On June 8, 1967, the USS Liberty was 13 miles off the shore of the Sinai penninsula in international waters. Its presence was monitored by patrolling Israeli planes and its US flag was unmistakable. Yet Israeli aircraft attacked it for over an hour with bombs, napalm and cannon fire, Israeli torpedo boats joined the attack, and even the life rafts dropped by the injured research vessel were machine-gunned.
US aircraft sent to assist the Liberty were ordered back to their ships by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and President Johnson. The toll: 34 crew members of the Liberty were killed and 174 wounded.
Israel claimed that the attack was a tragic case of mistaken identity, an explanation publicly accepted by the White House, which hushed up the incident. Congress did not press for an investigation. But those familiar with the situation greeted the explanation with disbelief. Admiral Thomas Moorer, former chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs, said that the panel which investigated the incident and of which he was a member provided a “classic all-American cover-up.”
AFTER 40 YEARS, OUR SERVICEMEN DESERVE THE CONGRESSIONAL INVESTIGATION GIVEN TO OTHER ATTACKED VESSELS! Write your own letter to your congressmen OR cut and past the one below with your congressperson’s name in the salutation. You can find your congressmen by going to www.Congress.org
and filling in your zipcode on the right.
Dear Congressman (congresswoman):
There has been much talk in recent weeks about supporting our troops in Iraq. The crew of the USS Liberty is still waiting for Congress’s support and after 40 years, it is overdue!
In 1967, the USS Liberty was furiously attacked by Israeli air and naval forces as it lay in international waters off the Sinai penninsula, killing 34 and wounding 174 Americans. While Israel claimed the vessel was misidentified and the attack was an accident, those involved with the incident and naval investigations scoff at the explanation and have put forward other explanations. The White House hushed up the incident and Congress has never carried out the necessary full investigation.
We ask that such an investigation be carried out now to honor the sacrifice of our servicemen by ascertaining the truth about the attack.
Links to many statements by those knowledgeable about the event are provided below.
(selected by the University of Kansas Military History Department as the top Military History web site in the United States).
"I was never satisfied with the Israeli explanation. . . . 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 "
-- US Secretary of State Dean Rusk
"...the board of inquiry (concluded) that the Israelis knew exactly what they were doing in attacking the Liberty."
-- CIA Director Richard Helms
"I can tell you for an absolute certainty (from intercepted communications) that the Israelis knew they were attacking an American ship."
-- NSA Deputy Director Oliver Kirby
"That the Liberty could have been mistaken for the Egyptian supply ship El Quseir is unbelievable"
-- Special Assistant to the President Clark Clifford, in his report to President Lyndon Johnson
"The highest officials of the [Johnson] administration, including the President, believed it 'inconceivable' that Israel's 'skilled' defense forces could have committed such a gross error."
-- Lyndon Johnson's biographer Robert Dallek in Flawed Giant, Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 430-31)
"A nice whitewash for a group of ignorant, stupid and inept [expletive deleted]."
-- Handwritten note of August 26, 1967, by NSA Deputy Director Louis W. Tordella reacting to the Israeli court decision exonerating Israelis of blame for the Liberty attack.
"Never before in the history of the United States Navy has a Navy Board of Inquiry ignored the testimony of American military eyewitnesses and taken, on faith, the word of their attackers.
-- Captain Richard F. Kiepfer, Medical Corps, US Navy (retired), USS Liberty Survivor
"The evidence was clear. Both Admiral Kidd and I believed with certainty that this attack...was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew.... It was our shared belief. . .that the attack. . .could not possibly have been an accident.... I am certain that the Israeli pilots [and] their superiors. . .were well aware that the ship was American."
-- Captain Ward Boston, JAGC, US Navy (retired), senior legal counsel to the US Navy Court of Inquiry
That the attack was deliberate "just wasn't a disputed issue" within the National Security Agency
-- Former NSA Director retired Army Lieutenant General William Odom on 3 March 2003 in an interview for Naval Institute Proceedings
Former NSA/CIA Director Admiral Bobby Inman "flatly rejected" the Cristol/Israeli claims that the attack was an accident
-- 5 March 2003 interview for Naval Institute Proceedings
Of four former NSA/CIA seniors with inside knowledge, none was aware of any agency official who dissented from the position that the attack was deliberate
-- David Walsh, writing in Naval Institute Proceedings
"It appears to me that it was not a pure case of mistaken identity."
-- Captain William L. McGonagle, Commanding Officer, USS Liberty, speaking at Arlington National Cemetery, June 8, 1997
"To suggest that they [the IDF] couldn't identify the ship is ... ridiculous. ... Anybody who could not identify the Liberty could not tell the difference between the White House and the Washington Monument."
-- Admiral Thomas Moorer, Chief of Naval Operations and later Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, quoted in The Washington Post, June 15, 1991, p. 14