Chelsea Manning, the former US soldier who leaked hundreds of thousands of state secrets and served seven years in military prison, abruptly terminated a phone call with the dean of the Harvard Kennedy school in an expression of her dismay at his decision to revoke her visiting fellowship in the face of severe pressure from the CIA.
Manning ended the conversation on Thursday as the dean, Douglas Elmendorf, tried to justify to her his decision to cancel the fellowship only a day after it had been announced. The dean had said he needed to talk to Manning “urgently” after CIA figures first raised their objection to Harvard offering the whistleblower a place among its 2017-18 visiting speaker program – raising the prospect that one of America’s most prestigious academic institutions had kowtowed to pressure from the intelligence services.
Elmendorf further alienated the Manning team by responding that Spicer and Lewandowski “brought something to the table” and could teach the Harvard audience something. That, for the recipients of the phone conversation, implied that the whistleblower by contrast had nothing to contribute.
Elmendorf’s decision to roll over just hours after the two CIA figures protested has put the dean in a tight corner. The Guardian asked Harvard for comment on the phone call but did not receive an immediate response.