Harvard faces backlash over Chelsea Manning invite

Facing intensifying outrage and pressure — from the head of the CIA cancelling a speech to the resignation of a former Obama-era intelligence director — Harvard rescinded its offer to make WikiLeaker Chelsea Manning a visiting fellow and defended acting program director William Delahunt.

A spokeswoman for The Institute of Politics at Harvard University told the Herald that Delahunt, a former Bay State Congressman, “is receiving NO pressure to resign” over the controversy sparked when Manning was invited to be a visiting fellow and then disinvited amid the backlash.

She added that Delahunt has “NO interest in a permanent role” at the institute and plans to step down once a permanent director is appointed.

Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf released a statement yesterday reversing course on Manning, saying he now recognized it was “a mistake.”

But it came after CIA Director Mike Pompeo canceled a scheduled speech at Harvard and Mike Morell, a former acting director and deputy director of the CIA, resigned from his own Harvard fellowship.

Former Bay State Gov. Mitt Romney — a Harvard Business School graduate — also blasted the Manning invite.

“Well done, Mike,” Romney said in a tweet referring to Morell. “And abject shame on Harvard.”

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in military prison for leaking more than 700,000 classified and sensitive documents to WikiLeaks, but President Obama commuted her sentence after just seven years on his way out of office.

“A fellowship is a valuable commodity,” said William Mayer, a political science professor at Northeastern University. “There are all sorts of people I would have no problem inviting for a single speech who I wouldn’t make members of a faculty.”

There was also a fresh wave of backlash from Manning’s supporters yesterday after the invitation was taken back.

But PR guru George Regan, a close friend of Delahunt, defended the former Congressman’s handling of the Manning invite.

“He tried to do the right thing,” Regan said of Delahunt. “And now everyone needs to take a deep breath and move on.”

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