Who would dare attack a US naval ship?

7 Jun

By Lois Griffith, The Daily Blog, 3 June 2017

June 8 should be remembered in America as a ‘day of infamy’.

On June 8, 1967, the USS Liberty, an unarmed electronic surveillance ship, clearly marked as an American vessel, on duty in international waters, was bombarded by fighter jets and torpedo boats of a foreign power.  How dare they!

An act of war surely. Think of the precedent! In 1898, the US battleship Maine mysteriously exploded and sank in the harbour of Havana, Cuba. Spain, the colonial ruler of Cuba, was blamed. ‘Remember the Maine’ howled the American ‘yellow journalism’ of William Randolph Hearst. President McKinney was pressured to declared war on Spain, a war that became known as the Spanish-American War.

The USS Liberty was stationed in international waters off the Sinai Peninsula at the time of the Six Day War. Israeli fighter jets and torpedo boats fired on the Liberty for 2 hours, killing 34 sailors, wounding 173 others and nearly sinking the ship. The Liberty attempted to radio for assistance, but Israeli aircraft blocked the transmissions. Eventually, the ship was able to make contact with the U.S. carrier Saratoga. Fighter jets were dispatched to defend the Liberty. When word of their deployment reached Washington, however, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered them to return to the Saratoga.

The Liberty didn’t sink. Her commanding officer, Captain William McGonagle was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honour for saving her. President Johnson, breaking with tradition, refused to award the medal personally, and refused to hold the ceremony at the White House.

Israel admitted attacking the Liberty but claimed that they thought it was an Egyptian ship. President Johnson accepted the Israeli explanation and cancelled investigations. “We will not embarrass an ally” the President said.

The surviving crew members were sworn to secrecy. The attack on the USS Liberty has been buried.

Not completely buried, at least not while any survivors are still alive.

Survivors and other Navy Officers and former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, are convinced that intercepted Israeli communications show that it was Israel’s intention to sink the ship, killing all the crew. By flying unmarked planes, the Israelis hoped to blame the attack on Egyptians and thus convince the US to go war with Egypt.

Every year the survivors gather to remember and honour their fallen colleagues. They want to tell their story. But Congressmen and women, and mainstream media don’t want to hear. Testimonies by survivors and by Ray McGovern can be found by sitting down at the computer and doing some research. That is how I’ve found the information that I am sharing. For example, The BBC made a documentary in 2002, USS Liberty; Dead in the Water. The Real News, in 2015 produced SURVIVOR OF ISRAEL ATTACK; IT COULD NOT HAVE BEEN A MISTAKE, interviewing survivor Sgt. Bryce Lockwood and former CIA Analyst Ray McGovern.

Why has this story of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty been suppressed? Why is it still suppressed?  Why won’t the US Government allow the truth to come out, even now, 50 years later? Why isn’t 08 June remembered as a ‘day of infamy’?

Imagine the repercussions should an American ship be attacked by an Arab country, or Iran or Russia or North Korea or China!


Lois Griffiths is a Palestinian Human Rights Activist from Christchurch

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