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Gerald Posner Plagiarized in Why America Slept and Secrets of the Kingdom, Research Shows

Categories: Media Watch
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Gerald Posner
In this week's Miami New Times, we write about new evidence that Gerald Posner plagiarized dozens of passages in his 2003 book Why American Slept and in 2005's Secrets of the Kingdom. After the jump, you can check out all the proof. But first, a little background:

Back on March 16, Miami New Times first published evidence that the Miami Beach writer Gerald Posner had plagiarized eight sections in his 2009 book Miami Babylon from Frank Owen's 2003 work, Clubland.

Posner, the author of 11 books including a Pulitzer finalist, had already resigned from the Daily Beast website after stories by Slate's Jack Shafer proved he'd lifted material from the Miami Herald and elsewhere.

Then, with the help of Greg Gelembiuk, a doctoral student who began researching Posner's work after Shafer's first story, we published on April 1 another 16 instances of stolen text in Miami Babylon.

Posner has offered a variety of defenses. He apologized after Shafer's stories and blamed the "warp speed of the Net" for screwing up his Beast stories. He told us this past May 16 that a new system of "trailing endnotes" may have caused problems in Babylon. By our third story, Posner said there was a "concerted effort" afoot to "discredit" his work.

Now comes new evidence, again courtesy of Gelembiuk. The 48-year-old Wisconsin student purchased ebook copies of Why America Slept and Secrets of the Kingdom, and ran them through Viper, a free online plagiarism software.

The program found Posner had taken from 24 sources in the two books. Most egregious seems to be his theft from a 1998 book by David Hoffman called The Oklahoma City Bombing and the Politics of Terror. Posner appears to have lifted three passages from the book totaling 927 words in Why America Slept.

Click through for a full accounting on the problems, including evidence Posner tried to edit his own Wikipedia page's section on his plagiarism problems.

Posner does not cite Hoffman's book in "Why America Slept" in the end notes or in the bibliography. We shared these passages with Roy Peter Clark, a senior scholar and plagiarism expert at St. Petersburg's Poynter Institute.

"This constitutes plagiarism by any definition I can think of," he said."The capturing of someone else's material that is this extensive cannot, in my opinion, have been done accidentally."

Here's the first passage from Hoffman's book, which you can read online in full here. This section begins on page 219 in the PDF version of the book.

This was followed by another terrorist conference at the Northwest Frontier Province town of Konli, near the Afghani border in Pakistan on July 10-15, 1996. The meeting saw some of the most important militant Islamic leaders come together under one tent. They included Osama bin Ladin, a Saudi Arabian who funded the Mujahadeen, was implicated in the Riyadh and Dhahran bombings, and was a close associate of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, Ahmed Jibril of the PFLP-GC (who carried out the Pan Am 103 bombing on orders from Teheran), Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, a senior representative of Iranian intelligence, senior Pakistani intelligence officers, and senior commanders of Hamas, HizbAllah, and other groups. All resolved to use whatever force was necessary to oust all foreign forces stationed on Islamic holy land.[595]

One Arab observer with direct knowledge of the conference said the participants' resolution was "a virtual declaration of relentless war" on the U.S.-led West.[596] A glimpse of that conference can be seen in Defense and Foreign Affairs:

Rasul Sayyaf stated that "the time to settle accounts has arrived." The senior representative of Iranian intelligence declared that "attack is the best means of defense." He urged a combined offensive, both in the Muslim world, particularly the Persian Gulf and Arabian Peninsula, and at the heart of the West. He repeated Iran's commitment to the cause and reiterated Tehran's willingness to provide the Islamists with all possible aid.

