The Harvard Kennedy School of government has really made a mess of things. When they invited Chelsea Manning to be a Visiting Fellow, it unleashed a storm of protest from members of the intelligence community
Manning’s invitation to address students of the school’s Institute of Politics was denounced by Mike Pompeo, the CIA director who cancelled an appearance at Harvard on Thursday, and by former deputy director of the agency Mike Morell, who resigned his own visiting fellowship in protest at what the two men described as the honoring of a “traitor”.
It is not clear what the title of ‘Visiting Fellow’ confers other than being invited to speak but we can be sure that it is not an honor nor does it require any kind of academic background. As evidence, Sean Spicer and Corey Lewandowski, both political hacks of the worst sort, have been Fellows. Furthermore Morell has been accused of being complicit and defending the worst acts of CIA torture, strongly supporting drone killings, and also calling for the killing of Russians and Iranians in Syria. But he supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 campaign (of course) so the ‘liberal’ Harvard presumably thinks that absolves him from his awful positions.
In what has to be seen as one of the most craven acts of cowardice, Douglas Elmendorf, the dean of the HKS, then withdraw the fellowship from Manning, unleashing another storm of protest from those who were disgusted at this act of cowardice. What was Manning’s offense? That she revealed the truth about the US military’s shameful actions in the Iraq war.
So let’s sum up: As far as Harvard is concerned, being a lying political hack, even someone who assaults reporters, is fine. Being involved with torture is fine. Ordering the killings of innocent people by drones is fine. Advocating the killing of Russians and Iranians and further inflaming tensions in a volatile region is fine. But telling the truth about the ugly side of US policies? That is unforgivable. It is reported that Manning hung up on Elmendorf as the latter tried to explain his actions away.
Manning would have actually raised the tone of the title Visiting Fellow, above the muck that people like Spicer and Lewandowski and Morell have dragged it into.