Follow Up Post, Michael Behenna

Former Army 1LT Michael Behenna was paroled four months ago from the US Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, KS.  You’ll remember that he was convicted by General Court-Martial of 2nd degree murder, and sentenced ultimately to 15 years.  He served 5 years of that sentence before parole.*  The Daily Oklahoman caught up with him to see how and what he’s doing these days.  He’s a ranch hand.  From the article:

It stung that the military courts didn’t believe his self-defense claim against what he said was a known Al Qaeda operative.

“That kind of stuff is so poisonous to the mind,” he said. “It can consume you. I had to commit myself to something so I wouldn’t go crazy.”

So, he read. Hundreds of books. Often pouring through 500 pages in a day. Each book had to help him better himself.

He started with Nelson Mandela’s memoir. He learned Spanish. He developed a passion for agriculture.

But it was the works of two mid-20th Century philosophers and spiritualists, G.I. Gurdjieff and P.D. Ouspensky, that Behenna says saved him. The two men preached about the importance of being self-aware, of probing one’s own mental consciousness to gain a better understanding of the world.

Reading the article, it seems as if a less callow and far more thoughtful man emerged from prison than went in.  The article does briefly describe his case but stays well away from the politics, as it appears that Behenna himself is doing in his now quiet life in Medford, Oklahoma-blink and you’ll miss it sized town that it is.  Good for him.


*Liberal parole is a feature of the military justice system. All offenders are first time offenders and running a prison system is not what DoD is organized to do, so the bias in the system is for parole as early as possible.  Chelsea Manning will likely spend a total of about nine to ten years of her 35-year sentence once the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed.

Open Thread

61 replies
  1. 1
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    Regardless of the circumstances of the crime and trial, it’s always fascinating to read about a prisoner who used his time in such life-changing ways.

  2. 2
    shelley says:

    For months now, there’s always at least three books based on the Disney movie ‘Frozen’ in Amazon’s top 100. Sometimes more. What diabolical hold does this flick hold on today’s youth?

  3. 3
    elmo says:

    Reading the article, it seems as if a less callow and far more thoughtful man emerged from prison than went in.

    That was my take on it as well. The guy did a terrible thing in a swamp of terrible things. I’m glad the military didn’t look the other way, but I’m also glad he has a life left and the determination to build anew. I’m not a big believer in endless retribution masquerading as “justice.”

  4. 4
    Rob in CT says:

    Briefly: holy shit, Market Basket. I think I love this story. CEO does right by employees & customers. Greedy bastard cousins want to turn the (already quite profitable) company into more of a profit center for its owners and he resists, so they oust him. Mayhem ensues. Protests, employee disruption, employees, including managers, fired, etc.

  5. 5
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    Repeated from this morning’s dead thread:

    No-kill cat shelter in Pittsboro NC in danger of closing.

    They’re in a battle with a RWNJ neighbor and couldn’t do their annual spring fundraisers. The vet bills are piling up, and they are having trouble meeting payroll. They put out an urgent beg for donations on their FB page this morning. As usual, it wouldn’t take much from each person if we could get enough people donating. Any help, financial or publicity, would be appreciated.

    (The problem with the neighbor is a not-exactly-legal gun range he built on his property. Kind of hard to hold the fundraisers with a constant backdrop of gunfire. The range is shut down for now, but the damage is already done.)

  6. 6
    Rob in CT says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism:

    The problem with the neighbor is a not-exactly-legal gun range he built on his property

    Because of course it is. ‘Murica!

  7. 7
    Punchy says:

    of probing one’s own mental consciousness to gain a better understanding of the world.

    Perhaps it’s because I dont own a B.S. in Spiritualism from UTenn Chatty, but this really sounds like a word salad and whole large steaming pile of nothingburger.

  8. 8
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Rob in CT: If it had been for his own use, it would have been legal. Maybe. Noise ordinance violations is what finally got it shut down.

    But on top of that, he was selling memberships, basically running a business without permits. I was hoping that would do him in, but yanno. ‘Murica.

  9. 9
    MattF says:

    I’m not so sure that becoming a fan of Ouspensky is good news, but you can decide for yourself:

  10. 10
    KG says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism: they should sue his ass for nuisance and lost business/income. because, funny thing, you can’t actually do whatever the fuck you want on your own property when it starts to fuck with your neighbors’ own quiet enjoyment. there’s got to be a public interest firm or organization that would be willing to take their case.

  11. 11
    Violet says:

    @Rob in CT: I have no idea what you’re talking about. Link?

