USS Liberty incident
|It never changes|
|A view to kill|
The USS Liberty incident occurred on June 8th, 1967, during the Six-Day War, when Israel's navy and air force attacked the United States signal intelligence gathering vessel USS Liberty, killing 34, wounding 171, and severely damaging the ship. Controversy remains whether the attack was a deliberate effort to disable a neutral
spy ship "technical research" ship in international waters, or an unfortunate case of mistaken identity in the fog of war.
Since the US and Israel were nominal allies in the cold war, both parties had motives for glossing over the incident as an unfortunate accident, a result of miscommunication in the midst of a hot war with numerous rapidly shifting threats. For example, the day before the attack on the Liberty, Israeli aircraft bombed one of their own armored columns south of the West Bank town of Jenin. In that context, subsequent inquiries have suffered from what may be politely called a systemic bias. From the Israeli perspective, a proper investigation would've revealed either rank incompetence or a deliberate attack on an ally, while for the Americans, the investigation would've required them to reveal just what the Liberty was doing in that region.
The event, or rather its alleged investigation, has been regularly contrasted with the first-hand accounts of eyewitnesses. Occasionally, cognitive dissonance arises when additional testimony becomes declassified which does not conform to the official "accident" narrative.
Why won't everyone shut up and buy the official version?
Those insisting that Israel did not know they were attacking an American ship focus on a lack of apparent motive. One credible narrative is a cover-up of a POW massacre by the Israelis at El-Arish. Another explanation is that the Israelis simply did not want a sea-going antenna farm cruising where it could hear their aircraft dispatchers. In any event, a better question is: after the fact, whose interest would be served by an ugly truth when a pretty lie could be reported?
“”I was never satisfied with the Israeli explanation. Their sustained attack to disable and sink Liberty precluded an assault by accident or some trigger-happy local commander. Through diplomatic channels we refused to accept their explanations. I didn't believe them then, and I don't believe them to this day. The attack was outrageous.
. . . and Captain Ward Boston, JAGC, U.S. Navy, senior counsel for the Court of Inquiry . . .
“”The evidence was clear. Both Admiral Kidd and I believed with certainty that this attack, which killed 34 American sailors and injured 172 others, was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew. Each evening, after hearing testimony all day, we often spoke our private thoughts concerning what we had seen and heard. I recall Admiral Kidd repeatedly referring to the Israeli forces responsible for the attack as 'murderous bastards.' It was our shared belief, based on the documentary evidence and testimony we received first hand, that the Israeli attack was planned and deliberate, and could not possibly have been an accident.
. . . one might begin to wonder.
- Ennes, James M. Jr. Assault On The Liberty: The True Story of the Israeli Attack on an American Intelligence Ship. Random House, 1979. ISBN 0-9723116-0-2
U.S. government sites
Declassified State Department
Declassified National Security Agency
Sources (totally unbiased, and without agenda, we pinky swear) saying attack was a mistake
- The Attack on the Liberty Hirsh Goodman and Ze'ev Schiff, The Atlantic Monthly September 1984
- Aaronovitch, David, Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History, Riverhead Trade, 2011, ISBN-10: 1594484988
- Bamford, James, Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency, Doubleday, 2002, ISBN-10: 0385499086
- Dean Rusk. As I Saw It. New York: W.W. Norton, 1990. ISBN 0-14-015391-8 page 388