Still Waiting for USS Liberty’s Truth

Exclusive: During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israeli warplanes and warships tried to sink the USS Liberty, killing 34 of the spy ship’s crew. Afterwards, U.S. and Israeli officials excused the attack as an unfortunate mistake and covered up evidence of willful murder, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern explains.

By Ray McGovern

Israel’s chokehold over U.S. politics and politicians has been so powerful for so many decades that this obvious reality is routinely denied, a collective gagging of the truth that is itself a measure of how strong the Israeli grip is.

The most potent and poignant example of how much American independence has been surrendered to Israel when it comes to events in the Middle East may be the contortions of cover-up that followed Israel’s attempt to sink the USS Liberty during the Six-Day War in 1967, killing 34 American seamen.

USS Liberty (AGTR-5) receives assistance from units of the Sixth Fleet, after she was attacked and seriously damaged by Israeli forces off the Sinai Peninsula on June 8, 1967.  (US Navy photo)

USS Liberty (AGTR-5) receives assistance from units of the Sixth Fleet, after she was attacked and seriously damaged by Israeli forces off the Sinai Peninsula on June 8, 1967. (US Navy photo)

The desire of virtually the entire U.S. political and media establishments was for this unpleasant incident to go away. No one, it seemed, wanted to hold Israel to account or to challenge its lame excuses about an inadvertent mistake. One of the few who eventually did was Navy Admiral and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Thomas Moorer, who helped lead an independent, blue-ribbon commission to investigate what happened to the Liberty.

Those finding were released on Oct. 22, 2003. The introduction and first four findings stated:

“We, the undersigned, having undertaken an independent investigation of Israel’s attack on USS Liberty, including eyewitness testimony from surviving crewmembers, a review of naval and other official records, an examination of official statements by the Israeli and American governments, a study of the conclusions of all previous official inquiries, and a consideration of important new evidence and recent statements from individuals having direct knowledge of the attack or the cover up, hereby find the following:

“1. That on June 8, 1967, after eight hours of aerial surveillance, Israel launched a two-hour air and naval attack against USS Liberty, the world’s most sophisticated intelligence ship, inflicting 34 dead and 173 wounded American servicemen (a casualty rate of seventy percent, in a crew of 294);

“2. That the Israeli air attack lasted approximately 25 minutes, during which time unmarked Israeli aircraft dropped napalm canisters on USS Liberty’s bridge, and fired 30mm cannons and rockets into our ship, causing 821 holes, more than 100 of which were rocket-size; survivors estimate 30 or more sorties were flown over the ship by a minimum of 12 attacking Israeli planes which were jamming all five American emergency radio channels;

“3. That the torpedo boat attack involved not only the firing of torpedoes, but the machine-gunning of Liberty’s firefighters and stretcher-bearers as they struggled to save their ship and crew; the Israeli torpedo boats later returned to machine-gun at close range three of the Liberty’s life rafts that had been lowered into the water by survivors to rescue the most seriously wounded;

“4. That there is compelling evidence that Israel’s attack was a deliberate attempt to destroy an American ship and kill her entire crew; evidence of such intent is supported by statements from Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Undersecretary of State George Ball, former CIA director Richard Helms, former NSA directors Lieutenant General William Odom, USA (Ret.), Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, USN (Ret.), and Marshal Carter; former NSA deputy directors Oliver Kirby and Major General John Morrison, USAF (Ret.); and former Ambassador Dwight Porter, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon in 1967;”

[The signers included Adm. Moorer; General Raymond G. Davis; former Assistant Commandant, United States Marine Corps; Rear Admiral Merlin Staring, United States Navy (Ret.), former Judge Advocate General Of The Navy; and Ambassador James Akins (Ret.) former United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.]

The findings went on to make other more general observations about U.S. political subservience to Israel, stating that because of Israel’s “powerful supporters in the United States, the White House deliberately covered up the facts of this attack from the American people”; that because of that pressure, the attack was “the only serious naval incident that has never been thoroughly investigated by Congress”; that “there has been an official cover-up without precedent in American naval history”; that “the truth about Israel’s attack and subsequent White House cover-up continues to be officially concealed from the American people to the present day and is a national disgrace”; that “a danger to the national security exists whenever our elected officials are willing to subordinate American interests to those of any foreign nation” and that this policy “endangers the safety of Americans and the security of the United States.”

Frightened Presidents

Just weeks before his death on Feb. 5, 2004, Adm. Moorer made a final public statement urging that the truth finally be revealed about the attack on the USS Liberty but recognized the behind-the-scenes control that Israel exerts over even the highest U.S. officials:

“I’ve never seen a President, I don’t care who he is, stand up to [Israel] They always get what they want. The Israelis know what is going on all the time. I got to the point where I wouldn’t write anything down. If the American people understood what a grip these people have got on our government, they would rise up in arms.” [As quoted by Richard Curtiss in “A Changing Image: American Perceptions of the Arab-Israeli Dispute.”]

