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Chelsea Manning after her transition (United States Army); Evan Liberty on the job as a Blackwater security guard in Iraq. (Courtesy photo)

Halfway through my recent vacation in Key Largo, Fla., I received word that oral arguments had been held on Jan. 17 in Washington for a true Rochester hero, Evan Liberty, who has been imprisoned since April 2015 for his alleged role in the so-called Nisur Square massacre in Baghdad in 2007.

This supreme travesty of justice has been exhaustively covered in The Lebanon Voice, including an article on Thursday about the recent appellate court hearing.

Ironically, on that Jan. 17, a Tuesday, I was traveling by train through Washington en route to Miami as train travel has always been a favorite of mine, having even worked as a train attendant on Amtrak for three years back in the 1980s.

When I learned Evan's appeal hearing was on the very day I was enjoying the start of my vacation to the Sunshine State - even passing through the city where this dog and pony show was being played out - I felt a little less joy, almost a tinge of guilt.

Evan, who had risked his life to protect our country's diplomats as they tried to help Iraq after the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime, was still in a federal prison in Pennsylvania, while most Americans appeared unfazed about this miscarriage of justice, which also resulted in the imprisonment of three other Blackwater guards.

Meanwhile, I was sipping on red wine in a sleeping compartment headed toward the warm waters of Key Largo.

But if I feel even a tinge of guilt, I'd hate to be any of those federal judges who must know their prosecution of this case is pathetic, filled with vitriol and clearly vindictive.

If there isn't reasonable doubt that these four men believed they were in a firefight in Nisur Square that day, then there's no reasonable doubt that the sun don't rise every day just because it's cloudy.

And the irony goes so much farther. President Obama and his Dept. of Justice and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were front and center behind the scenes during the seven-year prosecutorial labyrinth that played out in the swamp that is DC.

So it was fitting that the oral arguments in the appeal Jan. 17 played out during Obama's final days as our failing president after Hillary Clinton was rejected as his replacement in November.

But Obama still was able to add some insult to the injury, pardoning Bradley/Chelsea Manning the very day his cronies at DOJ were continuing to stick it to Evan.

The former Bradley Manning, once an Army intelligence analyst, was convicted of a 2010 leak that revealed American military and diplomatic activities across the world, putting many of our operatives lives and our national security at risk.

The transgendered Chelsea Manning won't be freed till May, a senior administration official telling the New York Times one reason was so they could find a place for her to live.

The pardon by Obama, the Times went on, "rescued Ms. Manning, who twice tried to kill herself last year, from an uncertain future as a transgender woman incarcerated at the men's military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan."

So the government's going to take some time to find Ms. Manning a nice, safe place to live, while Evan serves out his 30-year prison term at FCI Schuykill in Minersville, Pa.

We should all feel a tinge of guilt.

If you feel Evan and the three other Blackwater guards deserve justice, The Lebanon Voice asks you to contact your Congressmen and President.

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