Thursday, June 08, 2006

Anniversary of one of the most shameful acts in US Military History in the last 40 years

I was born on June 23rd, 1967. 15 days before I was born, on June 8th, 1967 The USS Liberty was viciously and unlawfully attacked by Israel. 34 of our men were killed and 173 were wounded.

I know many of you know little about this event, which is unfortunate.

I will tell you the brief facts:

1. The USS Liberty was a US spy ship that was listed in Janes Fighting Ships. It was an extremely ungainly and distinctive ship. It had countless large aerial antennae and had a very distinctive look.
2. The USS Liberty was unarmed except for a 50 caliber machine gun mount which was installed to repel boarders.
3. The USS Liberty was in international waters.
4. The Captain of The USS Liberty requested an armed escort be provided since he would be near a combat zone, this request was denied by The US Navy.
5. The name and hull number were prominently displayed on the vessel as required by maritime law.
6. The ship flew a total of three large American flags at various times during the attack (Two are on display in The United States, the third was uttlery destroyed by the attackers.)

It is also important to put things into context; 1967 was a momentous time. The Vietnam "conflict" was in progress. The Cold War was ongoing.

Most importantly the Six Day War was in full swing. During the Six Day War Israel pre-emptively attacked its neighbors (Claiming they were soon going to attack Israel, which is certainly possible) and was able to convince most of the world that Egypt was the aggressor. (A few days later Israel admitted to being the aggressor).

Israel waged one of the most successful military campaigns in modern history. They caught their opponents air force on the ground and defeated a far larger force of troops. Their intelligence forces should also get a lot of credit for this victory.

On June 8th the forces of Israel assaulted The USS Liberty. The attack lasted ABOUT 3 hours and involved both The Israeli airforce and three motor torpedo boats. The Israeli planes may or may not have been unmarked; the reports are somewhat conflicting.

The first pass took out The USS Liberty's communications with heat seeking missiles. The USS Liberty was fortunate that one off their communications systems was shut down at the time. During the attack the crew ended up repairing that system and getting their distress call off...

Disturbing facts about the assault:
1. Israel claims they mis-identified the ship, consider the following:
Israel had one of the best intelligence forces in the world.
Israel had one of the best airforces in the world.
Israeli forces got close enough to The USS Liberty to put THOUSANDS of bullet holes in it.
Israel claimed that their forces determined the USS Liberty was traveling at 30 knots, it
could only make 6 knots...
Israel claimed their forces did not see any of the three American flags that flew during the
Israel also claimed that their forces did not see the hull number or the name USS Liberty
prominently displayed on the side of the naval vessel in accordance with International
Israel also claimed that they did not pick up the USS Liberty's distress call.
Israel, believe it or not, claims that their forces identified the USS Liberty as an out-of-
service horse carrier that was at the time docked in an Egyptian Port. Note the horse
carrier could never have made more then 6 knots either.
2. The USS Liberty called for help. Two US Aircraft Carriers in the area scrambled planes to
help the embattled US ship. These planes were launched at different times but right after
the attack. Both sets of planes were recalled by Washington DC. The reason is unknown.
3. US forces did not arrive on scene for 17 hours. The USS Liberty was left on its own for 17

After the attack Israel repeatedly told us that it was an accident.

The US Navy convened an investigation that was ordered to be completed within one week. The investigation "white-washed" the entire affair and found that it was all a big accident. Not one person was found to be at fault.

The "incident" was never investigated by Congress. The crew has repeatedly requested an investigation to no avail...

There are a lot of theories about what happened. I do not know what happened. I do know this:
1. I do not think Israel mis-identified our ship.
2. It is unimaginable that Washington DC would recall two sets of planes and let The USS
Liberty be attacked.
3. I do not understand why there was never a Congressional investigation.
4. I know that we have treated the crew of The USS Liberty badly.
5. We must have had a reason to "white-wash" the entire affair. I just do not know what it is.

If you want to learn more about The USS Liberty please go to their website:

Events like the assault on The USS Liberty reinforce my belief that I love my Country but I do not always trust my government.

I hope the seven marines and the navy corpsmen that are being held in shackles at Camp Pendleton that stand accused by the media of "war crimes" are treated better then the crew of The USS Liberty has been treated.

I hope the marines involved in the "supposed war crimes" committed in Haditha are also treated better then we have treated the crew of The USS Liberty.

We should honor our veterans and our current soldiers by providing them with the truth and by ASSUMING THEY ARE INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY.

Mike Sylvester


Bobett said...

The amount of effort to avoid a probe of the cover-up makes the assault on the Liberty unique in American history. Johnson/McNamara cover-up. No American president would want to admit that the United States was a principal party in unleashing the many catastrophes that were born as a result of Johnson's decision to bless the Israeli invasion in Sinai and Golan Heights and "white-washing the war crime against the USS Liberty and killing our sailors.

How do we explain why eight American Presidents have avoided an
investigation of the Liberty and war crimes? Robert McNamara is still alive at 90. He was the US Secretary of Defense 1961-1968 and the President of the World Bank from 1968-1981. Will he take the truth to his grave or cleanse his soul?

from Veterans of Peace, Does Liberty Matter?
“That green light made Johnson and McNamara complicit not only for approving the invasion but also for one of the disastrous results of the invasion; the murder of so many American sailors. Johnson was in no position to point fingers at the Israelis. They would simply have gone public with the dirty little secret that Johnson and McNamara had given the nod to the invasion. Johnson's secret complicity in giving a green light to Israeli aggression gave birth to a cover-up of why the IDF also so fit to attack the USS Liberty.“

bobett said...

Well said!

I Agree.

"We" hope the marines involved in the "supposed war crimes" committed in Haditha are also treated better then we have treated the crew of The USS Liberty.

We should honor our veterans and our current soldiers by providing them with the truth and by ASSUMING THEY ARE INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY.

Col. B. Bunny said...

Good post, Mike. I've gnashed my teeth over the deliberate Israeli attack for years and have posted about it.

I've since read Operation Cyanide by Peter Hounam, Vision (2003), and believe the author's theory that the attack was linked to a planned American strike on Egypt.

I'll post about that sometime. The book goes a long way to explain why there was no assistance to the Liberty or any kind of an investigation.

It's a chilling book for at least two reasons and is a story of duplicity that I never would have thought possible, even from LBJ.

When there is an exceedlingly powerful interest in covering up facts, even in the U.S., it is clear that can be achieved, esp. in the military arena.

This is not a comment on the reasons for invading Iraq. There were better lessons to teach in the Middle East and, er, Persia, but the WMD issue was not disputed by multitudes of people all along the political speculum and there were plenty of good reasons to go into Iraq even if it was not the optimum objective in our humble opinion.

LP Mike Sylvester said...


I recently read Operation Cyanide, it is an interesting book.


Bobett said...

Bunny, I went to your website
and read it all! Great Book!

Thanks Mike,
I see it's easy to bring up the subject. It's harder to talk about the walk. It's even harder to explain. Give it time!

Col. B. Bunny said...

You're way ahead of me then, Mike.

Thanks, Bobett.

Bobett Kelley said...

God Bless you and yours...
Thank you for giving all our sons
and future sons a blessing.

Dignity & Grace from above.


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