Former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell on Thursday announced his resignation as a senior fellow at Harvard after the university named U.S. Army soldier-turned-convicted felon Chelsea Manning a visiting fellow.
Manning will take on the role at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, the school said on its website.
“She speaks on the social, technological and economic ramifications of Artificial Intelligence,” the Harvard announcement said. “As a trans woman, she advocates for queer and transgender rights as @xychelsea on Twitter.”
Morell, a former CIA deputy director who twice served as acting director, announced his resignation from Harvard’s Belfer Center was a result of Manning’s appointment, saying he couldn’t be part of an organization “that honors convicted felon and leaker of classified information.”
“Senior leaders in our military have stated publicly that the leaks by Ms. Manning put the lives of U.S. soldiers at risk,” Morell said. “I have an obligation in my conscience — and I believe to the country — to stand against any efforts to justify leaks of sensitive national security information.”
Many people were flabbergasted the university gave Manning the title, calling it “unbelievable” that a person convicted of espionage could be considered a “fellow.”
“Of all the veterans who honorably served…Harvard hires Chelsea Manning who was convicted of espionage. Unbelievable,” retired gunnery sergeant Jessie Jane Duff wrote on Twitter.
“I’m loyal to Harvard, but I think I’ll forego IOP events this fall. (I’d feel the same way if Chelsea Manning were still Bradley Manning.)” pundit Bill Kristol said. Manning replied: “Awesome ! can you ask @seanspicer to do the same ? #WeGotThis.”
“ @Harvard names #ChelseaManning as #VisitingFellow on #LGBT.. He’s more qualified to speak on #Treachery,” tweeted David Higgins, who identifies himself as having been in the U.S. Army.
“Seriously @Harvard?? Enabling a traitor to our country? You need to check your stupidity,” another user wrote on Twitter.
“How to become a Harvard Visiting Fellow: Leak 700,000 classified documents get convicted of 6 espionage charges,” user J Michael Waller tweeted.
“And Harvard just named him a visiting fellow along with Chelsea Manning. Good examples for students on how to slime your way to the top,” another person wrote.
And Harvard just named him a visiting fellow along with Chelsea Manning.
Good examples for students on how to slime your way to the top.
— Sonny Goldreich (@sgoldreich) September 14, 2017
“Chelsea Manning Was Convicted of Leaking Classified Info — So Naturally, Harvard Sent Her a Job Offer,” a tweet read.
Manning, who was known as Bradley Manning before transitioning, was released from prison in May after serving seven years for leaking classified government materials to WikiLeaks. She was convicted in 2013 of espionage, theft and computer fraud, earning her a 35 year prison sentence — until former President Barack Obama commuted the sentence.
Manning’s release from jail was widely criticized by members of Congress, who considered Manning’s leaks of the nation’s most sensitive secrets a danger to America’s safety. House Speaker Paul Ryan called the move “just outrageous.”
The convicted felon did not directly address the new job on her social media accounts, except in her response to Kristol. She will be joining former White House press secretary Sean Spicer and campaign manager Corey Lewandowski as fellows in the 2017-2018 school year.