Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government rescinded a visiting fellowship offered to Chelsea Manning, the former military intelligence analyst who spent seven years in prison for leaking classified government secrets, after the university faced forceful backlash from CIA Director Mike Pompeo among others.
“I now think that designating Chelsea Manning as a Visiting Fellow was a mistake, for which I accept responsibility,” Douglas Elmendorf, the school’s dean, wrote in a 700-word statement released shortly after midnight Friday.
Manning was one of four visiting fellows announced two days earlier by the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics. As part of the program, visiting fellows appear on Harvard’s campus for speaking engagements and events, interacting with undergraduate students on “topical issues of today,” the school’s initial announcement explained.
Elmendorf decided to withdraw the invitation after realizing that “many people view a Visiting Fellow title as an honorific,” though the school had not intended to “honor [Manning] in any way or to endorse any of her words or deeds.”
She is still welcome to spend a day at the Kennedy School and speak at the school’s John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum, the dean said.
“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,” Elmendorf added.
Manning’s website generates an automatic response to media requests and indicates she’s not giving interviews.
On Twitter, however, she accused the school of suppressing “marginalized voices” and caving to pressure from the CIA.
The dean’s decision came only hours after Pompeo withdrew from a planned appearance at the Kennedy School and chastised the institution for calling attention to Manning. In a biting letter to the event’s organizers, Pompeo, who earned a law degree from Harvard, branded Manning an “American traitor” whose actions and ethos contradicted the intelligence agency’s most basic and sacred values.
“Harvard’s actions,” Pompeo added, “implicitly tell its students that you too can be a fellow at Harvard and a felon under United States law. … I believe it is shameful for Harvard to place its stamp of approval upon her treasonous actions.”
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Andrew Degrandpre