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USS Liberty Attacked by Israel 50 Years Ago TodayBonnie King Salem-News.com
The USS Liberty was a spy ship, keeping tabs on Israel's Arab neighbors and their Soviet advisers.
(SALEM, Ore.) - Sometimes it's not your enemies you should be wary of. Fifty years ago today, on June 8, 1967, 34 American servicemen were killed and 174 were wounded when Israel attacked the USS Liberty navy ship in international waters.
It was the highest casualty rate ever inflicted on a U.S. naval vessel, with 7 out of every 10 crew members killed or injured. To make it even worse, help did not come for 17 hours.
"Everyone that worked in the space I worked in died," says one survivor, "except me."
Israel's sea and air attack lasted approximately two hours. It was no accident. The Israeli forces attacked with full knowledge that this was an American ship and lied about it.
Israel knew the virtually defenseless vessel belonged to the United States. It was clearly marked with an American flag, and more than 40 antennas capable of receiving every kind of radio transmission. It could not have been confused with any other ship.
Research has revealed that for more than nine hours, Israel had flown over the Liberty almost hourly and maintained radar tracking. American Sailors did not worry about Israel, they felt safe.
Then, suddenly, they were attacked! The USS Liberty was strafed by planes, killing and wounding many Americans, in international waters without warning.
The attack came in the light of day. Men that were off duty were playing games and sun bathing on the deck of the ship. Crew members had no idea whose planes were shooting at their ship - at first.
According to the most reliable accounts, unmarked Israeli aircraft dropped napalm canisters on the USS Liberty bridge, and fired 30mm cannon and rockets into the ship.
Survivors estimate 30 or more sorties were flown over the ship by a minimum of 12 attacking Israeli planes.
The torpedo boat attack involved not only the firing of torpedoes, but machine-gunning of Liberty’s firefighters and stretcher-bearers.
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.”
U.S. Navy fighters located just 40 minutes away were launched to rescue the ship after they received a distress signal. But the White House cancelled the planes just minutes later, and help did not reach the USS Liberty for seventeen hours.
Defense Secretary Robert McNamara ordered the defensive aircraft back to their carriers. He was also well known for escalating our involvement in the Vietnam War, and just one year later, Robert Strange McNamara became President of the World Bank.
Rear Admiral Lawrence Geis had protested the order to recall the U.S. warplanes, to which McNamara replied, “President Johnson is not going to go to war or embarrass an American ally (sic) over a few sailors.1”
According to former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Thomas Moorer, “Those men were then betrayed and left to die by our own government.”
It took six days for the battered ship to limp in to Malta, where it was repaired and returned to active duty.
So, why do so few Americans know what happened that day? Good question.
SIMPLE ANSWER: Survivors were forbidden to tell their story under threat of courts-martial. They were told not to even speak to their wives about it. Most didn't, and they suffered tremendous PTSD as a result.
The Johnson administration never sought the prosecution of the guilty parties or otherwise attempted to seek justice for the victims.
It is the only peacetime attack on a U.S. naval vessel that, to this day, the Congress of the United States of America formally refuses to investigate.
Americans who volunteer for the military do not sign up for this. When we use the cliche "support the troops", this is when it really counts. When someone joins the military, they make a commitment with an expectation that they will also be defended and respected. If we count on them, they should certainly be able to count on us.
It's been FIFTY YEARS. There's no longer an excuse to overlook this murderous travesty. Victims of Israel's malicious behavior deserve justice: WE WILL NOT FORGET.
Watch the VIDEO PROGRAM, "Dead in the Water":
Sources: 1According to Chief Petty Officer J.Q. “Tony” Hart; Remember the Liberty: Almost Sunk by Treason on the High Seas (by Philip Nelson); the late Adm. Thomas Moorer's independent commission October 2003; BBC Documentary 2002; Others
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