News Release

Harvard Faced with Petition and News Conference Protesting Chelsea Manning’s Disinvitation


A petition organized by the group with more than 15,000 signers is scheduled to be presented to the Harvard Kennedy School on Friday, a week after the university revoked its invitation to U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning to be a visiting fellow.

VICTOR WALLIS, zendive at

Wallis, a member of the Harvard College class of 1959, will be among several Harvard graduates who will be presenting the petition in Cambridge at the office of the Kennedy School’s dean, Douglas Elmendorf.
Wallis said today: “Harvard’s motto is Veritas — Truth. Chelsea Manning’s revelations gave evidence of war crimes that the U.S. ruling class committed in furtherance of its imperial agenda — a truth that its operatives naturally find embarrassing. … We should honor those who help us understand the atrocities rather than those who perpetrate or rationalize them.”

“Respecting the decisions of the Kennedy School administrators who annually choose these Fellows would show collegiality, avoid the negative publicity of rescinded invitations, and also support freedom of speech,” noted Margaret Morganroth Gullette, Radcliffe ’62, Harvard Ph.D. ’75, Bunting Institute Fellowship, ’87, who worked in Harvard administration for many years.

The presenters of the petition will hold a news conference outside the Kennedy School, at 79 John F. Kennedy Street, Cambridge, on Friday, September 22, at 11 a.m.

The Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics cancelled the invitation to Manning after intense pressure from top CIA officials. The cancellation came shortly after the acting director of the Institute, Bill Delahunt, had publicly declared: “We welcome the breadth of thought-provoking viewpoints on race, gender, politics and the media.”

The RootsAction petition being presented on Friday says: “By revoking Chelsea Manning’s fellowship, you have disgraced the Harvard Kennedy School. By caving in to pressure from present and former top officials of the CIA, you have jettisoned academic freedom. By deciding that it is appropriate for Sean Spicer but not Chelsea Manning to retain a fellowship, you have failed to fulfill Harvard’s responsibility to be independent of government power and coercion. During his stint at the Trump White House, Mr. Spicer earned a reputation for lying. As a whistleblower, Ms. Manning earned a reputation for truth-telling. It is a sad day when a record of facile mendacity is more revered at Harvard than a record of revealing difficult truths.”