The Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School announced Wednesday that Chelsea Manning would be one of its visiting fellows, but less than two days later, the school’s dean withdrew the invitation.
Manning, a 29-year-old transgender woman, formerly known as Bradley Manning, was convicted of leaking classified information.
Manning was released from a military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in May after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence, which was commuted by former President Barack Obama. Before leaving office in January, Obama said he felt justice had been served.
Early Thursday, Michael Morell, former deputy director and acting director of the CIA, resigned his senior fellowship post at Harvard over the school’s decision to include Manning as a visiting fellow.
Morell said he could not be part of an organization that “honors a convicted felon and leaker of classified information.”
A short time later, CIA Director Mike Pompeo canceled an appearance at the school, where he was scheduled to discuss such topics as Russian involvement in the presidential election and the nuclear standoff with North Korea.
The Associated Press reports:
“Minutes after the event was to begin, Douglas Elmendorf, dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, took the stage and told the audience Pompeo was not there and would not speak.
“We will try to reschedule it as soon as we can, but the CIA director, is obviously, in charge of his schedule,” Elmendorf said. “We are not in charge of his schedule and he gets to decide when and where he speaks, of course.”
“Several hours later, the CIA released a letter that Pompeo wrote to a Harvard official.
“Pompeo , who has a law degree from Harvard, said he didn’t make the decision lightly. He wrote that he would betray the trust of CIA employees if he appeared.”
In a statement released late Thursday, Elmendorf said the school did not intend to honor Manning in any way or to endorse any of her words or deeds.
“We are withdrawing the invitation to her to serve as a Visiting Fellow — and the perceived honor that it implies to some people — while maintaining the invitation for her to spend a day at the Kennedy School and speak in the Forum.
“I apologize to her and to the many concerned people from whom I have heard today for not recognizing upfront the full implications of our original invitation.”
Harvard also announced this week that it had invited former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski to be visiting fellows.