The Tragedy of the USS Liberty and the Israeli and United States cover-up!
October 27, 2007 5 Comments
A former Navy attorney who helped lead the military investigation of the 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty that killed 34 American servicemen says former President Lyndon Johnson and his defense secretary, Robert McNamara, ordered that the inquiry conclude the incident was an accident.
In a signed affidavit released at a Capitol Hill news conference, retired Capt. Ward Boston said Johnson and McNamara told those heading the Navy’s inquiry to “conclude that the attack was a case of ‘mistaken identity’ despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”
Retired Admiral Thomas Moorer was chief of naval operations at the time of the attack and was a former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman. He spent a year investigating the attack and is quoted as saying, “It was one of the classic all American cover ups”. He has also been quoted as saying, “Anybody who couldn’t identify the [USS] Liberty could not tell the difference between the White House and the Washington Monument!”
According to a senior Israeli pilot, he recognized the Liberty as an American ship immediately and informed his Israeli headquarters. He was then told to ignore the American flag and continue his attack. He refused to do so and returned to base, where he was arrested.
Later, a dual-citizen Israeli major told survivors that he was in an Israeli war room where he heard that pilot’s radio report. The attacking pilots and everyone in the Israeli war room knew that they were attacking an American ship, the major said. He recanted the statement only after he received threatening phone calls from Israel.
The pilot’s protests also were heard by radio monitors in the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon. Then-U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dwight Porter has confirmed this. Porter told his story to syndicated columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak and offered to submit to further questioning by authorities. Unfortunately, no one in the U.S. government has any interest in hearing these first-person accounts of Israeli treachery.
Attacked by the Jewish state for over an hour with more than 800 rockets, tens of thousands of armor-piercing shells, napalm and 5 torpedoes. As a result of Israel’s actions 34 American men died, 171 were wounded, and what’s worse is the fact that for the last 40 years the survivors have told a version of what happened that does not jibe in anyway with the pathetic excuses offered by the attackers for the event.
It was a on a clear afternoon, June 8, 1967, that Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) bombarded the Liberty, in international waters, 13 miles off the coast of the Sinai Peninsula, and tried to sink it and kill all 294 American on board the spy ship. They did so after several hours of close reconnaissance of the vessel. The Israelis have falsely claimed it was all just an “accident,” since they thought they were attacking an Egyptian vessel.
Thanks to Peter Hounam’s expose, “Operation Cyanide,” more light has recently been shed on the Liberty controversy. The author, a veteran investigative reporter, believes the murderous Israeli attack was a set up to blame the Egyptians and to bring the U.S. into the 1967 Six Day War on their side. The Liberty was an easy target for the Israeli jet planes, which were loaded with rockets, napalm and machine guns, too. Couple that with the repeated attacks on the vessel by their death-dealing motor torpedo boats. The bloodbath, a War Crime, by any fair standard, lasted for over 75 lethal minutes, killing 34 brave Americans and seriously wounding 174 others.
Question: Why didn’t the U.S. retaliate against the Israelis? According to Hounam, the White House knew within minutes of the Liberty attack, that the perpetrator was really Israel. On two separate occasions, the White House recalled aircraft rescue missions for the Liberty.
On the last attempt, President Lyndon B. Johnson told Rear-Admiral Lawrence Geis of the Sixth Fleet, “I WILL NOT EMBARRASS OUR ALLY.” The Liberty was then left “dead in the water,” without any assistance for over 16 hours. Hounam was also quoted as saying, “Sinking the Liberty and blaming Egypt and the Soviets would have freed Johnson’s hand to do almost anything–even to drop an atomic bomb on Cairo. Trouble only arose when the Israel operation failed and the…ship stayed afloat”.
From the beginning, a cover-up of what really happened to the Liberty was put in place at the highest level of government. One of the men who is alleged to have played a role in that cover-up was none other than the father of U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)–the late Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., Sen. McCain, like others in the mostly cowardly U.S. Congress, has refused to champion a full and public Congressional inquiry into the Liberty affair.
Hounam also disclosed some inside stuff on the “303 Committee.” It was working on a project called, “Frontlet 615.” It was later described as: “A secret political agreement in 1966, by which Israel and the U.S. had vowed to destroy [Egypt’s Gamal Abdel] Nasser.” The military name for the operation was, “Operation Cyanide.” At the time all of this was going down, LBJ’s popularity was hitting rock bottom because of the quagmire that was the Vietnam War.
Why did the Johnson administration act in this manner and why did they suppress any investigation into this needless slaughter by the Israeli government. This may very well lay with the power of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Their power is clearly demonstrated in its ability to suppress what occurred on June 8th, 1967 and the attack on the USS Liberty.
* Israel deliberately attacked the intelligence collection ship USS Liberty, in full awareness it was a U.S. Navy ship, and did its best to sink it and leave no survivors;
* The Israelis would have succeeded had they not broken off the attack upon learning, from an intercepted message, that the commander of the U.S. 6th Fleet had launched carrier fighters to the scene; and
* By that time, 34 of the Liberty’s crew had been killed and over 170 wounded.
