Leavenworth prison: Bradley Manning was sentenced on Wednesday by a military judge to 35 years in prison after having been convicted of espionage for leaking classified U.S. military and diplomatic materials to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks in 2010. “Manning, 25, likely will be moved to the Army’s central prison in Ft. Leavenworth, Kan. In the months ahead, his attorneys plan to file appeals against his conviction and petition for his release,” reported the Los Angeles Times on Aug. 21, 2013.
In addition to his lawyer’s appeals, Bradley Manning wrote a letter to President Obama requesting pardon. Bradley Manning’s letter was read by Bradley Manning’s defense attorney David Coombs following Manning’s sentencing on Wednesday.
When listening to David Coombs read Bradley Manning’s letter or reading the letter’s text in print form, it is evident that Bradley Manning is not trying to avoid Leavenworth prison but that he is more than willing to stand behind freedom; even if that freedom comes with a price.
“If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have a country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal."
During Wednesday’s sentencing, the judge did not explicitly say that Bradley Manning would be serving his “price” at Leavenworth prison. However, Bradley Manning’s attorney confirmed that Bradley Manning was going there.
Leavenworth prison, or known as Fort Leavenworth, is America’s most famous military prison and it is not unknown to Bradley Manning since he has already spent time there. Leavenworth prison has changed from a once-imposing stone edifice to a modern building looking like a community college. In fact, reading the Leavenworth prison handbook does remind one more of a community college than a prison despite the fact that inmates are required to do hard work.
Besides the educational opportunities offered at Leavenworth prison, 25-year-old Bradley Manning will have another opportunity to pursue one of his interests – history. Fort Leavenworth was built as a first prison by the military in the 1870’s and was called “The Castle”. For decades, Leavenworth prison held as many as 1,500 prisoners. Today, there are only 515 beds.
In his letter to President Obama, Bradley Manning states that he understands that his actions “violated the law.” However, Bradley Manning also mentions “the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, and the Japanese-American internment camps.”
Facing 35 years in Leavenworth prison, Bradley Manning reminds President Obama of the words spoken by the late Howard Zinn. “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”
Will Obama answer Bradley Manning’s letter and his request for pardon?