Canon Fodder
Finding Justice in Liberty
By Matt Hutaff
Nov 1, 2003

Recently, a United States naval vessel on a routine mission was bombed in an act of terrorism. Dozens were killed, more than 170 maimed or wounded. The ship, despite millions of dollars worth of damage, managed to limp home, its survivors scattered to other ports of call.

I'm not speaking of the USS Cole. I'm talking about the USS Liberty, the reconnaissance vessel stationed in the Mediterranean in 1967 to monitor the escalating Six Days War. It was attacked by Israeli fighter planes and torpedo boats, and to this day, the United States government has held no official inquiry into the incident, referring to the deaths of 34 of its soldiers only as a "tragic mistake."

Ever since the attack, the survivors of the Liberty and a core group of high-ranking servicemen have pressed the government to hold a serious investigation into the matter. The claim: Israel deliberately fired on Americans in a two-fold attack to destroy our spying abilities against war combatants while enraging the United States against the Arab world. Like the Lavon Affair, another Israeli attempt at subterfuge to bring the U.S. into a war with Egypt, the attempted destruction of the Liberty backfired.

And like the Lavon Affair, Israel was given a free pass.

The potential cover-up of such an incitement of war has enraged many over the years. Recently, however, one of those investigating the attack has come forward with a shocking admission that questions the credibility of the government and the president, and lends credence to the argument that Israel's attack was deliberate, not an accident.

On October 23, former naval attorney Ward Boston said in a signed affidavit that President Lyndon Johnson, in collusion with former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, ordered that any inquiry into the incident be declared an accident "despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary." A by-the-books officer, Boston came forward after years of silence only after a book entitled The Liberty Incident issued its conclusion that the attack was unintentional.

Think about that for a moment. The President of the United States ordered a proclamation that let a foreign nation attack its allies with deliberation for over an hour.

He personally allowed Israel not only to hit a United States vessel with torpedoes and machine gun fire, but also with napalm. Upon hearing of the attack, Johnson ordered a retaliatory strike. When he heard the aggressor was Israel, the alert was called off.

These facts haven't been in dispute since the attack occurred more than 35 years ago. They have, however, been wrapped up in false sympathies and lip service. Even if the assault was an accident, why did we forgive Israel of even repaying the repair costs of the Liberty? Why, even now, has there never been a single official inquiry into the culpability of the attack?

If someone attacks our nation or one of its representatives with malice and intent, he should be met with equivalent force. The United States has invaded countries or installed puppet dictators in others for less. Look no further than the current situation in Iraq: Their nation lies conquered and broken because Saddam Hussein thought about the U.S. unfavorably.

With the Liberty, we have a defined act of aggression. It actually happened — it wasn't the frantic whim of a dictator. Now with Boston's revelation confirming the obvious, the question needs to be asked: Is Israel our ally?

Israel has played the U.S. several times in the past 50 years. The aforementioned Lavon Affair saw Mossad agents (the Israeli equivalent of the CIA) blowing up British and American targets in Egypt as a way to draw the U.S. into war with the Egyptians. In the 1980s, Mossad, according to former agent Victor Ostrovsky, entered Libya and established a radio transmitter in Tripoli that Americans could intercept. The result was Reagan's invasion of Libya.

While the most recent of those examples is 20 years ago, the federal government recently uncovered a massive Israeli spy ring that had phone taps in places as secure as the White House. And let's not forget Jonathan Pollard: He stole military secrets Israel later sold to Soviet Russia; fortunately, he wasn't executed like the Rosenbergs.

These acts, by the way, are consequence-free. Chances are you probably haven't heard much about them.

But why? We're living in the dawn of perpetual fear, brought to you thanks to constant terror alerts and Middle East scuffles. We've got people locked up in Guantanamo Bay who aren't even aware of what crime they're charged with. If this country and its government are so committed to national security, why does Israel get a bye on criminal enterprises it enacts against the United States?

I understand that nations spy on each other all the time and that it's important to have global allies looking out for one another. But when is enough enough? Israel pisses off practically every nation in its vicinity with its ethnic cleansing and land and resource grabs. Human rights groups and heads of state the world over have condemned these actions. Is it really in our best interest to continue to turn a blind eye to and support a nation that's made a concerted effort over the years to draw the United States into its problems and killed our people?

Think how much more international goodwill the U.S. would pick up if it would cease to support genocide and hypocrisy.

Think how impressed U.S. citizens would feel if their government actually looked out for the soldiers who defend them and took Israel to task over the irrefutable evidence that it tried to destroy a friendly ship.

Thirty-four deaths go unavenged. If we feel justified in punishing Afghanistan and Iraq for the attacks on the World Trade Center, an event there's no proof they participated in, surely some congressman can now flex a little political muscle to find out what really happened to the men and women of the Liberty.

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