Israeli messages intercepted on June 8, 1967, leave no doubt that sinking the USS Liberty was the mission assigned to the attacking Israeli warplanes and torpedo boats as the Six-Day War raged in the Middle East. Here, for example, is the text of an intercepted Israeli conversation, just one of many pieces of evidence that the Israeli attack was not a mistake but likely a willful attempt to prevent the U.S. government from eavesdropping on Israel’s military operations.

Israeli pilot to ground control: “This is an American ship. Do you still want us to attack?”

Ground control: “Yes, follow orders.”

Israeli pilot: “But, sir, it’s an American ship I can see the flag!”

Ground control: “Never mind; hit it!”

The Israelis might have been able to report “mission accomplished, ship sunk, all crew killed” save for the bravery and surefootedness of 23-year-old Navy seaman Terry Halbardier, whose actions spelled the difference between the murder of 34 of the crew and the intended massacre of all 294.

Halbardier skated across the Liberty’s slippery deck while it was being strafed in order to connect a communications cable and enable the Liberty to send out an SOS. The Israelis intercepted that message and, out of fear of how the U.S. Sixth Fleet would respond, immediately broke off the attack, returned to their bases, and sent an “oops” message to Washington confessing to their unfortunate “mistake.”

As things turned out, the Israelis didn’t need to be so concerned. When President Lyndon Johnson learned that the USS America and USS Saratoga had launched warplanes to do battle with the forces attacking the Liberty, he told Defense Secretary Robert McNamara to call Sixth Fleet Carrier Division Commander Rear Admiral Lawrence Geis and tell him to order the warplanes to return immediately to their carriers.

According to J.Q. “Tony” Hart, a chief petty officer who monitored these conversations from a U.S. Navy communications relay station in Morocco, Geis shot back that one of his ships was under attack. Tellingly, McNamara responded: “President Johnson is not going to go to war or embarrass an American ally over a few sailors.”

John Crewdson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the Chicago Tribune, asked McNamara about this many years later. McNamara’s answer is worth reading carefully; he said he had “absolutely no recollection of what I did that day,” except that “I have a memory that I didn’t know at the time what was going on.”

Crewsdon has written the most detailed and accurate account of the Israeli attack on the Liberty; it appeared in the Chicago Tribune, and also in the Baltimore Sun, on Oct. 2, 2007. Read it and you’ll understand why Crewdson got no Pulitzer for his investigative reporting on the Liberty. Instead, the Tribune laid him off in November 2008 after 24 years.

On the few occasions when the mainstream U.S. media outlets are forced to address what happened, they blithely ignore the incredibly rich array of hard evidence and still put out the false narrative of the “mistaken” Israeli attack on the Liberty. And they attempt to conflate fact with speculation, asking why Israel would deliberately attack a ship of the U.S. Navy.

Why Tel Aviv wanted the Liberty and its entire crew on the bottom of the Mediterranean remains a matter of speculation, but there are plausible theories including Israel’s determination to keep the details of its war plans secret from everyone, including the U.S. government.

On June 25, 2015, The Real News Network interviewed the only U.S. Marine survivor, Sgt. Bryce Lockwood, and me, a CIA analyst in June 1967 responsible for reporting on the activities of the Soviet Union. Paul Jay, the interviewer, made a strong attempt to separate fact from speculation.

Part 1 presents the facts. They include: (1) Israel attacked the USS Liberty by air and sea for two hours on June 8, 1967 during the six-day Israeli-Arab War; (2) The Israelis knew they were attacking a U.S Navy ship and gave the order to sink it and leave no survivors; (3) The U.S. Navy betrayed its own in obeying White House orders to parrot the Israeli excuse of “mistaken identity.” Not one naval officer resigned in protest.

Part 2 of the interview proceeds from those facts; it features speculation regarding what the Israelis may have had in mind in trying to sink the Liberty and leave no survivors. The facts being what they are, it should come as no surprise that trying to put a rationale behind them is a mind-boggling task. And, sad to say, no U.S. official has apparently dared confront the Israelis!

Interviewer Paul Jay, understandably, comes down hard on the obvious need for an official U.S. investigation. We know from the testimony of some of those who actually took part in the whitewash “investigation” commissioned by Adm. John S. McCain Jr. (father of Sen. John McCain) that it was a travesty.

Will the Navy Finally Take Care of Its Own?

There are some glimmers of hope.

–The annual ceremony on June 8 to honor Liberty crew killed that day has typically been ignored by Navy brass. This year was different. Three senior active duty Navy officers came to pay their respects. They were led by Rear Admiral Nancy A. Norton, Director, Warfare Integration Directorate, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.

It struck others, as well as me, not only that her presence betokened more interest on the part of the Navy in righting this wrong, but that the admiral seemed genuinely interested herself in digging into what happened and what might be done at this point to properly acknowledge what happened.

