After immense backlash, the dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government has walked back on plans to make Chelsea Manning a “visiting fellow.” Manning, infamous for leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, is a convicted felon. While the dean may be rescinding Manning’s “visiting fellow” status, an invitation for the former Army Intelligence analyst-turned-leaker still stands.
Douglas W. Elmendorf claims the school had no intention of “honoring” Manning or endorsing “her words or deeds.”
Unsurprisingly, honoring a convicted felon—one who is believed to have put the lives of US soldiers and CIA agents at risk—was met with a tremendous amount of push-back. So much so, CIA Director Mike Pompeo announced he would be cancelling plans to speak at Harvard. Former CIA Acting Director Michael Morrell also resigned from his position as a senior fellow.
Elmendorf stated, “I apologize to [Chelsea Manning] and to the many concerned people from whom I have heard…for not recognizing upfront the full implications of our original invitation.” He went on to say Harvard would be “withdrawing the invitation to her to serve as a Visiting Fellow—and the perceived honor it implies to some people—while maintaining the invitation for her to spend a day at the Kennedy School and speak in the Forum.”
Mike Pompeo called Manning an “American traitor” and noted Manning’s actions carelessly put the lives of CIA agents in danger.
Michael Morrell said he tendered his resignation from his senior fellowship at Harvard’s Belfer Center because he didn’t want to be associated with anyone “[who] honors a convicted felon and leaker of classified information.” He stated further, “Senior leaders in our military have stated publicly that the leaks by Ms. Manning put the lives of US soldiers at risk. I have an obligation in my conscience—and I believe to the country—to stand against any efforts to justify leaks of sensitive national security information.”
Chelsea Manning, a trans-woman previously known as Bradley Manning, was released from prison in May, after serving just seven years of a 35-year sentence for releasing some 700,000 classified military and State Department documents to WikiLeaks.