The Harvard Kennedy School, a public policy school at Harvard University, has rescinded its invitation for whistleblower Chelsea Manning to become a visiting fellow.
The move came late Thursday, after former CIA director Michael Morrell resigned his fellowship in protest at Manning’s prospective fellowship. Current CIA director Mike Pompeo also voiced his anger by cancelling a Thursday evening speaking engagement at the school.
In a statement, Harvard Kennedy School dean Douglas Elmendorf said Manning had only been invited to spend a day at the school, to meet with students and answer questions. That, he said, came with the “visiting fellow” tag, which did not imply any particular honoring or endorsement.
“However, I now think that designating Chelsea Manning as a Visiting Fellow was a mistake, for which I accept responsibility,” Elmendorf said. “I still think that having her speak in the Forum and talk with students is consistent with our longstanding approach, which puts great emphasis on the value of hearing from a diverse collection of people. But I see more clearly now that many people view a Visiting Fellow title as an honorific, so we should weigh that consideration when offering invitations.”
Elmendorf insisted that the school still wanted Manning to come speak and answer questions. “This decision now is not intended as a compromise between competing interest groups but as the correct way for the Kennedy School to emphasize its longstanding approach to visiting speakers while recognizing that the title of Visiting Fellow implies a certain recognition,” he said.
Manning, a former soldier in the U.S. Army, served nearly four years of a 35-year sentence for leaking classified military information to WikiLeaks, showing among other things how the Army killed civilians—including journalists—in Iraq. President Barack Obama commuted her sentence before leaving office.
Her reaction to Harvard’s U-turn? “This is what a military/police/intel state looks like,” Manning tweeted. “The CIA determines what is and is not taught at Harvard.”