Editor's note: This is the third in a series of reports on allegations of security breaches in the Army Research Labs at Maryland's Aberdeen Proving Grounds, resulting from a year-long investigation by WorldNetDaily.com reporter David Bresnahan. While Part 1 provided an overview of the charges whistleblowers are leveling, Part 2 focused on specific allegations involving access to government supercomputers by unauthorized foreign nationals.
By David M. Bresnahan
Amid charges of corruption, waste and fraud leveled by at least a dozen whistleblowers within the Army Research Laboratory in Aberdeen, Md., comes the allegation that plagiarism has become something of an accepted norm there, despite years of complaints by concerned scientists.
In a previous story, WorldNetDaily reported on allegations that unauthorized use of supercomputers may have been given to foreign nationals by Army lab personnel. Officials at the Army lab denied the existence of any investigations, despite considerable documentary evidence to the contrary.
Extensive documents and evidence provided to WorldNetDaily by a congressional source detail years of complaints of alleged plagiarism on the part of top civilian management staff at the Army lab, located at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland.
Among the documents are letters and sworn statements from numerous Army lab employees detailing years of alleged plagiarism offenses, primarily aimed at Gloria P. Wren, chief of the propulsion branch at the ballistics and weapons concepts division, and her assistant Dr. William F. Oberle.
One document, written by Dr. Douglas E. Kooker on May 11, 1999, was sent to Albert W. Horst, a division chief at the Army lab. Although Kooker did not speak to WND directly, his documentary evidence was obtained through a congressional source.
The letter, accompanied by a package of documentary evidence, outlines four years of efforts to alert Horst to the alleged ethics problems and security risks.
"The problem was not resolved, and in fact, the alleged perpetrators were promoted to higher grades with increasing responsibility," stated Kooker in the letter.
Kooker complained that Wren and Oberle copied technical work authored by other Army Research Lab employees and then put their own names on the copies, claiming authorship for themselves.
"These individuals have received considerable credit for work they did not originate, along with promotions and career advancement," stated Kooker. He added that the three documents he provided "are only examples of a more extensive problem."
Kooker says Horst has never responded to his extensively documented complaints. Moreover, documents obtained by WorldNetDaily show that Kooker began receiving very low performance reviews from Wren and Horst, his supervisors, just after he initiated his complaints.
Army lab engineer Charles D. Bullock has been complaining to his superiors, and to various investigators, since 1993, according to documents obtained by WorldNetDaily. Bullock, who declined to be interviewed for this report, stated in a memorandum to Army Research Lab Commander, Col. Kenneth Logan, that Wren and Oberle were given promotions based on plagiarized technical writings, even though charges of plagiarism were brought to Wren and Oberle's superiors.
"Not only were the concerns ignored, but in certain cases the individuals reporting the problem were told by their supervisors that it never happened," said Bullock in the letter. "Despite an awareness of the plagiarism charges, the promotion of these individuals was pushed through."
Bullock added, "Plagiarism is an extremely serious issue in technical circles. Scientists make their living based on their original ideas and creative efforts. The Army relies on the creative output of its scientists to insure that tomorrow's soldier has the best arms that our technology can field."
Bullock provided numerous examples of alleged plagiarism to members of Congress and various investigators. He also accused a university intern and thesis advisor of agreeing to permit Wren to claim authorship of work that was not hers in order to gain a government contract.
In a cover letter from Bullock to Elaine Kaplan, director of the Office of Special Counsel in May 1999, Oberle is said to have deleted the name of a co-author from a technical report to give himself sole credit for the work. Bullock stated that this was the earliest known incident of alleged plagiarism, shortly after Oberle was hired at the Army lab in 1989.
Bullock provided documents to investigators showing a government contractor asked to be relieved of "ghost writing technical articles for Ms. Wren."
"It is no coincidence that she is also the government contracting officer's technical representative on this contract," Bullock told investigators. "It is obvious to the contractor that his funding would be eliminated should he choose not to comply with Ms. Wren's 'official government' directions, since she is the contracting officer's technical representative for the contracts."
Dr. Joseph Heimerl initiated a complaint that Gloria Wren "systematically plagiarized the scientific publications of others and herself in the preparation of Chapter 13 of the Progress in Aeronautics and Astronautics book entitled 'Liquid Propellant Gun Technology.'" Heimerl, who also chose not to be interviewed for this report, sent his letter of complaint to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, which published the work.
A letter from the AIAA's Dr. John D. Anderson responding to the charges said the organization decided that plagiarism did not take place because "an interested reader could determine the original sources of the material with a reasonable effort." Anderson said no action would be taken.
Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, 1985, defines plagiarism: "To steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own; to use (a created production) without crediting the source; to commit literary theft; to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source."
Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, 1990, says plagiarism is: "The act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas of language of the same, and passing them off as a product of one's mind."
WorldNetDaily obtained from investigative sources a rebuttal letter Heimerl wrote in response to AIAA, as well as the original letter sent by Heimerl to Professor Paul Zarchan of AIAA detailing the actual sources of technical information claimed by Wren as her own.
"If there is no reference to the original source document, the reader presumes that the text s/he is reading is original and so would not think to seek out 'the original sources of material.' It is an author's obligation to be accurate and complete in referencing. The whole process of referencing was devised so that the reader would have, at hand, the knowledge whether a given text or idea was original, or taken from another source, including the author's own prior publications," stated Heimerl in a letter sent to investigators.
Although the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics said no further action would be taken to correct the authorship or inform their readers, Anderson did make a recommendation to the Army.
"Nevertheless, Ms. Wren's work does not conform to the high levels of scholarship expected of archival publications. Her failure to properly reference the original published sources of the material as precisely as possible created two problems. First, she let the readership down by making it unnecessarily difficult to identify the original sources. Second, she left herself vulnerable to charges of plagiarism, which, in turn, led to the present investigation, which is extremely costly to the individuals and institutions involved. We therefore recommend that potential authors be instructed about proper referencing in order to prevent this from recurring at the ARL," stated Anderson.
WorldNetDaily attempted to reach Anderson at AIAA, but he and another association spokesman did not return calls. Wren and Oberle also have not responded to repeated requests for interviews.
On June 27, Wren and Oberle were witnessed in their adjoining offices shredding large amounts of documents. They had to call for assistance from custodial staff when the portable shredder they were using became jammed, according to sources within the Army lab.
David M. Bresnahan is an
investigative journalist for WorldNetDaily.com