While state department officials and historians assemble on Washington DC this week to discuss the 1967 war in the Middle East, I am compelled to speak out about one of U.S. history’s most shocking cover-ups.
On June 8th, 1967, Israel attacked our proud naval ship — the USS Liberty — killing 34 American servicemen and wounding 172. Those men were then betrayed and left to die by our own government.
U.S. military rescue aircraft were recalled, not once, but twice, through direct intervention by the Johnson administration. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara’s cancellation of the Navy’s attempt to rescue the Liberty, which I personally confirmed from the commanders of the aircraft carriers America and Saratoga, was the most disgraceful act I witnessed in my entire military career.
To add insult to injury, Congress, to this day, has failed to hold formal hearings on Israelï¿½s attack on this American ship. No official investigation of Israelï¿½s attack has ever permitted the testimony of the surviving crewmembers.
A 1967 investigation by the Navy, upon which all other reports are based, has now been fully discredited as a cover-up by its senior attorney. Captain Ward Boston, in a sworn affidavit, recently revealed that the court was ordered by the White House to cover up the incident and find that Israelï¿½s attack was “a case of mistaken identity.”
Some distinguished colleagues and I formed an independent commission to investigate the attack on the USS Liberty. After an exhaustive review of previous reports, naval and other military records, including eyewitness testimony from survivors, we recently presented our findings on Capitol Hill. They include:
As a result, our commission concluded that:
What was Israel’s motive in launching this attack? Congress must address this question with full cooperation from the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency and the military intelligence services.
The men of the USS Liberty represented the United States. They were attacked for two hours causing 70% American casualties, and the eventual loss of our best intelligence ship. These Sailors and Marines were entitled to our best defense. We gave them no defense.
Did our government put Israel’s interests ahead of our own? If so,
why? Does our government continue to subordinate American interests
to Israeli interests? These are important questions that should be
investigated by an independent, fully empowered commission of the
The American people deserve to know the truth about this attack. We must finally shed some light on one of the blackest pages in American naval history. It is a duty we owe not only to the brave men of the USS Liberty, but to every man and woman who is asked to wear the uniform of the United States.
Admiral Thomas Moorer was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1970 to 1974. He is joined in the Independent Commission of Inquiry by General Ray Davis, former Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps (recently deceased); Rear Admiral Merlin Staring, former Judge Advocate General of the Navy and Ambassador James Akins, former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. For complete findings and the sworn affidavit of Captain Ward Boston visit www.ussliberty.org. This article was published in ‘Stars and Stripes’, the daily newspaper that is available to American troops, and the Houston Chronicle. This article is reprinted on EI with permission from “If Americans Knew”.