In prison, Manning was far from the furor he’d set off. He had a few visitors. For a time, Manning’s father was one of them—he apparently wanted a relationship after all. For father and son, though, prison was not a place to grow close. “We talk pretty much all technical talk, and I was quite amazed at how he was current with it,” Brian Manning told me. “He was giving me some advice.” For Bradley, the conversation was little comfort, and two months ago, he took his father off his visiting list. “It’s complicated,” was Bradley’s explanation. His mum managed to visit once from Wales. But she was another stranger. They didn’t have that much to say to one another, and for part of the visit, she just stared at him.
It wasn’t long ago that Manning had imagined a bright future for himself. At Fort Drum, as the rest of his platoon slept, he typed into the night. He might “jump into politics,” he told ZJ casually. His plans were “vague,” but he was determined to have an impact. He assured her that after he got out of the Army, “im planning on breaking out in all directions.” Manning, now 23, faces 52 years in prison, and perhaps the death penalty. But in other ways, his reach is longer, his footprint wider than he could have ever dreamed. He’s already broken out.