U.S. Ship Torpedoed, Napalmed; Survivors Strafed
Amazing documentary about the USS Libert re-released on DVD
AMERICAN FREE PRESS
By Michael Collins Piper
On June 8, 1967, the USS Liberty, an American naval vessel sailing in the Mediterranean, was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the state of Israel. The attack took place in the middle of a sunny afternoon.
The American flag aboard the Liberty flapped clearly in the breeze. Three unmarked Israeli aircraft, accompanied by three torpedo boats, conducted the brutal assault.
The attack began with rockets and then continued with napalm, a burning chemical that clings to human skin with grisly results.
Then the torpedo boats raked the decks of the Liberty with machine-gun fire as the American sailors tried to extinguish the fires started by the napalm. The Liberty was then torpedoed three times, but, miraculously, did not sink.
When news of the attack reached the White House, President Lyndon Johnson alerted the commander of the Sixth Fleet to prepare for retaliatory action, assuming the Egyptians were responsible. Later, when the president learned the Israelis were responsible, he called off the alert and recalled the aircraft en route to defend Liberty.
Very little about the tragedy was mentioned in the American press. What reports there were indicated it was a "tragic mistake." In addition, media accounts underestimated the number of the dead.
Then, under the direction of Adm. John S. McCain, commander in chief of the U.S. Naval Forces in Europe, a court of inquiry was conducted by Rear Adm. I. C. Kidd. McCain and Kidd knew better, but they still announced that the attack was "a case of mistaken identity."
McCain's cover up for Israel's slaughter of American Navy boys forged a unique tie between the McCain family and Israel, such that, today, McCain's son, John, the Republican senator from Arizona, is one of Israel's favorite Republicans.
The Liberty survivors were told to "shut up." Anyone who talked was threatened with court-martial. "If anyone asks," the sailors were told, "tell them it was an accident." The survivors were dispersed worldwide so that no two men were sent to the same place.
The incident was mentioned in passing in a variety of media but the first time that the whole shocking story was told on a national scale was in The Spotlight on April 26, 1976.
There is no question the Israelis not only intended to sink the Liberty but also to kill the entire crew so that no living witnesses could emerge to point the finger at the Israelis. The Israelis hoped to blame the Arabs for the crime-a long-standing "false flag" technique characteristically used by Israel in numerous acts of terrorism.
Defenders of Israel demand to know why the Israelis would desire the total destruction of the Liberty and the mass murder of all aboard. The explanation is simple: The Liberty was a spy ship, gathering intelligence information that would have demonstrated that contrary to Israel's public propaganda line, Israel was seeking to escalate the 1967 Six-Day War then in progress, attempting to expand its territorial gains, planning an incursion into Arab territories in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and that Israel, not the Arab states, was the real aggressor and intended to invade Syria.
A Spotlight report of Nov. 21, 1977 implicated the CIA's counterintelligence chief, James J. Angleton, in having conspired with Israel in orchestrating the attack on the Liberty.
An Israeli loyalist who headed the CIA's liaison with Israel's intelligence agency, the Mossad, and who also played a key role in helping Israel develop its nuclear arsenal (in defiance of President John F. Kennedy), Angleton believed the destruction of the Liberty could be used as a "Pearl Harbor" or "Remember the Maine" type incident to inflame American passions against the Arabs.
In 1983 a top secret report prepared in 1967 by the legal advisor to the U.S. secretary of state, was released (without fanfare) for the first time. The report assessed claims by Israel that the attack was a mistake. The report demonstrated Israel's claims to be lies. For example:
. The Israelis claimed that the Liberty was traveling at a high and therefore suspicious speed of 28 to 30 knots. In fact, the ship was drifting along at only five knots.
. The Israelis claimed that the Liberty refused to identify itself. In fact, the only signals from the Israeli torpedo boats came after the torpedo attack had already been launched, with the result that 25 sailors had already died when the Liberty first signalled.
. The Israelis claimed that the Liberty did not fly an American flag or carry identfying insignia. In fact, not only did the Liberty have a U.S. flag flying in the wind, but after that flag was shot down, another and much larger flag was hoisted by the American sailors when they realized they were under attack by ostensibly "friendly" forces from "our ally, Israel." In addition, the Liberty's name and identification numbers were clearly displayed on the hull which had just recently been painted. "
According to Liberty survivors, the Israeli aircraft had actually circled the ship no less than 13 times for several hours before the attack commenced. Some of the Liberty sailors even waved to the "friendly" Israelis from the decks of the ship, not knowing that they were targeted for annihilation shortly thereafter.