Another commander concurred, adding that "there is an imperative need for an integrated plan to deal a fatal blow to the international forces of arrogance." A UK-based commander from a Persian Gulf state stressed that given the immense strategic importance of the Persian Gulf to the U.S. and its allies, the only way to compel the West to withdraw was through the infliction of so much pain on these countries, that their governments would find it impossible to tolerate the public outcry and be compelled to withdraw as the only way to stop the Islamist terrorism at home.[597] On July 16, one day after the Konli conference, the U.S. Senate passed sanctions against Iran and Libya. With their continued sanctions against the innocent civilians of Iraq, and now Iran, the U.S. was building to a confrontation with the militant Islamic community. As Ronald W. Lewis wrote in the November, 1996 edition of Air Forces Monthly:

On the following day (after the Konli conference), July 17, the Movement for Islamic Change sent a chilling fax to the London-based Arab newspaper al-Hayat, warning: "The world will be astonished and amazed at the time and place chosen by the Mujahadeen. The Mujahadeen will deliver the harshest reply to the threats of the foolish American president. Everyone will be surprised by the volume, choice of place and timing of the Mujahadeen's answer, and invaders must prepare to depart alive or dead, for their time is morning and morning is near." That fax, and a warning by Israeli intelligence that Iran was likely to launch an attack against a U.S. aircraft, were ignored.

At 8:31:10 p.m. (0031:10 GMT) that evening, nobody could dismiss the horrendous explosion of TWA Flight 800 off the coast of Long Island, New York.

Here is Posner on page 111 of "Why America Slept":

The Tehran terror conference was followed by another terrorist summit at the Pakistani town of Konli, near the Afghan border, from July 10 to 15, 1996. This again brought some of the most important militant Islamic leaders together under one tent. They included Osama bin Laden and Ahmed Jibril of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who some in the CIA believe to this day carried out the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing on orders from Tehran. Jibril arrived with Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, a senior representative of Iranian intelligence. Also present were half a dozen senior officers from ISI, as well as senior commanders of Hamas, Hezbol- lah, and other radical groups. All resolved to use whatever force was necessary to oust all foreign forces stationed on Islamic holy land.

One Arab observer with direct knowledge of the conference said the participants' resolution was "a virtual declaration of relentless war" on the U.S.-led West. Unknown to the participants, one of the Pakistani intelligence agents made an audio recording of the proceedings. It took nearly four months for the CIA to obtain a poor-quality copy.

From that tape, the Agency learned that Rasul Sayyaf had warned, "The time to settle accounts has arrived." The senior repre- sentative of Iranian intelligence declared that "attack is the best means of defense." He urged a combined offensive, both in the Muslim world, particularly the Persian Gulf and Ara- bian Peninsula, and at the heart of the West. He repeated Iran's commitment to the cause and reiterated Tehran's willingness to provide the Islamists with all possible aid.

Another commander concurred, adding that "there is an imperative need for an integrated plan to deal a fatal blow to the international forces of arrogance." A U.K.-based funda- mentalist stressed that, given the immense strategic impor- tance of the Persian Gulf to the U.S. and its allies, the only way to compel the West to abandon the Gulf was through the infliction of so much pain that their governments would find it impossible to tolerate the public outcry and be forced to withdraw.

On July 16, 1996, a day after the Konli conference, the U.S. Senate ended weeks of debate by passing sanctions against Iran and Libya. On the day of the vote, the Movement for Islamic Change sent a fax to the London-based Arab newspaper al-Hayat, warning: "The world will be aston- ished and amazed at the time and place chosen by the Muja- hedeen. The Mujahedeen will deliver the harshest reply to the threats of the foolish American president. Everyone will be surprised by the volume, choice of place and timing of the Mujahedeen's answer, and invaders must prepare to depart alive or dead, for their time is morning and morning is near." That fax, and a warning on July 18 by Israeli intelligence that Iran was likely to launch an attack against a U.S. aircraft, were ignored by the CIA, which did not even initially create a separate file for the Konli conference, nor pass along the Israeli warning to other government agencies.

The following day, July 17, 1996, at 8:30 P.M., a TWA Boeing 747 exploded only minutes after takeoff from JFK airport in New York City.

Here's another passage from Hoffman's work. It appears on page 208 of the PDF.

Interestingly, two Middle Eastern men were spotted driving from Oklahoma City to Dallas immediately after the bombing. The men stopped to ask directions from an Oklahoma Highway Patrolman. When the officer ran their plate, he discovered that it didn't match the vehicle. The plate belonged to a rented blue Chevy Cavalier, which was later found at a motel in Oklahoma City. The driver of that vehicle, Asad R. Siddiqy, a cab driver from Queens, along with the other two men, Anis Siddiqy and Mohammed Chafi, were taken into custody.

