UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

June 18, 2009

ISRAELI PILOTS KNEW US SPY SHIP WAS AMERICAN BEFORE ATTACK

Jeff Stein, CQ - Israeli air control twice told pilots during the 1967 Six Day War that a U.S. spy ship they were attacking was American, according to a new book on the USS Liberty affair.

Israel has always claimed that the June 8, 1967 attack on the spy ship Liberty, which killed 34 U.S. Navy sailors and wounded another 170, many seriously, was a case of mistaken identity, a "tragic accident."

But according to "The Attack on the Liberty: The Untold Story of Israel's Deadly 1967 Assault on a U.S. Spy Ship," by James Scott, Israeli pilots who radioed the Liberty's hull number to their air controller were told two times that the spy ship was "probably American."

Nevertheless, Israeli fighters jets and torpedo boats continued to attack the spy ship, which was flying an American flag and plying international waters as it monitored Israeli and Egyptian radio traffic during the June 1967 war.

Israel's goal in the brutal air and sea assault on the Liberty was twofold, says Scott, whose father served on the Liberty: to prevent the spy ship from learning about Israeli troop movements, and to kill anyone aboard who could later identify the attacking aircraft as Israeli.

Despite Israel's eventual annihilation of Arab forces in less than a week, in its opening hours and days the outcome of the war was far from certain.

And Israel could not be certain of American support in those days. . .

Israel never wavered from its stance that the attack on the Liberty was anything but a mistake, although angry U.S. officials had quickly concluded it was deliberate.

Besides repeatedly raking the defenseless ship with cannon fire and bombs, Israeli jets also dropped napalm on American sailors running about the deck trying to save the ship, reports Scott, an award winning former reporter for the Charleston Post and Courier.

"There clearly were individuals inside Israel's chain of command who knew this was an American ship in time to prevent the fatal torpedo boat attack that left more than two dozen of the Liberty's sailors dead," Scott says.

Yet the Israelis informed Johnson administration officials that they were innocent -- and outraged by such suggestions.

That prompted the State Department's number two official, Nicholas B. Katzenbach, to summon Israel's ambassador Abraham Harman, Scott writes.

"The secret memo of the meeting," Scott writes, "declassified 33 years later, records Katzenbach telling the Israeli ambassador" that Tel Aviv's initial protest "contains some statements they might find hard to live with if the text some day became public."

1 Comments:

Anonymous AIPAC sucks shit both for Israel and for US. said...

They also strafed and killed sailors in lifeboats. Transmissions reveal pilots were incredulous at what they were ordered to do but complied.

June 18, 2009 7:11 PM  

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