‘No One Likes Plagiarism’: Scholars React to Accusations Democratic U.S. Senator ‘Lifted’ Their Work for Thesis

Two of the scholars U.S. Senator John Walsh is accused of plagiarizing from said Wednesday they were disappointed in the Democrat’s actions, but stopped short of calling for any specific reprimand.

“I’m surprised the plagiarism took place and wasn’t detected,” Sean M. Lynn-Jones, a scholar at Harvard’s Belfer Center, told TheBlaze.

On Wednesday, the New York Times published a story that accused the Montana senator of plagiarizing at least a quarter of his thesis to earn his 2007 master’s degree from the United States Army War College. The Times cited specific instances where it appears Walsh used the work of various scholars without attribution, including Lynn-Jones and Thomas Carothers, the vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“I’ve looked at the passages that are posted online and they appear to be identical or virtually the same with what I published in that paper in 1998,” Lynn-Jones said, referencing an essay the senator is accused of plagiarizing from.

“I was surprised,” he added. “I’m surprised he lifted so many paragraphs from my work and, as far as I can tell, the works from others and I’m surprised it wasn’t detected.”

[sharequote align=”center”]”I’m surprised he lifted so many paragraphs from my work…and I’m surprised it wasn’t detected.”[/sharequote]

For example, the Times noted that Walsh wrote in his paper, “The United States will have an interest in promoting democracy because further democratization enhances the lives of citizens of other countries and contributes to a more peaceful international system. To the extent that Americans care about citizens of other countries and international peace, they will see benefits from the continued spread of democracy.”

Those same two sentences are included in Lynn-Jones’ 1998 paper.

Carothers, who Walsh is accused of plagiarizing from a 2003 Foreign Affairs article he authored, told TheBlaze he didn’t have any “particular response” to the accusations, but said he does not appreciate his work being used without attribution.

“No one likes plagiarism,” he said, “and I’m no different from anyone else in that regard.”

Both Lynn-Jones and Carothers declined to call for any specific disciplinary action to be taken against the senator.

Lynn-Jones, who said he had not been contacted by the senator or his office, said that if such an act were committed at Harvard, he would “expect there would be consequences.” He ultimately said it’s up to the Army War College to make the decision.

“I can’t predict what the Army College will do, but it’s really up to them,” Lynn-Jones said. “I assume that they will look into this and act appropriately.”

In this Feb. 11, 2014, file photo, Sen. John Walsh, (D-Mont.), right, and his son Michael leave the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, after a ceremonial swearing-in ceremony with Vice President Joe Biden. Walsh’s thesis written for the U.S. Army War College contains unattributed passages that appear to be taken word-for-word from previously published papers. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File)

The school’s handbook condemns plagiarism and states that students caught will be subject to expulsion, adding that discoveries can ultimately lead to degrees being rescinded.

A spokesperson for the Army War College could not immediately be reached for comment.

Walsh’s campaign spokeswoman Lauren Passalacqua appeared to concede in a statement forwarded to TheBlaze that the Montana senator had failed to properly attribute much of his master’s thesis.

“This was unintentional and it was a mistake,” she said. “There were areas that should have been cited differently but it was completely unintentional.”

[sharequote align=”center”]“This was unintentional and it was a mistake.”[/sharequote]

“Senator Walsh released every single evaluation that he received during his 33-year military career, which shows an honorable and stellar record of service to protecting Montana and serving this country in Iraq,” Passalacqua continued.

Walsh’s campaign noted that the paper was completed during the same period the senator faced challenges after returning from his deployment in Iraq, which included severe anxiety after a soldier he led into combat committed suicide.

Walsh is currently running to keep his seat after being appointed in February. He was selected to serve the remainder of former Sen. Max Baucus’ term when Baucus was tapped as the U.S. ambassador to China by President Barack Obama.

Earlier this year, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) came under fire after it was revealed that he also used the work of others in various capacities without proper attribution.

Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter