CIA Director Mike Pompeo cancelled a scheduled appearance at Harvard University on Thursday over the university’s Kennedy School of Government hiring of Chelsea Manning as a visiting fellow.
“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, I believe it is shameful for Harvard to place its stamp of approval upon her treasonous actions,” Pompeo said in a letter to Harvard on Thursday, according to NBC News.
The Kennedy School announced Manning’s fellowship on Wednesday, along with its other new fellows, including former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst, was convicted of leaking a trove of military and State Department documents. She served seven years in prison before former President Barack Obama commuted her sentence in January.
Pompeo was not the only CIA official to take issue with Manning’s appointment. Former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell on Thursday also resigned from his own position as a senior fellow at the Kennedy School in protest of Manning joining the school.
“Unfortunately, I cannot be part of an organization — the Kennedy School — that honors a convicted felon and leaker of classified information, Ms. Chelsea Manning, by inviting her to be a Visiting Fellow at the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics,” Morell wrote in a letter to the school’s dean, Douglas Elmendorf, according to NBC.
Morell’s letter detailed Manning’s convictions and said that while he supports her rights as a transgender American, he did not feel it was appropriate for the Kennedy School to host her. Pompeo supported Morell’s letter in his own statement.
For their part, the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics, where Manning will serve as a fellow, stood by its decision.
“Broadening the range and depth of opportunity for students to hear from and engage with experts, leaders and policy-shapers is a cornerstone of the Institute of Politics,” Bill Delahunt, acting director of the Institute of Politics, told NBC. “We welcome the breadth of thought-provoking viewpoints on race, gender, politics and the media.”
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