After CIA chief Mike Pompeo said he was canceling an appearance at Harvard over its invitation to military whistleblower Chelsea Manning to be a visiting Kennedy School fellow, the university decided to rescind Manning’s title.
Pompeo sent a letter to Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center yesterday (Sept. 14), calling Manning an “American traitor,” and saying it was shameful for Harvard, where he holds a law degree, to put a “stamp of approval” on Manning’s actions. Pompeo’s decision came on the same day as a former deputy director at the CIA, Michael Morell resigned from his position as a senior fellow at the Kennedy school, also citing Manning’s new position.
Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking a trove of military documents to Wikileaks while a US Army soldier. She was released earlier this year after seven years of confinement when her sentence was commuted by then-president Barack Obama. Both Pompeo and Morell objected to Manning’s record as a convicted felon (she is in the process of appealing), and emphasized that their criticism had nothing to do with her being a transgender woman.
Manning was named a visiting fellow on Sept. 13, alongside Sean Spicer, former press secretary for president Donald Trump, and others.
Douglas W. Elmendorf, dean of the Kennedy School, wrote a long letter explaining the school’s decision on Manning’s title. “We invited Chelsea Manning because the Kennedy School’s longstanding approach to visiting speakers is to invite some people who have significantly influenced events in the world even if they do not share our values and even if their actions or words are abhorrent to some members of our community,” he said, adding it was a “mistake” to have Manning as a fellow, and took pains to explain that the term was not honorific. She was supposed to spend a day at the Kennedy School talking to students—and Elmendorf did not withdraw that invitation, just Manning’s title.
Here’s Pompeo’s full letter: