The USS Liberty Saga as Told by a Survivor’s Son (Book Review)
by William Hughes
James Scott’s book, “Attack on the Liberty: The Untold Story of Israel’s Deadly 1967 Assault on the U.S. Spy Ship,” makes for a compelling read. The onslaught, on June 8, 1967, in international waters, during the Six-Day War, off the coast of Sinai, killed 34 crew members and injured 171 others. Israel claimed that it was all “just an accident...a case of mistaken identity.” Scott makes a very strong case that the assault on the “Liberty” was deliberate.
“More than 20 minutes before the fatal torpedo strike that killed 25 sailors, Israel’s chief air controller conclusively identified the ‘Liberty’ as an American ship.” - James Scott, Author
Warning! Reading James Scott’s book, “Attack on the Liberty: The Untold Story of Israel’s Deadly 1967 Assault on a U.S. Spy Ship,” will cause your blood pressure to rise! He’s the son of James Scott, an Ensign on the “Liberty,” who survived the dastardly assault by Israel. How the men of the “Liberty” were abandoned by their own government, then led by President Lyndon B. Johnson, (LBJ), makes for a compelling read. It will also cause you to wonder: Whatever happened to our Republic?
By now, most Americans who love their country, know some of the “Liberty” story. (1) It goes like this: On June 8, 1967, the “USS Liberty,” a spy ship, was attacked on a clear afternoon by Israel’s Air Force and Navy, in international waters off the coast of Sinai. The unprovoked assault, skillfully coordinated and planned in Tel Aviv, lasted about 75 minutes. It killed 34 crew members and seriously wounded 171 others. Petty Officer 3rd Class Gary Brummett, who survived the horrific ordeal, told Scott: “I know what a slaughterhouse looks like. That’s what this was.”
Israel claimed it was all just an “accident...a case of mistaken identity.” The administration of LBJ, at first, took a hard line with Tel Aviv, but then, soon caved into pressure from the pro-Israel camp in this country. A cover-up about what really happened to the “Liberty” ensued. Oddly, it was Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., the current Arizona senator’s father, now deceased, whose official “Court of Inquiry” one-sided report on the attack, is at the center of that process. It has regularly been derided, and rightly so, as a “whitewash!” (2) Scott puts it this way about the LBJ Gang’s pathetic response to the “Liberty” controversy: “The White House afraid of offending Israel’s domestic backers at a time when it needed support for its Vietnam [War] policy, looked the other way. Likewise, Congress failed to formally investigate the attack or hold public hearings. No one was every punished.”
Scott reveals, too, this shocker: “Some people in Washington wanted the spy ship sunk!” He added that they wanted to do so “in order that newspaper men would be unable to photograph her [the badly damaged ‘Liberty’] and thus inflame public opinion.”
“The attack on the ‘Liberty’ began [around 1:58 p.m. on June 8th],” Scott writes, “when Israeli fighter jets hammered the ship with rockets and cannons.” Keep in mind, that the vessel, which was clearly marked, “GTR5,” on both sides of the bow and stern, was practically defenseless. The only real thing that the “Liberty” carried for protection was its flag--the flag of her country--the red, white and blue. This, however, meant nothing to the Israelis. They showed no respect for the American flag and no mercy to the men of the “Liberty” whatsoever. The Israelis tried their best to sink the ship and kill all the personnel onboard. Why?
Well, Peter Hounam, an investigative reporter, in his gripping expose’, “Operation Cyanide,” suggested that Israel wanted to sink the “Liberty” and then blame Egypt for it in order to bring the U.S. into the then ongoing “Six-Day War,” on its side. Shades of the sleazy-false-flag operation, “The Lavon Affair.” (3) According to Hounam, the White House knew within minutes of the “Liberty” attack, that the perpetrator was really Israel. On two separate occasions, it recalled aircraft rescue missions for the “Liberty.” On the last attempt, President Johnson told Rear-Admiral Lawrence Geis of the Sixth Fleet: “I will not embarrass our ally!” The “Liberty” was then hit by an Israeli torpedo and left “dead in the water,” without any assistance for over 16 hours.
Another highly respected author, James Bamford, an intelligence expert, had another credible theory. He charged in his book, “Body of Secrets,” that on the morning of the attack on the ‘Liberty” that the Israeli Defense Forces had killed scores of Egyptian POWs, at Al-Arish, and were concerned that the spy ship had knowledge of that alleged War Crime.
