October 2003, an independent, blue-ribbon commission released its findings from an investigation into an internationally significant 36-year-old attack on a US Navy ship that left more than 200 American sailors killed or wounded.
The commission consists of:
A former ambassador to one of the US’s most important allies
A US Navy rear admiral and former head of the Navy’s legal division
A Marine general, America’s highest ranking recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor and the former Assistant Commandant of Marines
A US Navy four-star admiral, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (the highest military position in the country), former Chief of Naval Operations, a World War II hero, and the only Naval admiral to have commanded both the Pacific and the Atlantic fleets
The panel is moderated by a former ambassador who served as Chief of Mission in Iraq and Deputy Director of Ronald Reagan's White House Task Force on Terrorism.
The commission findings:
» That the attack, by a US ally, was a “deliberate attempt to destroy an American ship and kill her entire crew”
» That the ally committed “acts of murder against American servicemen and an act of war against the United States”
» That the attack involved the machine-gunning of stretcher-bearers and life rafts
» That “the White House deliberately prevented the U.S. Navy from coming to the defense of the [ship]... never before in American naval history has a rescue mission been cancelled when an American ship was under attack”
» That surviving crew members were later threatened with “court-martial, imprisonment or worse” if they talked to anyone about what had happened to them; and were “abandoned by their own government”
» That due to the influence of the ally’s “powerful supporters in the United States, the White House deliberately covered up the facts of this attack from the American people”
» That due to continuing pressure by this lobby, this attack remains “the only serious naval incident that has never been thoroughly investigated by Congress”
» That “there has been an official cover-up without precedent in American naval history”
» That “the truth about Israel's attack and subsequent White House cover-up continues to be officially concealed from the American people to the present day and is a national disgrace”
» That “a danger to the national security exists whenever our elected officials are willing to subordinate American interests to those of any foreign nation...” and that this policy “endangers the safety of Americans and the security of the United States”
In 1967, at the height of the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War, the Israeli Air Force launched an unprovoked attack on the USS Liberty, a US Navy spy ship that was monitoring the conflict from the safety of international waters in the Mediterranean. Israeli jet fighters hit the vessel with rockets, cannon fire and napalm, before three Israeli torpedo boats moved in to launch a second more devastating attack. Though she did not sink, the Liberty was badly damaged. Thirty-four US servicemen and civilian analysts were killed, another 171 were wounded. The official claim is that the Israeli attack – which lasted two hourswas somehow accidental.
Few Americans realize that a US president chose to sacrifice US interests and US servicemen (specifically, the 25 of the 34 dead who were killed after US rescue missions were recalled) to Israeli interests, and then ordered a cover-up of his actions. The official investigation gave one week to conduct an investigation that normally would have been allotted a minimum of six months, found the attack to be a case of “mistaken identity.” Its conclusions had been a sham. President Lyndon Johnson and his secretary of defense, Robert McNamara, had ordered the court to cover up the fact that all the evidence had indicated clearly that the attack had been intentional.
One of the Israeli pilots Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Yiftach Spector explained, "There was a mistake. Mistakes happen. As far as I know, the mistake was of the USS Liberty being there in the first place…" said Spector, "…The fool is one who wanders about in the dark in dangerous places, so they should not come with any complaints."
Or that Israel quibbled for years over what it would pay in compensation to the widows, children, and parents of those it killed and to the United States for the ship it destroyed. (Thirteen years later it grudgingly paid $6 million for a ship valued at $40 million.)