It turns out it doesn’t matter how generally agreed upon your words are or how many people espouse your opinion; if you lie on your resume, you will still get fired. This is what happened to Elizabeth O’Bagy, a Washington scholar considered to be an expert on the war in Syria, who claimed to have earned a Ph.D. she didn’t really have.
O’Bagy’s credibility has gone out the window and all her work done during her tenure at the Institute for the Study of War is being scrutinized for accuracy and objectivity. The institute had hired her on as a senior analyst, prior to discovering her credential falsification. They issued this statement on their website following her termination: “The Institute for the Study of War has learned and confirmed that, contrary to her representations, M. Elizabeth O’Bagy does not in fact have a Ph.D. degree from Georgetown University. ISW has accordingly terminated Ms. O’Bagy’s employment, effective immediately.”
Georgetown denies O’Bagy’s claim of current enrollment
Politico spoke with O’Bagy who claimed she had completed her dissertation and defense and was just waiting for conferral of the degree. An interview with a spokesman from Georgetown, however, revealed that while she had earned an undergraduate and master’s degree from the university, she was not currently registered as a Ph.D. student.
Legislators cited O’Bagy’s work
Among her publications is a piece that appeared in August in The Wall Street Journal. It was an article a number of legislators used to “push for punishing the Assad regime for using chemical weapons,” according to FoxNews.com. For instance, Sen. John McCain of Arizona cited a statement in her article which said, “Contrary to many media accounts, the war in Syria is not being waged entirely, or even predominantly, by dangerous Islamists and al Qaeda die-hards.” Secretary of State John Kerry also ascribed to her words during congressional hearings.
However, following the publication of this op-ed piece, her involvement with the Syrian Emergency Task Force group came to light, calling into question her objectivity on the matter. She responded to the claim by saying she is an “independent contractor, and her contract fee comes through U.S. government contracts” and she is “not paid to advocate” U.S. involvement in Syria. She added that she had never tried to hide her affiliation with the group, though her Twitter account and ISW bio both omit that association.
Background checks detect credential falsification
Employers in New York who wish to prevent such an oversight from occurring on their watch would do well to invest in comprehensive background checks to ensure they really are hiring the people they think they are.