Newly-Released DVD Documents 'Best Ally's' Treachery in Deliberate Attack on USS Liberty
A heart-rending new video documentary, 'Loss of Liberty: The Attack on the USS Liberty," had its official Washington, D.C. world premiere at the Third International Barnes Review Conference on Authentic History and the First Amendment over the weekend of June 14-16. The video tells the shocking story of the deliberate attack on an American ship, USS Liberty, by naval and air forces of Israel on June 8, 1967, resulting in the murder of 34 Americans and the wounding of 171 others.
The producer of the video, veteran documentary film-maker Tito Howard, was the guest on the May 26 broadcast of Radio Free America, the weekly call-in talk forum sponsored by American Free Press with host Tom Valentine. What follows is an edited transcript of the interview. Valentine's questions are in boldface. Howard's responses are in regular text.
How did you get interested in making your video, Loss of Liberty,† which tells the story of the attack on the USS Liberty?
I had known since 1975 that the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty was deliberate. I knew that because that was eight months after Adm. Thomas Moorer stepped down as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and he told me.
Adm. Moorer is probably the greatest living American admiral today and he's certainly one of the stars of the film. Moorer was the only American admiral to command both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets and chief of naval operations for two terms and chairman of the joint chiefs for two terms. He's a great man and he's helped us a lot with the film. We formed an organization called the Liberty Alliance, which worked with many members of the crew. Tom Moorer is our chairman.
Our purpose is to get an honest, complete in-depth investigation into the attack on one of the bravest crews in the history of the American Navy.
It's been 35 years of silence and one of the lines in the film--and I think it's one of the more important ones--is that "Never before in the history of the United States military has a board of inquiry ignored the testimony of American eyewitnesses and taken on faith the word of their attackers."
I had actually heard about the attack in early 1974. I was in Beirut, Lebanon, covering the events there for Dutch and Swedish television. That was during the height of the Lebanese civil war.
I then arranged an interview with Dr. Richard Kiefer, the only doctor on board the Liberty. He was one of the chiefs of nuclear medicine for the Navy, based in Bethesda, Md., at the naval hospital. They had some smart young naval intelligence officer there and in the interview, whenever I touched on anything of any importance or sensitivity, he refused to let the doctor answer it.
Well, today, over 25 years later, the doctor is now the narrator of our film and he's quite a credible individual.
That's a tremendous point. The person who wasn't allowed to talk to you back in 1974 is now narrating your film.
He's a terrific individual. He had a gunshot wound, a burn, a scar on his left calf about 18 inches long. He had a broken right kneecap and had 11 pieces of shrapnel in his abdomen which he held together with a life jacket. He stood on those legs and operated saving American lives and limbs for 28 consecutive hours. Amazing performance.
The Liberty's doctor, wounded himself, was dealing with over 200 casualties, between the 34 men who were killed and the 171 who were wounded.
Although the government has succeeded in completely keeping any discussion of the Liberty out of the media and off the floor of Congress, the USS Liberty is nonetheless the most decorated ship in the history of the United States Navy. There was a medal of honor for Captain McGonagle, two Navy crosses, 11 silver stars, 23 bronze stars-most of them with a "V" for valor-and a presidential unit citation. President Johnson must have hated to give that one out, but he did.
However, note this: McGonagle's medal of honor was given to him by the secretary of the Navy in the back room of the Navy yard in Washington on the same day that Johnson gave two lesser medals to two Vietnam heroes. So there has been a very concerted effort to keep this quiet because it would affect the flow of monies and weapons to Israel.
It was an interesting time. The Israelis claim that Egyptian armor and infantry had crossed into the Negev, part of Israel. This was totally false. The Israelis claim to have been "reacting," but, in fact, they wiped out 80 percent of the Egyptian Air Force on the ground about 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning on June 5, 1967. By the 7th of June they had managed to wipe out the air forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordan. The Israelis wanted the Golan Heights and they wanted to cement their control over the West Bank and the Sinai. The only fly in the ointment was the USS Liberty.
At this point, remember, the U.S. was already enmeshed in Vietnam and we were losing about 800 young men in Vietnam every month, at this time in the war. The Liberty was the most sophisticated American intelligence ship at the time. So the ship was very important to the U.S. Navy.
