Israeli Attack on U.S. Navy Ship Led to Cover-Up

By Moorer, Admiral Thomas | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, March 2004 | Go to article overview

Israeli Attack on U.S. Navy Ship Led to Cover-Up


Moorer, Admiral Thomas, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


After State Department officials and historians assembled in Washington, DC, last week to discuss the 1967 war in the Middle East, I am compelled to speak out about one of U.S. history's most shocking cover-ups.

On June 8, 1967, Israel attacked our proud naval ship-the USS Liberty-killing 34 American servicemen and wounding 172. Those men were then betrayed and left to die by our own government.

U.S. military rescue aircraft were recalled, not once, but twice, through direct intervention by the Johnson administration. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's cancellation of the Navy's attempt to rescue the Liberty, which I personally confirmed from the commanders of the aircraft carriers America and Saratoga, was the most disgraceful act I witnessed in my entire military career.

To add insult to injury, Congress, to this day, has failed to hold formal hearings on Israel's attack on this American ship. No official investigation of Israel's attack has ever permitted the testimony of the surviving crew members.

A 1967 investigation by the Navy, upon which all other reports are based, has now been fully discredited as a cover-up by its senior attorney [see box on following page]. Capt. Ward Boston, in a sworn affidavit, recently revealed that the court was ordered by the White House to cover up the incident and find that Israel's attack was "a case of mistaken identity."

Some distinguished colleagues and I formed an independent commission to investigate the attack on the USS Liberty. After an exhaustive review of previous reports, naval and other military records, including eyewitness testimony from survivors, we recently presented our findings on Capitol Hill. They include:

* Israeli reconnaissance aircraft closely studied the Liberty during an eight-hour period prior to the attack, one flying within 200 feet of the ship. Weather reports confirm the day was clear with unlimited visibility. The Liberty was a clearly marked American ship in international waters, flying an American flag and carrying large U.S. Navy hull letters and numbers on its bow.

Despite claims by Israeli intelligence that they confused the Liberty with a small Egyptian transport, the Liberty was conspicuously different from any vessel in the Egyptian navy. It was the most sophisticated intelligence ship in the world in 1967. With its massive radio antennae, including a large satellite dish, it looked like a large lobster and was one of the most easily identifiable ships afloat. …

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