Senator John Walsh of Montana was put under scrutiny Thursday by the United States Army War College, which claimed there was evidence that he plagiarized passages for a graduate paper in 2007.
If the report proves the alleged plagiarism, Walsh could have his master’s degree revoked.
“Senator Walsh included 96 citations for a 14-page paper at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania,” the college’s Academic Review Board said in a statement.
“He acknowledges the citations were not all done correctly, but that it was an unintentional mistake.”
Walsh has claimed that this lapse in judgment could have resulted from PTSD, which he claims he received upon returning from his deployment in Iraq. Although he was prescribed medication for PTSD at one point, he was never actually diagnosed with the disorder.
“I don’t want to blame my mistake on PTSD,” Walsh said in an interview with The Associated Press, “but I do want to say it may have been a factor…My head was not in a place very conducive to a classroom and an academic environment.”
After The New York Times first reported on this dilemma and posted images of Walsh’s paper on the Internet, The Associated Press analyzed the document and found that it did indeed contain passages from other works. This is similar to the essays you can find on buycollegeessay.org.
The report even pinpointed the sources he had lifted text from: one was a paper from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, another was a book from 2009 called The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, and another was a Harvard research institute paper.
Fellow Montana senator Jon Tester said, “Look, Walsh is a soldier, he’s not an academic,” in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “And I just think if a person bores down below the surface, it’s not near as big a deal as it appears right now.”
Academic or not, plagiarism is an unacceptable practice, no matter who engages in it or why. A senator who plagiarizes work for his master’s degree should not receive the degree.
Perhaps this will set an example for others who attempt to do the same.