Thursday, Feb. 13, 1997 - Orlando (Florida) Sentinel
1967 ATTACK ON AMERICAN SHIP IS A MYSTERY WITHOUT AN ENDING Charley Reese of the Sentinel Staff
In June 1967, in international waters, an American ship, the USS Liberty, came under attack by airplanes and torpedo boats from the state of Israel.
In an attack lasting more than two hours, the intelligence-gathering ship was bombed, rocketed, strafed, napalmed and torpedoed. As valiant crewmen fought the flames and rushing sea water, their life rafts and lifeboats were deliberately destroyed by Israeli gunfire. On that day, 34 Americans were killed, and 171 were wounded.
But that's only the opening page of a 30-year mystery that remains unsolved. It reads like a Tom Clancy novel when you follow the events.
As the men pleaded for help, American planes were launched from a carrier--and then recalled on direct order from then Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and President Lyndon Johnson. The men were left to die and the ship to sink for all McNamara and Johnson knew at the time.
Why did they do that?
Orders to move away from the coast about 100 miles were mistakenly sent to the Philippines and never reached the Liberty. Yet orders to abort the rescue reached the carrier instantly.
A Navy court of inquiry was a whitewash--so bad, in fact, that a Navy legal officer in Washington refused to endorse it. Crew members were ordered to remain silent and threatened with court-martial if they talked. They were broken up and sent to scattered assignments. So were the pilots involved in the aborted rescue mission.
For the first time in American history, an attack on an American ship resulting in casualties never was investigated by Congress. A unit citation, issued in 1967, was never given to the crew until years later -- and then in an unpublicized ceremony. The commanding officer was also belatedly given the Congressional Medal of Honor -- quietly.
When the survivors of the Liberty finished their service in the Navy and thus were free to talk, they became targets of a campaign of vilification and have been called drunks, anti-semites, and incompetents. When a small town in Wisconsin decided to name its library in honor of the USS Liberty crewmen, a campaign claiming it was anti-Semitic was launched, and when the town went ahead, the U.S. government ordered no Navy personnel to attend, sent no messages. This little library was the first -- and, at the time, the only -- memorial to the men who died on the Liberty.
There are a number of outrages that remain to be resolved. Why did the U.S. government publicly accept the Israeli claim that the attack was a mistake even though evidence now exists that it knew then the attack was not a mistake? It's easy to understand why the Israeli government lied about the attack, but why did the U.S. government lie about it -- and why does it coninue to lie about it?
Why does it continue to classify much of the record? Why does McNamara now profess to remember nothing of his role in the affair? Why, if the attack really was a mistake, do Israel and its supporters oppose so strenuously a congressional inquiry? Why is Congress afraid to conduct the inquiry? Why have veterans been so viciously attacked by their fellow Americans?
A new book, "The USS Liberty: Dissenting History vs. Official History," fairly examines the coverup. Dr. Peter Borne, who has taught American history, did the study for his doctoral dissertation at New York University. You can order it directly from him by writing Dr. Peter Borne, Apt. 1E, 41 Eastern Pkwy., Brooklyn, NY 11238. I talked to Dr. Borne, and he will send you the book, postage-paid, for $20. You can get more information on the Internet at:
These survivors deserve the support of the American people. Will you stand by them?
SURVIVORS OF USS LIBERTY ATTACK HAVE UNCOVERED A NEW TWIST Charley Reese of the Sentinel Staff (From the June 5, 1997 edition of the Orlando Sentinel)
To know what is right and not do it is the worst cowardice, according to Confucius.
That says it all about the Congress and the USS Liberty, the intelligence ship attacked by Israeli jets and torpedo boats while in international waters in 1967. Thirty-four Americans were killed, 171 wounded, and the ship so badly damaged it had to be sold for scrap.
This month the survivors are gathering in Washington for the 30th anniversary reunion.
For 30 years, they have asked the government they served for only one simple thing: the truth. Hold a congressional hearing. Take testimony. Declassify all the records. Nothing more.
For 30 years, the Congress, which is Zionist-occupied territory, has refused to do for the men of the USS Liberty what Congress has always done throughout American history whenever an American ship was attacked or suffered an accident while at sea: conduct a congressional inquiry.
Why this cruel betrayal of American sailors? The answer is simple. Your congressmen and your senators are more loyal to the Israeli lobby than they are to your sons and daughters serving in the armed forces of the United States. You should never forget or forgive that.
It is a treason of the heart.
Israel has said the attack was a mistake, though it occurred in bright sunlight after hours of reconnaissance. The ship was flying a large American flag. It bore no resemblance to an Egyptian rustbucket, which Israel, in one of that country's several versions of what happened, said the attackers thought it was.
