Matt Vespa

Well, it seems “Papergate” just ensnared Montana Democratic Senator John Walsh. Mr. Walsh was appointed by Gov. Steve Bullock to replace outgoing Sen. Max Baucus, who decided to become the Obama administration’s Ambassador to China. Walsh is described by the New York Times as having something the Democrats lack in their political ranks: a seasoned military record. Walsh is a decorated Iraq War veteran, but his reputation might be marred by a final term paper he wrote in obtaining his master’s degree, where a substantial portion was written without crediting anyone (via NYT):

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.

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.”

The same exact sentence appears on the sixth page of a 2002 Carnegie paper written by four scholars at the research institute. 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. In addition, significant portions of the language in Mr. Walsh’s paper can be found in a 1998 essay by a scholar at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, a research institute at Harvard.

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.

Montana is one of the states Republicans seem poised to pick up in the 2014 midterms.

UPDATE: Mr. Walsh says he had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when he wrote his thesis (via AP):

Walsh told The Associated Press when he wrote the thesis, he had PTSD from his service in Iraq, was on medication and was dealing with the stress of a fellow veteran's recent suicide.

"I don't want to blame my mistake on PTSD, but I do want to say it may have been a factor," the senator said. "My head was not in a place very conducive to a classroom and an academic environment."


Matt Vespa

Matt Vespa is the Web Editor and Community Manager at Townhall.com. He previously worked for CNS News and was the recipient of Americans for Prosperity Foundation's 2013 Andrew Breitbart Award for Excellence in Online Activism and Investigative Reporting.