Harvard behaves badly—twice

I’ll try to make this post short, as I’m resting in my hotel in Warsaw and want to catch up on the news from London. But I couldn’t resist, thanks to several readers (special h/t to Scott), calling attention to two questionable acts that my Ph.D. alma mater has committed.

The first involves the New York Times story below (click on screenshot):

Ms. Jones was convicted for killing, via neglect, her 4-year-old son (the details are unclear; the body was never found, and Jones herself was subject to childhood abuse). She served 20 years in an Indiana prison for her crime;.she was sentenced to 50 years but was released way early because of her exceptional behavior and accomplishments. While incarcerated, she turned herself into a history scholar and somewhat of a polymath; as the Times reports, she earned her bachelor’s degree at Ball State and audited class at Indiana University. And she went further:

In a breathtaking feat of rehabilitation, Ms. Jones, now 45, became a published scholar of American history while behind bars, and presented her work by videoconference to historians’ conclaves and the Indiana General Assembly. With no internet access and a prison library that hewed toward romance novels, she led a team of inmates that pored through reams of photocopied documents from the Indiana State Archives to produce the Indiana Historical Society’s best research project last year. As prisoner No. 970554, Ms. Jones also wrote several dance compositions and historical plays, one of which is slated to open at an Indianapolis theater in December.

She applied to several graduate schools, and got into Harvard and New York University (as well as other schools, though not Yale). Her reviews by Harvard’s history department were stellar (“Elizabeth Hinton, one of the Harvard historians who backed Ms. Jones, called her ‘one of the strongest candidates in the country last year, period'”). But in a highly unusual move, Harvard administrators rescinded Jones’s acceptance, denying her the chance to go to her first-choice school. Jones will enroll in New York University this fall.

The reasons why Harvard’s administrators rescinded the deparmental admission aren’t clear. There was some mention in the article that Jones wasn’t completely forthcoming about her crime, but the article also says she admitted what she did and noted that she inflicted on her son the abuse she got herself.  If she lied, that’s grounds for rejection, but that doesn’t seem clear.

Rather, there appear to be other reasons for rejecting her—ones that I don’t like (these came from emails and memos obtained by the NYT):

While top Harvard officials typically rubber-stamp departmental admissions decisions, in this case the university’s leadership — including the president, provost, and deans of the graduate school — reversed one, according to the emails and interviews, out of concern that her background would cause a backlash among rejected applicants, conservative news outlets or parents of students.

That’s ridiculous. Jones did her time for the crime, and why should she be shunned further, especially after such an arduous effort to turn her life around? She deserves the same chance as anyone else gets, and that includes the admission to Harvard that she earned. If people are concerned about her background, they should suck that up. Someone deemed rehabilitated should not be made to suffer further.

Here’s more:

“We didn’t have some preconceived idea about crucifying Michelle,” said John Stauffer, one of the two American studies professors [two professors flagged her acceptance for the higher administration].  “But frankly, we knew that anyone could just punch her crime into Google, and Fox News would probably say that P.C. liberal Harvard gave 200 grand of funding to a child murderer, who also happened to be a minority. I mean, c’mon.”

WHAT? Why should Harvard worry about what Fox News will say? Shouldn’t they be confident that “P.C. liberal Harvard” did the right thing by giving someone who behaved odiously a second chance after she turned her life around? The paragraph above sickens me.

Finally, things get patronizing and maybe a bit racist:

She applied to eight [graduate schools], with Harvard her first choice because of historians there whose work on incarceration she admired.

While those historians embraced her application, others at Harvard questioned not only whether Ms. Jones had disclosed enough information about her past, but whether she could handle its pressure-cooker atmosphere.

“One of our considerations,” Professor Stauffer said in an interview, “was if this candidate is admitted to Harvard, where everyone is an elite among elites, that adjustment could be too much.”

Oh for crying out loud! If the department not only deemed her qualified, but judged her one of the top candidates in the whole country, where did the fear come from that she couldn’t “handle its pressure-cooker atmosphere?” Could it be because she was in prison, or maybe because she was black? If she’s qualified, she’s qualified, and should get the chance to handle the “atmosphere” (which, having gone there, I don’t see as a “pressure cooker”. You take few classes and your main responsibility is your thesis).

