M’lud, the government of Israel, in connection with the charge of piracy on the high seas, asks for a previous offence to be taken into consideration:
The USS Liberty incident was an attack on a United States Navy technical research ship, USS Liberty, by Israeli jet fighter planes and motor torpedo boats, on June 8, 1967, during the ongoing Six-Day War. The combined air and sea attack killed 34 crew members (naval officers, seamen, two Marines, and a civilian), wounded 171 crew members, and severely damaged the ship. At the time, the ship was in international waters north of the Sinai Peninsula, about 25.5 nmi (29.3 mi; 47.2 km) northwest from the Egyptian city of Arish.
But hold on, wasn’t that all sorted out long ago?
The Liberty Veterans Association (composed of veterans from the ship) states that U.S. congressional investigations and other U.S. investigations were not actually investigations into the attack; but, rather, reports using evidence only from the U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry, or investigations unrelated to culpability that involved issues such as communications. In their view, the U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry is the only actual investigation on the incident to date. They claim it was hastily conducted, in only 10 days, even though the court’s president, Rear Admiral Isaac Kidd, said that it would take 6 months to conduct properly. The inquiry’s terms of reference were limited to whether any shortcomings on the part of the Liberty’s crew had contributed to the injuries and deaths that resulted from the attack. According to the Navy Court of Inquiry’s record of proceedings, four days were spent hearing testimony: two days for fourteen survivors of the attack and several U.S. Navy expert witnesses, and two partial days for two expert U.S. Navy witnesses. No testimony was heard from Israeli personnel involved.
Dean Rusk, U.S. Secretary of State at the time of the incident, wrote:
I was never satisfied with the Israeli explanation. Their sustained attack to disable and sink Liberty precluded an assault by accident or some trigger-happy local commander. Through diplomatic channels we refused to accept their explanations. I didn’t believe them then, and I don’t believe them to this day. The attack was outrageous.
Retired naval Lieutenant Commander James Ennes, a junior officer (and off-going Officer of the Deck) on Liberty‘s bridge at the time of the attack, authored a book titled Assault on the Liberty (Random House, 1980; Ballantine Books 1986; Reintree Press 2004) describing the incident during the Six Day War in June 1967 and claiming, among other things, it was deliberate. Ennes and Joe Meadors, another survivor of the attack, run a website about the incident. Meadors states that the classification of the attack as deliberate is the official policy of the association, to which all known survivors belong. Other survivors run several additional websites. Citing Ennes’s book, Lenczowski notes: Liberty‘s personnel received firm orders not to say anything to anybody about the attack, and the naval inquiry was conducted in such a way as to earn it the name of “coverup”.
Indeed it was covered up by the Johnson administration, and survivors were ordered under military discipline not to talk about it. The incident should be well known, certainly much better than it is.
Well now. The Israeli government has previous on this sort of thing, and Flying Rodent nicely captures the sheer batshit belligerent insanity involved in the outrageous attack on the aid flotilla to Gaza. Is insanity too harsh a word? Note that a Turkish-flagged ship in international waters is legally Turkish territory, and thereby Israel has effectively declared war on a Nato member state, not to mention its main ally in the region. Then again, back in 1967 they did actually sink a US Navy ship without facing any repercussions. Imagine the reaction if Iran or China had done something like this.
That said, even the Berlusconi government in Italy, usually very close to Israel, has issued a condemnation. Even William Hague, a longstanding member of Conservative Friends of Israel, has called for the lifting of the blockade on Gaza. The White House, which has already had to put up with Netanyahu swaggering about Washington like an emperor surveying a vassal state, can’t be terribly pleased. Which again prompts the question – does Netanyahu think he can get away with literally anything? More to the point, is he right?
A dozen or more Rachel Corries created in one night, executed for the crime of trying to bring humanitarian aid to a population suffering a horrendous level of collective punishment because they elected the wrong government. Nice one, Bibi. If you wanted to prove that you don’t understand anything but sheer brutality, you’ve just done it.
And not a great day for the BBC, who I know don’t have access to those on the flotilla, but all the same, the “Have you anything more you’d like to say, Mr Regev?” atmosphere got to be a bit much. As luck would have it, their online report invites comments. (h/t)