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“Sooner or later, academic dishonesty will be discovered,” the Army War College warns in its student handbook. A graduate degree from the prestigious school indicates not only academic rigor, but harder to find attributes of honor and integrity.
Army War College grad Sen. John Walsh (D–Mont.) has used that reputation to promote his political career. But according to a piece in today’s New York Times, he appears to be guilty of plagiarism:
But one of the highest-profile credentials of Mr. Walsh’s 33-year military career appears to have been improperly attained. An examination of the final paper required for Mr. Walsh’s master’s degree from the United States Army War College indicates the senator appropriated at least a quarter of his thesis on American Middle East policy from other authors’ works, with no attribution.
Mr. Walsh completed the paper, what the War College calls a “strategy research project,” to earn his degree in 2007, when he was 46. The sources of the material he presents as his own include academic papers, policy journal essays and books that are almost all available online.
Most strikingly, each of the six recommendations Mr. Walsh laid out at the conclusion of his 14-page paper, titled “The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy,” is taken nearly word-for-word without attribution from a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace document on the same topic.
Montana’s governor appointed Walsh in February to replace retiring Senator Max Baucus. Democrats thought his military background would give him an advantage heading into the 2014 race. But according to Real Clear Politics, Walsh is badly trailing his Republican opponent Rep. Steve Daines.
Walsh is denying charges of plagiarism in rather weak terms:
In an interview outside his Capitol Hill office on Tuesday, after he was presented with multiple examples of identical passages from his paper and the Carnegie and Harvard essays, Mr. Walsh said he did not believe he had done anything wrong.
“I didn’t do anything intentional here,” he said, adding that he did not recall using the Carnegie and Harvard sources.
Asked directly if he had plagiarized, he responded: “I don’t believe I did, no.”
On Wednesday, a campaign aide for Mr. Walsh did not contest the plagiarism but suggested that it be viewed in the context of the senator’s long career. She said Mr. Walsh was going through a difficult period at the time he wrote the paper, noting that one of the members of his unit from Iraq had committed suicide in 2007, weeks before it was due.
The aide said Mr. Walsh, who served in Iraq from November 2004 to November 2005, “dealt with the experience of post-deployment,” but acknowledged he had not sought treatment.
Since the Democrats had no problem supporting a Senate candidate who pretended to be a Vietnam vet and one who pretended to be Native American, I doubt they will have any ethical qualms about plagiarism. The only complaint they’ll have is that he’s down in the polls.