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.