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  Columnist: William B Stoecker

Image credit: Royal Navy

Accident or betrayal?

Posted on Thursday, 19 September, 2013 | 2 comments
Columnist: William B Stoecker

Throughout modern history there have been mysterious naval incidents, at least some of them clearly “false flag” operations designed to lead nations like the US into avoidable and unnecessary wars. The explosion of the USS Maine, an American battleship in Havana harbor, was blamed on the Spanish, providing a pretext for the Spanish American War. Yet the evidence clearly showed that the ship was destroyed by an internal blast, either a coal dust explosion or a bomb deliberately planted inside... and only American officials and Naval personnel had access to the interior. The Germans certainly torpedoed the Lusitania off the Irish coast, but it was carrying munitions and US and British officials had ignored German warnings and let the passengers sail... and die. It helped lead the US into WWI. There are many unanswered questions about the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, and a pattern of evidence clearly indicating that FDR deliberately provoked the attack and deliberately failed to warn Admiral Kimmel and General Sharp, the US commanders, despite knowing that an attack was coming. And then there is the Gulf of Tonkin incident, where the US falsely claimed that North Vietnamese craft had attacked a US destroyer, providing Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) with an excuse for airstrikes on North Vietnam and the introduction of regular US ground troops into South Vietnam.

And LBJ was President at the time of the attack on the USS Liberty on 6/8/67, during the Six Day War between Israel and the Arab states. America’s supposed allies, the Israelis, clearly attacked the ship, killing 34 Americans, wounding 171, and doing extensive damage, despite the fact that the Liberty was in international waters north of the Sinai Peninsula. The Israelis claimed that they mistook the ship for an Egyptian vessel, and paid compensation to the wounded seamen, the families of those who died, and to the US government.

Prior to the attack, Israeli planes flew over the ship several times, at least once at such a low altitude that the US sailors and the Israeli pilots waved to one another. Yet later the Israeli Air Force returned and repeatedly bombed and strafed the ship, which was a “technical research ship” armed only with four fifty caliber machine guns. Its real mission was to gather SIGINT (signals Intelligence), which is one variety of ELINT (electronic intelligence). After the bombing and strafing, Israeli motor torpedo boats arrived and hit the Liberty with a torpedo. Finally the attack was called off.

The ship was dangerously close to the coast, only a few miles offshore, and Captain McGonagle had requested a destroyer to escort his lightly armed vessel, but Vice Admiral William Martin refused. The US navy claimed that they sent the ship a message telling McGonagle to withdraw to 100 nautical miles off the coast, but the message was not received until after the attack... Pearl Harbor déjà vu all over again. When the attack began, Captain McGonagle sent an urgent request for help to Sixth Fleet, yet, despite the fact that Admiral Martin had promised that fighter planes would be sent in the event of an attack, eight planes were scrambled... and then immediately recalled. Later, another eight planes were sent from the carrier Saratoga, but by then the attack was over, and these also returned to their carrier.

The Israelis claimed that when the Six Day War began, they requested that the US keep all of its ships well out of the war zone, or at least inform them of their exact position, to avoid any “friendly fire” accidents. Yet the US claimed that they only received this message after the attack. The Israelis claimed that the ship was making over thirty knots (like an Egyptian destroyer) and that no US flag was visible, and, while they admitted seeing Latin alphabet letters on the ship, they claimed that the Egyptians, who normally used Arabic script, sometimes used Latin letters to confuse them. The Americans claimed that the flag was clearly visible, and that the Liberty was much smaller than a destroyer and was not capable of making thirty knots.
Many Liberty survivors claim that the Israeli attack was deliberate, that the US government deliberately failed to assist them, and that the US government helped the Israelis cover up the truth. Captain Ward Boston, who served on the Naval Court of Inquiry, claimed that Rear Admiral Kidd, President of the Court, told him that the attack appeared to have been deliberate, and that the US government had ordered him to cover up the truth. There was even one report that an unnamed Israeli pilot involved in the attack said that he realized immediately that it was a US ship, and he so informed his headquarters, who ordered him to attack anyway, whereupon he disobeyed orders and returned to base, whereupon he was arrested. Supposedly another Israeli officer confirmed this. Dwight Porter, who had been a US ambassador to Lebanon at the time of the attack, said that he saw message intercepts proving the story about the pilot. Today it is impossible to confirm all of this.

Admiral Thomas Moorer, after his retirement, claimed that the Israelis used unmarked planes for the raid, hoping to make the US believe that the attackers were Egyptian, so that the Americans would attack Egypt. This is quite far-fetched, largely because it would be incredibly risky. The Israelis were flying mostly French-built aircraft, which bore little resemblance to the Soviet aircraft flown by the Egyptians, and many US personnel were trained in aircraft recognition. Also, if the Israelis wanted the US to blame Egypt, they would have put Egyptian insignia on the planes. And are we to believe that the Israelis, in the midst of an intense struggle for their very existence, would hold back any fighter jets from the conflict?

Yet it is next to impossible to believe the Israeli claims that no US flag was visible. And, given the Latin alphabet markings, would the Israelis have been so rash as to assume that the ship was, nonetheless, Egyptian, and to risk attacking a vessel that might be American?

On the part of the US, we have to ask why the ship was not given an escort? Why was it sent so close to the coast? Why were the messages allegedly sent telling the captain to withdraw further out to sea never received? Were they even sent? Why did our Navy not at least inform the Israelis of the ship’s position? And why were planes not sent to aid the Liberty? LBJ, remember, was also the man responsible for the Gulf of Tonkin deception. If nothing else, this shows the government’s callous disregard for the lives of its warriors, who are paid to risk their lives... but not to sacrifice them needlessly. The Pueblo incident was also on LBJ’s watch. That spy ship, with only one fifty caliber machine gun, was sent unescorted near the coast of North Korea. USAF planes were in Japan and South Korea, but none were on standby to aid the Pueblo; the USAF had not even been informed of the mission. The US stood by while the men were captured by the brutal North Koreans.

But while it is hard to believe that the Israeli leaders, although they are every bit as Machiavellian and every bit as sociopathic as their US counterparts, would take such a risk... and what would be their purpose? The only likely motive is that they feared that the US might discover that they had withdrawn planes from the Egyptian theater of the war, planes that were to be used to attack the Golan Heights to seize this vital high ground from the Syrians. The US and the UN were attempting to broker a cease-fire that would prevent this. Conceivably, the Israelis might have feared that the US would either make this information public, or that the Soviets would intercept and decode messages sent by the Liberty to Sixth Fleet and then share this information with the Arabs, whom they were supporting. Conceivably, LBJ might have realized or suspected that the attack was deliberate, but covered up this information for fear that any measures he might take against Israel would cost him the Jewish vote. We will probably never learn the truth.

Article Copyright© William B Stoecker - reproduced with permission.

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