TIME FOR THE TRUTH ABOUT THE LIBERTY
Forty years ago this week, I was asked to investigate the heaviest attack on an American ship since World War II. As senior legal counsel to the Navy Court of Inquiry, it was my job to help uncover the truth regarding Israel's June 8, 1967, bombing of the Navy intelligence ship Liberty.
On that sunny, clear day 40 years ago, Israel's combined air and naval forces attacked the Liberty for two hours, inflicting 70 percent casualties. Thirty-four American sailors died, and 172 were injured. The Liberty remained afloat only by the crew's heroic efforts.
Israel claimed it was an accident. Yet I know from personal conversations with the late Adm. Isaac C. Kidd - president of the Court of Inquiry - that President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered him to conclude that the attack was a case of "mistaken identity."
The ensuing cover-up has haunted us for 40 years. What does it imply for our national security, not to mention our ability to honestly broker peace in the Middle East, when we cannot question Israel's actions - even when they kill Americans?
Today, survivors of Israel's cruel attack will gather in Washington, D.C., to honor their dead shipmates as well as the mothers, sisters, widows and children they left behind. They will continue to ask for a fair and impartial congressional inquiry that, for the first time, would allow the survivors themselves to testify publicly.
For decades, I have remained silent. I am a military man, and when orders come in from the secretary of defense and president of the United States, I follow them. However, attempts to rewrite history and concern for my country compel me to share the truth.
Adm. Kidd and I were given only one week to gather evidence for the Navy's official investigation, though we both estimated that a proper Court of Inquiry would take at least six months.
We boarded the crippled ship at sea and interviewed survivors. The evidence was clear. We both believed with certainty that this attack was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew.
I am certain the Israeli pilots and commanders who had ordered the attack knew the ship was American. I saw the bullet-riddled American flag that had been raised by the crew after their first flag had been shot down completely. I heard testimony that made it clear the Israelis intended there be no survivors. Not only did they attack with napalm, gunfire and missiles, Israeli torpedo boats machine-gunned at close range three life rafts that had been launched in an attempt to save the most seriously wounded. (MORE)
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