–The current chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, R- California, is one of the few politicians who knows and cares about the attack on the Liberty. Congressman Nunes took the initiative to facilitate the awarding of a Silver Star to Terry Halbardier, the seaman from Texas who did what was necessary to save what remained of the crew and ship. He had to slosh through a lake of napalm and dodge Israeli strafing of the deck to hook up the cable needed to broadcast the SOS.

Halbardier was finally honored on May 27, 2009 42 years late but better late than never at the small award ceremony in Rep. Nunes’s office in Visalia, California. The Republican congressman pinned the Silver Star next to the Purple Heart that Halbardier found in his home mailbox three years before.

Nunes said, “The government has kept this quiet I think for too long, and I felt as my constituent he [Halbardier] needed to get recognized for the services he made to his country.”

Nunes got that right. Despite the many indignities the Liberty crew has been subjected to, the mood in Visalia was pronouncedly a joyous one of Better Late Than Never. And, it did take some time for the moment to sink in: Wow, a gutsy congressman not afraid to let the truth hang out on this delicate issue. I was able to be there that day; seldom have I experienced a more poignant moment.

Congressman Nunes, by virtue of the powerful position he now holds as chair of the House Intelligence Committee, is in position to extend recognition and gratitude to the rest of the Liberty crew, whether alive or dead. (Halbardier died last August.)

–Israel’s seizure of the Swedish boat Marianne in international waters on June 29 en route to Gaza brought back bitter memories of the torpedo attack on the USS Liberty. The Marianne’s passengers and crew were taken to the Israeli naval base of Ashdod the same base from which three Israeli torpedo boats sailed at noon (local time) on June 8, 1967 with explicit orders to join Israeli Air Force fighter-bombers already engaged in trying to sink the USS Liberty.

Most of the 34 Liberty crew killed that day died when one of the five torpedoes fired by the Ashdod-based torpedo boats hit the Liberty. Sgt. Lockwood, who was in the process of throwing sensitive material and equipment over board, lost all the Marines under his command in that attack. According to Lockwood, the wheel from the torpedo boat that fired the killing torpedo has been on display at the Israeli Navy Museum in Haifa along with a life raft the Israeli boats picked up on their way back to Ashdod adding insult to injury.

Would it be too much to expect that, after the latest Israeli crime on the high seas on June 29, a Navy admiral might find his voice and pick up where Adm. Moorer left off? My candidate would be the unsung patriot who helped prevent the war on Iran that Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush were still planning for 2008, their last year in office, despite the unanimous conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community that Iran was not working on a nuclear weapon.

It took some guts to say, as Admiral William J. “Fox” Fallon did in early March 2008, an attack on Iran “isn’t going to happen on my watch” as CENTCOM commander for which he was unceremoniously replaced by a far-more-malleable general named David Petraeus, a former insubordinate subordinate for whom Fallon had a personal as well as a policy dislike. After his first meeting with Petraeus a year earlier in Baghdad, Fallon reportedly sized him up as an “ass-kissing little chickenshit.”

Assuming there is no Omerta code for Navy admirals (at least not for retirees) why should we hesitate to encourage Adm. Fallon to push for a proper investigation of the attack on the USS Liberty. Perhaps while Israel’s most recent act of piracy is fresh in some minds, Fallon could reboot the process of righting the wrong done to the USS Liberty crew.

Ray McGovern served for a total of 30 years in Army intelligence and CIA analysis.  He now works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.  He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

36 comments for “Still Waiting for USS Liberty’s Truth

  1. ray songtree
    July 15, 2015 at 10:38
  2. Thomas Jefferson
    July 12, 2015 at 02:46

    Still Waiting for WTC 7 Freefall Collapse Truth

  3. Anonymous
    July 8, 2015 at 07:13

    The attack on the USS Liberty was a failed false flag attack. The Israelis intended to sink her with all hands on board without allowing her to send any signals about who was attacking her. That is why the first thing they hit was the radio antenna and they jammed all her signals, including the super secret signals.

    They knew the U.S. Would never have expected the attack to come from Israel and the U.S. Response would have been a devastating attack on Egypt. If that had happened, imagine how many Americans around the Middle East would have been slaughtered by frenzied mobs and the U.S. Would have been dragged into an unending war with the Arab World.

    Luckily, a brave sailor risked his life to climb up a mast and string up a makeshift antenna, which conveyed the message that they were being attacked by the Israelis. After that they they pulled back and pretended that it was a mistake.

    Unfortunately, the Israelis learned their lesson and planned more carefully for the 9/11 false flag attack, by making sure that they had enough people on the inside to assure the coverup was complete.

  4. James Christner
    July 7, 2015 at 13:47

    I was shocked when I learned, 4 June 2014, at a crew reunion of the USS Rockbridge and her sister ship, the USS Renville, in Buffalo, NY, that the decommissioned Liberty had been tied up right across the pier from the Rockbridge, as we prepared her for decommissioning in November 1968, and I never knew it!

