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Harvard boots Chelsea Manning after CIA leaders complained

After two CIA leaders publicly rebuked Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government for extending a visiting fellowship to Chelsea Manning, an ex-military analyst who leaked classified information and spent seven years in prison for her crime, the school announced Friday that it has rescinded Manning’s title.

“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, said in a statement. “We did not intend to honor her in any way or to endorse any of her words or deeds, as we do not honor or endorse any Fellow.”


Harvard had announced Wednesday that Manning would be among its batch of visiting fellows at its Institute of Politics for the 2017-2018 school year, and Elmendorf said he still wants Manning to spend a few hours speaking with students at its Institute of Politics and taking questions. But she now won’t receive the title of “visiting fellow” in exchange for doing so.

“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 said. “I apologize to [Manning] and to the many concerned people from whom I have heard today for not recognizing upfront the full implications of our original invitation.”

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CIA director and Harvard grad Mike Pompeo withdrew from a Thursday appearance at the Kennedy School in protest of Manning’s visiting fellowship, while former CIA acting head Michael Morell resigned that same day from his own fellowship at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Both stressed that Manning’s gender identity — she is transgender — had nothing to do with their decision.

“While I have served my country as a soldier in the United States Army and will continue to defend Ms. Manning’s right to offer a defense of why she chose this path,” Pompeo wrote in a letter to Harvard, “I believe it is shameful for Harvard to place its stamp of approval upon her treasonous actions.”


Manning, whose 35-year sentence for leaking more than 35,000 classified documents was commuted by President Barack Obama earlier this year, tweeted that she was “honored to be 1st disinvited trans woman visiting @harvard fellow.”

Manning also retweeted an article, originally published this week by the Marshall Project, about Michelle Jones, an ex-felon who saw her admittance to Harvard’s history Ph.D. program rescinded after two professors said they were worried Jones had minimized the murder that put her behind bars in her application.

MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, former press secretary Sean Spicer, and fired Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski will remain visiting fellows at the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School for the 2017-2018 school year.