Montana Senator Suggests PTSD Played Role in Master’s Thesis Plagiarism

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 24 2014 6:09 PM

Montana Senator Suggests PTSD Played Role in Master’s Thesis Plagiarism

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John Walsh gets nominated to fill vacant Senate seat in February 2014.

REUTERS/Dan Boyce

On Wednesday, the New York Times dropped a Rand Paul-esque political plagiarism story on Montana Senator John Walsh, accusing the Democrat of appropriating large parts of a final paper en route to receiving a master’s degree from the United States Army War College. In response to the charges, Walsh, a veteran and Bronze Star recipient, who was appointed to the Senate in February, hinted that the PTSD he was battling at the time may have played a role.

Here’s what Walsh had to say to the Associated Press:

"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." Walsh submitted his thesis, titled "The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy," to earn his Master of Strategic Studies degree in 2007, nearly two years after he returned from Iraq and about a year before he became Montana's adjutant general overseeing the state's National Guard and Department of Military Affairs… The senator said when he wrote the paper, he was seeing two doctors and taking medication to deal with nightmares, anxiety and sleeplessness. He said he has since worked through those issues with his doctors and family, though he still takes antidepressant medication.
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According to the Times, at least a quarter of the thesis was lifted from other sources without attribution. “The sources of the material he presents as his own include academic papers, policy journal essays and books that are almost all available online,” the Times reports. “Most strikingly, 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,' are taken nearly word-for-word without attribution from a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace document on the same topic.”

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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