    I vividly recall listening to news reports of the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war on the car radio as I drove with a friend to Philadelphia,PA to finalize arrangements for a summer trip to Europe before reporting to New Port, RI to attend Naval Officer Candidate School in November.

    The end of May 1968, I was flown to Valletta, Malta (where the Liberty, after the attack, was put into dry-dock so that the remains of the 25 men who died in the torpedo attack could be recovered and attack damage repaired and covered up) to begin sea duty aboard the Rockbridge. After completing a Med cruise, the Rockbridge sailed back to the Naval Amphibious Base in Little Creek, VA for decommissioning.

    I am stunned to realize, after so many years of cover-up, how closely I had tracked Liberty’s fateful voyage without having realized it!

    A great debt of gratitude is owed to Ray McGovern for his unrelenting dedication to the task of keeping the pot of indignation about this dastardly attack vigorously boiling! Thank you very much, Ray!

  5. art
    July 6, 2015 at 18:39

    I’ve read about this incident in Loftus and Aarons book “The Secret war against the Jews”. It is ferociously refuted in many other sources. Please read fairly exhaustive description given in You’re welcome. I could not understand what would be the rational for deliberate attack. No other country treats Americans with more warmth and friendliness than Israel.

    • Zachary Smith
      July 7, 2015 at 10:00

      People who examine this link ought to know that it’s carefully and artfully crafted BS.

      The author has a cozy column at the timesofisrael site. His archive there will inform you that every bad thing you’ve ever heard about Israel is a lie.

  6. C Heil
    July 5, 2015 at 15:21

    Thank you so much, Ray McGovern. Thank you.

  7. Bill Bodden
    July 5, 2015 at 14:31

    The attack on the USS Stark in the Persian/Arabian Gulf in 1987 always struck me as another shameful act of betrayal by the US government and the US Navy similar to the USS Liberty. The gist of the story is that an Iraqi fighter plane shot two Exocet missiles into the Stark killing 37 crew members. The investigation mostly blamed the Stark’s captain for deficiencies, but the timing of the event is more suspicious to begin with. This event happened a very short time after word was released that the US had been supplying Iran with weapons as part of the Iran-Contra scheme during the Iraq/Iran war. –

  8. Molecule
    July 5, 2015 at 14:10

    Some of the main questions are still missing. Why did the USS Amberjack maintain radio silence during the attack? How many torpedoes did the USS Amberjack have when it left Newport News, and how many did it have left when it returned to port? Skipper Huber was a freemason. The Amberjack had tailed the Liberty and it’s assignment was to make a movie of the entire event. Similarly why was Capt. McGonagle orienting his ship and flying an oversized flag, at a perfect 90 degree angle for the movies being made by the Amberjack? After McGonagle had received all kinds of special rewards and remunerations for his patriotism (i.e. his silence for the brotherhood), why did McGonagle say on his death bed, “Eventually someone will have the courage to tell the truth about the USS Liberty.” Meaning … McGonagle knew the truth. He knew why he had hoised an unusually ovesized flag, the kind usually reserved for making movies. This is the Pentagon’s little “Just what was the Amberjack doing there anyway” probem. The radio silence of the Amberjack suggests that the Pentagon was in on it. That the Liberty had been hastily outfitted and deployed for this purpose. That Ben Gurion Moshe Dyan didn’t give a damn what messages the Liberty was gathering, as Israeli pilots successfully strafed a battalion of rubber balloon tanks invading from Egypt. The Wall St boyz inside the CIA and Pentagon would have cheering with joy. These questions raise a political question. How is it that after Israeli pilots strafed the top half of the USS Liberty, the power that the Israeli lobby, held over the Congress was suddenly increased, by several orders of magnitude? The Israelis, the Pentagon and the Congress are all curiously silent on this issue. The Israeli pilots have pictures of the Amberjack — they have pictures of the cavitation trail from the one torpedo that hit, and exactly hit and bounced off of a 1″ thick cross-section bulkhead.

    It’s the stupid quesitons that still remain open … wide open. Like McGonagle said, someday, someone will have the courage to tell the truth. For the moment, no one in the Pentagon Wall-St complex has the courage. The pensions and benefits are too fat and sweet.

    • Bob Nothhouse
      July 5, 2015 at 18:54

      What is you source for this information? I’ve read a lot about the Liberty, and have seen nothing about the Amberjack.

      • bobzz
        July 5, 2015 at 19:49
        • F. G. Sanford
          July 6, 2015 at 06:41

          This link turns up an “oops 404 error” message indicating that the article no longer exists. Rather than allowing any doubt to contribute to skepticism, I feel obligated to point out that the article DOES exist. I believe it refers to the Phil Giraldi article which originally appeared March 17, 2011 on “The American Conservative” website. It is a TRUE story, not a ‘sea story’. Circumstantial evidence and some credible testimony indicates that the USS Amberjack did shadow USS Liberty and may have produced video and photographic imagery. As usual, the strategy appears to be to “run out the clock” as crew members, witnesses and responsible superiors in the ‘chain of command’ die of old age. Unless there is a campaign to get the truth, all will soon be lost. As a commenter to this article on another site points out, “There must be a big stinky skeleton in a closet somewhere” that permits this story to remain suppressed, and “Israel seems to have the key”.

