September 15, 2017 00:10 GMT by nytimes.com

Ex-C.I.A. Official Resigns After Harvard Courts Chelsea Manning

Ex-C.I.A. Official Resigns After Harvard Courts Chelsea Manning

Michael J. Morell, a former deputy director at the C.I.A., said he objected to the fellowship offer to Ms. Manning, who was convicted of leaking classified information.

A former top C.I.A. official resigned as a fellow at Harvard on Thursday over objections that the university had offered a fellowship to Chelsea Manning, a former United States soldier convicted of leaking classified information.

Michael J. Morell, a deputy director at the intelligence agency under President Barack Obama, called the invitation from the Harvard Kennedy School to Ms. Manning “wholly inappropriate” and said that it “honors a convicted felon and a leaker of classified information.”

“It is my right, indeed my duty, to argue that the school’s decision is wholly inappropriate and to protest it by resigning from the Kennedy School,” Mr. Morell wrote in a letter to the school’s dean, Douglas W. Elmendorf. The letter was obtained and reported on by CBS News, where Mr. Morell is a national security contributor.

Also on Thursday, the director of the C.I.A., Mike Pompeo, withdrew from a Harvard forum he was scheduled to participate in that night, citing Ms. Manning’s fellowship as the reason. “Ms. Manning betrayed her country,” Mr. Pompeo wrote in a letter to a Kennedy School official, adding that he commended Mr. Morell’s decision to resign.

Mr. Morell did not respond to an email Thursday night, and the Kennedy School did not respond to a request for comment.

Ms. Manning was among a group of people, including Sean Spicer, the former White House press secretary, named on Wednesday as visiting fellows at the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School. They will travel to Harvard during the 2017-18 academic year to meet with students and discuss politics and other topics.

Ms. Manning was convicted in 2010 for giving WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic cables and military reports from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Mr. Obama commuted her 35-year sentence in January, one of his final acts as president, and she was released in May.

Since 2013, Mr. Morell had served as a nonresident senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, which is also part of the Kennedy School. In his letter, Mr. Morell said he worried that Ms. Manning’s actions would “encourage others to leak classified information as well.”

“I have an obligation to my conscience,” he wrote.

Read more at nytimes.com