For a determinist, there are three reasons to send someone to jail who’s committed a crime: rehabilitation, deterrence of others, and sequestering a criminal from society so she doesn’t do further harm.) The justice system decided that Ms. Jones has satisfied all of these requirements. Why would Harvard continue to punish her when she’s shown contrition (she’s dedicating her graduate work in criminology to her son), she’s clearly rehabilitated, and 20 years is sufficient deterrence? Even the prosecutor who sought and got Jones the maximum sentence thinks that Harvard is behaving badly:

“Look, as a mother, I thought it was just an awful crime,” said Ms. Marger Moore, now a lawyer at a large firm in Los Angeles. “But what Harvard did is highly inappropriate: I’m the prosecutor, not them. Michelle Jones served her time, and she served a long time, exactly what she deserved. A sentence is a sentence.”

I wish Jones the best of luck, and I send raspberries to Harvard for their bad behavior. Unless Jones flat-out lied on her application, and I am dubious about that, she fully deserves admission to Harvard’s graduate program in history.

*********

In a second bad move, Harvard has bowed to government pressure and deplatformed Chelsea Manning, withdrawing her invitations to be a visiting fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. As you may know, Manning was convicted of espionage for releasing classified documents to WikiLeaks; she was sentenced to 35 years in prison but Obama commuted her sentence after four years. She is now free. But some bigwigs objected to her status of visiting fellow at Harvard:

The school withdrew the invitation to Manning—a transgender activist and former U.S. Army soldier who was imprisoned after disclosing over 700,000 classified government documents— after CIA Director Mike Pompeo cancelled his scheduled appearance at the school Thursday.

“Ms. Manning betrayed her country and was found guilty of 17 serious crimes for leaking classified information to Wikileaks,” Pompeo wrote in a letter to Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, director of Intelligence and Defense Projects at Harvard Kennedy School on Thursday. “Indeed, Ms. Manning stands against everything the brave men and women I serve alongside stand for.”

Pompeo’s cancelled appearance came hours after Michael Morell, a former deputy director of the CIA, resigned from his Senior Fellowship at the Belfer Center at Harvard Kennedy School. In his resignation letter, Morell cited deep opposition to Manning’s actions, and wrote that “the Kennedy School’s decision will assist Ms. Manning in her long-standing effort to legitimize the criminal path that she took to prominence.”

After the twin denouncements, Elmendorf withdrew the invitation that had been issued on Wednesday.

“We did not intend to honor her in any way or to endorse any of her words or deeds, as we do not honor or endorse any Fellow,” Kennedy School Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf wrote.

Dean Elmendorf added this:

“I now think that designating Chelsea Manning as a Visiting Fellow was a mistake, for which I accept responsibility,” Kennedy School Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf wrote in a statement posted to the school’s website shortly after midnight.

Well, opinions differ on the rectitude of what Manning did, and her punishment was surely overly severe, but once she was invited to be a visiting fellow, it was wrong of Harvard to withdraw that invitation. While Manning is still invited to give a speech at Harvard, the fellowship withdrawal stinks, for it smacks of government interference in an academic decision, and of cowardice on the part of Harvard.

88 Comments

  1. Teresa Carson
    Posted September 15, 2017 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    I think prison is a pressure-cooker environment. If you’ve been in prison for 20 years, Harvard’s probably not so bad.

    • Posted September 16, 2017 at 5:09 am | Permalink

      The final word in the linked article goes to Ms. Jones:

      “People don’t survive 20 years of incarceration with any kind of grace unless they have the discipline to do their reading and writing in the chaos of that place,” Ms. Jones said. “Forget Harvard. I’ve already graduated from the toughest school there is.”

  2. Craw
    Posted September 15, 2017 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    She confessed that she had beaten the child and then left him alone. This is unverified because she did not reveal where she disposed of the body, although she claims to have buried it.
    Beating a child is more than mere neglect. Failing to lead investigators to the body suggests both a lack of remorse and that the truth might be more damning. Harvard determined she had minimized her crime in her application. Not only does this also suggest a lack of remorse, it is also well within Harvard’s purview to decide it reflects on her character and trustworthiness.

    • Posted September 15, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      She was aged 20 at the time of her crimes, less than half her current age of 45.

      • Posted September 15, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

        That does not excuse her. Unlike Manning, however, she is not seeking to profit from her crime. Harvard erred a bit here, but there may well be things about her application that mitigate that error.

      • Posted September 15, 2017 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

        So if she had never been convicted, the fact that she is no longer made of the same atoms means you would not convict her?

        The time elapsed is irrelevant. The fact she served her time is.

        • Posted September 15, 2017 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

          Badly phrased. The fact she has served her time is relevant, the fact time has elapsed is not.

          • Craw
            Posted September 15, 2017 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

            Yes. That and repentance/remorse. I think if we aren’t willing to accept penitents who have borne their punishment back into society then we need to increase the penalty. I am willing to see 20 years servitude together with clear signs of rehabilitation (together with her probable initial diminished responsibility) as sufficient. I have doubts about the contrition.
            But in any event, if Harvard is not satisfied with her honesty and candor, I am not going to second guess them.