          • Joe Tedesky
            July 6, 2015 at 10:07

            I received the ‘oops 404 error’ message as well. I then went into the wrote in the search box, ‘sinking USS Liberty new findings’. Then Google ‘USS Amberjack USS Liberty’ then Google ‘Operation Cynadide’ then prepare to read lots of updated material. Hopefully the truth will prevail, and possibly by the USS Liberty’s 50th anniversary of this treadmill attack we may get to the truth. It doesn’t hurt to keep on trying.

    • Zachary Smith
      July 6, 2015 at 22:54

      The Amberjack story wasn’t a bit convincing to me. That all 70 or 80 crewmen would still use lip glue after 48 years isn’t really believable. And then there was this by Philip Giraldi:

      The Amberjack was equipped with a snorkel, which enabled it to sit on the bottom of the sea immobile and listen to electronic transmissions for long periods of time.

      Either I’ve been badly informed about what a snorkel does or the author didn’t know what he was talking about.

      Tossing crazy stuff into the mix makes it easier to confuse the whole USS Liberty story beyond belief

      Sort of like has been done with the Kennedy Assassination and the 9/11 attacks.

  9. Abe
    July 5, 2015 at 13:49

    There are plenty of ass-kissing little chickenshits to go around, more than enough to ensure a US attack on Iran.

  10. Bruce
    July 5, 2015 at 12:12

    And STILL, They serve.

  11. Charles Watkins
    July 5, 2015 at 09:56

    Phillip Nelson writes in LBJ: From Mastermind to “The Colossus” that this was a manipulation by LBJ to allow the US to enter the conflict against Egypt. The Israelis were pressured into this move, which made no tactical sense since the conflict was essentially over with the destruction of the Egyptian airforce on the second day. Johnson withheld support and forced the Liberty to limp all the way to Malta by itself, hoping it would sink on the way.

  12. Erik
    July 5, 2015 at 08:42

    This attack is far worse than the falsely-alleged “Gulf of Tonkin Incident” planned by the Navy in 1964, to create a pretext for the long-planned bombing of North Vietnam. During the 1964 election campaign, Johnson had told the Joint Chiefs that “If I can have the election, you can have your war.”

    The Navy machine-gunned NV defensive coastal radar installations at night, and the next day sent the destroyer Maddox into NV territorial waters, and when patrol boats emerged to investigate, they were destroyed at a range of four miles without provocation or damage to the US vessel. A similar “attack” upon two undamaged US destroyers the following day was claimed. The US admiral who threatened to expose the fake was told to be quiet or be fired. The US public and Congress was told by pres Johnson and defsec MacNamara that US forces were subjected to an unprovoked attack, and fake pieces of artillery shells were held up for all to see. Congress passed the resolution permitting war, and the long-planned bombing of NV began.

    So we see the honesty to be expected from the Navy, and its control over personnel. We see the outright lying to the people and Congress with intent to start a war for personal benefit. This attack three years later shows the absence of concern for real casualties in a real attack. The only concern is who makes the campaign contributions.

    • Erik
      July 5, 2015 at 09:09

      But I will not treat the Navy as one person, as its dissenters then and now show otherwise. Let us hope that courage is again shown by whistleblowers, as in the Navy investigation of the 1898 USS Maine sinking in Havana, which concluded that it was due to a coal bunker explosion, not a Spanish mine as claimed by the Hearst papers in an elaborate fiction, a claim that led to the US invasion of Cuba and the Philippines.

    • Tom Laffin
      July 6, 2015 at 20:21

      JFK had no intention to deploy in Viet Nam; it was LBJ as you pointed out who wanted it. Look at the same situation and another false flag about the US involvement in Libya, then Iraq. I wouldn’t narrow things down to blame the jew power; the scope is larger and the tool is money. The Rothchild kikes were only part of the larger consortium, that included Rockefeller, and to what has become the the Bilderberg Group, The US backed the Russians in WW1 and again in WW2, The US installed the Russian leadership at WW1, and the German leadership, Hitler, in WW2. Wars are profitable and increase the power addiction of the elite oligarths, who create the false flags, the excuses. Like 911, building 7, and the supposed 747 cramming entirely into an 8 foot hole — which doesn’t fool anyone with even an elementary knowledge of missles. The US military today is more awake to the tyranny of within, more than ever… but hamstrung, as usual. Don’t ask, don’t tell, or else. Even when there are no witnesses, there is forensic evidence. I recall a CO in RVN saying I don’t believe the first report I get of an incident. Are we going to listen to yet another “what difference at this point does it make” about USS Liberty? Or, is it, oh, ok, so closure now the truth comes out, big oops. Will it alter what is next on the world adjenda? No. Even with truth staring you in the face. It was on UK news a half hour before building 7 went down, that it went down. Was that a typo, or did someone get ahead on the script.

