CIA Director Mike Pompeo declined an invitation to speak at Harvard University, following the announcement that Harvard University named Chelsea Manning a visiting fellow.
[A]fter much deliberation in the wake of Harvard's announcement of American traitor Chelsea Manning as a visiting fellow at the Institute of Politics, my conscience and duty to the men and women at the Central Intelligence Agency will not permit me to betray their trust by appearing to support Harvard's decision with my appearance at tonight's event," Pompeo wrote in a letter Thursday. Pompeo was scheduled to discuss Russian interference in the 2016 election, the nuclear standoff with North Korea, and other issues at the school on Thursday.
Manning previously was a former intelligence analyst for the U.S. Army but was convicted in 2013 of violating the Espionage Act after providing thousands of national security documents to WikiLeaks. She originally faced 35 years in prison, however, President Barack Obama commuted her sentence. As a result, she was released in May.
Manning also identifies as transgender and received military healthcare benefits to treat gender dysphoria.
"Indeed, Ms. Manning stands against everything the brave men and women I serve alongside stand for," Pompeo wrote. "Let me be clear, it has nothing to do with Ms. Manning's identity as a transgender person. It has everything to do with her identity as a traitor to the United States of America and my loyalty to the officers at the CIA."
Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morrell also announced on Thursday that he would step down as a senior fellow at the Ivy League school in response to Manning being named a visiting fellow.
Morell said he did not want to be part of an organization "that honors a convicted felon and leaker of classified information by inviting her to be a visiting fellow at the Kennedy School's Institute of Politics."