Harvard drops Manning after CIA protest
Harvard University has rescinded an offer to make Chelsea Manning a visiting fellow after the director of the CIA cancelled an appearance at the university.
Mike Pompeo had been scheduled to appear at Harvard’s John F Kennedy school of government to give a speech on global security, but withdrew on Thursday, calling the university’s invitation to Manning a “shameful stamp of approval”.
On Wednesday, the military whistleblower had been among a group of 10 – including the former White House press secretary Sean Spicer – invited to speak at the institute of politics at Harvard’s Kennedy school as visiting fellows. But hours after Pompeo’s withdrawal, the university stripped Manning of her title.
“I now think that designating Chelsea Manning as a visiting fellow was a mistake, for which I accept responsibility,” said the dean of the Kennedy school, Douglas Elmendorf. “In general across the school, we do not view the title of ‘fellow’ as conveying a special honour; rather, it is a way to describe some people who spend more than a few hours at the school.
“[However] we are withdrawing the invitation to her to serve as a visiting fellow – and the perceived honour that it implies to some – while maintaining the invitation for her to spend a day at the Kennedy school and speak in the school’s forum.”
He said the invitation was not a political endorsement, but was aimed at letting students “engage with people with fundamentally different worldviews”.
In response, Manning tweeted that she was “honoured” to be disinvited.
In a letter to Harvard on Thursday, Pompeo called Manning an “American traitor” and said he “could not appear to support Harvard’s decision” by attending the event.
Earlier in the day, the former deputy director of the CIA Mike Morell also resigned from his fellowship at Harvard’s Belfer school over Manning’s invitation.
Pompeo said the whistleblower, who was convicted by court martial in 2013 of disclosing classified documents, had endangered lives. “Many intelligence and military officials believe those leaks put the lives of the patriotic men and women at the CIA in danger,” he said. “I believe it is shameful for Harvard to place its stamp of approval upon her treasonous actions.”
Morell wrote to the university to announce his resignation on the same day. “I cannot be part of an organisation that honours a convicted felon and leaker of classified information,” he said.
In a recent interview with ABC’s Good Morning America, Manning said she had been prompted to give 700,000 military and state department documents to WikiLeaks because of the human toll of the “death, destruction and mayhem” she had seen as an army intelligence analyst in Iraq.
In May this year, she was released from a military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence, the harshest in US history for an official leak. The sentence was commuted by Barack Obama in his final days in office.
Chelsea Manning tweeted that she was ‘honoured’ to be disinvited by Harvard