The U.S. government, by the way, rushed out with an acceptance of the Israeli account even before the survivors had stopped bleeding, much less been interviewed. For 30 years, no one in the U.S. government has been willing to say why U.S. planes on a carrier -- which had been launched to defend the Liberty -- were instantly recalled, leaving the Liberty and her dying and wounded unprotected.
Now the survivors, who have doggedly pursued declassification of documents, have uncovered a new twist. Apparently a U.S. submarine was also present and photographed the attack.
Survivors found four members of the crew of the USS Amberjack SS522 who have confirmed that they were present and submerged during the attack. According to Jim Ennes, a USS Liberty officer and author, one of the senior enlisted men told the Liberty guys that the sound of gunfire, missiles and torpedo explosion was so loud that some of the crew thought the Amberjack was under depth charge attack.
Two other clues: a declassified memo about a briefing of the "303 Committee" (high-ranking U.S. officials) about a sensitive Department of Defense project known as FRONTLET 615. A notation mentions a submarine in U.A.R. waters. At the time, Egypt and Syria were called the United Arab Republic.
Second, the official ship's history shows that the Amberjack was in the area during the 1967 war. The Amberjack's former skipper denies it, but remember that both the Amberjack and the Liberty were on highly classified missions.
Liberty survivors are hoping that other enlisted men or officers who served on that mission of the Amberjack will come forward. If indeed periscope photographs were taken, then those pictures would prove that the survivors' account of the attack is the truth.
To the everlasting shame of some Americans, these USS Liberty survivors have been villified as anti-Semites and drunks because they refuse to stop their search for the truth. The low-down, yellow-dog cowards in Congress have allowed these men to be called liars while refusing to do their duty and produce the evidence -- which certainly exists -- that would verify the survivors' accounts.
Americans need to choose sides: the survivors of the Liberty and the truth or the Israeli lobby, the big lie and the cowards in Congress.
Answers overdue about USS Liberty Published Sunday June 3, 2001, Orlando Sentinel by Charley Reese
June 8, 1967, is a day that really ought to live in infamy. On that day, Israeli jets and torpedo boats attacked the U.S. Navy intelligence ship, the Liberty, in international waters. Thirty-four Americans were killed and 171 wounded.
The attack, beyond doubt deliberate, is bad enough, but the real infamy is that on that very day, the U.S. government conspired with the Israeli government to cover up the truth. Before any American had talked to the ship, U.S. politicians were rushing to the press to peddle the Israeli claim that the attack was a mistake. They claim they thought it was an Arab ship.
This cover-up continues. Alone among all the maritime disasters and attacks, the attack on the USS Liberty, clearly marked and sailing in calm seas under clear skies, is the only one that Congress has never made the subject of a public inquiry. At the time of the attack, the survivors were ordered never to speak of it. After they retired, however, they gathered and for decades have been collecting information and asking for a public inquiry. All of their requests are stonewalled.
The standard government boilerplate sent to people is that these are old charges and there is no evidence to back them. That is a bald-faced lie.
There are several sources of information: One is the USS Liberty Homepage: http://www.ussliberty.org/. Another is the book Assault on the Liberty by Jim Ennes, the officer on deck at the time of the attack. A third is another excellent book, The USS Liberty, Dissenting History vs. Official History, by Dr. John E. Borne.
History Undercover on the History Channel is scheduled to air a documentary about the attack and cover-up on Aug 9. Even though this program is completed and scheduled, I am skeptical that it will be aired. Those who support Israel have proven in the past to be effective in censoring negative information about Israel. After all, it is they who have frightened Congress into abandoning its duty.
The cover-up itself is full of mysteries and questions that need to be answered. Survivors have from separate sources information that a U.S. submarine was present during the attack and photographed it through its periscope. The U.S. government continues to deny this, though the sources claim to have been crew members of the sub.
Why is this denied? Why, if the sub were present, did it not surface and offer assistance to the USS Liberty, in grave danger of sinking from a large hole blasted in its side by an Israeli torpedo?
The ship would have sunk but for the heroic efforts of her officers and the surviving crew members.
The Israelis used machine guns, cannon fire, rockets, napalm and torpedoes in an attack that lasted more than an hour, crew members say. They also deliberately destroyed the ship's life rafts. Clearly, they intended to sink the ship with all hands lost. Their apology and compensation do not change the facts.
The Liberty didn't sink, and the Israelis abruptly ended the attack. Survivors believe they did so because they had learned that the jets had been launched from a U.S. aircraft carrier 300 miles away.
But those jets were recalled by a direct order from Washington. Why? If they had been allowed to proceed, the attack by torpedo boats could have been prevented. Why are more than 6,000 pages of documents still classified?
Survivors and the American people deserve to know the answers.
Reach Charley Reese at 407-420-5315 or [email protected]