  12. 12
    Mnemosyne says:


    Meh. I don’t get too fussy about what gets people through the day, as long as they’re not inflicting it on other people or trying to get laws passed that force everyone else to follow the same belief system.

    If you ever see it, the documentary Hell House ends up being unexpectedly poignant because one of the guys they focus on is a single dad with four kids — two of whom are disabled — whose wife left him and ran off with another guy. If he didn’t have the help of the local megachurch for psychological support and childcare, he probably would have shot himself in the head long since. So I can be upset at the church for preying on a guy who desperately needs their support, but I can’t get upset with the person who needs that support.

  13. 13
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @KG: They were looking back when the range first opened. I’m not privy to all the details, so I don’t know if they found someone.

  14. 14
    Belafon says:

    @shelley: The only Disney princesses that are more kick butt than those two are Leia and Black Widow (technically she’s not a princess, but who cares). And the resolution at the end didn’t depend on one of them falling in love with a man.

  15. 15
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Violet: He’s talking about a decades-long dispute between cousins over a grocery store chain. The one who doesn’t want to turn the chain into Wal-Mart has been ousted as CEO. Employees have walked off the job in protest; customers are boycotting the stores.

  16. 16
    Trollhattan says:

    About that. Not to derail the thread completely but there’s a cult in the area–a frealz cult with a walled compound and weird autocratic charismatic figurehead leader–that is based on Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. Ladies and germs, the Fellowship of Friends

    There’s even some sort of Wikileaks kerfuffle regarding them.

  17. 17
    gogol's wife says:


    You can’t derail it, it’s open. Apropos of which — Newsmax: “Catholic League’s Donohue: Christians Mean Little to Obama.”

  18. 18
    Violet says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism: Ah, okay. Thanks. I’ve never heard of Market Basket. Didn’t know what it was.

  19. 19
    Belafon says:

    @gogol’s wife: Given that Obama considers himself to be a Christian, how does that work again? (Yes, this is rhetorical, since they neither use logic nor consider him a Christian.)

  20. 20
    The Red Pen says:

    He read Ouspensky? That’s some dense text.

    Every time some born-yesterday tries to get me to some book that they are sure will convert me to their evangelical cult, I agree only if they agree to read Ouspensky’s Tertium Organum.

    They bring it back the next day and concede defeat.

  21. 21
    MattF says:

    @gogol’s wife: Yeah, Obummer said something positive about Muslims without a ‘balancing’ statement accusing Muslims of being homicidal maniacs. Impeach!

  22. 22
    Punchy says:

    Hooooooly shit. Never, ever thought I’d see the day that the House wont throw props to the sitting Pontif because he’s “too liberal”. WOW.

  23. 23
    Rob in CT says:


    Sorry, yeah, kind of a local New England (and Northern New England at that) thing. I live in CT, have relatives in NH, and so forth, so it’s on my radar.

    I find it very interesting that when a CEO (who is of course rich himself) treats his workforce (and apparently customers) well, they respond with, ya know, loyalty and suchlike. When you treat them like dirt, not so much. Not that this should be surprising, but it’s very much against the grain of the past, what, 30 years?

  24. 24
    Yatsuno says:

    @Punchy: Never forget: Peak Wingnut is a lie. There is no depravity they won’t stoop to as long as THAT ONE occupies their White House.

  25. 25
    JPL says:

    @Violet: The Boston Globe has been reporting about the dispute. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have supported the employees, including the wanna be senator of New Hampshire, Scott Brown. His support was measured though.

  26. 26
    Yatsuno says:

    @Rob in CT: Wall Street demands more Wal-Marts & fewer Costcos. Because CEOs must have that house in the Hamptons & their employees on public assistance because profit uber alles.

  27. 27
    Joe Buck says:

    I am skeptical that Chelsea Manning will get the standard treatment. They will probably say, when the time for her parole comes up, that since she is unrepentant and may still know secret stuff that she should be denied parole. And since the bulk of Manning’s leaks concerned State Department cable traffic, much of it on Hillary Clinton’s watch, I think we can be sure that Manning will not be freed as long as HRC is in office.

  28. 28
    Trollhattan says:

    Jerry Brown hates HOAs.

    But because of the new law, someone living in Redhawk, which Garnett noted has about 97 percent compliance with its turf regulations, could stop watering and the HOA would not be able to do anything about it.

    “Overall, I don’t think it’s a very sound decision and I hope that it is somewhat modified,” he said, noting that just one unkempt home on a block can depress surrounding property values.

