Fortunately, or unfortunately, some news stories have lives of their own. It’s as if they don’t want to die, which is sometimes a very good thing. Such a story is the disgraceful tale involving the USS Liberty, a disgrace which began more than forty one years ago and continues to this day.
Neither the disgrace nor the shame of the USS Liberty applies in any way to its crew or to its captain, William McGonagle, who subsequently received the Congressional Medal of Honor in recognition of his bravery and refusal to leave the Liberty’s bridge despite being wounded. The shame is on America, the shame is on our shameless politicians, and the shame is on Israel.
For those still unaware of what transpired on the afternoon of June 8th, 1967 in the waters off the Sinai Peninsula, a quick primer: The USS Liberty was a converted Victory ship, a 455 foot American naval vessel then being used for intelligence gathering during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It was attacked by Israeli air and naval forces, strafed and torpedoed, leaving 34 sailors dead and 174 injured and severely maimed.
A confessed news junky, I had never heard about the Liberty until a decade or so ago, testimony perhaps to the massive cover-up that followed the attack.
Back in January, 2008, I posted an article on my website, an interview with Rick Aimetti, a petty officer first class assigned to Damage Control aboard that U.S. Navy vessel. He was one of the survivors and still vividly recalled the events of that day.
The fortuitous circumstances and the content of that interview are detailed here: “Remembering the USS Liberty,” (January 10, 2008, genelalor.com/blog1/?p=19.)
A calm, reticent and composed man, Rick was nevertheless passionate in his recollections, especially about the friends he lost, but also in his certainty that it was a deliberate attack by a presumed ally on an unarmed American ship.
That assault continued for hours even though the Liberty was clearly marked and flying the stars and stripes. Subsequent waves of Israeli helicopter gunship pilots would later testify that no flag was visible, which was true. It had been obliterated.
Israeli helicopters first took out the ship’s antennae and shot down the flag mast before launching torpedoes in an attempt, first, to cripple the Liberty’s communications and, second, to sink the ship.
It struck me that with a new president taking office less than a month from today there was a possibility, however remote, that President Obama would do what eight presidents before him failed to do, namely, give official, government recognition of the Liberty heroes who died and were wounded that June day, and to acknowledge why they died and were wounded.
That Israel attacked and killed 34 and injured 174 Americans on the Liberty is indisputable. Israel ultimately admitted as much and paid reparations. What it never did was concede intent. Instead, Israel to this day alleges it was a “mistake,” a mistake which could only have been made by blind Israeli helicopter pilots and blind Israeli torpedo boat captains.
Petty Officer First Class Rick Aimetti was a witness and a survivor of the attacks on the USS Liberty but he can hardly be considered an objective observer. Running for cover, seeing your dead and bleeding fellow sailors, and trying to keep your ship from going down aren’t situations conducive to objectivity.
His status as an eye-witness has been supported by numerous other accounts, however. Our military and our politicians just love investigations, studies, and inquiries even if they rarely uncover the truth, that whole, nothing but the truth that scares the uniforms off our military leaders and which makes our politicians dive for cover when they can’t admit it.
Such is the truth of the USS Liberty. It has festered on some American consciences and in some American souls for over four decades now.
Five years ago, the National Security Agency, which was instrumental in the outfitting and in the mission of the Liberty, declassified, (under pressure), documents, recordings, and interviews relating to the assault on the USS Liberty: nsa.gov/liberty/
Although that wealth of material and information is fascinating, it nevertheless is transparently slanted as can be seen in the interviews of personnel who admit to being pro-Israel and in the greatly redacted translated transcripts of the Israeli pilots: nsa.gov/liberty/recordings.cfm
Far more objective is this analysis of the events of June 8th, 1967: lewrockwell.com/orig/margolis12.html . There Eric Margolis dares to spell out the truth and dares to explain and substantiate what really happened that day.
The unvarnished truth about the USS Liberty is ugly and shameful
Perhaps President Barack Hussein Obama will address that truth and redress the grievances of the crew members such as Rick Aimetti?
One can always hope for “change” from Obama, no?
(To follow: “Reactions,” “Consternation,” “Blame.”
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