Here’s Scott describing more on the attack: “Napalm turned the deck into a 3,000 degree inferno. Torpedo boats soon followed, ripping a hole thirty-nine feet wide and twenty-four feet tall in the ship’s steel skin. The attack...spared no one. Stretcher bearers were shot, sailors burned, life rafts sunk...It was the most deadly assault on an American ship since the ‘USS Indianapolis’ was torpedoed in the waning days of World War II...Investigators later counted 821 shell holes, some created with American made munitions used by the Israeli forces.” All of this came from our supposed ally--Israel! There were also thousands of .50 caliber machine gun holes in the ship. It was a “direct” torpedo hit which proved the most lethal. It killed 25 members of the crew. (5) The Israelis also cleverly “jammed the ‘Liberty’s’ communications” frequencies, making it extremely difficult for the crew to send out a distress message. The Israeli jet aircrafts had “wiped out” the forty-five antennae on the “Liberty,” Scott says.
Israel had the “Liberty” under close surveillance for several hours prior to the surprise attack. Scott continues: “The Israeli reconnaissance plane that buzzed the ship at 5:15 a.m. had landed [back in Israel.] The naval observer aboard the plane had reported the ‘Liberty’s’ distinct markings during the debriefing. An Israeli officer looked up the ship’s identity and forwarded his findings to his Navy’s war room and naval intelligence. Israel knew not only that an American ship trolled off the coast of the Sinai Peninsula, but that it was the spy ship ‘Liberty.’” The Liberty’s log shows the vessel was “buzzed” by Israeli air crafts about “every half hour” on the day of the assault.
One of Israel’s lame excuses is that it thought the “"Liberty" had left the area. Another huge whopper of an “alibi” was that the spy vessel, despite its distinctive telecommunication equipment, somehow resembled an “Egyptian horse and transport ship...whose marking were in Arabic.” The “Liberty” was “twice the size” of the Egyptian freighter. The late Admiral Thomas H. Moorer said: “Anybody who couldn’t identify the ‘Liberty’ could not tell the difference between the White House and the Washington Monument!” On the afternoon of the attack on the “Liberty,” a U.S. airplane, staffed by NSA personnel, was flying over the conflict area. It overheard an Israeli pilot mentioning “an American flag.”
At pp. 215-216, Scott reprints some of the Israeli transcript between the pilots and air controllers. It reads: “What is it? Americans?...What are you saying?...I didn’t say!...Does he have authorization to attack? He does...Authorized to sink her? You can sink her...Is he screwing her?” One of the Israeli pilots also joked about how sinking the “Liberty” before the torpedo boats arrived would be a “Mitzvah.” The transcript goes on: “Oil is spilling out into the water...Great! Wonderful!...The warship is burning!”
All the probative evidence strongly suggest that Israel’s attack on the “Liberty” was deliberate. This is the position that LCDR James Marquis Ennes, Jr., who was on the bridge of the ship on that fateful day and who was also seriously wounded, has consistently taken. In fact, he repeated that opinion to me, on June 8, 2007, at Fort Myer, VA. (4) LCDR Ennes is the author of “Assault on the Liberty,” a book now in his 12th printing. (1)
Finally, a full congressional probe, no holds barred, is needed to resolve all the questions surrounding the “Liberty.” Israel’s attempt to sink the spy ship has left a deep scar on our nation’s collective psyche. Why we continue to give it billions of dollars in aide every year is mystery to many. See, http://www.wrmea.com/ Author Scott’s book will contribute significantly to getting the full truth out and seeing that justice is done. Until that day comes, however, the serious damage remains, along with all the strong feelings of deep and bitter resentment associated with the vicious Israeli attack on the “Liberty,” as evidenced by the comments made by the survivors, and others, in the six video series, entitled: “The Coming Storm: Avenging the USS Liberty.” (5)
1. LCDR James Marquis Ennes, Jr.’s “Assault on the Liberty” and
http://www.gtr5.com/ and http://www.gtr5.com/evidence/warcrimes.pdf and http://www.usslibertyveterans.org/ and
The BBC Documentary, “Dead in the Water,” at: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article5073.htm and
5. Videos, in Six Parts, “The Coming Storm: Avenge the USS Liberty,” at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t361Zgkxm1k&feature=player_embedded and