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July 23, 2014

Whoa: Democratic Senator John Walsh of Montana Plagiarized 25% of His 2007 War College Masters Thesis

You might not have known about this Senate race, which is my way of saying I didn't know about it, and I don't want to feel stupid about that, so I'm going to graciously forgive your not knowing about it.

Walsh was appointed Senator in Montana last month (Montana-- why do you elect Democratic governors? Are you stupid?) to replace Max Baucus.

The Democrats had been doing their usual Red State play -- put up a guy who talks conservative and has a conservative-seeming biography, who will then vote lockstep with Harry Reid.

They were hoping this Walsh would hold the seat he was appointed to, mentioning his military service (in the National Guard, but he served in Iraq) as a key qualification to the post.

You know -- Honor. Integrity. Military Values.

This will damage that storyline.

And this is the NYT, incidentally.

[O]ne 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.

Here's the thing: we're not talking about a youthful indiscretion, here. He submitted this paper in 2007 -- when he was 46 years old.

Why, that's practically old enough to be kicked off his parents' insurance policy!

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.

He also directly lifted two sentences from a Harvard paper by Sean M. Lynn-Jones.

Mr. Walsh does not footnote or cite Mr. Lynn-Jones’s essay, titled "Why the United States Should Spread Democracy," anywhere in his paper.

That's a problem, because not only did he not properly cite the source of the sentences, he did not even acknowledging reading the paper anywhere else in his paper. Which gives rise to a suspicion that he was trying to hide its provenance.

Walsh claims he didn't do anything wrong, at least not "intentionally."

Now, check out how his aides are pushing back against the story:

On Wednesday, a campaign aide.. 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.





Thesis papers take a year to write. Sometimes they take multiple years.

You don't plagiarize one quarter (or more!) of the paper in a two week period where you have the Sadz.

The Times report is all worth reading. Near the end, they cite the War College's policy on plagiarism.

Spoiler: They're not only against it, they're really really against it.

And they specifically state that "forgetting" to cite another author -- their word precisely -- is a serious form of academic fraud.

By the way, here's how the unbiased reporter Blake Hounshell of the unbiased rag Politico chose to report the story:

Update/Correction: Someone Who Knows stuff says the War College offers a one-year masters, and no paper would take that full year to write.

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posted by Ace at 04:25 PM

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