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War crime: Attack on the USS Liberty

One of the finer honest newspaper accounts comparable to The Chicago Tribune’s John Crewdson expose on the attack and the cover up. . -jd

 

What is Congress afraid of?

Could it be due to the fact that AIPAC (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee) donates very heavily to so many of our Senators and Congressmen?

The Center for Responsive Politics reports that between the years of 1990-2004, pro-Israel groups gave $56.8 million in campaign contributions to U.S. politicians.

On this, the 44th anniversary of the attack on the USS Liberty, please take a moment to remember those killed and injured on that day, and also, take the time to contact your Congressman and Senators to demand an official investigation into this tragedy.

To the USS Liberty survivors and the families of those lost…You have not been forgotten.”

War crime: Attack on the USS Liberty

        This week marks the 44th anniversary of a ruthless, unprovoked and as yet, unpunished attack on an American warship in international waters which resulted in a tremendous loss of life and left many sailors permanently injured. The attack was perpetrated by a country which our government labels a staunch ally, though the men who survived the attack know a different story.

The attack

On June 8, 1967, the surveillance ship USS Liberty was on duty in international waters off the Sinai Peninsula, when it was attacked by Israeli forces. Though the ship was clearly marked Israel claimed the act of war to simply be a case of “mistaken identity.” Despite the loss of 34 American sailors, there has never been a meaningful investigation into the attack.

That morning, many Liberty sailors were enjoying some down time sunbathing on the deck, and began watching Israeli planes make over-flights of the ship. The crew counted a total of 13 such flights which were so low that they could see the faces of the Israeli pilots and even exchanged waves.

At 2:00 pm Israeli jets began hitting the Liberty with rocket and cannon fire, the decks were then napalmed, and the ship was then hit with a torpedo from an Israeli attack boat. By the time the attack had ended, the Liberty had sustained over 800 rocket and cannon strikes, 34 sailors were dead and 172 injured, even the Liberty’s life boats had been shredded by Israeli machine gun fire (a war crime).

Such a dastardly and deliberate attack should have brought down the full wrath of the U.S. military upon the perpetrators. However, not only were there no retaliatory strikes ordered but the Johnson administration would not even allow nearby U.S. Navy forces to come to Liberty’s aid and put a stop to the attack.

Once the Liberty could establish radio contact, they hailed the Sixth Fleet for assistance.

Twice, F-4 Phantoms were launched from the USS Saratoga and the USS America and both times Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered the planes to return. After the second recall, Rear Adm. William Geis called the Pentagon. During that phone call, President Johnson himself reportedly came on the line and ordered the planes to return.

Years ago, Cdr. David Lewis (USS Liberty survivor) stated that Adm. Geis told him in confidence that President Johnson said: “I do not care if every man drowned and the ship sank, we will not embarrass an ally.”

The Israelis claimed it was a case of “mistaken identity.”

The ‘investigation’

Following the attack, a U.S. Navy Board of Inquiry into the incident convened. Though the amount of evidence was immense and there were several dozen interviews to conduct, the Court of Inquiry was given only a week to complete their work. The Court was not even allowed to consider sworn declarations from more than 60 still-hospitalized Liberty sailors.

Chief Legal Counsel to the Board of Inquiry Capt. Ward Boston and president of the Court Adm. Isaac C. Kidd felt it necessary to travel to Israel and interview those who had taken part in the attack. They were rebuffed in that effort by Adm. John S. McCain Jr., then serving as Commander-in-Chief, Naval Forces Europe. Adm. McCain would not allow the two any contact with the Israelis.

In a sworn affidavit, Capt. Ward Boston (ret.) made the following statements concurring with the cover-up of the USS Liberty attack:

“I know from personal conversations I had with Admiral 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.

Admiral Kidd told me, after returning from Washington D.C. that he had been ordered to sit down with two civilians from either the White House or the Defense Department, and rewrite portions of the court’s findings.

Admiral Kidd also told me that he had been ordered to ‘put the lid’ on everything having to do with the attack on USS Liberty. We were never to speak of it and we were to caution everyone else involved that they could never speak of it again.

I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of that statement as I know that the Court of Inquiry transcript that has been released to the public is not the same one that I certified and sent off to Washington.

Finally, the testimony of Lt. Painter concerning the deliberate machine gunning of the life rafts by the Israeli torpedo boat crews, which I distinctly recall being given at the Court of Inquiry and included in the original transcript is now missing and has been excised.”

On Jan. 8, 2004, Capt. Boston concluded: “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. It was our shared belief that the attack could not possibly have been an accident. I am certain that the Israeli pilots [and] their superiors were well aware that the ship was American.”

In 2003, an independent committee comprised of retired high-ranking military officers and a former U.S. Ambassador to the Middle-East formed to examine the attack on the Liberty and the subsequent cover-up. On October 22, 2003, the group came to Capitol Hill to release their findings and ask Congress for an official investigation.

Member of that independent committee and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Thomas Moorer made the following statement: “Congress has never investigated the recall by the White House of U.S. Navy aircraft sent to rescue the Liberty while the ship was still under attack. The White House cancellation of the Navy’s attempt to rescue the Liberty is the most disgraceful thing I have witnessed in my entire military career.”

He continued: “Why would our government put Israel’s interests ahead of our own? Does it continue to do so?…This is an important issue that should be investigated by an independent Commission of Inquiry, the findings have grave implications for our national security and for the American people. In order to confront this problem, the American people and our elected officials will need to overcome their fear of the pro-Israel lobby in the United States.”

In 1991, Adm. Moorer told the Washington Post: “To suggest that they [the IDF] couldn’t identify the ship is…ridiculous. Anybody who could not identify the Liberty could not tell the difference between the White House and the Washington Monument.”

