June 8 was the 40th anniversary of the attack on the USS Liberty, an American naval intelligence ship sailing in international waters with her flag displayed on a clear day. The result of the attack was 34 dead and 171 injured. The event is the only U.S. naval attack never formally investigated by Congress.
This anniversary received little significant acknowledgment in the mass media. The Press offered one sentence of recognition in its “Today in History” column. It basically ignored this anniversary.
Contrary to the information provided by our government at the time, the assault lasted for nearly two hours. The Liberty experienced surveillance by Israeli jets for six hours, some as low as 200 feet. Israeli aircraft carrying napalm initiated the assault. Israeli torpedo boats blasted a 40-foot hole in the ship’s side and machine-gunned her life rafts.
Israeli citizens should not be held responsible for this horrendous act. But those living or dead who ordered the attack should be identified. Why did President Lyndon B. Johnson call back rescue planes from helping the USS Liberty twice and why did the U.S. government accept Israel’s explanation and downplay the severity of the attack?
Sailors from the USS Liberty have renounced the massive coverup foisted upon the United States for 40 years. They have repudiated the book written to substantiate Israel’s excuse of “mistaken identity.”
Thomas H. Moorer, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has called on Congress to clear unanswered questions surrounding this tragedy. It is imperative that we learn the truth.
Ronald D. Rufner