  29. 29
    KG says:

    @Trollhattan: HOAs are the worst embodiment of democracy in action.

  30. 30
    steve says:


    Reads like psuedo-intellectual garbage. Could definitely see a cult emerging out of that kind of stuff.

  31. 31
    MattF says:

    @Punchy: One is tempted to remind them that the Pope is Catholic. And that a bear will shit in the woods.

  32. 32
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Trollhattan: awesome. Jerry Brown is the best.

  33. 33
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Trollhattan: The proper response is, “Propping up your property value is not my problem.”

  34. 34
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    When filling out your profile at a temp agency and running into the question, “Identify 3 bulleted highlights about yourself that make you stand out from all other candidates. These work best if you make them about measurable accomplishments instead of general character traits, such as ‘Boosted Productivity $4 Million/yr’,” is it acceptable to answer, “Conducted research that indicated that those who rely on bulletpoint lists of highlights are 34% less likely to hire good candidates?”

    Of course, it turned out that each bullet point was limited to 38 characters, so I need to work on shortening that.

  35. 35
    Belafon says:

    @Joe Buck: Chelsea repented.

  36. 36
    dmsilev says:

    There should be a prize for squeezing this much crazy in this small a space:

    This is a man-caused disaster, and the man that caused it is Barack Obama with his DOCA policy, with his Morton Memos and the advertisement that has been such a huge magnet that have caused these families to give their daughters birth control pills and send them down a rape path all the way through Mexico, and it’s a death path on the death train.

    That’s Steve King, R-Crazytown, who came just one small Benghazi away from hitting Wingnut Bingo in a single sentence.

  37. 37
    steve says:


    Actually I take that back after skimming a few chapters of his book…it reads like a college sophomore trying to be deep about the philosophy of science. And without the benefit of the later insights of Hempel, Oppenheim, Popper, the post-positivists, the post-modernists, Kuhn, and the entire philosophy of language.

  38. 38
    catclub says:

    @dmsilev: Could the Morton Memos be written by Gordon Geckos?


    and it’s a death path on the death train.

    Tramps like us,
    Baby we were born to run.

  39. 39
    KG says:

    @dmsilev: there is a prize… it’s a seat in the House of Representatives.

  40. 40
    Violet says:

    @Punchy: It’s all about THAT ONE being in the White House. From your link:

    The Republican source told The Hill that some GOP members think Pope Francis is “sounding like [President] Obama. [The pope] talks about equality — he actually used the term ‘trickle-down economics,’ which is politically charged.”

  41. 41
    Belafon says:

    @steve: So it reads like something written before the works you listed. I wonder if any of them were influenced by it.

  42. 42
    SatanicPanic says:

    @dmsilev: Reading that just broke my brain. I need a nap now.

  43. 43
    Violet says:

    @Rob in CT: Interesting story. Thanks for linking it. I think the pendulum has already begun to swing back towards workers’ rights and against CEOs and corporations. It’s barely started to swing but we’re seeing things like this and people are angry with giant corporations. Glad there’s a protest and boycott.

  44. 44
    dmsilev says:

    @catclub: I hadn’t heard of the Morton Memos, but a brief Google revealed that they were the set of guidelines the Immigration service issued a few years ago giving ‘prosecutorial discretion’ on things like deportation. Needless to say, the right wing had their own …special interpretation. AMNESTY FOR ILLEAGLE IMMMIIGRANTTS!

  45. 45
    Cassidy says:

    @Joe Buck: She has zero input.

  46. 46
    chopper says:


    and send them down a rape path all the way through Mexico, and it’s a death path on the death train

    worst. misfits. song. ever.

  47. 47
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:


    But par for the course on a Danzig solo album.

  48. 48
    Glocksman says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism:

    Considering that the board hired a former Radio Shack President to be Chief Administrative Officer, I look for the company to take a long slow slide downhill.

    After all, Radio Shack isn’t exactly known for its profitability and prospects and running a grocery chain isn’t exactly the same as running a tech and hobby business.

  49. 49
    Roger Moore says:


    Wall Street demands more Wal-Marts & fewer Costcos. Because CEOs must have that house in the Hamptons & their employees on public assistance because profit uber alles.

    It isn’t even about profit, since Costco is plenty profitable. It’s about proving that the boss is completely in charge by extending his power into every aspect of the employees’ lives. They seem to care a lot more about that power relationship than they do about profit and loss.

