Defin­ing dis­tinc­tion down

New York Daily News - - OPINION -

Rarely has an aca­demic in­sti­tu­tion so ven­er­a­ble been so thick in the head. Wed­nes­day, Har­vard’s Kennedy School of Gov­ern­ment an­nounced that Chelsea Man­ning would be one of 10 visit­ing fel­lows for the aca­demic year in its es­teemed In­sti­tute of Pol­i­tics.

Man­ning, of course, was con­victed in 2013 of vi­o­la­tions of the Es­pi­onage Act and other of­fenses for dis­clos­ing nearly 750,000 clas­si­fied and sen­si­tive mil­i­tary and diplo­matic doc­u­ments.

She was handed a 35-year sen­tence — be­fore be­ing granted clemency last year by Pres­i­dent Obama, in an ill-ad­vised at­tempt at mercy.

That a true na­tional-se­cu­rity pariah should never be held up as a model to fu­ture lead­ers in pol­i­tics and pub­lic pol­icy seems ob­vi­ous. Yet Har­vard, of all schools, saw fit to give Man­ning a ti­tle that’s been held by gov­er­nors, sen­a­tors, cab­i­net sec­re­taries and ac­com­plished jour­nal­ists.

Which rightly ticked off peo­ple who care about, you know, the gov­ern­ment.

Thurs­day, ex-CIA deputy di­rec­tor Michael Morell re­signed as a non-res­i­dent se­nior fel­low in a sis­ter pro­gram, cit­ing his fear that the in­vi­ta­tion “will as­sist Ms. Man­ning in her long-stand­ing ef­fort to le­git­imize the crim­i­nal path that she took to promi­nence, an at­tempt that may en­cour­age oth­ers to leak clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion as well.”

CIA Di­rec­tor Mike Pom­peo then can­celed a speak­ing ap­pear­ance on the same grounds. Good for both for stand­ing on prin­ci­ple. Fri­day, Kennedy School Dean Dou­glas El­men­dorf re­leased a state­ment with the mealy­mouthed claim that a visit­ing fel­low­ship is only a “per­ceived honor,” not a real one.

Man­ning, who be­gan life as a man be­fore be­com­ing a woman, is an im­por­tant fig­ure in the trans com­mu­nity — but that doesn’t over­ride her be­trayal of coun­try to qual­ify her for high dis­tinc­tion.

The only thing stu­dents can learn from her is how to get fa­mous by com­mit­ting felonies.

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