            • Posted September 15, 2017 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

              This is very sensible.

      • Craw
        Posted September 15, 2017 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

        Age 20? That sounds very much like you are arguing diminished responsibility. Which implies there can be undiminished responsibility doesn’t it?

        I am undecided on her case, but I think the lack of remorse is relevant, as is Harvard’s prerogative to adjudge her alleged mendacity in her application.

        • Posted September 15, 2017 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

          Yes, there can indeed be undiminished responsibility. But many people who behave badly at age 20 can be largely reformed at age 45. Certainly, sufficiently so to be admitted to a PhD program.

    • W.Benson
      Posted September 15, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      She must have done the crime on her own free will? Hang her out of retribution? I prefer to go along with Jerry.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted September 15, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      If what you report here is true, I would tend to agree. However, it does seem that most of the “pressure” at Harvard is political.

      • Craw
        Posted September 15, 2017 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        Jack Abbot’s ghost.

    • Anonymous
      Posted September 19, 2017 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

      I agree with Craw. If there was true remorse, and she is truly rehabilitated, why not reveal the location of her son’s body now that she has served her crime? Why is the location of the body still a mystery? IF she is repentant, why not give the father and her mother in law (who were raising the child before she took him from them) an opportunity to bury him and have a grave for the body?

      Read the story for yourselves.

      https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fcaselaw.findlaw.com%2Fin-court-of-appeals%2F1426342.html&h=ATPcpdDtR5pYUdqQ2TYaWA777b-OMDh1pIWATOzdZFh-jKFLFO4ZvrWOx5moX_QWV_xl_C4q4zrINXHpfP_w5-4-UHZ1MOOc1tbc-vId04_EWSnK7gjbgXf0yRJmcGdhovWuR4mYFOWDYQ-D

  3. Joseph Stans
    Posted September 15, 2017 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    L:ike many liberal schools, the ad ministartion ahs assued the mangle of Wach Dog for Snoqwflakes” Lest tehy becem exposedthe cruelworld before therir scomd pos-doc encoutrer outside the sacred walls of acedemai.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 15, 2017 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

      Was that posted from your iphone? 😉

      cr

      • BJ
        Posted September 16, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

        I think it was posted from a decorative autumn gourd.

  4. Geoff Toscano
    Posted September 15, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    At the end of your first part, you wish luck to Moore. I think you mean Jones?

  5. Craw
    Posted September 15, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    “For a determinist, there are three reasons to send someone to jail who’s committed a crime: rehabilitation, deterrence of others, and sequestering a criminal from society so she doesn’t do further harm.)”

    This as an emendation from your earlier statement along the same lines. The change is that you are now stipulating that only those who commit a crime should be so punished. I don’t think though that I ever saw you give a cogent response to the argument that we might then incarcerate the parents or children of perpetrators — because that can serve as a deterrent, or spur to rehabilitation, or even in some circumstances sequestration. Your formulation here still involves an unstated element, which we might call guilt, or accountability, or ‘just deserts’. I still do not see how you can get by without this notion, and your statement above does not. Yet that is just what you are denying might be relevant.

    • Posted September 15, 2017 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      It might be a deterrent, but it’s neither rehabilitation nor sequestration of someone who did harm and might do so again.That is a stretch you’re making. Deterrence alone is not enough. And I believe you’re wrong in saying that I’ve emended” an earlier statement. I’ve always maintained, further, that the notion of “responsibility” devolves on those who did the crime, and that’s why.

      If that’s not “cogent” enough for you, I’m sorry.

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted September 15, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

        Your earlier statements on this have taken various forms. Sometimes you say that rehabilitation is a valid reason for “putting someone away”. Sometimes you say it’s a legitimate justification for punishment.

        Either way, I disagree. If rehabilitation is the goal, both incarceration and punishment are likely to be counterproductive.

      • Craw
        Posted September 15, 2017 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

        I am saying that while you can perhaps derive the necessary conditions of (deter|fix|isolate) from your notion of determinism, and so make a case against retribution, you cannot derive the necessity of “guilt” or “accountability” from it. Actions taken against the innocent can also deter or rehabilitate or sequester. (Not all punishments sequester; fines do not.) So when you say “only the guilty should be punished” I reply “you did not derive that constraint from determinism alone”.

    • Posted September 15, 2017 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      “For a determinist, there are three reasons to send someone to jail who’s committed a crime: rehabilitation, deterrence of others, and sequestering a criminal from society so she doesn’t do further harm.)”

      In Manning’s case there has been no rehabilitation, deterrence or sequestration.

