Harvard reverses Manning decision
Harvard University has reversed its decision to name Chelsea Manning a visiting fellow, a day after CIA chief Mike Pompeo scrapped an appearance over the designation for the soldier who was convicted of leaking classified information.
Douglas Elmendorf, the dean of the university’s John F Kennedy School of Government, wrote in a statement posted to the university’s website that naming Manning a visiting fellow was a mistake, even though he said the title carries no special honour.
“We invited Chelsea Manning to spend a day at the Kennedy School,” he wrote. “On that basis, we also named Chelsea Manning a Visiting Fellow. We did not intend to honour her in any way or to endorse any of her words or deeds, as we do not honour or endorse any Fellow.”
Elmendorf apologised to Manning and to “many concerned people” he said he had heard from “for not recognising upfront the full implications of our original invitation.”
Manning is still invited to spend a day at the school and speak to students, though without the visiting fellow title, he wrote.
Manning responded on Twitter, writing that she was “honoured to be 1st disinvited trans woman visiting @harvard fellow.” “They chill marginalised voices under @cia pressure,” she said while also accusing the school of letting the CIA determine “what is and is not taught”.
Manning’s publicist didn’t immediately respond when asked if she would still accept Harvard’s invitation.
The 29-year-old Manning is a transgender woman who was known as Bradley Manning when she was convicted in 2013 of leaking a trove of classified documents. She was released from a military prison in May after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence, which was commuted by former President Barack Obama in his final days in office.
Manning explained on ABC’s Good Morning America in a recent interview that she was prompted to give the information to WikiLeaks because of the human toll of the “death, destruction and mayhem” she saw while serving in Iraq.
Pompeo was a last-minute cancellation at a speaking event at Harvard on Thursday night. Minutes after the event was to begin, Elmendorf took the stage and told the audience Pompeo was not there and would not speak.
The CIA later released a letter that Pompeo, who has a law degree from Harvard, wrote to a university official. Pompeo said an appearance would betray the trust of CIA employees and stressed that his decision had nothing to do with Manning’s transgender identity.