Rep. Nunes: Pentagon Plagiarized Documents From Wikipedia

November 17, 2016

Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work at a committee hearing on Thursday that the Pentagon plagiarized documents submitted to Congress from Wikipedia.

The documents that Nunes referenced were presented to the chairmen of the House Intelligence, Armed Services, and Defense appropriations committees on March 21.

"Are you familiar with Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia?" Nunes asked Work, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Marcel Lettre, all of whom testified on how the intelligence community can better support the Pentagon.

All three men said they had heard of Wikipedia.

Nunes then reminded Clapper and Work of a March meeting the three of them had with other committee chairmen. The meeting was held to discuss the Pentagon's determination that a joint intelligence center should be built at the Croughton Royal Air Force Base in the United Kingdom rather than the Azores, a Portuguese island chain. During the meeting, Work presented the members of Congress with documents arguing why this was the best decision to make.

Nunes has argued for months that putting the intelligence center in the Azores would be much less expensive than in the U.K.

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

The decision for the intelligence center's location was required by the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act.

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

Holding up the documents in question, Nunes explained that the information and graphs used were copied from Wikipedia.

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

"This had no bearing on my determination or my certification, which was required by law," Work responded.

"So you're not bothered at all that the Department of Defense, that anyone in your department would be providing you information to give to the Congress that was plagiarized?" Nunes asked.

After a brief back and forth, Nunes asked, "We need to know whether or not it's appropriate to take information off Wikipedia and provide it to the Congress?"

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

Earlier during the hearing on Thursday, Clapper announced that he had resigned the prior night as the director of national intelligence.