And here's Posner on page 85 of "Why America Slept":

Meanwhile, two Middle Eastern men were spotted driving from Oklahoma City to Dallas within hours of the bombing. The men stopped to ask directions from an Oklahoma highway patrolman. When the officer ran their plate, he discovered that it didn't match the vehicle. The plate belonged to a rented blue Chevy Cavalier, the very description of a car that at least two witnesses were then telling FBI agents in Oklahoma City that they had seen near the Murrah Building that morning. Asad R. Siddiqy, a cabdriver from Queens, along with the other two men, Anis Siddiqy and Mohammed Chafi, were taken into custody.

This is the final long passage from Hoffman's book, which appears on page 208 of the PDF.

Gary Lewis, a pressman for the Journal Record newspaper, had just stepped outside to smoke his pipe when he remembered he had left something in his car. As he walked down the alley, a yellow Mercury peeled away from its spot near the Murrah Building, jumped a concrete barricade, swerved to avoid hitting a dumpster, then bore down on him, forcing him up onto the curb. Lewis got a good look at the driver, describing him as one Timothy James McVeigh, and his passenger as resembling the sketch of John Doe 2. He said the car had an Oklahoma tag which was dangling by one bolt.

Several minutes later, Lewis was thrown to the floor as the Journal Record building rocked with the impact of the blast. As he picked himself up, another, more powerful explosion sent him sprawling again. As he and his fellow workers rushed outside, he noticed a peculiar sight: an Arab man standing nearby, staring at the Federal Building, grinning from ear to ear.

"It unnerved me," said Lewis, who described how the man seemed out of place among the throng of battered and bloody people. He seemed "enraptured."

As discussed earlier, another witness saw two men running from the area of the Federal Building toward a brown Chevy truck just prior to the blast. The witness described the two men as "males, of possible Middle-Eastern descent, approximately six feet tall, with athletic builds."....

A few blocks away from the Murrah Building, Debra Burdick and her daughter were on the way to the doctor's office. As she stopped for a light at 10th and Robinson, she noticed three vehicles parked on the north side of the street between a church and a garage. One was a brown pick-up, one was a blue Chevy Cavalier, and the other was a yellow Mercury. "I looked across," said Burdick, "and there was that light blue car, it had a white interior, and there were three men in it. They were dark, but they were not black... I would say they were Middle Easterners. There was a brown pick-up, but I couldn't see in (because of the tinted windows), and behind it was the yellow car with the cream top.

"Now, I noticed the three men in the car, that guy sitting in the middle was kind of staring out.... I said 'Huh, I wonder what they're looking at?' and as I turned around, I said 'there's nothing there but buildings."

Here is Posner's passage, on page 86:

Gary Lewis, a pressman for the Oklahoma City Journal Record, told FBI agents that he had stepped outside to smoke his pipe when he remembered he had left something in his car. As he walked down an adjacent alley, a yellow Mercury peeled away from its spot near the Murrah Building, jumped a concrete barricade, swerved to avoid hitting a dumpster, then bore down on him, forcing him up onto the curb (when McVeigh was arrested, he was driving a light yellow Mercury Marquis). Several minutes later, back in his office, Lewis was thrown to the floor as the building rocked from the blast's impact. As he and his fellow workers rushed outside, he noticed a peculiar sight: an Arab man standing nearby, staring at the smoldering federal building, grinning from ear to ear.

Another witness told crime scene investigators that he saw two men running from the area of the Murrah Building toward a brown Chevy pickup truck just prior to the blast. He described the two men, both with beards, as "possibly [of] Middle-Eastern descent, approximately six feet tall, with athletic builds."

A few blocks away from ground zero, Debra Burdick and her daughter had been on their way to the doctor's office. As she stopped for a light at 10th and Robinson, her attention was diverted by three vehicles. One was a blue Chevy Cavalier, the type of car investigators thought might be connected to the three Arabs detained while driving to Dallas.

"I looked across," Burdick told agents, "and there was that light blue car, it had a white interior, and there were three men in it. They were dark, but they were not black.... I would say they were Middle Easterners.... Now, I noticed the three men in the car, that guy sitting in the middle was kind of staring out.... I said, 'Huh, I wonder what they're looking at?' and as I turned around, I said, 'There's nothing there but buildings.'"


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