    • Aarky
      July 8, 2015 at 16:54

      You have most of the Gulf of Tonkin Incident right. For a really great read, Robert Honyak the CIA historian, wrote a strangely titled account about eight years ago. “Skunks, Boogies, Silent Hounds, and Flying Fish, The Gulf of Tonkin Mystery, 2-4 August 1964”. The US destroyer Maddox didn’t know about the CIA night times raids against N Vietnam. The N Viets thought they were part of a new raid and decided to attack the boat. An order came from the highest levels of the government, Don’t attack during daylight, but the order was ignored. The Maddox fled at top speed and called for assistance. One 13 mm shell hit the smokestack. US Navy fighters strafed the three boats, killing and wounding a number of their men and leaving the boats dead in the water It’s a great read!!

      • Charles Lathrop
        July 10, 2015 at 21:36

        Honyak was an NSA historian, not a CIA historian.

  13. BobS
    July 5, 2015 at 08:36

    The story of the attack on the Liberty would make a powerful war film, similar to the stories of la Drang and Mogadishu told in We Were Soldiers and Black Hawk Down. I wonder why Hollywood has never tried to make that movie?

    • Thomas Howard
      July 5, 2015 at 23:56

      Jews control media

    • Frank Lambert
      July 6, 2015 at 06:22

      First of all, my thanks go out to Ray McGovern for this very important story and secondly, to Robert Parry, a “journalist’s journalist, for publishing it. Too many people in the U.S. are terrified of the AIPAC Lobby, and this article substantiates that fact.

      BobS, your mention of Ia Drang brings back memories of official U.S. Army records of the “first-pitched battle” of the Vietnam War in November, 1965, between soldiers of the 7th Cav, 1st Air Cavalry Division and the PAVN (People’s Army of Vietnam) whom some called the NVA (North Vietnamese Army).

      I did an exhaustive search of Ia Drang 1 in U.S. Army publications, and at least in the 1970’s, could not find the actual details and events of that particular battle as they were, compared to the official storyline.

      For you old-timers reading this- the son of television news reporter Howard K. Smith was one of the survivors of that battle in the Ia Drang Valley, and wrote a lengthy article on it which was published in ‘Look Magazine’ in (if I remember correctly) a January1966 or 67 issue. The 1st Battalion walked into a regimental ambush and took heavy casualties, many more than what army publications state in their account of this pivotal battle.

      If it is even in archival form, in print or on the internet, I don’t know.

  14. Greg Maybury
    July 5, 2015 at 08:27

    G’Day Ray,

    For any number of reasons your article underscores the need for the fate of the USS Liberty and Israel’s involvement in it to be kept on the political and public radar. The first is that despite being well-documented, not enough folks even after all this time – both Stateside and elsewhere – are aware of the backstory of this tragic, lamentable crime, as it was covered up by everyone involved with the ever reliable MSM – as always – complicit handmaidens in such.

    The second reason is that the Liberty narrative should be held up as a constant reminder for us all of Israel’s pernicious impact on the geopolitical order and its ongoing ability to literally get away with murder, to say nothing of its propensity for flouting international law with impunity. In this case we’re talking the premeditated “murder” of active service personnel of the armed forces of its own principal patron and protector, America. (With numerous precedents to guide us, given the current milieu we can easily imagine the ‘all hell breaks loose’ hue and cry if a bunch of Jihadi-fuelled ‘terror-meisters’ managed to perpetrate a similar attack on a US vessel.)

    And the third reason is the reality that no-one, either in the US or in Israel, was ever held to account for this – let’s call a spade a spade here – unconscionable war crime. As you have noted, this included the father of the estimable Sen John McCain, presently one of Washington’s most righteous and subservient of Israeli apologists, with McCain senior by most accounts being party along with many others to the cover-up that went to the highest levels of the US government at the time.

    That said, although I for one am an unabashed critic of Israel and its foreign policies, and in particular, its inordinate influence via the Israel lobby in the U.S. on America’s own foreign policy, its military and national security affairs – along with the political/democratic process in general – I fully appreciate those engaging in any form of criticism are treading a fine line. To even question, much less condemn Israel, its policies or its motives and actions in the Greater Middle East and elsewhere – no matter how gingerly and ‘rationally’ one might approach the subject – automatically invites accusations of “anti-Semitism” and similar name-calling.

    Such accusations are of course amongst the most damning – albeit gratuitous – epithets than can be leveled at someone wanting to be taken seriously as a writer, journalist and political commentator. It is a response the Zionists and hardliners in Israel and the country’s apologists in the US and elsewhere have an easy propensity for to be sure, and explains why so few political figures – including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders – will even contemplate such critiques in their public utterances, no matter their private feelings and views.

