More on Harvard and Chelsea Manning


Writing for Consortium News, Robert Parry provides an extended contrast between Harvard’s bowing to political pressure by withdrawing a visiting professorship offered to Chelsea Manning and its failure to reconsider a similar appointment given to former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell,who resigned his own fellowship in protest and denounced Manning as “a convicted felon and leaker of classified information.” Parry’s piece complements an earlier post to this blog by Hank Reichman, while offering more detail about Morell. I am not suggesting that Hank or I necessarily agree with everything that Parry asserts, but the case that Parry makes is thought-provoking:

Morell was regarded by many of his ex-CIA compatriots as a classic example of a bureaucratic climber with no moral balance.

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern wrote in 2011 that “Like many senior CIA officials in recent years, Morell’s record is checkered, at best. He held key jobs in intelligence analysis over the past decade as the CIA often served as a handmaiden to the war propagandists. “As for Michael Morell, as with many other successful CIA careerists, his strongest suit seemed to be pleasing his boss and not antagonizing the White House. . . . Forgive me if my thinking about loyalty to the facts seems ‘obsolete’ or ‘quaint’ or if it seems unfair to expect CIA analysts to put their careers on the line when politicians and ideologues are misleading the nation to war but those were the principles that analysts of my generation tried to uphold.”

And, last year after leaving government, Morell put on a display of tough-guy-ism that presumably was meant to win him his coveted job of CIA director under the expected presidency of Hillary Clinton. On the Charlie Rose show, Morell continued his disdain for international law by calling for the murder of Iranians and Russians inside Syria.

In an interview on Aug. 8, 2016, Morell said he wanted to “make the Iranians pay a price in Syria. . . . make the Russians pay a price in Syria.”

Rose: “We make them pay the price by killing Russians?”

Morell: “Yeah.”

Rose: “And killing Iranians?”

Morell: “Yes . . . You don’t tell the world about it. … But you make sure they know it in Moscow and Tehran.”

Morell also advocated U.S. military bombing of Syrian government targets as part of achieving “regime change” in Syria.

The fact that everything that Morell was proposing violated international law didn’t seem to faze Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. The idea of killing Russians and Iranians inside Syria could be construed as terrorism but even that doesn’t raise eyebrows these days, although if some senior Russian or Iranian went on TV to propose killing Americans in, say, Iraq or Afghanistan, to send Washington a message, that would surely draw righteous condemnation.

The notion that the United States has the right to attack the sovereign nation of Syria with the goal of overthrowing its government has been at the heart of the kinds of war crimes that Chelsea Manning helped expose.

Morell, however, appears to have simply inculcated the lawless attitude that prevailed in both the Bush and Obama administrations, in which the U.S. government was a law onto itself, deciding when and where its forces would bomb and kill.

By “honoring” the likes of Morell and “dishonoring” the likes of Manning, Harvard’s Kennedy School has sent a clear message regarding how it sees the role of the U.S. government in the world. The school is signaling that it embraces the moral hypocrisy at the core of this attitude and is demonstrating that it can be trusted to train future U.S. government leaders in how to operate outside the norms of civilized behavior.


Robert Parry’s complete article is available at:



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  1. Pingback: More on Harvard and Chelsea Manning | Ohio Politics

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