An academic review board at the United States Army War College will investigate allegations of plagiarism against US Senator John Walsh next month.
If it is found that the senator did in fact plagiarize passages in his 2007 graduate paper "The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy", his master's degree could be revoked.
An initial investigation by Lance Betros, the War College's provost, found signs of plagiarism using a program designed to detect it. Senator Walsh was then provided with a letter notifying him of the upcoming meeting.
A separate review of the paper by the Associated Press found several verbatim passages from other scholars that were not cited.
"Senator Walsh included 96 citations for a 14-page paper at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He acknowledges the citations were not all done correctly, but that it was an unintentional mistake."
The senator told the AP that the post-traumatic stress disorder medication he takes as a result from his services in Iraq could be to blame, reports Chad Pergram for Fox News.
"I don't want to blame my mistake on PTSD, but I do want to say it may have been a factor," Walsh told The Associated Press. "My head was not in a place very conducive to a classroom and an academic environment."
This statement has many of the Pennsylvania school's graduates up in arms against Walsh. Many are in disbelief that this could happen at an institution whose core values center around integrity.
"I don't think that's going to go down very well," Representative Joe Heck, a Nevada Republican and a 2006 War College graduate, said of Walsh for citing post-traumatic stress from combat. "This is somebody who is trying to cover their tracks at this point."
Many students recall the lengths the school went to with regards to academic integrity, even having to take an entire class specifically about plagiarism. Other classes offered PowerPoint presentations discussing the main points, and students were required to sign papers acknowledging they had seen the presentation and that all work handed in would be their own, writes Nick Corasaniti for The New York Times.
Walsh plans on fully cooperating with the War College inquiry. He will have the opportunity to present material to make his case to the board when it meets next month. After a student is given written notification, the board allows them 10 days to decide if they want to make a personal appearance at the meeting, or to provide information beforehand.
It is not clear yet which the senator will choose to do.
The Montana senator was appointed in February, and will run for a full term against Republican Steve Daines, who currently has a double-digit lead on Walsh.
According to Dr. Betros, only 8 graduates have had their degrees revoked since 1990. Of those, 6 were due to plagiarism.