MSgt. Michael Silva has spent more than three years in prison on rape charges that the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals has since set aside. Yet he remains imprisoned at Fort Leavenworth with no updates from the USAF on when he will be released or what the service intends to do with his case.

Silva’s conviction was tossed out because the Court could not certify that the evidence against him, and particularly the way it was used, could sustain his guilt. In our system, the absence of guilt equals innocence. Hence, Mike Silva is today an innocent man. The fact he remains locked in a prison cell 32 days after the court set aside his conviction is an outrageous injustice and a frightening abuse of power. The Air Force apparently does not feel itself bound by the rulings of its own courts.

What compounds the outrage is the despicable and duplicitous false assurances of the Air Force’s public relations machine. In the wake of Silva’s conviction being set aside, spokeswoman Brooke Brzozowske announced — albeit in a grossly biased article that tried unsuccessfully to pass itself off as journalism — that the service had 30 days to make its decision about Silva. The first question is why it would be acceptable on any moral register to use all 30 days to make a manifestly obvious decision to free an innocent man. The second question is why the USAF would take even more than 30 days to make such a decision.

No word from Brzozowske on Day 32 on how many more days she believes the service should have to doddle cynically while a wrongly convicted SNCO with an otherwise impeccable service record sits rotting in a jail cell.

But let’s not personalize this. She is speaking for the entire Air Force.

You, me, our Chief of Staff, our Secretary, our CMSAF … we are all represented by this and we are all stained and dishonored by it. This is not representative of the values we have all fought and persevered to uphold and preserve.

The Air Force’s “legal” system is rotten to the core. No justice, no answers, no face, no accountability. It is a silent, black pillar of bureaucratic corruption. It has no heroes. It neither affirms nor validates any worthy principle. Here, it has lost an opportunity to demonstrate fairness and integrity — two things upon which any legal system depends to sustain itself.

Mike Silva needs to be freed immediately, with apologies and back pay. A very large and committed bleacher section filled with educated and worthy and attentive fans watches impatiently for the outcome that follows naturally from a verdict already rendered.

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