September 11, 2013

The scholar relied on by Kerry and McCain to make the case for attacking Syria has bee fired for lying about having a Ph.D.

Politico reports, noting an unbelievably small discrepancy:
[Elizabeth] O’Bagy told POLITICO’s Kate Brannen in an interview Monday that she had submitted and defended her dissertation and was waiting for Georgetown University to confer her degree.
Drudge blares: "CURVEBALL: WOMAN BEHIND CASE FOR SYRIA STRIKE FIRED FOR LYING."

IN THE COMMENTS: Tom Ault said:
After I defended my dissertation, I was told by my adviser that I could start calling myself a PhD as soon as my committee signed off on it, even though the degree wouldn't be formally conferred on me until sometime later. I suspect that the lack of a formal PhD in this case is simply cover for firing a scapegoat. 
I agree.

UPDATE: "O’Bagy confirmed to The Daily Beast that she was only enrolled in a master’s program at Georgetown and had applied to join the joint MA/Ph.D. program but was never accepted."
“I would like to deeply apologize to every person with whom I have worked, who has read and depended upon my research, and to the general public,” O’Bagy said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “While I have made many mistakes and showed extremely poor judgment, I most particularly regret my public misrepresentation of my educational status and not immediately disclosing that I had not been awarded a doctorate in May, 2013.” 

53 comments:

MadisonMan said...

This seems pretty minor to me, but I guess it depends on when she was hired as someone who has a PhD.

I think it's more important to know of her connection to various anti-Govt factions within Syria.

Maybe the no-PhD thing is just giving someone necessary cover for her firing.

AustinRoth said...

Do not forget this as well: “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."

Drago said...

This too is clearly Bush's fault.

But then, what isn't?

The Godfather said...

I don't see that as a "small discrepancy". She said she had a PhD when she didn't. If I told a court that I was admitted in the jurisdiction when, in fact, I had applied for admission and was expecting it to be granted, I suspect I'd at least face a reprimand if not contempt of court.

Henry said...

"Curveball" is pretty cute.

n.n said...

A preponderance of lies is why their credibility is not undeniable.

wildswan said...

Why couldn't US Senators talking about attacking another country find someone more qualified on the topic than a not-quite-PHD?

Strelnikov said...

Good analogy for the whole process.

Obama has been pretending he's something he's not: a President with actual foreign policy knowledge.

Assad has been pretending he's something he's not: a world leader of importance.

McCain had been pretending he;s something he's not: compos mentis.

Etc., etc., ad nauseum.

Perfect exclamation point.

Professor Chaos said...

It's not clear from the story what the lie is and what the truth is. First, it says, "O’Bagy told POLITICO’s Kate Brannen in an interview Monday that she had submitted and defended her dissertation and was waiting for Georgetown University to confer her degree." Is that a lie or the truth? If it's the truth, then she was indeed fired for an unbelievably small discrepancy (really not a discrepancy at all). Upon defending a dissertation a Ph.D. candidate is no longer a candidate and is in fact treated as having a Ph.D., even before the graduation date. Members of the dissertation committee will normally say something like, "Congratulations Dr. So-and-So" when informing the candidate that she has passed.

But later in the article it says, "The university’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies lists O’Bagy as one of the 20 graduates from this year’s Master of Arts in Arab Studies program." This makes it sound like she hasn't defended a dissertation at all and is not even a Ph.D. candidate -- that she was only recently awarded an M.A. So I don't think it's clear from the POLITICO article what happened.

Mountain Maven said...

This is what happens when you step into to the political area without being candid about your whole resume.

Robert Cook said...

"Do not forget this as well: '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."

So, she has a vested interest in our bombing Syria ( In aid of the rebels). The Iraq war repeats itself even in this way.

Clyde said...

So one of our credentialed fools isn't even fully credentialed? Oh, what a shameful state of affairs. In some societies, this would lead to a remorseful apology and self-disembowelment. In the Obama regime, it will likely lead to a promotion.

RecChief said...

Don't people who have defended their dissertation usually say they are a Ph.D. Candidtate until it is actually conferred? Unless of course you are trying to pad your resume.

Also, I read that the think tank that she works for, that lobbies the US government, receives funding from..........the US government.

Zach said...

If her story checks out, that's an incredibly weak reason for firing someone. Someone who has successfully defended their thesis has at least the moral right to call themselves "Doctor." (I don't know if I've ever even seen my diploma.)

However, the article gives at least some reason for doubting her story. She claims to be enrolled in a dual masters and doctoral degree program at Georgetown. Georgetown lists her as one of 20 people graduating this May with a Masters of Arts in Arab studies -- *not* as a PhD graduate. I find it hard to believe that one could advance from a Masters to a PhD over three summer months.