Scores of intelligence analysts and senior officials have known this for years. That virtually all of them have kept a 40-year frightened silence is testament to the widespread fear of touching this live wire.
Even more telling is the fact that the National Security Agency destroyed voice tapes seen by many intelligence analysts, showing beyond doubt that the Israelis knew exactly what they were doing.
But the truth will come out — eventually. All it took in this case is for a courageous journalist (of the endangered species kind) to listen to the surviving crew and do a little basic research, not shrinking from naming war crimes and not letting senior U.S. officials, from the president on down off the hook for suppressing — even destroying — unimpeachable evidence from intercepted Israeli communications.
What else we know
John Crewdson’s meticulously documented article, together with the 57 pages that James Bamford devotes to the incident in Body of Secrets and recent confessions by those who played a role in the cover-up, paint a picture that the surviving crew of the USS Liberty can only find infuriating.
The evidence, from intercepted communications as well as testimony, of Israeli deliberate intent is unimpeachable, even though the Israelis continue to portray it as just a terrible mistake.
Crewdson refers to U.S. Navy Capt. Ward Boston, who was the Navy lawyer appointed as senior counsel to Adm. Isaac C. Kidd, named by Adm. John S. McCain to “inquire into all the facts and circumstances.” (Yes, the father of presidential hopeful, Sen. John McCain.)
The fact that they were given only one week to gather evidence and were forbidden to contact the Israelis screams out “cover-up.”
Capt. Boston, now 84, signed a formal declaration on Jan. 8, 2004, in which he described himself as “outraged at the efforts of the apologists for Israel in this country to claim that this attack was a case of ‘mistaken identity.'” Boston continued: “The evidence was clear. Both Adm. Kidd and I believed with certainty that this attack … was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew … Not only did the Israelis attack the ship with napalm, gunfire and missiles, Israeli torpedo boats machine-gunned three lifeboats that had been launched in an attempt by the crew to save the most seriously wounded — a war crime … I know from personal conversations I had with Adm. Kidd that President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered him to conclude that the attack was a case of ‘mistaken identity’ despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”
Why the Israelis decided to take the draconian measure to sink a ship of the U.S. Navy is a subject of speculation.
One view is that the Israelis did not want the United States to find out they were massing troops to seize the Golan Heights from Syria and wanted to deprive the United States of the opportunity to argue against such a move.
James Bamford, in Body of Secrets, adduces evidence, including reporting from an Israeli journalist eyewitness and an Israeli military historian, of wholesale killing of Egyptian prisoners of war at the coastal town of El Arish in the Sinai.
The Liberty was patrolling directly opposite El Arish in international waters but within easy range to pick up intelligence on what was going on there. And the Israelis were well aware.
As for the why, well, someone could at least approach the Israelis involved and ask, no?
The important thing here is not to confuse what is known (the deliberate nature of the Israeli attack) with the purpose behind it, which remains a matter of speculation.
Bowing to intense pressure from the Navy, the White House agreed to award the Liberty’s skipper, Capt. William McGonagle, the Medal of Honor, but not at the White House and not by the president (as is the custom).
Rather, the secretary of the Navy gave the award at the Washington Navy Yard on the banks of the acrid Anacostia River.
A naval officer involved in the awards ceremony told one of the Liberty crew, “The government is pretty jumpy about Israel … the State Department even asked the Israeli ambassador if his government had any objections to McGonagle getting the medal.”
Adding insult to injury, those of the Liberty crew who survived well enough to call for an independent investigation have been hit with charges of, you guessed it, anti-Semitism.
Now that some of the truth has emerged more and more, others are showing more courage in speaking out. In a recent email, a former CIA analyst-colleague shared:
“The chief of the analysts studying the Arab/Israeli region at the time told me about the intercepted messages and said very flatly and firmly that the pilots reported seeing the American flag and repeated their requests for confirmation of the attack order. Whole platoons of Americans saw those intercepts. If NSA now says they do not exist, then someone ordered them destroyed.”
Leaving the destruction of evidence without investigation is an open invitation to repetition in the future.
As for the larger picture, an author visiting Israel this past summer was constantly told that Egypt forced Israel into war in June 1967. This does not square with the unguarded words of Menachem Begin in 1982, when he was Israel’s prime minister. Rather he admitted publicly: “In June 1967, we had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that [Egyptian President] Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”
Israel had, in fact, prepared well militarily and mounted provocations against its neighbors, in order to provoke a response that could be used to justify an expansion of its borders.
Israel’s illegal 40-year control over and confiscation of land in the occupied territories and U.S. enabling support (particularly the one-sided support by the current U.S. administration) go a long way toward explaining why it is that 1.3 billion Muslims “hate us.”
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