Sen. John Walsh, a Democrat from Montana, is under fire for apparently plagiarizing substantial portions of his graduate thesis from the United States Army War College.
After The New York Times first reported on the incident Wednesday, Walsh, who’s up for re-election in November, told the Associated Press that he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from a military tour in Iraq and was on medication in 2007 when he wrote his master’s degree thesis.
He added that the PTSD was compounded by the suicide of a fellow veteran at the time he was working on the paper.
The plagiarism revelation could hamper Democratic hopes of retaining control of the Senate. Walsh, who was appointed to fill a vacancy created after Democratic Sen. Max Baucus was appointed U.S. ambassador to China. Walsh trails Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., in polls.
Walsh denied that he intentionally submitted the unattributed work of others in his thesis, titled ‘The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy.’
But he admitted to the Associated Press ‘that I made a mistake’ but added that my record will be defined by his service in) the National Guard, not be a few citations that were unintentionally left out in a term paper.’
‘I don’t want to blame my mistake on PSTD, but I do want to say it may have been a factor,’ he told the AP. ‘My head was not in a place conducive to a classroom and an academic environment.’
Walsh’s paper, according to The Times, contains unattributed passages from a 2003 Foreign Affairs piece written by Thomas Carothers, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and from ‘The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror,’ a 2009 book by Nathan Sharansky and Ron Dermer.