    Yet there is no way of escaping the deplorable reality of the fate of USS Liberty for those still habitually inclined to bury said “reality”. Nor should there be. For others, that is those willing to see it for what it represents, it remains one of the truly ugly blots on the morally desertified landscape of US/Israel relations, and is a savage indictment on all those so-called ‘American friends of Israel’ who have created and fed this increasingly out-of-control monster. We might even say it provided an exemplar for the way that relationship has been managed from that point onward. If Israel can get away with such an act, then there was/is no holding them back.

    Moreover, for those willing to objectively view and unflinchingly report on Israel’s larger role within the geopolitical firmament – one that continues to be sponsored, fostered and sanctioned by the Washington establishment at great expense to us all – I suspect (or at least I trust) they are themselves becoming increasingly impervious to and dismissive of such labels. The more the Israelis and their sundry apologists trot it out, the less meaningful it becomes. As it should be.

    For what it is worth, here in Australia it seems we are less apprehensive about the “anti-Semitic” brush being arbitrarily applied whenever it is expedient to do so. In this respect, it is interesting to note that former Aussie Prime Minister – Malcolm Fraser, now sadly deceased – in an interview a few years back publicly declared his view about Israel’s role in the attack on the Liberty. (See Youtube link above.) Predictably, the Israel lobby here in Australia and those predisposed to defend Israel come hell or high water dismissed his observations as the “rantings” of someone with “anti-Semitic” tendencies.

    Few could argue though that Fraser – a senior Cabinet minister at the time of the attack – was in a position to know the details. And given Fraser’s unimpeachable stature – nationally and internationally – in everything from defending human rights to fighting discrimination, this of course was a ludicrous response to his revelations. But tellingly – although not surprisingly – there was little commentary in the Oz MSM – specifically the Rupert Murdoch owned “The Australian”, Murdoch himself being a high profile supporter of Israel – that gave any credence to the actual veracity of his statements or the backstory behind this incident. They were of course all too ready to ignore and dismiss Fraser’s ‘rantings’. (We should try and imagine any comparable public figure in the U.S. doing what Fraser did; it would just be unthinkable!)

    There is one other key reason for continuing to give oxygen to the Liberty tragedy. Justice needs to be properly and fully served of course, whether in respect of full and total compensation and/or restitution to still living crew members, the families of those that didn’t survive the attack along with those who have long since passed on, with full and open acknowledgement from both the Israeli and US governments in respect of the former’s involvement in the attack and the latter’s coverup. And along with that acknowledgement there needs to be a formal apology to all concerned from both governments. A real bonus would be the MSM collectively acknowledging their own complicity in the cover-up!

    If any of this is to happen, it seems that 2017 – the 50th Anniversary of the attack – will present an ideal, timely opportunity for the release of all relevant documents related to the tragedy and for both governments to finally come clean on the matter. We can only hope that those who are seeking such an outcome are presently working on leveraging the timing of the anniversary to this end. It may be a ‘good luck with that’ long shot, but “nothing ventured” as they say.

    Otherwise, I expect there will be much more focus on celebrating Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War itself than commemorating the Liberty debacle – much less acknowledging the real story of what happened so as to bring about some closure for all concerned – one that thus far has all but been relegated to the status of collateral damage in that ugly, self-serving, and unnecessary War of aggression, one whose impact is still reverberating today.

    As one of the characters in The Wire might have been wont to say: “That’s America man!”

    • Joe Tedesky
      July 5, 2015 at 10:59

      Great post, good read.

      • July 5, 2015 at 14:23

        I agree — great post, Greg!

  15. F. G. Sanford
    July 5, 2015 at 05:29

    My first “Med-Cruise” took place several years after the “Liberty Incident”, and I had never heard of it. Arrival for a ‘port call’ in Haifa, Israel promised a rewarding experience – a chance to see the “Holy Land”, fascinating archaeology, and the wonders of a “desert made to bloom” by the “people without a land”. Stopping in the Wardroom before “shoving off”, I noted two old “mustangs” somberly seated at the XO’s table by themselves. One was an LDO (Limited Duty Officer) and the other was a CWO (Chief Warrant Officer). They were drinking the obligatory black coffee and were still dressed in khakis. Both wore dour expressions. I assumed they were ‘duty section’, and so were remaining onboard. That was not the case. They had no desire to leave the ship or partake of anything Israeli. I asked why, and they invited me to have a seat and a cup of coffee. Leaning forward after looking around to be sure no one was listening, the older of the two – his name happened to be Ray – looked me straight in the eye and said, “Have you ever heard of the USS Liberty?” I prepared myself for a ‘sea story’, and I wasn’t disappointed. But ‘sea stories’ being what they are, and knowing a little about how ships get their names, the “Liberty” story sounded awfully far-fetched. And, these two acted like it was almost sacrilege to talk about it. That added to my skepticism. I still believed in all that honor, pride, duty and loyalty stuff. I was sure the U.S. Navy would never allow such a travesty to remain buried in official denial. After all, they investigate the daylights out of the most insignificant infractions, and penalties can be harsh. So, I suspected these two ‘salty’ veterans might be ‘breaking in’ a young, gullible officer. The recent story about the tragic incident onboard USS Wyoming and the twelve Sailors investigated for videotaping female ‘Mids’ in the ‘rain locker’ (shower) confirms those high standards. The Navy spent six months “getting to the bottom” of this horrific crime. The Mids were devastated by “the trauma of learning about the videos”. Finding out that Sailors might look at naked women if given half a chance “shattered their faith in their shipmates”. “I broke down”, said one. “The people I was working next to, who I had immense faith and trust in…were not anything I thought they were.” I couldn’t help but wonder how she might feel about napalm and torpedoes – but I guess that was a politically incorrect thought. Several of these Sailors have been awarded “Big Chicken Dinners” (bad conduct discharges) and brig time, which is sure to set things right. In other hypocrisy news, Hillary announced, “I’ll be better for Israel than Obama” to her Israeli donors. If elected, USS Liberty is not likely to be part of her agenda. It would be “politically incorrect”.

