USS Liberty Incident: Missing Piece of Mid East Peace Puzzle
Tue Jun 5, 2007 14:05

June 8th marks forty years since the Israeli assault on the USS Liberty during the 1967 Six Day War. Survivors will gather at Arlington National Cemetery to honor their fallen shipmates and, at a weekend reunion including a ceremony at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, they will renew their resolve to preserve historical truth and pursue justice.

This day also marks two years since the USS Liberty Veterans Association formally presented its report War Crimes Committed Against U. S. Military Personnel, June 8, 1967 to the Secretary of the Army in his capacity as Executive Agent for the Secretary of Defense. (See Thus far there has been no reply to this administrative gambit; even so, the LVA continues to hope that the US Congress will eventually do the right thing and, according to its mandate "To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations," conduct a full and impartial investigation to settle the matter once and for all.

The hasty US Navy Court of Inquiry had been "an entirely shipboard investigation" according to its president, the late Admiral Isaac Kidd. The Liberty's doctor, Captain Richard Kiepfer, said of this ex-parte investigation, "Never before in the history of the United States Navy has a Navy Board of Inquiry ignored the testimony of American military eye-witnesses and taken, on faith, the word of their attackers."

When US Bankruptcy Court Judge A. Jay Cristol's 2002 book The Liberty Incident denigrated the Liberty survivors and their petitions for redress of their grievances, the legal counsel of the Court of Inquiry felt compelled to break his decades-long silence and formally repudiated the court's falsified findings as well as the judge and his book. Captain Ward Boston also alleged that President Johnson ordered the cover-up, and that this immoral command was carried out by Admiral John McCain, the father of the senator from Arizona. Senator McCain endorsed the judge's book.

The USS Liberty incident and cover-up constitute a hot political potato especially for AIPAC driven politicians who shun petitions to take up the cause of the Liberty survivors. One wonders how any member of Congress could give a cold shoulder to the Liberty crew and still be fit for the duty of care of our twenty year olds in far-flung places like Iraq and the Persian Gulf. After all, Zionist Neoconservatives maintain that aircraft carriers are old fashioned and expendable and a costly drag in their quest for world domination. Is this why carriers have been placed within range of Iran's supersonic anti-ship missiles? Is this how warmongers break eggs for their omelets?

The old paradigm of public relations trumping truth and justice prevents the asking of many questions from which vitally important lessons can be learned. For example, why the distribution problems with the 1980 book Assault on the Liberty, written by survivor Lieutenant Commander James M. Ennes? Why did Menachem Begin call the Six Day War a "war of choice" and not of necessity? Why did the CIA predict a "turkey shoot"? Why did former President Carter point to the "peculiar confluence of Syrian and Israeli interests"? Why would Israel find it necessary to attack a ship of an important ally? The short answer is: land.

The USS Liberty was a state-of-the-art electromagnetic surveillance ("spy") ship that could not only overhear all electronic signals in the airwaves but also record them for the National Security Agency. The attack occurred on the fourth day of the war, when the only remaining objective point of the IDF was Syria's Golan Heights. Unlike the current crisis in the Persian Gulf region, Israel felt no need for formal help from the USA.

Some have speculated that Liberty's eavesdropping capability would have tipped off Washington about an impending attack on the Golan, which would have been problematic for the Israelis in view of the great pressure to call a cease fire; but there were many other indicators of Israel's intent. Others say the attack was a false flag operation to put the blame on Egypt and draw the USA into the war; but Moshe Dayan had already declared air supremacy on the morning of the first day of the war, so a coordinated air and sea attack by Egypt would have lacked plausibility. Still others say the Israelis wanted to hide ongoing atrocities against Egyptian prisoners of war just over Liberty's immediate horizon; but bad publicity rarely prevents the Israelis from doing what they do. On the other hand, three egregious improbabilities best explain why the need for secrecy necessitated such bold action to put out Liberty's "Big Ear."

First, the IDF overran the "Little Maginot Line" atop the Golan Heights -- with rows upon rows of concrete reinforced bunkers -- in less than twenty four hours, a highly improbable feat which the western press quickly dubbed a "miracle." But had the Liberty been able to proceed unmolested on its NSA mission, a more mundane explanation for the taking of the Golan 1 2 3 would have been found; namely, highly irregular command, control and communications from a compromised Syrian High Command. Khalil Mustafa, now a political prisoner in Syria, arrived at this conclusion in his 1980 book The Fall of the Golan.

In fact, the only miracle to occur during the Six Day War was the Liberty's staying afloat after a torpedo hit; even then it was clear the Israelis wanted no survivors as they machine-gunned the life rafts while waiting for the listing ship to sink. But the high priority work had already been done when the first jet sorties put rockets at the bases of all of Liberty's antennae. Only then was the Golan operation good to go.

Second, the Syrian Defense Minister at the time of the Six Day War, Hafez al Asad, later became the only man in world history to attain leadership of his nation after losing a significant portion of its sovereign territory. Asad rose from humble circumstances to start a dynasty, and on the road to success he crossed paths with Mafioso regime-change specialist Sam Giancana, a frequent flyer to Beirut during the Johnson administration. Besides recruiting fresh talent, Sam pursued his avid interest in the botany of the Bekaa valley. The USA's King of Syria-in-waiting in France, Abdel Halim Khaddam, was right in the middle of all this; whereas Bashar al Asad, an ophthalmologist turned president only by the accidental death of his brother Basil, was and is out of the loop. Khaddam, the governor of the largest city on the Golan during the Six Day War and later President Hafez al Asad's right hand man for three decades, is now a multi-billionaire residing in a palace in France even as a Neoconservative-friendly regime assumes leadership under Sarkozy. As Sam would have put it, analyze that!

Third, the Asad Dynasty is of the Alawite faith, an offshoot sect of the Shiite faith. The Alawites of Syria are a very small minority ruling a mostly Sunni nation, a circumstance that is best explained by the quiet meddling of a foreign power in the internal affairs of Syria. Now that Blair and Bush have put such emphasis on the difference between Sunni and Shiite, wouldn't it be wise to pay more respect to the President of Syria? Syrians once again found the formal practice of balloting inadequate and recently filled the streets of major cities with an outpouring of acclaim for their leader, a show of respect unknown in the USA since the funeral of JFK! Syrians know their leader cannot be bought.

The USS Liberty incident is all about the Golan Heights and corruption leading to collusion between certain elements within the governments of Israel and Syria. Their hidden agenda leaves the United Nations bereft of its true purpose, and shamefully undermines the integrity of the USA, whose treaty obligations are the "supreme Law of the Land" and require implementation of Security Council Resolution 242. As Liberty survivor John Hrankowski said, "the story behind the story of the USS Liberty is the missing piece of the Middle East peace puzzle." He did not flee from his station at a boiler that penetrating rockets threatened to explode. Won't Congress lend him an ear?

Stephen M. St. John
Founding Associate Member, USS Liberty Veterans Association
Sole Author, An Eight Part Peace Proposal for Greater Jerusalem

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