Mike said...

How the hell has it come to pass that I agree with EVERYTHING MadisonMan (@12:40) writes now?

Tom Ault said...

AFter I defended my dissertation, I was told by my adviser that I could start calling myself a PhD as soon as my committee signed off on it, even though the degree wouldn't be formally conferred on me until sometime later. I suspect that the lack of a formal PhD in this case is simply cover for firing a scapegoat.

David said...

"MadisonMan said...
This seems pretty minor to me, but I guess it depends on when she was hired as someone who has a PhD."

Either you have been awarded the degree or you have not. It's binary.

I think Althouse was kidding about the discrepancy. Hint: "incredibly small."

sean said...

I'm with The Godfather. Young lawyers manage to write resumes that say "J.D. expected __________" or "Passed [State} bar exam; awaiting admission." There's no reason Ph.D. candidates can't be similarly precise.

Clark said...

"[U]nbelievably small discrepancy" suggests that a Ph.D. candidate might inadvertently make such a mistake on her resume. The Ph.D. candidate is exquisitely aware of the difference between Ph.D. expected and Ph.D. awarded. If I were forced to choose between small discrepancy and lie, I would have to go with the latter.

Cedarford said...

O'Bagy was hired and fired by the head of the Institute for the Study of War, Kimberly Kagan.

Kagan is the power couple bride of Neocon Frederick Kagan. Her brother-in-law is Robert Kagan...All heavily involved as Yale Grad jewish Neocons in the Project for the New American Century, promoting "Curveball" and invading Iraq, then Iran, with maybe Syria in the middle.

Of course, those entrenched Neocons are basically courtiers in the hallways of power. They continued on with the Hillarys and Obamas. It would be a mistake to think Neocons and nation-building died with Bush.
Samantha Powers is a Yale disciple of the Kagans.
Victoria Nuland (Nuderlan) is Robert Kagans wife and a loyal Hillaryista and the controller of the Benghazi talking points.

Nuland is helping fund the Syrian Emergency Task Force and O'Bagy directly as it's political director - through State Dept contracts for payment in order to "raise awareness" about the Syrian heroes.

Biff said...

There has to be more to the story than this. Maybe it's a little different in my field (biology), but basically, as soon as people successfully defend their theses, they are introduced to the community by their reviewers as Dr. So-and-So and are treated accordingly. After the defense, there may be a brief period where final edits are made to the written dissertation before it is officially deposited with the university dissertation office, but once it is officially deposited, the author generally is treated as a Ph.D. holder, especially since the official conferral date can be many months away.

In a comment at 9/11 1:02, the Godfather suggested an analogy whereby a lawyer should expect at least a reprimand, if not something greater, after telling a court that she was admitted in the jurisdiction when she had merely applied for admission. A reasonable analogy, but somewhat off target, since it is not uncommon at all for people in many fields to begin postdoctoral positions, at least provisionally, before the official doctoral conferral date, i.e. before they are officially "admitted to the bar."

That said, were I applying for a position before the official conferral date, I would list the credential on my CV as "Ph.D., defended xx/xx/xx, to be conferred yy/yy/yy."

Unless there is some other point in question, i.e. if more than a year has elapsed since the defense, but the degree has not yet been conferred (which might suggest a problem with the thesis), this seems a much smaller issue than the kerfuffle a while back about President Obama representing himself as "Professor" when his official title was only "Instructor." In my field, the President's behavior would be considered embarrassing and highly questionable behavior, at a minimum - really, almost unthinkable, except perhaps when used offhandedly as an informal shortcut in casual conversation with students or people outside of academia. Well, were he anyone except Barack Obama, that is.

traditionalguy said...

Has she paid for Regalia for graduation ceremonies? That is the best test of whether she she believes in the Degree herself. We damand full disclosure.

EDH said...

O'Bagy?

Is there an Althouse theme here with yesterday's small testicles post?

jr565 said...

Robert Cook wrote:}

So, she has a vested interest in our bombing Syria ( In aid of the rebels). The Iraq war repeats itself even in this way.
So if you're against the bombing do you have a vested interest in the Assad regime? Or Hezbollah? Or Russian power. Or Iran? Or all of the above?

The antiwar crowd repeats itself even in this way.

Anthony said...

Technically, it doesn't say she *successfully* defended her dissertation, just that she defended it.

Jason said...

According to Politico, she has written her thesis but not yet defended it.

On the other hand, what the hell? What does this bitch know about war? What does ANY 26 year old PhD candidate who has spent her entire adult life in Georgetown know about war at the professional level?

