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CIA director skips Harvard speech because of 'traitor' Chelsea Manning

CIA Director Mike Pompeo canceled his appearance Thursday at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government following the appointment of Chelsea Manning as a visiting fellow, saying if he showed up it would betray the trust of CIA employees.

Manning was convicted of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, and served seven years in military prison before former President Barack Obama commuted her sentence, saying he felt justice had been served. Pompeo had been scheduled to discuss global security concerns, including North Korea's nuclear program and Russian meddling in elections, but just minutes before he was set to speak, the school's dean, Douglas Elmendorf, told the audience he was not going to appear.

Pompeo, a Harvard Law graduate, said in a letter he did not make the decision to not show up lightly. Manning is transgender, and was known as Bradley Manning when she was convicted, and Pompeo said his decision had nothing to do with her gender identity but rather how WikiLeaks is a U.S. adversary "akin to a hostile foreign intelligence service." Manning is a "traitor to the United States of America and my loyalty is to the officers of the CIA," he said. "Harvard's actions implicitly tell its students that you too can be a fellow at Harvard and a felon under United States law."

Former acting director of the CIA Mike Morell, a senior fellow at the Kennedy School of Government, resigned on Thursday in protest of Manning's appointment, saying he couldn't be part of an organization that "honors a convicted felon and leaker of classified information."