Why did it happen?

Israel claimed that they mistook the Liberty for the Egyptian horse carrier El Quseir. The El Quseir was only 275 feet long as compared to the 455 foot length of the Liberty. It was later learned that the El Quseir was actually in port at Alexandria for the duration of the Six Day War.

The USS Liberty was well marked and flew a large American flag atop her mast. In fact, the official Navy Board of Inquiry report contains the following statement: “The Navy inquiry confirms testimony of five members of the crew that they had personally observed the [American flag] was hoisted. Hull markings were clear and freshly painted.”

Despite the official Israeli story of mistaken identity, two Israeli pilots radioed base and clearly identified the ship as American. They were ordered to attack the ship anyway, both refused. The pair was immediately arrested upon returning to base.

In 1982, an Israeli pilot who took part in the attack, Evan Toni, spoke extensively with Rep. Paul McCloskey (R-CA). He told McCloskey that his superiors told him to ignore the markings and U.S. flag. Toni claimed that he and another pilot radioed base and clearly identified the ship as American. Both refused and were immediately arrested upon returning to base.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, Dwight Porter, confirmed the pilot’s account. Porter told columnist Robert Novak that he heard the exchange as radio transmissions were being monitored from the embassy.

There are two prevailing theories as to why Israeli forces attacked the Liberty. One is that they would sink the ship and blame it on Egypt, thus prompting the U.S. to enter the war on the side of Israel. That theory is supported by Capt. Ward Boston. The other is that Israel did not want the U.S. to know about the unprovoked attacks their troops were carrying out. Shortly after the liberty was nearly destroyed, Israeli troops began attacking Syria.

Israel’s ‘payment’

In 1980, Sen. Adlai Stevenson III (D-IL) held a press conference at which time he announced his belief that the Israeli attack on the Liberty had not been a tragic accident but a deliberate act. In his last year in the U.S. Senate, Stevenson promised a formal investigation.

Many pro-Israel groups began pouring money into the campaign of Stevenson’s opponent and he was subsequently defeated.

However, shortly after Stevenson’s announcement, the Israeli government contacted the Carter White House. They offered to settle the damage claims for a rather insulting $6 million. Vice-President Walter Mondale readily accepted the deal.

It was obvious to most that the only reason Israel agreed to pay anything was due to Sen. Stevenson’s interest in the case.

Israel did pay the $6 million in three annual payments of $2 million. Though the  payments meant nothing, as Congress simply increased the amount of aid given to Israel by $2 million each of those three years. The American taxpayers were actually billed for the damages inflicted upon their own sailors.

The victims

For his actions during the attack, USS Liberty’s Capt. William McGonagle was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor at a private Washington Navy Yard ceremony. However, on the very same day that Capt. McGonagle received the medal, President Johnson held a very public White House ceremony honoring other CMH awardees. McGonagle’s citation does not mention that his ship came under attack from Israeli forces.

Perhaps, more maddening than crucial facts deleted from a medal citation is what is omitted from the tombstones of the 34 USS Liberty crewmen who lost their lives as a war crime was committed against them. Their headstones simply read “Died in Eastern Mediterranean.”

The names of the USS Liberty crewmen who were killed while under attack from Israeli forces on June 8, 1967 are as follows:

Lcdr. Phillip McCutcheon Armstrong Jr.
Lt. James Cecil Pierce
Lt. Stephen Spencer Toth
CT3 William Bernard Allenbaugh
SN Gary Ray Blanchard
CT2 Allen Merle Blue
QM3 Francis Brown
CT2 Ronnie Jordan Campbell
CT2 Jerry Leroy Converse
CT2 Robert Burton Eisenberg
CT2 Jerry Lee Goss
CT1 Curtis Alan Graves
CTSN Lawrence Paul Hayden
CT1 Warren Edward Hersey
CT3 Alan Higgins
SN Carl Lewis Hoar
CTS Richard Walter Keene Jr.
CTSN James Lee Lenau
CTC Raymond Eugene Linn
CT1 James Mahlon Lupton
CT3 Duane Rowe Marggraf
CTSN David Walter Marlborough
CT2 Anthony Peter Mendle
CTSN Carl Christian Nyguen
Sgt. Jack Lewis Raper, USMC
Cpl. Edward Emory Kehmeyer III, USMC
IFCN David Skolak
CT1 John Caleb Smith Jr.
CTC Melvin Douglas Smith
PC2 John Clarence Spicher
GMG3 Alexander Neil Thompson Jr.
CT3 Thomas Ray Thornton
CT3 Philippe Charles Tiedthe
CT1 Frederick James Walton

Will the truth ever come to light?

The only thing more outrageous than the attack on the USS Liberty by Israel is our own government’s apparent compliance in the cover-up. Despite bombshell revelations by career naval officers, an Israeli pilot, and a U.S. Ambassador…Congress continues to ignore the facts of the Liberty attack as well as the pleas for an investigation.

What is Congress afraid of?

Could it be due to the fact that AIPAC (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee) donates very heavily to so many of our Senators and Congressmen?

The Center for Responsive Politics reports that between the years of 1990-2004, pro-Israel groups gave $56.8 million in campaign contributions to U.S. politicians.

On this, the 44th anniversary of the attack on the USS Liberty, please take a moment to remember those killed and injured on that day, and also, take the time to contact your Congressman and Senators to demand an official investigation into this tragedy.

To the USS Liberty survivors and the families of those lost…You have not been forgotten.

war crimes| June 6, 2011

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Continue reading on Examiner.com War crime: Attack on the USS Liberty – Norfolk Crime | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/crime-in-norfolk/war-crime-attack-on-the-uss-liberty#ixzz1pCx3mUKk

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