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Think Tanked
Posted at 11:56 AM ET, 05/22/2012

Arnaud de Borchgrave plagiarism accusations raise policy questions for CSIS

Washington Post colleague Erik Wemple reports on the ongoing scrutiny of Arnaud de Borchgrave, the prominent foreign correspondent who is accused of plagiarizing parts of many of his recent columns for the Washington Times and United Press International.


Arnaud de Borchgrave (Harry Naltchayan - The Washington Post)
But the claims hit the think tank world, too.

De Borchgrave, director and senior adviser of the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), wrote an introduction to a 2007 report (“Force Multiplier for Intelligence”) that has a striking resemblance to a BBC news report published earlier that year. Other CSIS reports by de Borchgrave have similar problems.

To their credit, CSIS has taken a stand against plagiarism and promises a review, as Wemple reports:

CSIS, on the other hand, examined evidence of literary overlaps and declared that it would look into the matter. “We do have in our guidelines that plagiarism is not something that’s tolerated here,” said H. Andrew Schwartz, CSIS’s senior vice president for external relations. “We’ve never had to discipline anybody for anything like this, so I think the consequences of plagiarism could vary depending on the context. They could include serious penalties.”

But how CSIS rules on the matter could make for a hypocritical decision — or it could show exactly how forgiving the think tank is when it comes to plagiarism.

In October 2011, CSIS brought on Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, Germany’s former minister of defense and minister of economy, as a “distinguished statesman.”

Guttenberg had become known as the “cut and paste minister” or the “minister of plagiarism” for allegedly plagiarizing much of his 2009 doctoral dissertation at Germany’s University of Bayreuth.

While he never clearly stated that he plagiarized his dissertation, he did ask the university to withdraw his doctor title. The investigating university committee found that “the standards of good scientific practice were obviously grossly abused and it was obvious that plagiarism was involved.”

CSIS president and chief executive John Hamre told Think Tanked at the time that he saw no reason to punish Guttenberg “just because some people wish to chain him to his transgression as part of their political agenda.”

“I spent some time in a seminary. I understand transgression. But I also understand redemption,” said Hamre. “There is no question Herr zu Guttenberg did the wrong thing with his dissertation. It was a serious transgression. But he has admitted it and apologized for it.”

CSIS has been contacted for further comment.

By  |  11:56 AM ET, 05/22/2012

 
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