Current And Former CIA Directors Withdraw From Harvard Over Chelsea Manning Appointment

CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

CIA Director Mike Pompeo joined his predecessor Thursday in withdrawing from their commitments to Harvard University, citing the school's decision to make Chelsea Manning — the former military intelligence analyst convicted of espionage — a visiting fellow.

Pompeo's decision was outlined in a fiery letter that was released by the CIA Thursday, the same day he was scheduled to appear at the John F. Kennedy, Jr. Forum.

“Ms. Manning betrayed her country and was found guilty of 17 serious crimes for leaking classified information to Wikileaks,” Pompeo wrote in the letter. “Indeed, Ms. Manning stands against everything the brave men and women I serve alongside stand for.”

Michael Morell, who twice serves as the CIA's acting director, also resigned as a non-resident senior fellow at the Belfer Center over Manning's appointment on Wednesday.

“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 Thursday to Douglas W. Elmendorf, dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. “It is my right, indeed my duty, to argue that the school's decision is whole inappropriate and to protest it by resigning from the Kennedy School — in order to make a fundamental point that leaking classified information is disgraceful and damaging to our nation.”

Twitter: @xychelsea

Manning was convicted in 2013 of the Espionage Act for leaking hundreds of thousands of unclassified military documents.

Intelligence officials have argued that the leak was detrimental and dangerous to US operations. A secret report compiled by the Department of Defense that looked at the effects of the release, however, determined it did not cause any real harm.

President Obama commuted Manning's 35-year prison sentence.

Manning was named a visiting fellow by Harvard Wednesday, citing her former work as a security expert and her commentary on social and technological topics. The university also cited her advocacy for transgender and queer rights. As a visiting fellow, she will be invited to teach and lecture students on those topics.

In their letters, Morell and Pompeo said their decisions had nothing to do with her identity as a transgender person, but instead her conviction.

For her part, Manning responded to Morell's resignation in a tweet Thursday afternoon.


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