When I was 26 I had already completed a successful command of a scout/sniper detachment.

It's amazing to me the kind of shitbirds who can draw a big salary in Washington, D.C.





Cedarford said...

JR565 - "So, she has a vested interest in our bombing Syria ( In aid of the rebels). The Iraq war repeats itself even in this way.
So if you're against the bombing do you have a vested interest in the Assad regime? Or Hezbollah? Or Russian power. Or Iran? Or all of the above?"

=====================
I think the issue JR565 is not "if you are an advocate -therefore you have a vested interest."

The issue is as Robert Cook alludes - people with huge sums of money to be made if they can seduce America into war, non-war, green power, Pigford - who do not represent the best interests of America. Who do not disclose they are doing it purely for money and power, as agents of cabals of even richer people that will reward them for their lobbying and seduction of the American Public.

And add to the cabals those who are unregistered agents of a foreign nation - who serve as Ivy League educated wonks and lawyers serving as media "Persuaders" without disclosing they are Green Advocates on the Saudi payroll, Free Trade advocates paid by China, Syria War advocates with 1st loyalty to Israel. All while pretending it is in America's best interest.


DaveO said...

I defended my PhD on May 1 of a certain year and obtained all the necessary signatures from my committee. Graduation, which I did not attend, was in August of that year. My diploma didn't arrive until October or so.

So when is it OK to say I had a PhD?

Zach said...

Either you have been awarded the degree or you have not. It's binary.

But in common usage, you are awarded the degree when your committee says you have been awarded the degree. Walking across the stage and accepting a empty diploma holder is a formality, and many people (say, those who are starting a job) don't bother attending.

The undergraduate equivalent would be someone who has graduated but has not yet received their diploma in the mail.

Wen said...

When bees start lying about having Ph.Ds they deserve to be fired.

poppa india said...

It may be common usage in academia,but probably the general public thinks you shouldn't call yourself a PhD until you have actually received it, even if you have successfully defended and been congratulated. Usually this isn't important, but when it is involved with war and peace, international relations, and politics at the highest level which may affect every citizen, all involved should be very careful about any claims to knowledge and expertise if they want to be seen as reliable sources of information.

harrogate said...

The second you walk out of a successful dissertation defense, you are able to refer to yourself as "Dr." There is no ambiguity on this. When you apply for an academic job after defending, you don't need to say "diploma not yet arrived in the mail" or "have not yet walked across the stage" or anything like that.

BUUUUUT. What about this little nugget of a quote a little further down in the story to which Ann links?


"According to Kagan, O’Bagy in May led her to believe she had successfully defended her dissertation when she had actually failed her defense."

But anyway. PhD or MA holder, it makes no difference to me in the end. What Robert Cook said above will do just fine, on that front.

slothrop said...

It seems like the Politico article is being edited as it now says:
"Georgetown University’s office of communications, meanwhile, said in a statement that “Georgetown University confirms that Elizabeth O’Bagy received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2009 and a Master of Arts degree in 2013. At this time she is not a registered student.”
According to Kagan, O’Bagy in May led her to believe she had successfully defended her dissertation when she had actually failed her defense."

kimsch said...

I just received my MBA. I was awarded the MBA as of August 19th, the diploma was dated August 31st, and I received my paper diploma on September 4th. I didn't count that I had my MBA until the official Diploma date of August 31st.

John Lynch said...

I think the real problem was that she was working for a rebel PAC without disclosing it.

If she did disclose it, then it's really hard to see the problem. Maybe she got on the wrong side of something.

Jerry Dunleavy said...

From the Politico article:

"When asked further about the timing of O’Bagy’s academic claim, Kagan told POLITICO that O’Bagy 'misrepresented to me in May that she had successfully defended her dissertation.' Kagan said she then started to call her Dr. O’Bagy, but that the website change only came later this summer when ISW did a broad staff update ... According to Kagan, O’Bagy in May led her to believe she had successfully defended her dissertation when she had actually failed her defense."

So, Elizabeth O'Bagy lied about being awarded her doctorate and allowed herself to be called "Doctor" after failing to defend her thesis. She lied. Mystery solved.

jr565 said...

Cedarford wrote:
The issue is as Robert Cook alludes - people with huge sums of money to be made if they can seduce America into war, non-war, green power, Pigford - who do not represent the best interests of America. Who do not disclose they are doing it purely for money and power, as agents of cabals of even richer people that will reward them for their lobbying and seduction of the American Public.

There are a lot of people in this country pushing the Russia agenda who are communists or socialits, or doing the work for free. (in other words useful idiots). And the same could be said for Muslim interests.
I don't happen to think that all the people pushing for "peace' are actually looking out for American interests either.
Its just sad when it's republicans who are in this boat.

