.ON JUNE 8, 1967, the USS Liberty, an American naval vessel sailing in the Mediterranean, was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the state of Israel. The attack took place in the middle of a sunny afternoon. The American flag aboard the Liberty flapped clearly in the breeze. At least twelve unmarked Israeli aircraft, accompanied by three torpedo boats, conducted the assault.
The attack began with rockets and then continued with napalm, a burning chemical that clings to human skin with grisly results. Then the Israeli naval gun boats raked the decks of the Liberty with machine-gun fire as the American sailors tried to extinguish the fires started by the napalm. The Israelis fired five torpedoes at the Liberty, but—amazingly—only one hit. The torpedo caused massive damage and caused most of the day’s casualties yet it struck a portion of the ship that was particularly well-braced. Had it struck elsewhere the ship would certainly have sunk, miraculously, did not sink. Thirty-four Americans died in the incident and 171 others were injured.
When news of the attack reached the White House, President Lyndon B. Johnson alerted the commander of the Sixth Fleet to prepare for retaliatory action, assuming Egypt was responsible. But, when the president learned the Israelis were responsible, he called off the alert.
Very little about the tragedy was mentioned in the American press. What reports there were indicated it was a “tragic mistake.” In addition, media accounts under-reported the number of the dead.
Then, under the direction of Adm. John S. McCain, commander in chief of the U.S. Naval Forces in Europe, a court of inquiry was conducted by Rear Admiral I.C. Kidd. McCain and Kidd knew better, but they still announced that the attack was “a case of mistaken identity.”
(McCain’s cover-up for Israel’s slaughter of American Navy boys forged a unique tie between the McCain family and Israel, such that, today, McCain’s son, John, the Republican senator and likely president candidate from Arizona, is Israel’s favorite Republican.)
The Liberty survivors were told to “shut up.” Anyone who talked was threatened with court-martial. “If anyone asks,” the sailors were told, “tell them it was an accident.” The survivors were dispersed worldwide by their commanders so that no two men were sent to the same place. The incident was mentioned in passing in a variety of media, but the first time that the whole shocking story was told to the public on a national scale was in The Spotlight on April 26, 1976.
However, as early as within one month after the tragedy on July 15, 1967, The Washington Observer newsletter, published by officers of Liberty Lobby, the Washington-based populist institution, told readers that the Israeli attack on the American vessel was indeed deliberate.
There is no question the Israelis not only intended to sink the Liberty but also to kill the entire crew so that no living witnesses could emerge to point the finger at the Israelis. The Israelis hoped to blame the Arabs for the crime—a long-standing “false flag” technique used by Israel in its numerous acts of terrorism.
Defenders of Israel demand to know why the Israelis would desire the total destruction of the Liberty and the mass murder of all aboard. The explanation is simple: the Liberty was a spy ship—said to be then the most sophisticated in the world—gathering intelligence information that would have demonstrated that, contrary to Israel’s public propaganda line, Israel was seeking to escalate the 1967 Six-Day War then in progress, and was attempting to expand its territorial gains. It was planning an incursion into Arab territories in theWest Bank and the Gaza Strip and intended to invade Syria. Israel, not the Arab states, was the real aggressor in the war.
A Spotlight report of Nov. 21, 1977, implicated the CIA’s counterintelligence chief, James J. Angleton, in having conspired with Israel in orchestrating the attack on the Liberty. An Israeli loyalist who headed the CIA’s liaison with Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, and who also played a key role in helping Israel develop its nuclear arsenal (in defiance of President John F. Kennedy), Angleton believed the destruction of the Liberty could be used as a “Pearl Harbor” or “Remember the Maine”- type incident to inflame American passions against the Arabs.
In 1983 a top secret report prepared in 1967 by the legal advisor to the U.S. secretary of state was released (without fanfare) for the first time. The report assessed claims by Israel that the attack was a mistake. The report demonstrated Israel’s claims to be lies:
• The Israelis claimed that the Liberty was traveling at a high (and therefore “suspicious”) speed of 28 to 30 knots. In fact, the ship was drifting along at only five knots.
• The Israelis claimed that the Liberty refused to identify itself. In fact, the only signals from the Israeli torpedo boats came after the torpedo attack was launched, with the result that 25 sailors were killed when the Liberty was hit by an Israeli torpedo.
• The Israelis claimed that the Liberty did not fly an American flag or carry identifying insignia. In fact, not only did the Liberty have a U.S. flag flying in the wind, but also after that flag was shot to pieces, another and much larger flag was hoisted by the American sailors when they realized they were under attack by ostensibly “friendly” forces from “our ally, Israel.” In addition, the Liberty’s name and identification numbers were clearly displayed on the hull, which had just recently been painted.
According to Liberty survivors, the Israeli aircraft had actually circled the ship no less than 13 times for several hours before the attack commenced. Some of the Liberty sailors even waved to the “friendly” Israelis from the decks of the ship, not knowing they were being targeted for annihilation.
TELL THEIR STORY
• Ernie Gallo: “The day before [the June 8 attack] I was topside when Israeli planes came by, and very close where we could wave to the pilots, and they were that close where they could wave back.”
• Rick Aimetti: “It was a very clear day. It was a warm day, the sun was shining brightly, a nice breeze blowing, and I distinctly remember hearing the [American] flag flapping in the wind.”