      Her loss of fellowship might have been a political decision but so was her freedom.

  6. Posted September 15, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Re Manning – Harvard may not have have done the right thing in turning away Manning, but I do not think that people should profit from their crimes, irrespective of whether the crime was justified.

    • Posted September 15, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      I don’t think the two cases are the same. One is someone who served her time and won a scholarship for something entirely unrelated. The other is someone who didn’t serve her time and was granted a fellowship entirely on her notoriety.

      • Posted September 15, 2017 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

        I agree.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted September 15, 2017 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

        Also agree and considering the current despicable state of our administration and lack of any standards regarding classified matters and material, a fellowship for this person kind of stinks.

        • Craw
          Posted September 15, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

          The Trump leaks have gone way done since he shuffled a lot of his top people. I bet they know most of the leakers. Will Trump prosecute them? It would make him look bad so my guess is no.

          Has anyone else wondered about the combination of 1) lenient treatment by Trump for IRS malfeasance and 2) no leaks from the IRS and 3) no Trump tax returns? Conspiracy theory perhaps, but I don’t mind betting on the mendacity of Trump.

          • Posted September 15, 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

            “I don’t mind betting on the mendacity of Trump”

            Totally solid bet there!

      • Simon Hayward
        Posted September 15, 2017 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

        I would agree, they are very different, one can make a good case that Manning killed a lot more people and has never been rehabilitated.

        In his current column, Andrew Sullivan has some bad things to say about Manning and sees the Harvard change as a positive correction.

        http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/09/yes-im-dependent-on-weed.html

        But I think Jerry will agree with his third section.

        • Posted September 15, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

          I haven’t really followed Sullivan much except for his email “debate” with Sam Harris.

          I enjoyed that column. I should pay more attention to him.

  7. Posted September 15, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    ‘Fellowship’ implies e dorsement. Her right to speak is not affected.

    • Harrison
      Posted September 15, 2017 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      It’s also really hard to claim this is government interference just because it was kicked off by the actions of a govt. employee. There’s no actual pressure or threat from a government institution on the university. One guy who happens to work for the government decided on his own to cancel a talk in protest.

      • BJ
        Posted September 15, 2017 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

        Right, the government employee was not acting as such, nor in any way implying that he was. He was very clearly acting as a private citizen.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 15, 2017 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

          Would a complaint by a private citizen have carried any weight?

          Personally, I’d protest a speech by a CIA brass hat. I wouldn’t trust the CIA as far as I could throw them.

          cr

          • BJ
            Posted September 16, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

            I imagine it’s the fact that it was a complaint by a speaker of the school, followed by another person who sat on the board of that school resigning. I don’t see how his being of the government makes any difference since there was no threat of government action in any way, explicit or implicit.

            I have to admit, I would be interested in a speech by someone from the top brass of the CIA. There’s a lot of interesting stuff I could learn. And I have to imagine it’s of value to students who either wish to go into intelligence, or wish to work on the issue of intelligence, or are just interested.

  8. Dave
    Posted September 15, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    I know nothing whatsoever about Jones, apart from what I’ve read here, but I agree with Craw in post no. 2 that her behaviour raises suspicions about her character. I accept that in theory, the slate should be wiped clean once a person has served their allotted sentence, but in practice I’m not sure that I could work alongside, or interact normally, with someone who I knew had murdered their child, even if the crime was 20 years in the past. Some types of crime just leave a stain that cannot be erased.

    As for Manning, he betrayed his country and probably endangered the lives of American servicemen and women, and others working with them, around the world. He should be shunned and excluded from decent society. Note that I use the words “he” and “him” quite deliberately. I do not consider Manning to be a woman, no matter what personal delusions he may hold.

    • Posted September 15, 2017 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      As a side note: official secrets are not ‘protected speech’ by any reasonable definition.

    • Posted September 15, 2017 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      As for Manning, he betrayed his country and probably endangered the lives of American servicemen and women, and others working with them, around the world. He should be shunned and excluded from decent society. Note that I use the words “he” and “him” quite deliberately. I do not consider Manning to be a woman, no matter what personal delusions he may hold.

      Ironically, for expressing that opinion you’d be accused of putting trans-lives at risk, and ‘dead-naming’ Manning as ‘Bradley’ would be considered an unconscionable violation of Chelsea’s right to privacy.

    • tomh
      Posted September 16, 2017 at 2:00 am | Permalink

      @ Dave

      So, in your (uninformed) opinion, Manning “probably endangered the lives of American servicemen and women, and others working with them, around the world.” This, in spite of the fact that the US counter-intelligence official, Brigadier general Robert Carr, who led the Pentagon’s review, told the Manning sentencing hearing that no instances were ever found of any individual killed by enemy forces as a result of having been named in the releases.