    • Joe Tedesky
      July 5, 2015 at 10:57

      F.G. “request permission to join your post, sir”. I should have known you were once an ‘Old Salt’. Your telling of being told about the USS Liberty as maybe being a ‘Sea Story’ reminds me of how I was warned of how to notice such a claim. Remember, if the story starts out with the phrase, ‘this is no ‘B_ _ S _ _ t’ then it is a tall tale. Better know as a ‘Sea Story’. Recalling things that happened in those days, I remember a lot of news coverage over the USS Pueblo. The Pueblo capture followed the ‘Gulf of Tonkin’ incident. The attack on the USS Liberty sure changes everything we learned to believe about a ‘Sea Story’, that’s for sure.

      • F. G. Sanford
        July 5, 2015 at 16:09

        Thanks for reading, Joe. Seems like we live in a world where the best place to hide the truth is inside a true story. Sometimes I think that sooner or later, the lies must all fall apart. But they never do. The ‘sea story’ just goes on and on like a bad dream, and we never wake up.

        • Joe Tedesky
          July 5, 2015 at 20:46

          F.G. you are welcome. I always enjoy reading your post. We have written about how often the truth maybe hiding within plain sight. Given how much information may evolve around a news story, it is hard to pinpoint the truth. Consider all that has been reported about the JFK assassination. Still, I come away wondering which version of this terrible conspiracy is to be believed. I have my opinion, yet my opinion is just that, its my opinion. Dealing with all this confusion I too sometimes look back with a fondness of those old Navy ‘Sea Stories’. Only thing is, those Sea Stories were meant to either scare young recruits, or have a good laugh while sitting on a bar stool on liberty. Although, cover ups and lies are not Sea Stories.

  16. Thomas Howard
    July 5, 2015 at 05:15

    I’m sure we will find that ONE person who was responsible for this coverup, because a conspiracy theory would make us wacko tinfoil hat wearers.

  17. Mark
    July 5, 2015 at 00:40

    I sure wouldn’t claim to know everything concerning Israel and the US relationship or about Israel itself — no one person could know the ins and outs of every detail.

    I will claim to have enough historical knowledge of Israel’s methods, philosophies and actions preceding the assault on the Liberty, to believe only those accounts as reported by the US Navy shipmen that lived through the attack.

    I also will say that the failure of the “US” media and government officials to deliver the truth and hold Israel accountable before the American public, was an absolute betrayal on the part of all three.

    The Liberty’s betrayal with an immediate and ongoing coverup, set the tone for Israel to coerce and dictate US Mid-East policy for decades to come — up to this very day.

    It would be good here if Zionist propagandists and their adherents would spare us any more of their feigned indignency at the truth being told in the Liberty as well as other equally obvious “incidents” of betrayals.

  18. Zachary Smith
    July 5, 2015 at 00:34

    Many thanks to Mr. McGovern for this story. I thought I had a lot of information about the USS Liberty (and I do!) but the many links were extremely useful. I just finished ordering a book I didn’t previously know existed to add to my collection.

    Once upon a time I had an opinion of James Carter as an incompetent but generally decent president. When I learned he had assisted with the Liberty coverup, that opinion took a “hit”. When I learned he was instrumental in the coverup of the Israel nuclear tests in the South Atlantic, the good thoughts totally disappeared.

  19. Joe Tedesky
    July 4, 2015 at 19:00

    I would like to thank Ray McGovern for helping to keep this story of the USS Liberty alive. I continue to find more people who have never heard of this tragic Israeli attack. I served in the US Navy as a radioman from 1968 to 1972, and never was there a mention of the fate of the USS Liberty. That in itself shows the level of secrecy that surrounds this guarded incident. You would think that at least a Navy Radioman would have been instructed to do what Seaman Harbardier had done that day. Instead, a big blanket was thrown over this violent Israeli attack, while sacrificing anything to be learned from this terrible experience. Here I always thought our Navy was big on learning from it’s pass…boy was I wrong!

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