NYT: Walsh May Have Plagiarized Master’s Thesis

The New York Times has reported that U.S. Sen. John Walsh (D-MT) may have plagiarized up to one quarter of his 2007 master’s degree thesis.

The news broke this morning in a story by Times reporter Jonathan Martin, who noted, “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.”

This isn’t the first time questions have been raised about Walsh’s ethical conduct. A 2010 report from the U.S. Army Inspector General found that Walsh had improperly used his position as head of the Montana National Guard for private gain by promoting the interests of a private organization — The National Guard Association of the United States — with government resources.

Walsh at one time served as Vice-Chair of the organization.

According to Martin, Walsh’s 14 page Army War College thesis, entitled ““The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy,” concluded with six recommendations for U.S. policy in the Middle East taken nearly “word for word without attribution” from a document published in 2002 by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Walsh also apparently borrowed heavily from a 1998 paper by scholar Sean M. Lynn-Jones of Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Martin noted that both the Carnegie and Belfer Center papers are easily accessible on the internet.

“In his third recommendation, for example, Mr. Walsh writes: ‘Democracy promoters need to engage as much as possible in a dialogue with a wide cross section of influential elites: mainstream academics, journalists, moderate Islamists, and members of the professional associations who play a political role in some Arab countries, rather than only the narrow world of westernized democracy and human rights advocates,'” Martin explained.

“The same exact sentence appears on the sixth page of a 2002 Carnegie paper written by four scholars at the research institute,” Martin continued. “In all, Mr. Walsh’s recommendations section runs to more than 800 words, nearly all of it taken verbatim from the Carnegie paper, without any footnote or reference to it.”

Walsh is denying any wrongdoing, though an aide told the Times that Walsh wrote the paper during a “difficult time” after a close aide from his Iraq deployment had committed suicide.

The aide also noted that Walsh “dealt with the experience of post-deployment,” but acknowledged he had not sought treatment.

During Walsh’s time as Head of the Montana National Guard, Lieutenant Governor, or U.S. Sen., there have never been questions raised about any ill-effects Walsh might have suffered from his Iraq deployment.