      For exposing some of America’s most brutal war crimes you feel that Manning should be “shunned and excluded from decent society.” That says a lot.

      • Dave
        Posted September 16, 2017 at 6:27 am | Permalink

        “That says a lot”. Yes, it does. It expresses the utter contempt I have for Manning, Assange, and any other self-appointed arbiters of what information the governments of democratic states should keep secret or make public. But I guess dumping thousands of sensitive documents onto the internet is OK provided their crystal balls tell them that no-one will get killed as a result, or that terrorist groups won’t exploit the information to evade surveillance.

        And as for the supposed “brutal war crimes”, that may be your description. Mine would be “necessary and justified measures to counter Islamic terrorism”.

        • tomh
          Posted September 16, 2017 at 9:27 am | Permalink

          So the 2010 video showing a US helicopter gunning down civilians in Iraq, including a Reuters journalist, as the soldiers are heard congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers, that would be “necessary and justified measures to counter Islamic terrorism.”

  9. Posted September 15, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    I agree – to not admit a student because of the perceived backlash in the “press”? Also, administrators reversing a department’s decision? Both of those should be unheard of.

    • Craw
      Posted September 15, 2017 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

      Imagine the administration discovers an applicant who was accepted had submitted a falsified transcript. Would you say the administration cannot intervene. The process for admission, and for bursary she had applied for, involves more than just one department. Harvard has its rules. Harvard makes those rules, not you.

  10. Posted September 15, 2017 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    One line above made me laugh out loud: “Why should Harvard worry about what Fox News will say?”

    Why should anyone worry about what Fox News will say?

    • Historian
      Posted September 15, 2017 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      We need to worry about Fox because it is an important conservative outlet and apparently can affect even elections as this story from Vox reports. Perhaps most readers here view Fox as a joke. Unfortunately, all too many Americans don’t get it. This article summarizes a study from the American Economic Review: “Emory University political scientist Gregory Martin and Stanford economist Ali Yurukoglu estimate that watching Fox News directly causes a substantial rightward shift in viewers’ attitudes, which translates into a significantly greater willingness to vote for Republican candidates.”

      https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/9/8/16263710/fox-news-presidential-vote-study

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted September 15, 2017 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      That’s what Hillary thought.

  11. Posted September 15, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    One small point. You speak of “the news from London”. I assume you mean the terrorist incident in which 22 people were injured.

    This should not be *that important*. If we make it so with our attention, we are giving the terrorists what they want – our terror.

    For perspective, don’t Americans kill about twice that many of each other every day?

    • Posted September 15, 2017 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      For perspective, don’t Americans kill about twice that many of each other every day?

      Christ, not that argument again. You might not think the constant terrorist attacks on Europeans matter but we do.

      • Posted September 15, 2017 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

        Constant? Perhaps you’ve been watching too much Fox news. And as a Scot wth srong English connections, I very much consider myself a European

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 16, 2017 at 1:47 am | Permalink

          I do agree.

          Though it was fortunate the bomb was a near-dud.

          I see Mr Trump couldn’t resist sticking his unhelpful oar in and tweeting that the London police should be more ‘pro-active’. I’m sure the Met will be unspeakably grateful for the encouragement. What exactly does that mean – go and murder another Brazilian electrician by mistake?

          cr

          (Google ‘Jean de Menezes’ for the background to that crack. It was a ghastly blunder, but what was inexcusable was the way the brass tried to blame it on their victim. That never goes down well – as St Louis is finding out right now).

  12. ladyatheist
    Posted September 15, 2017 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    If you reject one person for having a record you have to reject everyone for having a record.

    That way, you’ll never know how someone who has been locked up for years will handle being stuck in the library for several hours per day.

    • Craw
      Posted September 15, 2017 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      Not so. If Trump had pardoned Arpaio after he (Arpaio) had been convicted I wouldn’t feel I had to ignore his record. I personally would not have had Albert Speer over for drinks.

  13. BJ
    Posted September 15, 2017 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Harvard has explicitly said that Manning will still get to speak. She has in no way been “deplatformed.” The only thing that has been rescinded is the honor of being named a fellow, and it’s not an honor I believe she deserves.

    From the Politico aritcle here: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/14/cia-michael-morell-quits-harvard-chelsea-manning-242738

    “Therefore, we are withdrawing the invitation to her to serve as a Visiting Fellow—and the perceived honor that it implies to some people—while maintaining the invitation for her to spend a day at the Kennedy School and speak in the Forum.”

