Yesterday we reprinted Professor Tribe's statement issued on April 13, 2005, addressing Harvard's resolution of the plagiarism/ghostwriting scandal which has enveloped him for the past six months.
He concluded his statement with a vow never to comment further: "Therefore, like the University, I now consider the matter closed and will not comment further about it." (emphasis added)
Just five days later, Professor Tribe broke that pledge, in an e-mail sent to his entire class on April 18 which a student kindly forwarded to us. (Okay, you're skeptical that we're magically getting such quick feedback from Tribe's students, so that this juncture we should fess up that one of us is actually in Tribe's class, which is one reason we are so disappointed with Tribe's handling of the situation.)
As you'll see, rather than just laughing it off, he seems obsessed with the "I'm Larry Tribe" parody skit staged last month.
The e-mail from Professor ("Not Comment Further") Tribe reads in full as follows:
Subject: Not careful enough 20 years ago
At the time of the recent HLS parody in March, I thought the song (sung to tune of “I’ll survive”) about my supposedly having “stolen” chunks of another writer’s work needed to be “answered,” but I didn’t feel free to say anything about the matter while President Summers and Dean Kagan were conducting their inquiry into the circumstances involved, so I sent around an e-mail to each of you explaining that you’d hear more about this later in the semester.
As you may have heard or read, Summers and Kagan issued a statement last Wednesday which said essentially what I had been saying from the outset: I’d been less careful than I should have been some 20 years ago in using and/or transcribing my research notes in the course of writing a small, footnote-free book for the general public, and I was right to apologize when someone called attention to my book’s insufficiently specific attribution to a book published by another author in 1974.
Their statement added that “the unattributed material related more to matters of phrasing than to fundamental ideas” and said they were “also firmly convinced that the error was the product of inadvertence rather than intentionality.”
If you’re interested in receiving a copy of the university’s one-page statement and my one-page response, you can drop by Hauser 418 and ask Kathy to let you have a copy of each.
Harvard Plagiarism Archive
"[T]he problem of writers . . . passing off the work of others as their own . . . [is] a phenomenon of some significance."
PROFESSOR LAURENCE TRIBE, e-mail to Dean Lawrence Velvel, 9/13/2004
"'I . . . delegated too much responsibility to others . . .,' [Prof. Charles Ogletree] said. 'I was negligent
in not overseeing more carefully the final product that carries my name.' * * * Ogletree told The Crimson that
he had not read the passage of Balkin’s book that appears in his own work. An assistant inserted the material
into a manuscript . . . . But Ogletree said he was closely involved in most of the drafting of the book . . . ."
STEVEN MARKS, "Ogletree Faces Discipline for Copying Text," The Harvard Crimson, 9/13/2004
"'Ronald Klain . . . then only a first-year student at Harvard law . . . spent most of his time with
Tribe working on Tribe's  book God Save This Honorable Court,'" the Legal Times added in 1993.
* * * 'Many of Klain's friends and former colleagues say that he wrote large sections of the book . . . .'"
JOSEPH BOTTUM, "The Big Mahatma," The Weekly Standard, 10/4/2004
"[A]fter several plagiarism scandals broke over distinguished faculty members at Harvard's law school, including
Laurence Tribe,a group of students there set up a blog, Harvard Plagiarism Archive, to follow the University's
handling of the problem. They believe that the University, President Summers, and Dean Elena Kagan
essentially white-washed the scandal and are demanding further action.
PROF. RALPH LUKER, History News Network's "Cliopatria" blog,4/26/2005
“The Tribe and Ogletree matters have catalyzed bitter complaints from Harvard students that the university
employs a double standard. . . . The students have every right to be incensed over this gross double standard.
They in fact ought to raise hell peacefully about it: a constant barrage of letters, emails, statements . . . .”
DEAN LAWRENCE VELVEL, "Velvel on National Affairs" blog, 4/28/2005
"If you want to keep track of this story, I recommend the new Harvard Plagiarism Archive. . . . [I]t's pretty thorough."
TIMOTHY NOAH, Slate's "Chatterbox" blog,9/28/2004
"[Y]ou have done a wonderful service to all by operating the AuthorSkeptics website . . . a fine public service."
DEAN LAWRENCE VELVEL, author of "Velvel on National Affairs," e-mail to AuthorSkeptics, 4/19/2005