Harvard Withdraws Chelsea Manning’s ‘Visiting Fellow’ Title Amid Backlash

CAMBRIDGE, MA – Chelsea Manning will not be a Visiting Fellow at Harvard this fall, the dean of the Harvard Kennedy School announced Friday. Manning, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst who served seven years in prison for leaking classified documents, was one of four Visiting Fellows added to the Institute of Politics’ roster this week.

In a statement, Douglas Elmendorf said the school did not intend to honor Manning or "endorse any of her words or deeds," as the school does not endorse any Visiting Fellow. He added that the title of "Visiting Fellow" does not carry additional prestige, though he understands many view it as such.

"I now think that designating Chelsea Manning as a Visiting Fellow was a mistake, for which I accept responsibility," Elmendorf said. "I still think that having her speak in the Forum and talk with students is consistent with our longstanding approach, which puts great emphasis on the value of hearing from a diverse collection of people."

Manning is invited to speak at the Kennedy School, albeit not as a Visiting Fellow, according to Elmendorf.

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking 700,000 military and State Department documents to Wikileaks. She served seven years before having her sentence commuted by President Obama in a controversial move as he left office.

Following the announcement of Manning as a Visiting Fellow, CIA Director Mike Pompeo backed out of a scheduled appearance at the Harvard Kennedy School. In a statement, Pompeo called Manning an "American traitor" and said she "stands against everything the brave men and women I serve alongside stand for."

Michael Morell, former deputy director and acting director of the CIA, resigned as a Senior Fellow at the Kennedy School on Thursday, saying he could not be part of an organization that "honors a convicted felon and leaker of classified information."

Photo of Chelsea Manning via Tim Travers Hawkins/Wikimedia Commons

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