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2014 Watch

Democratic Sen. John Walsh links plagiarism in 2007 thesis to PTSD strain from Iraq War service

Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) has mounted a full media response, after The New York Times reported Wednesday that his 2007 master's thesis at the Army War College was extensively plagiarized from other sources. Walsh's explanation: Attributing his mistakes to a severe struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, following his service in Iraq.

Walsh told The Associated Press that at the time he wrote the paper, he was being treated for PTSD — including symptoms of nightmares and anxiety — and he was simultaneously dealing with the suicide of a fellow veteran. "I don't want to blame my mistake on PTSD, but I do want to say it may have been a factor," Walsh said. "My head was not in a place very conducive to a classroom and an academic environment."

Walsh also said that he has worked through his emotional problems from his service, though he is still taking antidepressant medication.

At the same time, Walsh is still standing by his expertise on national security issues. "My record is defined by my leadership in the National Guard," he told The Billings Gazette. "I excelled on the battlefield. I'm not necessarily an academic. The citations were not done correctly, and I take full responsibility for the paper that I wrote."

Walsh was appointed to the Senate earlier this year, and has been widely viewed as likely to lose to Republican Rep. Steve Daines. However, a recent poll also showed Walsh starting to close the gap, trailing by only a single-digit margin.