Now I personally am not in the pocket of Israel. But it just so happens that our interest roughly coincide in the ME. They're not death cults. They don't scream death to America or call us the Great Satan all the time. They dont fly planes into buildings and stone women for adultery.
We dont have to contain them and sanction them and pass 15 resolutions agianst them for non compliance then set up no fly zones. They don't have 50 or so terrorist groups who may hate each other but all hate THE JEW a hell of a lot more.
And we don't get blocked by Russia every time we have to reign them in because we don't have to reign them in.
THey aren't arming Syria or Iran or proxy states of Syria or IRan.

Where else do you want me to go with this? I don't have to be in the employ of Israel to know where my loyalties would lie if I had to pick amongst all the shit holes in that region.

jr565 said...

Cedarford wrote:
Kagan is the power couple bride of Neocon Frederick Kagan. Her brother-in-law is Robert Kagan...All heavily involved as Yale Grad jewish Neocons in the Project for the New American Century, promoting "Curveball" and invading Iraq, then Iran, with maybe Syria in the middle.

I realize that the neo cons are a bunch of nefarious JEWS! But why do Syria Iran and IRaq have to play along so well with the caricature painted by THE NEOCONS.
The neocons say Iran is evil.

And yet strangely, I don't have to listen to neocons to see where they're coming from. IF there were necons, I'd still think that Iran was an evil regime that needed to be contained and possibly even invaded, simply because it is a fucking hell hole on earth. Same goes with Syria, Same goes with Iraq. And all the terrorist organizations they send weapons to to kill THE JEWS.

What about the Muslim cabal pushing war on the world? IT seems to be an awful lot of countries telling Israel how they are supposed to exist and willing fight to the death to remove it from the earth. None of these, we have to mind our own business when it comes to other countries mentality applies to them.
Israel could give back Gaza and then next day Hezbollah could move in and start a new round of strikes from the West Bank that was just given to them for peace, and you'd be out there talking about how we're pushing war.

Get your standards correct and stop being a hypocrite. And now suddenly I have to apologize for wanting to deal with Syria after it uses chemical weapons even though its' spent millions arming Hezbollah terrorists to wage war against Israel daily?
It's not that I suport Israel because of zionism impulse, but because your double standard is so obviously a double standard it makes me throw up in my mouth.
War monger my ass. It's those regimes that are the warmongers (and the anti western values bigots, and the haters of gays and women) not THE JEWS.


jr565 said...

What exactly did this woman say about Syria that was wrong? Are they really the second coming of tr founding fathers and but for her we'd be having them over for dinner and writing to them as pen palls?
Is Assad really the second coming of Nelson Mandela and ghandi and we just misjudge his terrorism because of HER?

How long has this woman been around feeding us this information? For the same duration that Syria has been on a terrorist watch list?
Thank god we found this woman out because I was all set to think the worst of Syria. And she must have been talking out of turn about Iran too, because I've been nearing some bad stuff.

David Davenport said...

There's more to the story than nit-picking about Ms. O'Bagy's academic paperwork. It may be that one of her patrons is bigtime NeoCon William Kristol Jr., boss editor at *American Spectator* magazine:

The Obama Administration Gets Pwned By AIPAC?

The Obama Administration Gets Pwned By AIPAC?
By: streiff (Diary) | September 6th, 2013 at 02:12 PM | 34

syria hagel kerry

When Elizabeth O’Bagy penned an influential — and seemingly deceptive — op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, she shaped the view of the Administration on Syria. It looks like she had a lot of help.

READ MORE » ...


"O'Bagy" sounds like a phoney Scots-Irish name that one of the small minds at iSteve.com might have concocted for a person who is actually of another ethnicity.

Emil Blatz said...

Here's the problem. PhD or not, a 26 year old is a Senior Analyst? Huh? Are you kidding me? I've got 3 decades on her (and perhaps a doctorate) and I can see that the Syrian mess is a ball of complexity that no just-out-of-school analyst could have mastered. I think this was someone who was looking at the climbing rungs in Washington and skipped a step. But if she was treated by someone in authority as a senior analyst, there is the flaw.

Robert Cook said...

"So if you're against the bombing do you have a vested interest in the Assad regime? Or Hezbollah? Or Russian power. Or Iran? Or all of the above?"

I have an interest in our country abiding by the UN Charter (the law of the land, by the way, per the Constitution) and not attacking countries that are not threatening us; I have an interest in our country not killing more people; I have an interest in our country not pouring more of our treasure into a hellish sinkhole of death, dismemberment, waste and destruction; I have an interest in our country not continuing its screaming plummet into global lawlessness and domestic tyranny, the already evident fruits of our past dozen years' rampage of wars.

