie Bucket goes to the factory with his mother – not his grandfather. The book turns 50 this month.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called Monday for a cease-fire in Ukraine, but demanded that Ukrainian troops leave positions from which they can "harm the civilian population." His comments come ahead of talks in Minsk, Belarus, involving Ukraine, Russia, Russia-backed separatists and international monitors.

Pro-Russia Rebels Say They Will Settle For Autonomy In Ukraine

It’s a step back from the full independence they were seeking and may reflect a Russian desire to end the crisis, which has led to Moscow’s worst ties with the West since the end of the Cold War.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments