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Harvard withdraws Chelsea Manning's fellowship invitation, saying it never meant to 'honor' her

Early Friday morning, after the CIA director abruptly pulled out of a speech and a former CIA head quit in protest on Thursday, Harvard's Kennedy School announced that it has rescinded its invitation to Chelsea Manning to be a visiting fellow at the school's Institute of Politics. Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf made the announcement, explaining that when he invited Manning and some nine others to be visiting fellows on Wednesday, the point was to pick people "who have significantly influenced events in the world even if they do not share our values and even if their actions or words are abhorrent to some members of our community."

Hearing people with different views is important to learning and becoming public leaders, Elmendorf said. But "in general across the school, we do not view the title of 'fellow' as conveying a special honor; rather, it is a way to describe some people who spend more than a few hours at the school," and Manning, like all other invited speakers, will be challenged and asked hard questions about her actions. Still, inviting her as a fellow was a mistake, he added, and so he is "withdrawing the invitation to her to serve as a Visiting Fellow — and the perceived honor that it implies to some people — while maintaining the invitation for her to spend a day at the Kennedy School and speak in the Forum."

Manning, a transgender former Army private, was convicted of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, and she served seven years in military prison before former President Barack Obama commuted her sentence. Still being not-quite-honored as visiting fellows are former Trump campaign chairman Corey Lewandowski, former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, and Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, among others.