Sheriff Clarke Accused of Plagiarizing 2013 Thesis Paper

“If a passage is quoted verbatim, it must be set off with quotation marks (or, if it is a longer passage, presented as indented text), and followed by a properly formulated citation. The length of the phrase does not matter. If someone else’s words are sufficiently significant to be worth quoting, then accurate quotation followed by a correct citation is essential, even if only a few words are involved.”

These are the words that define exactly what counts as plagiarism, and how to avoid it, in guidelines of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Milwaukee County, WI Sheriff David Clarke, who recently announced he has been offered the job of Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, received a master’s degree from the college, and has been accused of plagiarizing his 2013 master thesis paper. [Original document]

Originally reported by CNN‘s investigative KFile, and followed up by The Hill, Journal Sentinel and others, the report on Clarke’s thesis displays large sections of Clarke’s paper, and the sources from which he quoted, which appear to indicate more than a few small cases of oversight.

As I reported on Wednesday, Clarke announced on a local radio program that he’d been selected as the next Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, although the DHS has not made such an announcement, nor do they seem aware of such an arrangement. The job is currently filled by Elaine Duke, who just took over on April 10. The announcement has drawn a wave of scrutiny the sheriff may be unaccustomed to, and conservatives like myself are looking to make sure everyone knows what they’d be getting.

Clarke is an incredibly divisive figure and has openly made disparaging, crass remarks about opponents and those who look at him strangely. That is not hyperbole. I know this more than most, because I’ve witnessed his behavior for the last 15 years, including several years as my own sheriff before I moved to a neighboring county. He has publicly mocked an injured mayor who was brutally beaten for stepping in to assist a woman and her grandchild, threatened to “knock out” a 24 year old who shook his head at him, after it was reported Clarke detained him without cause at an airport, appeared to incite violence on his twitter feeds, and called people sexual epithets and used profanity to describe those with whom he disagrees. These events are all sourced HERE, or in a simple Google search of his history.

Now, it appears the past is finally catching up to the national spotlight, revealing that Clarke’s paper titled, “Making US Security and Privacy Rights Compatible” contains 47 instances of significant quotations from other sources that are not cited or otherwise attributed. The sources Clarke used repeatedly ranged from the 9/11 commission report and a GAO study to the Washington Post and a textbook on homeland security.

After CNN published it’s report, Clarke expectedly took to Twitter to lash out, saying:


The problem is, Rand Paul admitted it (although likely a staffer’s work, credited to him), and Monica Crowley’s publisher did the same, pulling her book from shelves. So, if Clarke’s attempt to attack those who point out his dishonesty is to point out admitted cases of plagiarism, so be it.

Call me crazy (and many already do), but I don’t see an angry, crass, unhinged man with a short temper and penchant for plagiarism as the second most powerful man in America’s most important government agency.

Plagiarism is incredibly common in school papers, and like Clarke, younger students will quote entire portions verbatim, changing a few words in between phrases in the attempt to make it not entirely exact. But, as the guidelines state, the number of the words used does not limit the qualification of plagiarism. The CNN report happens to capture several examples of entire sentences and paragraphs that are lifted entirely without attribution. Clarke should know better.

Clarke’s love for Twitter wars will make this interesting in the coming weeks as we see if the trump administration agrees to this odd pre-job offer announcement and series of childish rebuttals.

When will the drama end…

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Ed Willing

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