Harvard University’s Kennedy School has officially withdrawn the fellowship it had offered to Chelsea Manning, the transgender U.S. Army soldier, who was convicted of leaking classified data.
Chelsea Manning is one of the most polarizing figures in America. She is a trans woman (who served as Bradley Edward Manning), who was convicted of violating America’s Espionage Act in 2013. She had disclosed close to 750,000 classified as well as unclassified but sensitive documents to WikiLeaks. She is a former United States Army soldier.
In 2010, she downloaded 400,000 documents containing information on the Iraq war (it will be called the Iraq logs) and later she downloaded 91,000 documents from the Afghanistan database. She had originally intended on leaking the documents to either the New York Times or the Washington Post. However, after receiving no response, she provided the details to WikiLeaks. She was arrested in 2010 and charged will multiple offenses. She was sentenced to 35 years of imprisonment. In 2017, US President Barack Obama commuted her sentence. She has been defended as a brave Whistleblower and has been accused of being a traitor to the United States.
In September 2017, Manning was invited by the Harvard Kennedy School, to speak at the institute as a visiting Fellow. She was one of the 10 who were invited. Some of those who were part of that list are former White House press secretary Sean Spicer and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
Ex-acting CIA director Michael Morell, who was part of the institute, resigned as a result. In his resignation letter, he condemned the school and said that the institute’s “decision will assist Ms Manning in her long-standing effort to legitimize the criminal path that she took to prominence.” However, he added that he supported “Ms Manning's rights as a transgender American, including the right to serve our country in the US military."
CIA Director Mike Pompeo also cancelled a speaking engagement at the school. He said, “My conscience and duty to the men and women of the Central Intelligence Agency will not permit me to betray their trust by appearing to support Harvard’s decision with my appearance.”
Following the backlash that came with the appointment, Douglas W. Elmendorf, Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School announced that the instituted had rescinded its invite to Manning. He said that the Kennedy School of Business had not intended to "endorse any of her words or deeds, as we do not honor or endorse any Fellow." He wrote, “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. I apologize to her and to the many concerned people from whom I have heard today for not recognizing upfront the full implications of our original invitation."
Manning herself has spoken about the turn of the events accusing Harvard of marginalization. She tweeted that she was “honored to be 1st disinvited trans woman visiting Harvard fellow. They chill marginalized voices under CIA pressure.”
Our assessment is that every nation has the right to choose the path it takes to ensure the security of its borders. The intelligence community in America believes that Manning severely compromised the security of America.