The Rise and Fall of Elizabeth O’Bagy

Swampland

Updated om Sept. 19 to add comment from Kim Kagan.

It was, in Washington terms, great PR. Questioning Secretary of State John Kerry during a Sept. 3 hearing on Syria, Senator John McCain read extensively from a Wall Street Journal op-ed by “Dr. Elizabeth O’Bagy” about the growing moderate Syrian opposition. The next day, testifying before the House Kerry himself cited O’Bagy’s work in explaining how only 15% to 20% of the 70,000 to 100,000 fighters on the ground Syria were “bad guys.”

It would be easy to imagine that Elizabeth O’Bagy was a venerated Syria expert with decades of experience. In fact, O’Bagy turned out to be a 26-year-old who had first begun to research Syria 20 months ago as an intern at the Institute for the Study of War, a hawkish Washington non-profit. Over the summer, O’Bagy had become the celebre of the Syrian rebel cause. Cable television…

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