CIA Director Mike Pompeo abruptly pulled out of a planned appearance at Harvard University Thursday after the school announced they had invited convicted leaker Chelsea Manning to serve as a visiting fellow. But before the night was over, Harvard backtracked on its offer to Manning as well.
Pompeo was scheduled to participate in a Harvard Kennedy School forum, but announced he would cancel the appearance over Wednesday’s unrelated announcement Manning had been invited to serve as one of 10 visiting fellows this fall, ABC News reports.
“I am writing to confirm that I will not be speaking at the John F. Kennedy, Jr. Forum,” Pompeo wrote in a letter to Harvard Thursday. “It is a decision I did not make lightly. However, after much deliberation in the wake of Harvard’s announcement of American traitor Chelsea Manning as a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Politics, my conscience and duty to the men and women of the Central Intelligence Agency will not permit me to betray their trust by appearing to support Harvard’s decision with my appearance at tonight’s event.”
Pompeo also offered support for Michael Morrell, a former CIA chief, who resigned from his position as a senior fellow at Harvard over the Manning invitation.
The twin punches apparently registered with the school, which announced late Thursday it was a “mistake” to name Manning a visiting fellow.
“We did not intend to honor her in any way or to endorse any of her words or deeds, as we do not honor or endorse any Fellow,” Dean of Harvard Kennedy School Douglas W. Elmendorf said in a statement.
“However, I now think that designating Chelsea Manning as a Visiting Fellow was a mistake, for which I accept responsibility,” Elmendorf continued.
Manning took to Twitter in the early morning hours Friday to sarcastically comment on the school taking back its offer.
Manning, who was pardoned by former President Barack Obama earlier this year, served seven years in prison — including the three years leading up to her trial — after being convicted of violating the Espionage Act in 2013. Manning was convicted of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, including videos of airstrikes in Iraq and Afghanistan and hundreds of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables and Army reports while serving as an intelligence analyst with the Army.
Manning had celebrated the resignation of Morrell on Twitter, saying she was glad he had stepped down.