In a controversial move this past February,  the retiring Max Baucus was appointed U.S. Ambassador to China, so that John Walsh could be appointed as a replacement and run to replace Baucus with the added advantage of being an incumbent. Now Walsh is being hit with another scandal. The NY Times is reporting An examination of the thesis 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.

Walsh, has made his military service a main selling point for his campaign, as it should be for any veteran. The military’s teachings of service, honor and responsibility is an ideal background for a legislator. But it seems that Walsh has dishonored his service by plagiarizing his master’s thesis.

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.”

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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.

Even worse than stealing the prose, the Times demonstrates how Walsh stole his critical thinking at the end of the paper from others. The Times provides a great interactive graphic outline which parts of the paper were stolen from others. But as a visual take a look at the screen shot below from the graphic, the areas highlighted in red were taken from other papers without attribution.

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.

But on Wednesday, a campaign aide for Mr. Walsh walked back the denial, she did not contest the plagiarism but said that it should be looked at in the context of his entire 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.

While I am sympathetic to Walsh’s difficult period, beyond the plagiarizing Senator from Montana there are 16 other members of Congress who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, I am not aware of any others who cheated their way to a masters degree.

If you wish to read the full NY Times report CLICK HERE.