Top CIA officials sever ties with Harvard after Manning gets fellowship
The Central Intelligence Agency is not taking kindly to Harvard University’s invitation to convicted spy Chelsea Manning to be a visiting fellow this year.
On Thursday, both the agency’s director and a former acting director canceled relationships with the Ivy League university’s Kennedy School of Government.
Mike Pompeo, the agency’s current chief, abruptly canceled a planned Thursday speech at the Kennedy School about issues such as Russian involvement in the presidential election and the North Korean nuclear program.
In a letter to Harvard released later by the CIA later in the day, Mr. Pompeo, a Harvard Law School alumnus, called Ms. Manning an “American traitor” and wrote that an appearance at the Kennedy School would betray the trust of CIA employees.
“It is shameful for Harvard to place its stamp of approval upon her treasonous actions,” he wrote. “Harvard’s actions implicitly tell its students that you too can be a fellow at Harvard and a felon under United States law.”
Ms. Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison but the sentence was commuted to time served after just seven years by then-President Barack Obama, after she had become a social-justice cause by coming out as transgender.
She said she gave the 700,000 military and State Department documents to WikiLeaks because she saw “death, destruction and mayhem” as an Army intelligence analyst in Iraq.
In his letter, Mr. Pompeo reiterated that WikiLeaks is a U.S. adversary “akin to a hostile foreign intelligence service.” Indeed the argument that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election relies largely on the belief that the information it released about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was supplied by Russian intelligence.
Earlier on Thursday, Michael J. Morell, also a former CIA deputy director, resigned his post as a non-resident senior fellow from the Kennedy School, saying in a letter that he “cannot be part of an organization” that “honors a convicted felon and leaker of classified information.”
“Ms. Manning was found guilty of 17 serious crimes, including six counts of espionage,” Mr. Morell wrote. “Senior leaders in the military have stated publicly that the leaks by Ms. Manning put the lives of US soldiers at risk.”
Both Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Morell stressed that their decisions had nothing to do with Ms. Manning’s transgender identity.
“It has everything to do with her identity as a traitor to the United States of America and my loyalty to the officers of the CIA,” Mr. Pompeo said.
Mr. Morell emphasized that he fully supports “Ms. Manning’s rights as a transgender American,” but “it is my right, indeed my duty, to argue that the School’s decision is wholly inappropriate and to protest it by resigning … to make the fundamental point that leaking classified information is disgraceful and damaging to our nation.”
The Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School announced Wednesday a group of visiting fellows that includes Ms. Manning, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer and former Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook.
Ms. Manning’s invitation to Harvard was widely panned by others on the right, including Kennedy School alumnus Bill Kristol.
“I’m loyal to Harvard, but I think I’ll forego IOP events this fall. (I’d feel the same way if Chelsea Manning were still Bradley Manning.)” he tweeted.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney added in a tweet to Mr. Morell: “Well done, Mike. And abject shame on Harvard.”
“It is shameful for Harvard to place its stamp of approval upon (Chelsea Manning’s) treasonous actions,” wrote CIA Director Mike Pompeo in a letter.