Here are his documented murders of 34 American sailors, the wounding of 171 others and the silencing of all the USS Liberty survivors under penalty of court martial. Much too late did the truth of this story come out.
Remembering the USS Liberty
On Thursday, June 8, 1967: “. . . jet aircraft and motor torpedo boats of Israel brutally assaulted an American naval vessel, the USS LIBERTY, in international waters off the Sinai Peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea. The attack was preceded by more than six-hours of intense low-level surveillance by Israel photo-reconnaissance aircraft, which buzzed the intelligence ship thirteen times, sometimes flying as low as 200 feet directly overhead. The carefully orchestrated assault that followed was initiated by high-performance jet aircraft, and was followed up by slower and more maneuverable jets carrying napalm, and was finally turned over to lethal torpedo boats, which blasted a forty-foot hole in the ship’s side.
“The attack lasted more two hours-killing 34 Americans and wounding 171 others – and inflicted 821 rocket and machine-gun holes in the ship. And when the LIBERTY stubbornly remained afloat despite her damage, Israeli forces machine-gunned her life rafts and sent troop-carrying helicopters to finish the job. At this point, with Sixth Fleet rescue aircraft finally enroute, the government of Israel apologized and the attacking forces suddenly withdrew. Only then did the identity of the assailants become known.”
— James M. Ennes, Jr., USN, Ret.,1
In the aftermath of the June 8, 1967 air and naval attacks, the 294-member crew of the U.S.S. Liberty – an intelligence-gathering technical research ship (AGTR-5)2 – received the “most decorations awarded for a single ship action in U.S. history.” 3, 4
Fifty years later, there are still calls for an honest and complete Congressional investigation that will include the eyewitness accounts of survivors and reflect all the facts. Simply put, the attack on the Liberty involves far more than the attempt of an “ally” to sink a lightly-armed5U.S. Navy ship and kill the crew. Because at that time, Israel’s “Six-Day War” – also called the Third Arab-Israeli War6 – was well underway against neighboring Egypt, Syria, and Jordan.7
Many questions remain unanswered. Secrets are hidden in undisclosed documents and in heavily redacted FOIA-released materials. And, as two surviving officers of the attack on the Liberty have critically pointed out (all emphasis added):
“Never before in the history of the United States Navy has a Navy Board of Inquiry ignored the testimony of American military eyewitnesses and taken, on faith, the word of their attackers.”
— Dr. Richard Kiepfer, Captain, Medical Corps8
“ Except for a few high ranking naval officers, no one has felt our pain of not knowing exactly why the ship was attacked. Over thirty-one (31) years after the attack, the crew is entitled to know the details concerning the attack by the Government of Israel and also the details of the role the US Government in the entire affair. Why were our aircraft recalled to their carriers on two (2) occasions before they reached our location to assess the situation, and what official ordered the recall after ‘Hot Line’ communication was established with Moscow to alert Nasser that the planes were being sent to see what the condition of USS LIBERTY was? None of the planes ever reached our location. For over seventeen (17) hours we received no assistance from US forces in the Mediterranean.
“This is the only US Navy ship attacked by a foreign nation, involving a large loss of life and so many personnel injured that has never been accorded a full Congressional hearing.”
— William L. McGonagle, Captain, USN (Ret.)9
The 50-year institutional negligence of the U.S. Congress to conduct an honest and thorough investigation does not have to be a reason for the assault on the U.S.S. Liberty to remain hidden from public view. On the contrary: anyone adverse to being kept in the dark can hear the revealing eyewitness accounts of survivors:
James M. Ennes, Jr. | History Counts, 2/1/12
Phillip “Phil” Tourney speech, 10/13/07
Donald “Don” W. Pageler presentation, 2013
Ernest “Ernie” A. Gallo speech, 3/7/14
On the following 29 pages you will find more about the attack on the U.S.S. Liberty and crew, as well as a list of resources with links to documents, maps, websites, interviews, speeches, presentations, statements, documentaries, and articles.
Endnotes [Information accessed February 2017]
1 From the book jacket of James M. Ennes, Jr.’s Assault on the Liberty (Random House, New York, 1979, ISBN 0-394-50512-3). Quote posted at http://www.navsource.org/archives/09/60/6005.htm
2 USS Liberty (AGTR-5), NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive http://www.navsource.org/archives/09/60/6005.htm
3 Inscribed on a USS Liberty memorial, Rochester, NY; Erected by Thomas F. Healy, Post 16, VFW of the U.S.; Dedicated 6/8/10 http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WME8Q6_USS_Liberty_memorial_Rochester_NY
4 U.S.S. Liberty crew’s Awards and Citations: 1 Congressional Medal of Honor, 2 Navy Crosses, 12 Silver Stars, 20 Bronze Stars, 9 Navy Commendation Medals, 208 Purple Heart Medals, and 294 Combat Action Ribbons. USS Liberty website. http://www.ussliberty.org/roster.htm
5 The U.S.S. Liberty “was armed with only four 50-caliber machine guns with an effective range of less than two miles. It was cruising at about 5 knots.” Source: Ken Ringle, “In 1967, Israeli Forces Bombarded a U.S. Intelligence Ship, Killing 34 Americans and Leaving a Legacy of Suspicion”, Washington Post, 2/1/03, p.C01. Posted at: http://www.fpp.co.uk/History/General/USS_Liberty/WashPost010203.html
6 Israel’s Six-Day War “took place June 5–10, 1967, and was the third of the Arab-Israeli wars. Israel’s decisive victory included the capture of the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank, Old City of Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights; the status of these territories subsequently became a major point of contention in the Arab-Israeli conflict.” Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/event/Six-Day-War
7 Third Arab-Israeli War, 1967, History of the Middle East Database, Ted Thornton http://www.nmhtthornton.com/mehistorydatabase/1967_third_arab.php
8 Quote on a plaque dedicated to the service members who died from the June 8, 1967 Israeli attack on the U.S.S. Liberty. Plaque dedication: October 10, 2014, Manistee, Michigan. http://www.salem-news.com/articles/october242014/ussliberty-plaque.php
9 “Open Letter to President Clinton,” William L. McGonagle, Captain, USN (Ret.), 10/24/98. http://www.ussliberty.org/mcg2prez.pdf
© Debra K. Niwa, March 2017. All rights reserved. This 30-page document has been created for educational purposes. Permission granted to print out on personal printers and to photocopy, if used in its entirety and without charge. Pdf downloadable from:
The Voice of Idaho News [http://tvoinews.net/pdfs/USS_Liberty_50th_Anniversary.pdf]
Vicky Davis’ The Technocratic Tyranny [http://www.thetechnocratictyranny.com/PDFS/USS_Liberty_50th_Anniversary.pdf]