Harvard Rescinds Chelsea Manning Fellowship Invite 48 Hours After Extending It

University caves to pressure from intelligence community

Last Updated: September 15, 2017 @ 7:31 AM

Less than two days after inviting Chelsea Manning to be a visiting fellow this fall, Harvard Kennedy School rescinded its offer.

The school’s dean, Douglas W. Elmendorf, issued a statement saying Harvard changed its mind over the Manning invite, calling it “a mistake.” He added that the invite wasn’t a move to “endorse any of her words or deeds, as we do not honor or endorse any Fellow.”

The former U.S. Army soldier, who was court-martialed for violations of the Espionage Act in 2013 for leaking classified information, wasn’t happy about the decision.

Manning, a transgender woman born Bradley Manning, wrote in a tweet late Thursday night that the school officials “chill marginalized voices under CIA pressure.”

Harvard’s Institute of Politics had announced Wednesday that Manning would be one of about 10 visiting fellows, but the school drew immediate backlash from the intelligence community.

Former deputy director and former acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency Michael Morell announced he would step down as a senior fellow, according to The Washington Post. “I have an obligation to my conscience — and I believe to the country — to stand up against any efforts to justify leaks of sensitive national security information,” he wrote in a stern letter.

And current CIA director Mike Pompeo praised Morell, according to the Post, saying, “Harvard’s actions 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.”

The rescinded offer drew some criticism as well, with Salon noting that another fellow at Harvard, former Gen. David Petraeus, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor for “mishandling” classified information while serving as CIA director.

And as another observer tweeted, the university also brought President Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on as a visiting fellow.