Did George Bush Steal Passages of His Memoir? Did George Bush Steal Passages of His Memoir?
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Did George Bush Steal Passages of His Memoir?

by Andrew Price

November 15, 2010

America's former Decider just released his memoir, Decision Points. The Huffington Post is reporting that many passages from the book have been lifted from the books of his advisers.

Here, for example, is a passage from Ahmed Rashid’s The Mess in Afghanistan, which describes an exchange between Hamid Karzai and an Afghan warlord at Karzai's inauguration.

At the airport to receive [Karzai] was the warlord General Mohammad Fahim, a Tajik from the Panjshir Valley …. As the two men shook hands on the tarmac, Fahim looked confused. "Where are your men?" he asked. Karzai turned to him in his disarmingly gentle manner of speaking. "Why General," he replied, "you are my men—all of you are Afghans and are my men..."

And here's the same event (which Bush didn't even attend), described by Bush in Decision Points:

When Karzai arrived in Kabul for his inauguration on December 22 – 102 days after 9/11 – several Northern Alliance leaders and their bodyguards greeted him at an airport. As Karzai walked across the tarmac alone, a stunned Tajik warlord asked where all his men were. Karzai, responded, "Why, General, you are my men. All of you who are Afghans are my men."

In another example, here's General Tommy Franks talking about strategy in Iraq in his book American Soldier:

"For example, if we have multiple, highly skilled Special Operations forces identifying targets for precision-guided munitions, we will need fewer conventional ground forces. That's an important lesson learned from Afghanistan." President Bush's questions continued throughout the briefing.... Before the VTC ended, President Bush addressed us all. "We should remain optimistic that diplomacy and international pressure will succeed in disarming the regime." ... The President paused. "Protecting the security of the United States is my responsibility," he continued. "But we cannot allow weapons of mass destruction to fall into the hands of terrorists." He shook his head. "I will not allow that to happen."

And here's a passage on the same event, from Decision Points:

Tommy told the national security team that he was working to apply the same concept of a light footprint to Iraq... "If we have multiple, highly skilled Special Operations forces identifying targets for precision-guided munitions, we will need fewer conventional grounds forces," he said. "That's an important lesson learned from Afghanistan." I had a lot of concerns. ... I asked the team to keep working on the plan. "We should remain optimistic that diplomacy and international pressure will succeed in disarming the regime," I said at the end of the meeting. "But we cannot allow weapons of mass destruction to fall into the hands of terrorists. I will not allow that to happen."

The bulk of the "lifted" passages The Huffington Post found are actually direct quotations, so in fact they should be identical or else something's wrong. In that sense, I think The Huffington Post is over-hyping the plagiarism charge.

That said, it seems really unlikely that multiple parties were transcribing these conversations perfectly. My guess is that Bush (or his ghostwriters) just relied very heavily on previously published material for inspiration and "research," and as a result, his memoir may simply not be very original.

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Did George Bush Steal Passages of His Memoir?