On Friday morning, Chelsea Manning tweeted that she was “honored to be the first disinvited trans woman visiting Harvard fellow,” after public pressure from the CIA prompted the university to apologize and withdraw the invitation its Kennedy School of Government had extended to the controversial former CIA analyst and whisteblower. “I now think that designating Chelsea Manning as a visiting fellow was a mistake, for which I accept responsibility,” Kennedy School Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf said in a statement, adding that he now understands more clearly that “many people view a Visiting Fellow title as an honorific, so we should weigh that consideration when offering invitations.”
— Chelsea E. Manning (@xychelsea) September 15, 2017
After the news of the invitation to Manning had been announced on Wednesday, former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell announced he would resign as a senior fellow at the university, while the agency’s current director, Mike Pompeo, canceled a speaking engagement there Thursday night. Both men wrote a letter defending their decision claiming that they did not take issue with Manning’s freedom of speech or gender identity, but could not associate with an organization “that honors a convicted felon and leaker of classified information,” as Morell put it. Manning spent seven years in prison for leaking military intelligence records to Wikileaks, before President Barack Obama commuted her sentence in January. She was released from prison in May.
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