Chelsea Manning Fellowship Rescinded Following Morell and Pompeo Protest

Former Deputy Director of the CIA Mike Morell resigned from his post at Harvard University Thursday, one day after the prestigious educational institution said Chelsea Manning would be invited as a visiting fellow. In his resignation letter explaining the decision, Morell said he could not lecture at an institution “that honors convicted felon and leaker of classified information.” Morell justified his decision by explaining that military leaders have publicly stated how the leaks could have put U.S. soldiers’ lives at risk.

“Senior leaders in our military have stated publicly that the leaks by Ms. Manning put the lives of US soldiers at risk. I have an obligation in my conscience — and I believe to the country — to stand against any efforts to justify leaks of sensitive national security information.”

Morell is a veteran of the CIA, and he was Acting Director of the CIA twice. Before his resignation, he was a contributing fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center. The 29-year-old whistleblower, Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning), was released this May from a Kansas military prison following a court-martial conviction in 2013 on five counts of espionage, five theft specifications, two computer fraud specifications and multiple military infractions.

Manning had been working with Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks website and was involved in the largest breach of classified data in US history. President Barack Obama commuted her 35-year sentence after seven years served, claiming the punishment was “disproportionate” in comparison to other leakers.

Harvard’s Institute of Politics, a subsidiary of the Kennedy School, named Manning a visiting fellow. This would make Manning the first transgender individual to be awarded this honor. Bill Kristol has said he will “forego IOP events” despite a continued loyalty to Harvard based on their honoring Manning. Kristol made sure to mention that Manning’s sex change did not factor into his decision. Julian Assange spoke out in support of Manning on Twitter, noting that she was “never convicted of treason.”

In an ironic twist, Manning then took to CNN to ask whether Kristol deserved clemency for his Iraq War propaganda.

The current CIA director, Mike Pompeo, was also notably absent from Harvard University Thursday. He had been scheduled to speak on global security concerns, including the allegations of Russian interference in our most recent election and the nuclear standoff with North Korea. Douglas W. Elmendorf, Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, has since called Manning’s appearance at the school to speak and the conferred fellowship a “mistake.” The proposed fellowship has since been rescinded.

Douglas W. Elmendorf, the Dean of Harvard Kennedy School, called Manning’s role at the school’s Institute of Politics a “mistake;” adding that the title was not an endorsement of the 29-year-old, who was convicted of espionage and leaking classified information.

[Featured Image by U.S. Army/ AP Images]

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