• Phil Tourney: “There were approximately 13 sorties of our ship from six o’clock until 12 o’clock in the afternoon. We had a general quarters drill that lasted 45 minutes or so.”
• Stan White: “I stepped out on deck, and a plane came by, and I looked right in the cockpit. He waved. I waved. That’s how close they were. They knew who we were.”
• George Golden: “Of all the recon flights that they had that morning, overlooking our ship for six to seven hours, they had a good idea of what they were doing, and they hit us hard and fast with everything they had.”
• James Smith: “I was topside fighting fires and doing other damage control work throughout the duration of the attack. At the same time I was able to observe the jets flying overhead, and I also observed the American flag flying from the mast. At no time did that flag hang limp from the mast.”
• Joe Meadors: “My only job during the attack was to make sure that the flag was flying; so every few minutes I would walk out to the signal bridge and look up at the mast.”
Medal of Honor Winners
Among those who have lent their support to the call of USS Liberty survivors for a full-fledged public inquiry into Israel’s attack on the Liberty are some of America’s most distinguished Medal of Honor winners. They agree that it is absolutely clear the Israelis knew that their attack was aimed at a U.S. vessel. Here is the report from AFP:
• Col.Mitchell Paige, the last Marine standing after repulsing a Japanese regiment on Guadalcanal, says:
We all know that this was in international waters. It was an unprovoked and intentional attack on a U.S. vessel, with one objective: to sink it and kill all aboard. An unprovoked attack. I think it was dastardly. I think it was a betrayal of any friendship that we had with that nation.
And I think it should be exposed to the entire world and all brought out so that the whole world would know the actual truth about that particular day in 1967. I know that Capt.McGonagle was on board the USS Liberty and the ship was off the coast at Gaza, and yet our government put it in writing, in a U.S. Senate book of Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, that he received his medal for action in Vietnam. To me that is one of the worst cover-ups in American history. How low can our government go?
• Former Navy Master Chief Bob Bush, though badly wounded in WWII, held off a Japanese advance while saving his commanding officer’s life. Bush says:
It was clear that this was an American ship. The Israelis did this with their army, navy and air force. They [the Israelis] were getting our money to buy those French airplanes and they turned around and attacked our ship when they could see that it was our ship. It’s absolutely uncalled for. This is something I’d like to see totally investigated and a closure of this issue because I think President Johnson was the villain on it. I think he recalled the people [who] were [sent] to defend the ship.
• Army Col. Lou Millett, who led the last bayonet charge against Red Chinese forces in Korea, says:
I was in World War II. I studied all the different types of aircraft; and when I shot at a plane, I made sure I was shooting at the enemy and not ours. They knew what those ships looked like; and if they don’t, I can’t conceive that they don’t know. I do know this: It was a criminal act. It was an act of war. There should be a congressional committee— both Senate and House—to examine all of the data available; and it’s getting late to do this since, for example, Capt. McGonagle, God bless his soul, is gone.
• H.C. “Barney” Barnum, president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, says:
As a Marine, I’m proud to say that three members of the Liberty crew were Marines. Two of them died that day. Bryce Lockwood was decorated for saving sailors’ lives. Bill McGonagle was skipper of the Liberty, and he was awarded the Medal of Honor for action above and beyond the call of duty.
I firmly believe after review of the documentation of this film [Loss of Liberty] that an in-depth, honest investigation and inquiry into what really happened that day is owed to the members of the crew, their families and all Americans.
Adm. Moorer Says
‘No More Cover-Up’
A distinguished U.S. Navy admiral is leading the charge to set the historical record straight on the brutal, unprovoked attack on the USS Liberty.
By the Staff of American Free Press
Adm. ThomasMoorer, the longest-serving active four-star admiral in U.S. history, was the only U.S. admiral to have commanded both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. He was head of NATO forces and served twice as chief of Naval Operations and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for two terms. The Navy’s chief fighter, the F-14 Tomcat, was named after “Tom” Moorer.
Today, despite advancing age, Moorer remains in the forefront of the call for an inquiry into the attack on the Liberty. He is a hero to the Liberty’s survivors and, in truth, to an entire generation of American sailors who recall his leadership. About the Liberty, Moorer has said: “If the Israelis thought the frequencies they jammed were broadcast by an Egyptian ship, why did they jam the American frequency? There’s no question about the fact that the jamming of the Liberty’s frequency was deliberate and was undoubtedly ordered by high authorities.”
Had the U.S. aircraft not been recalled, says Moorer, the large number of casualties caused by the Israeli torpedo boats could have been stopped.
“I have spent a large part of my life flying over the oceans and identifying ships and this ship was perhaps the easiest ship to identify that was listed in the U.S. Navy, equipped with antennae frombow to stern, pointing in every direction. It reminded one of a large vigorous lobster and had a look that made it extremely easy to recognize. So I will never, never buy the idea that the [Israeli] pilots thought this was some other ship.
“In the case of the Liberty, this is the first time, to my knowledge, where a U.S. warship has been attacked without warning and no action whatever was taken to investigate this situation on the part of the Congress. I have urged this over and over again and I still think that the attack on the Liberty warrants a full-fledged investigation by Congress.”