    That is a quote from the dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, which invited her. I don’t see why Manning should have the honor of being a fellow, having revealed confidential intelligence that put the lives of thousands of American soldiers at risk and shown zero remorse for doing so. And that remains her only “accomplishment.” If they’ve invited her to speak, she should be able to speak, and they have not rescinded that invitation.

    • BJ
      Posted September 15, 2017 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

      Wow, according to that article by Andrew Sullivan posted in this thread, the documents she released also revealed names leading to purges by two dictatorships and the killing of Afghans who were fighting the Taliban. But no remorse. Not even a hint.

      I never believed Manning deserved to be set free, but now I’m even more disgusted by the decision.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted September 15, 2017 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

        You believe Andrew Sullivan? Or rather, his sources?

        I’m always suspicious that the prosecution in these cases has, shall we say, maximised the extent of the damage done by the accused.

        cr

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 16, 2017 at 4:57 am | Permalink

          I may have to recant my suspicion if tomh’s comment above is correct that: “the US counter-intelligence official, Brigadier general Robert Carr, who led the Pentagon’s review, told the Manning sentencing hearing that no instances were ever found of any individual killed by enemy forces as a result of having been named in the releases.”

          If so, then kudos to the Pentagon for fairness.

          cr

          • BJ
            Posted September 16, 2017 at 9:45 am | Permalink

            Yeah, I was pretty happy to hear that they didn’t make any claims they couldn’t back up. I certainly believe in the importance of a fair trial.

            Anyway, even if Andrew Sullivan’s sources are wrong, the point is this (at least for me): Manning worked in intelligence. As someone who worked in intelligence, Manning knew that releasing 700,000 pages of confidential documents relating to war efforts and secret intelligence regarding human assets around the world could easily result in those assets being killed, captured, tortured, etc. Even if those things didn’t happen (and for many such assets, we wouldn’t be able to in any way prove that their death or capture was related to the leaks, or sometimes that it even happened at all), Manning knew she was putting the lives of thousands at risk of such things. One of the biggest reasons for having laws against leaking such information is the consequences it can have for human lives. Even if we’re incredibly lucky and, somehow, nobody died, was captured, tortured, etc., Manning broke the laws meant to prevent that, risked those things, and committed three separate violations of the Espionage Act, making her a traitor. And she was never even pardoned, merely had her sentence commuted.

            To this day, she has displayed no shred of remorse, and has not even claimed to have given a single thought to the idea that she may have hurt or killed even a single person.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted September 16, 2017 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

              I may have to walk that back a bit if the Pentagon were only pushed into that admission under cross-examination. And I still don’t believe Andrew Sullivan’s sources.

              Against the possible downstream risk to her side, Manning knew that actual crimes were being committed and swept under the carpet and that the US public wasn’t being told what some of its forces and allies were doing. How much do you cover up for fear of ‘unintended consequences’? What about the consequences for human lives that were lost or destroyed by callous, reckless or malicious acts of US forces or their allies – does one do nothing and let it keep on happening? “We may be bad but the other side is worse” is not – in my opinion – any reason to keep quiet about abuses. If you let them flourish for long enough there comes a point where you’re as bad as them.

              Do you suppose for one instant that if Manning had been given a dossier of Taliban war crimes, she wouldn’t have released it?

              But she didn’t sell secret plans to the enemy, she told everybody – including the US public – what was going on. Which was probably (in the view of the military) a greater crime.

              cr

              • BJ
                Posted September 17, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

                “Do you suppose for one instant that if Manning had been given a dossier of Taliban war crimes, she wouldn’t have released it?”

                Hard to know. It seems from her actions that she interested in just releasing documents related to the US doing bad things. She seemed to wish to do damage to the US and its interests. Why release 750,000 pages of confidential documents, the bulk of which had absolutely nothing to do with the goal of uncovering bad deeds? And if she was so concerned about other people in other countries in the world, maybe she shouldn’t have been releasing documents that could get them tortured and killed.

                Notice, I haven’t tried in previous comments to impute any specific intent to her. I don’t care about her intent. I care about the fact that she knew through her job the consequences of her actions to other people around the world, good people fighting terrible forces, and she did it anyway. She did it in the way that would be most dangerous to those people, without any care for what would happen to anybody, releasing hundreds of thousands of pages in documents that had nothing to do with her supposed goal.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted September 17, 2017 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

                “It seems from her actions that she interested in just releasing documents related to the US doing bad things.”

                I’d disagree. I’d suggest that those were, by the nature of circumstances, all the bad things she was aware of. Any dirty deeds by the enemy – that the US was aware of – had already been released to the press by the military’s publicity machine.

