The Corner

McCain Hires Scandal-Plagued Syria Analyst, Former Rebel Lobbyist

Senator John McCain has hired Elizabeth O’Bagy, a former analyst at the Institute for the Study of War who’s been accused of fabricating qualifications and being in the employ of Syrian rebel advocates, as a legislative assistant, Foreign Policy reports.

O’Bagy rose to prominence as a Syria analyst who argued that the country’s opposition was more moderate and less Islamist than many believed; her work was quoted by both McCain and Secretary of State John Kerry during congressional hearings on Syria earlier in September. But she quickly fell from grace when journalists pointed out her ties to the Syria Emergency Task Force, a group that advocates in the U.S. on behalf of the Syrian rebels, and when it was discovered that she had lied about her academic credentials. (She had claimed to hold a Ph.D., but was apparently never enrolled in such a program at all.) She was subsequently fired from the Institute for the Study of War.

McCain says he appreciated O’Bagy’s research nonetheless and that they hold common views on Syria. “Elizabeth is a talented researcher, and I have been very impressed by her knowledge and analysis in multiple briefings over the last year,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to her joining my office.”

McCain’s office said there would be no further comment on the matter.

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