Chelsea Manning, the U.S. Army soldier who spent seven years in prison for leaking classified documents, will not be distinguished visiting fellow at Harvard after growing backlash prompted the school to rescind the invitation.
Douglas W. Elmendorf, the dean of the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School, said in a statement released early Friday that the decision to ask Manning to be a visiting fellow was a "mistake." He said the school has a longstanding approach of inviting "people who have significantly influenced events in the world even if they do not share our values," and that hearing from controversial speakers creates "better public leaders."
"Hearing a very wide range of views, regardless of what members of our community think about the people offering those views, is fundamental to the learning process at the Kennedy School," he wrote.
Despite what he believed would have been a learning opportunity, he said he now realizes extending the invitation to Manning was misguided. "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," Elmendorf said in the statement.
The school withdrew Manning's invite two days after announcing she would be one of roughly ten visiting fellows this fall. Manning's designation as a visiting fellow led to Mike Morell, former deputy director and acting director of the CIA, to resign his post as a senior fellow at Harvard University, CBS reported.
In Morell's resignation letter, which was obtained by CBS, he said while he supports Manning's rights as a transgender woman, he felt compelled to resign in protest of her conduct.
"The Kennedy School's decision will assist Ms. Manning in her long-standing effort to legitimize the criminal path that she took to prominence, an attempt that may encourage others to leak classified information as well," Morell wrote. "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."
Despite that, the life of Manning is the best example to show what happens when one runs afoul ( for something we might believe in or not) of federal law, terrorism, spy charges, being sentenced to be in jail for most of his life as a young man, which is equal to dying in a hard labor camp. Then you add the psychological problems Manning had and his realization he could not go on as a man because she knew she was not, no matter what he was carrying in the way of sex organs. Mr. Morrel makes it sound like Manning life is just wonderful because the media has been reporting about him. Quite the contrary. This is a woman that is trying to get up from the mud and there are no guarantees. Few would survive and had President Obama had not given him his liberty again he would have never lasted much more of his prison sentence, either through suicide or some mental illness.
Manning was convicted of leaking more than 700,000 classified documents, including battlefield reports on Iraq and Afghanistan and State Department cables, while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq. She said the leaks were intended to expose wrongdoing.
Manning was arrested in May 2010 and given a 35-year sentence, which was commuted in the final days of the Obama administration. Manning was known as Pvt. Bradley Manning at the time of her arrest but announced she was transgender during her incarceration.
Elmendorf said Manning will still spend a day at the Kennedy School and speak in the Forum, though she will not be designated a visiting fellow.
Originally published in USA
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