                How, pray, could she do it in a less public way? Report it to her superiors? They were the ones covering it up!

                “she knew through her job the consequences of her actions to other people around the world, good people fighting terrible forces, and she did it anyway.”

                I’ll turn that on its head. She knew through her job what was happening to innocent people at the hands of the US and its allies, you know, those people who claimed to be on the side of justice and democracy and all that shit, and she felt outraged enough to expose it at huge personal cost.

                Ones view of this is probably slanted by whether one thinks Dubya’s holy war in Iraq was a good idea or not.

                cr

              • Diane G.
                Posted September 17, 2017 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

                I’ll turn that on its head. She knew through her job what was happening to innocent people at the hands of the US and its allies, you know, those people who claimed to be on the side of justice and democracy and all that shit, and she felt outraged enough to expose it at huge personal cost.

                In light of all the horror stories that do make it out of the darkness–Abu Gahraib, Pat Tillman, civilian murders, rape, the war crimes tomh described above, etc., usually only after extraordinary efforts to uncover them–I see no basis to have the sort of faith in the military BJ, Craw, and others seem to hold.

  14. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted September 15, 2017 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    I absolutely agree with PCC on this.

    Jones served a massively long sentence for her crime, she’s paid for it. Now her admission should depend on merit and not some cowardly assessment by the top brass of ‘what would (might) the media say?’

    As for Bradley Manning, if one of her natural political enemies wants to cancel his talk in a huff that’s surely his affair. The Institute of Politics has also invited Trump’s Press Secretary and his campaign manager to be visiting fellows so the criteria for selection are obviously not very rigorous, in fact a degree of notoriety seems to be a positive attribute.

    cr

  15. Posted September 16, 2017 at 1:03 am | Permalink

    If you agree how Harvard treated Manning, at least read Trevor Timm’s op-ed piece on the issue in Saturday’s New York Times.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 16, 2017 at 3:21 am | Permalink

      Glad to see the other side of the coin presented.

      Mr. Morrell, in his resignation letter, quoted unnamed officials claiming Ms.
      Manning “put the lives of U.S. soldiers at risk,” without citing any specific examples.
      This is a common charge against her, and an unfounded one: The evidence of
      “damage” from Ms. Manning’s leaks has been grossly exaggerated from the start.
      During her trial, the government could not point to anyone, soldier or otherwise,
      who was physically harmed by WikiLeaks’ publications. Even at the time of the leaks,
      State Department officials were privately admitting that administration officials
      were exaggerating the harm the leaks caused to bolster their case.

      And also the list of important revelations her leaking brought to light.

    • Craw
      Posted September 16, 2017 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      I found it histrionic and emotive, with few facts. Timms complains for example that Pompeo “unilaterally ” declared Manning a traitor. That’s just a freighted word tossed in for emotional reaction. You unilaterally linked to Timms, Manning unilaterally leaked, I am unilaterally pointing this out.
      Timms says prosecution did not give a name of anyone put at risk, as if this proves there were none. It proves only the government did not want to exacerbate the risks. Timms claims the CIA pressured Harvard; he cites no evidence. What happened is that a man who works for the CIA acted as a citizen and raised his voice. Timms says Harvard has disinvited Manning. This is misleading at best: they have withdrawn the title of Fellow but not rescinded the invitation to visit and to speak.

      • BJ
        Posted September 16, 2017 at 9:28 am | Permalink

        Couldn’t have said it better myself.

      • tomh
        Posted September 16, 2017 at 9:37 am | Permalink

        “It proves only the government did not want to exacerbate the risks.”

        Only in your imagination. The Pentagon desperately tried to tie deaths to the leaks, to the extent that general Carr initially told the judge that there had been an individual killed in Afghanistan as a result of the publication. “As a result of the Afghan logs I know of one individual killed,” Carr said. But under cross-examination Carr conceded that the victim’s name was not in the leaked documents, and the reference to the alleged killing was scrubbed from the official record. It wasn’t for lack of effort by the Pentagon that no deaths were ever tied to the leaks.

        • Craw
          Posted September 16, 2017 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

          Did you notice I said risks? If I fire a gun in the air, run a red light, break a quarantine, I present risks to others and am culpable even if no-one is injured. The released information put the identities of certain persons at risk of exposure. Happily at least some were not in fact exposed. Identifying those persons in court, either by name or indirectly would expose them to still more risk.

          • BJ
            Posted September 16, 2017 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

            Not to mention that, even if intelligence assets have been captured or killed due to what she released, it’s nigh-impossible to connect it to the release of the documents. Intelligence assets working under or within dictatorships are captured and killed all the time. Often, they just go dark, and the intelligence community doesn’t know if it’s because they dropped off the grid for their own safety, or because they were found by the regime.