David Davenport said...

Sorry, this link is:

www.redstate.com/2013/09/06/the-obama-administration-gets-pwned-by-aipac?

Gabriel Hanna said...

There's a lot of people commenting here who don't have Ph. D.s who seem confidently able to be extremely precise about exactly when a candidate who has passed examination can call themselves "Dr." without being a liar. Dunning-Kruger effect, no doubt.

I can honestly say I have no idea when the exact date was that my Ph. D. was officially conferred, and no one has ever asked. It was not a large amount of time--measured in days, not weeks--that elapsed between my defense and my having the degree officially conferred. The date's on my transcript if I need to know it.

If I had had any outstanding library fines I had forgotten to pay it would have taken longer, they would not have conferred until I cleared that up.

A very long gap between defense and conferral means something went badly wrong without the candidate being aware--I personally know of no such case. Your advisor ought not to let you defend if you won't pass--and if you insist on defending anyway, you'll find out right away you didn't pass.

Either something weird happened, or the Ph. D. thing is an excuse, as Madison Man said.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Althouse writes: Politico reports, noting an unbelievably small discrepancy:

But there's a huge difference between someone who fails their PhD defense and someone who passes.

Half your readers didn't read the whole article.

David said...

"Zach said...
Either you have been awarded the degree or you have not. It's binary.[quoting me]

[and then]

But in common usage, you are awarded the degree when your committee says you have been awarded the degree. Walking across the stage and accepting a empty diploma holder is a formality, and many people (say, those who are starting a job) don't bother attending."[speaking for himself]

Thanks for expanding my learning. I learned something about the Phd degree today. And Althouse was not joking. Other than that, I was spot on in my useless comment.

When I was in law school, the degree switched from LLB (bachelor of laws) to J.D. (doctor of laws.) Something about the lawyers wanting parity with the academic higher degrees. Law is a great education, but a JD is not a doctorate. Maybe all the lawyers should be fired for misrepresentation?

Can't get me though. I already quit.

William said...

If she does, in fact, turn out to be a liar and a fraud, that would enhance her qualifications to be a senior analyst of middle eastern affairs. This is someone who knows how to play the game. If Huma has to resign for reasons of state, I hope Hillary snatches her up right away to fill the opening on her staff. Hillary would be the ideal mentor for this promising young woman.

tim in vermont said...

"What he and the WSJ article failed to mention (the WSJ has since updated) was that O'Bagy was also the paid political director of the Muslim Brotherhood-connected Syrian Emergency Task Force, a group that advocates to U.S. audiences on behalf of Syria's rebels and subcontracts with the current U.S. administration 'to provide aid to the Syrian opposition.'"

Matthew Sablan said...

She broke the cardinal rule of employment: Don't embarrass your boss. You do that, you get fired. Everyone does a fireable offense almost every day; just give them a reason.

Big Mike said...

She says she had submitted and defended her dissertation and was waiting for Georgetown University to confer her degree.

Could it be that she is lying?

At any rate, you folks out in the hinterlands (i.e., the real world) need to understand that what Matthew Sablan wrote is the only rule in the Federal Government. Screw ordinary citizens out of their life savings? Just doing your job. Cost farmers their farms that have been in the family since the early 19th century? Perfectly understandable, can't make an omelette, etc. etc. Embarrass the boss? These two armed security guards will escort you to your office, which you have one hour to clean out before they collect your security badge and escort you from the building.

SteveBrooklineMA said...

It is theoretically possible to be denied your PhD after you have defended and your committee has signed off on your thesis. The dean typically has veto power. I have never heard of it being wielded, still I think it is there.

I think if she hadn't defended yet, then she shouldn't have called herself PhD. If she successfully defended her PhD thesis, then this is very petty reason to get fired.

harrogate said...

Except, as we see when we read the whole article, in this case it doesn't matter whether you can call yourself a PhD after you successfully defend (of course, you can) because this woman Failed Her Defense.

Therefore, fraud. Which does not surprise, given the nature of the "advice" she's trading in. For God's sake the woman has worked for William Kristol. That right there is a disqualifier in and of itself.

Marshal said...

Emil Blatz said...
I think this was someone who was looking at the climbing rungs in Washington and skipped a step.


Agree with most of what you wrote, but I think you misplace the criticism.

It looks to me like someone was opinion shopping and didn't notice (or care) they had to expand the search to the factory reject section before could find the one they wanted. Only when they were unexpectedly challenged did the source matter. The criticism belongs to those who selected her opinion over thousands more experienced, qualified, and independent.