  50. 50
    Nethead Jay says:

    Hey Sooner, good to see you around. Did you see your senator Coburn’s comments yesterday on the VA bill and the Tulsa facility: Building a Taj Mahal when they should be building a medical clinic. I figured somebody would have to scrape you off the ceiling…

  51. 51
    Ruviana says:

    @Rob in CT: I’m a born and raised Southern Californian(Ohmigod!) and I remember Market Basket from my misspent youth in the fifties and sixties. Perhaps it was here for awhile and then withdrew or maybe a different company with the name (used to happen if regions were far apart).

  52. 52
    Rob in CT says:

    @Roger Moore:

    MB is profitable, but shareholders (in this case, family members who add up to 50.5% of share ownership) wanted more. And more and more and more. Always more. It’s never enough.

  53. 53
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Nethead Jay: When you know that Coburn would rather the VA not exist (and Vets should just go away and find their own health insurance) it makes perfect sense.

  54. 54
    burnspbesq says:


    The Market Basket that was around in SoCal in the late 70s/early 80s (I shopped at the one on Wilshire just west of the 405 when I lived in that area my last year in law school) was a different animal. It was ultimately bought by Kroger, who converted some of the stores to Ralph’s and sold the rest. The NE Market Basket was formerly known by the family name, and I don’t know when the name was changed, but probably some time after Kroger stopped using the Market Basket name out here.

  55. 55
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Glocksman: It’s actually taking a fast plummet off a cliff.

    Business specialists have warned that the value of Market Basket will continue to plummet if the Demoulas family and company directors do not reach a resolution within days.”

  56. 56
    steve says:


    Some stuff written before those works (e.g. Kant) is still worth reading. Some isn’t. This isn’t. Even if it was influential to later/better thinkers. And I seriously doubt it given the sophomoric quality of the analysis. The state of philosophy in 1910 is not an excuse for this sort of writing.

  57. 57
    StringOnAStick says:

    @Trollhattan: Heh. I was president of an HOA once; 2 hellish years and a gall bladder I will never get back.

    As for property values; well, people can be obscenely stupid. I went to a city meeting last night about a proposed traffic calming project in our neighborhood. The short story is that there is a wide residential street through our middle class ‘hood that the rich ‘hood up the road has to use to get to their ‘hood. The speed limit is 25; the study shows the average is 45 with a top measured speed of 68. The city wants to reduce it from 45 feet wide to 22 feet of lanes with vegetated islands to change it from a ruler-straight roadway into something narrow and curvy, since modern traffic science says this is what slows down drivers. All logical so far, yes?

    After the plan presentation comes the comment period. The local resident/realtor first uses the “wow, it is so great we are doing so well that they city can afford to throw money away on this” passive-aggressive construct, and then he proposes the solution: make the street narrower and give the residents the excess land so they’ll have bigger back yards since they are so small now that “they don’t sell well”. Yes, giving city land away should be a slam dunk. Moron. What the city is proposing makes perfect sense engineering-wise.

    Unfortunately to make this project happen, by city ordinance we have to get petitions signed by 60% of “affected” households, and the majority of those considered affected are in the rich ‘hood. They came out in force last night to rail against the idea since their ability to speed through our ‘hood is much more important than our kids, the 2 school bus stops on this street, and our lousy middle class asses. Eat the rich!

  58. 58
    Yatsuno says:

    @Roger Moore: The really sad thing is it’s not really an either/or proposition. They want the control AND more hookers & blow.

  59. 59
    Mnemosyne says:


    Is it possible to get speed bumps installed without their permission, or do you need a petition for that, too?

  60. 60
    Paul in KY says:

    Lt Behenna should have been executed, IMO. He was an officer & under no circumstances can you have your junior officers engaged in extra-judicial summary executions. What kind of example do you set when you let this murderer off with what amounts to a slap on the wrist?

    Actions like his probably stemmed from seeing previous incidents where the perpetrators were not brought to justice. That’s why it has to be harshly nipped in the bud, via the firing squad.

  61. 61
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Paul in KY: The military hasn’t executed anyone since the hanging of Army PFC John A. Bennett, on 13 April 1961, for the rape and attempted murder of an 11-year-old Austrian girl.
    Every single capital case that has made it to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces has resulted in the CAAF altering (or ordering a lower tribunal to alter) the death penalty to life without parole. Usually for ineffective assistance of counsel in the penalty phase.
    Behenna was originally sentenced by General Court-Martial to 40 years, and this was reduced by the Convening Authority to 25 years and further reduced by the Army Pardon and Parole Board to 15 years.

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