In Loss of Liberty, we have two of the greatest admirals ever, Tom Moorer, whom we've already mentioned, and Arleigh Burke, who minces no words. He was very upset about the Liberty incident. You recall the USS Cole which was attacked in 2000. The Cole was one of 13 "Arleigh E. Burke Class" of destroyers, costing $1 billion each and named for this great American admiral who helped with our film.
I hope that people who see our film will urge others to see the film, particularly friends and family and neighbors who have been in the military. The military people are the ones who have the experience and understand it best and they are the people who want to do more about it to right this wrong.
It's even more fitting, right now, that the film comes out at this time, because Americans are really angry about the deliberate killing of Americans, with the 3,000 innocent people lost on 9-11. In our film, our witnesses--most of whom are U.S. sailors who were aboard the USS Liberty--make a very compelling case that Israel's attack on the USS Liberty and the murder of 34 Americans was deliberate and premeditated. All we want is a serious and non-political and complete investigation into the attack. The American people-and particularly the crew of the USS Liberty and their families--deserve to have some honest answers, even all these years later
The great thing about our film is that it tells the whole story in just 52 minutes, but we've got a lot of great information in there. We've got six American medal of honor winners in this video endorsing the call by the survivors of the USS Liberty for a full and complete congressional investigation of the attack.
James Bamford, author of Body of Secrets, is featured in your film. He has an entire chapter in that book about the attack on the Liberty, and I've never read a better account of the subject.
One of the contributing factors, it seems, that led to the Israeli attack on the Liberty is the fact that on the 8th of June the Israelis had wrapped up such a significant victory that they had so many Arab prisoners that they didn't know what to do.
As James Bamford says, based on what Israeli military sources indicate, the Israelis killed hundreds of Egyptian POWs, most of them with their hands tied behind their backs.
When they attacked the Liberty, one of the things the Israelis did was to shoot up all of the life rafts on the American ship. Shooting life rafts of a ship in distress is a war crime. So that was another Israeli war crime on the same day, but it seems our "cousins" in Israel are above the law.
What's disturbing is that one of the Israeli torpedo boats that was used in the attack is now in an Israeli museum as a trophy.
The Israelis want Americans to believe that this was a case of "mistaken identity," and that they thought it was an Egyptian horse freighter rather than the Liberty. Well, that particular Egyptian ship had been in mothballs in port for months. If the United States knew it, the Israelis certainly knew it. But it was the only possible ship that had any kind of similarity to the Liberty and it was one-fifth the size of the Liberty.
Remember: the Liberty was the most sophisticated of all U.S. intelligence ships and had a topside configuration unlike any other ship in the American Navy or anybody's Navy. It had lots of antennae and communications dishes, etc, but the Israelis claim that they thought it was a horse freighter that was one-fifth the size of the Liberty. I would love to be an attorney and get an Israeli on the stand and question him about this: I would ask, "Why did you, the Israelis, jam all five American radio channels?" There's just no answer to that one.
For pro-Israel critics of your film who would say that you present only one side--the side of the American victims of the Israelis--the truth is that in your video you actually have statements from Israeli officials giving their explanation that the attack was a mistake.
Oh yes. But you can tell that they are lying. Not even a 10-year-old could confuse the Liberty with that Egyptian horse freighter. This was in perfect weather and the American flag was blowing in the breeze. Joe Meadows, one of the American signalmen on the Liberty, says in the film, "My only job during the attack was to make sure the flag was flying."
There were two carriers in the U.s. Navy's Sixth Fleet about 280 miles away and the Liberty had initially been promised help. Captain Joe Tully was commanding the USS Saratoga. The other was the USS America, commanded by Don Engen.
The Liberty was equipped with eight 4O-foot-wide antennas, but one was not connected. The Israelis, on their first pass, knocked out all seven connected antennas with heat-seeking missiles. However, one of the sailors, under heavy fire, managed to connect the one remaining antenna that had not been taken out and got out word, first to the Saratoga.
The Saratoga immediately sent out eight fighter aircraft, but they were ordered back from the highest level of the American administration.
And one of the American flyers has told an associate of mine how frustrating it was for him to have to return and not help rescue the American sailors on the Liberty. And the attack on the Liberty continued for another hour and 45 minutes.
If those planes had been allowed to get there, at least 25 Americans--two Marines and the rest, Navy sailors--would have survived out of the 34 who died, since these others who died were killed by the Israeli torpedo boats which arrived. So the Israelis first used aircraft and then their torpedo boats.
In addition, note that the Israelis used unmarked aircraft for their attack and the use of unmarked aircraft is totally against the Geneva Convention.