            We’ll never concretely tie deaths to Manning’s documents because it’s basically impossible to do so. But it’s certainly the best guess that people — people who were fighting awful forces for the good of their people, like the Taliban, Mugabe, etc. — have been tortured and executed because of what Manning did. And Manning not only doesn’t seem to care, but sees it as an opportunity for fame and money.

            • tomh
              Posted September 16, 2017 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

              Well, you’re doing a lot of guessing, including reading the mind of Chelsea Manning, guessing about what she cares about and what her motivations are. Yet we don’t have to guess about the murders of civilians committed by the military because the information was leaked. But the murders don’t seem to count for some people, it’s more important to punish those who expose the crimes.

              • Craw
                Posted September 16, 2017 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

                You are the one reading minds, and wrongly. I said risks, and you said only in my imagination and talked about deaths. That’s reading my mind and not my words. Will you admit your error in that?

            • Craw
              Posted September 16, 2017 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

              And who knows how many future sources were lost by people who want to help against the Taliban or ISIS but now (rationally and reasonably) do not trust us to keep their identity secret. Who would have joined the maquis had the BBC recited their names?

              • BJ
                Posted September 16, 2017 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

                I don’t think BBC was around when Star Trek: DS9 and Voyager took place

                🙂

            • tomh
              Posted September 17, 2017 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

              @ Craw
              It doesn’t take a mind reader to see that your speculations are full of guesswork. There might be risks, there could be this, maybe there’s that. Manning exposed facts of horrific crimes that were systematically covered up by her superiors, no guesswork involved. Unsurprisingly, these embarrassed superiors stuck her in prison for 35 years.

  16. tomh
    Posted September 16, 2017 at 2:15 am | Permalink

    @ #13
    “The only thing that has been rescinded is the honor of being named a fellow”

    Oh, it’s an honor all right, one shared by such luminaries as professional liar Sean Spicer, Benghazi lunatic Jason Chaffetz, Trump lackey Corey Lewandowski, and a few other minor-league right wing nut jobs. She should be embarrassed to be anywhere near that group.

    • BJ
      Posted September 16, 2017 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      So…the only contention you have is that you personally don’t feel it’s an honor? That’s fine, but it’s something anyone who ever receives it puts on their resume and often has announced about them in pamphlets and introductions when they visit other places forever after. It’s certainly treated as an honor, and most people see it that way.

      • Craw
        Posted September 16, 2017 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

        Hence the objection to Sean Spicer.

        I heard John Dean speak at the local university in 1975. He was invited. He wasn’t given honorifics.

  17. Diane G.
    Posted September 16, 2017 at 3:21 am | Permalink

    Take heart, Ms. Jones, Harvard was wrong about Carl Sagan, too.

  18. Posted September 16, 2017 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    I think that some readers of the Jones piece in the NY Times have been misled by the use of the words “withdrew” and “rescind” in the online headlines and the in-print “The Conversation Notes” (part of the news index). If you read the reported article carefully, it seems that she was never given an offer of admission, and thus nothing was rescinded or withdrawn. Rather, the recommendation of the department was nixed at a higher level, before she was accepted. I think this changes how one might view Harvard’s actions in this case. Had she been offered admission, then, barring some new and unexpected evidence regarding her application, she should be admitted. If she was never offered admission, then the question is a rather different one.

    As regards Manning, I’ve read both Andrew Sullivan and Trevor Timm’s analyses; I’m persuaded by Andrew.

    • tomh
      Posted September 16, 2017 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      I wonder what persuades you. He makes false claims throughout, such as, “her leaks led to the deaths of many Afghans,” and his most damning indictment of her seems to be that “she has no class.”

      • Posted September 16, 2017 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

        Really, you found the claim that Manning has no class damning? I didn’t even notice it. What I found damning is that Manning is a remorseless felon, who– whether successfully or not, as BJ notes under 12 above– recklessly endangered the lives and well-being of many others; who has no evident insights, and little expertise, in the matters at hand; and whose actions, as Andrew notes, lend credence to and deliberately advance the worst stereotypical attacks on gays in the military.

  19. fizziks
    Posted September 16, 2017 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Harvard cares about the heat from Fox News and conservative bloggers now? Where was that humility when they banned students from participating in off campus clubs in their private time?

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted September 16, 2017 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      They haven’t banned students from participating in off-campus clubs. Such a ban has been proposed by a faculty committee, but has not been enacted. Nor is it clear that it will be enacted; although the administration is sympathetic, some prominent faculty members are opposed to it, and it’s by no means a done deal.


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