Intel chairman: Pentagon plagiarized Wikipedia in report to Congress

Intel chairman: Pentagon plagiarized Wikipedia in report to Congress
© Getty Images

The Pentagon submitted information plagiarized from Wikipedia to members of Congress, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said at a hearing Thursday.

Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said on March 21, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work submitted a document to the chairmen of the House Intelligence, Armed Services, and Defense appropriations committees with information directly copied from Wikipedia, an online open-source encyclopedia.  

ADVERTISEMENT

The information was submitted in a document used to justify a determination that Croughton was the best location for a joint intelligence center with the United Kingdom, Nunes said. The determination was required by the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act. 

"You informed the committee that the Department of Defense did not intend to fully reevaluate lower cost alternative sites for the intelligence center. As justification for your decision, you provided the committee with two documents, regarding communications infrastructure supporting Lajes Field in Portugal's Azores Islands," Nunes said.

"Are you aware that significant portions of this document that you passed to three committee chairmen to meet a public law were plagiarized from Wikipedia?" he asked Work. 

"No, I did not know that the information in that document came from Wikipedia," Work replied. 

Work said he still fulfilled the law by making a determination and that the plagiarized information had "no bearing" on that determination. 

"I was required by the National Defense Authorization Act to make a determination that our movement to Croughton was operationally the right call to make, and I made that determination and communicated my intent to do that," he said.  

"The second thing that I needed to do was certify that no DOD missions could be transferred to Lajes, and I certified that we were not intending to do so," he added. 

"I'm just alarmed, Secretary Work, that we would rely on Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia that's famously known for most high school students plagiarizing their homework. And that the Department of Defense would even use Wikipedia, a free online service to provide any information to Congress to put in any report," Nunes said. 

"I would say that I'm surprised that this comes directly from a Wikipedia page," Work said.