A former top CIA official has resigned from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government over its recent decision to name Chelsea Manning a visiting fellow at the school.
“I am writing to inform you that I am resigning, effective immediately, as a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center,” begins a letter that former acting CIA director Mike Morell sent on Thursday to Douglas Elmendorf, the dean of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
“Unfortunately, I cannot be part of an organization — The Kennedy School — that honors a convicted felon and leakers of classified information, Ms. Chelsea Manning, by inviting her to be a Visiting Fellow at the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics,” Morell added in a letter first published online by CBS News’ Mosheh Oinounou.
— Mosheh Oinounou (@Mosheh) September 14, 2017
On Wednesday, the Kennedy School announced that it was bringing Manning on as a visiting fellow for the 2017-2018 academic year. Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer was also picked as a visiting fellow.
Morell, who retired in 2013, noted that Manning was found guilty of 17 separate crimes, including multiple counts of espionage, “for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks.”
As an Army intelligence analyst in 2010, Manning stole the classified documents and provided them to Wikileaks, the website founded by Julian Assange.
Manning served seven years in federal prison before President Obama commuted her sentence just before leaving office. She was released in May.
While Morell says that he supports Manning’s transgender activism, he expressed concern that she will use her platform at the Kennedy School to advocate for the stealing and leaking of classified information.
Manning’s appointment will “assist” her in “her long-standing effort to legitimize the criminal path that she took to prominence,” Morell wrote, adding that giving her a platform could encourage others to leak classified information in the future.