I've never seen a President -- I don't care who he is -- stand up to them. It just boggles the mind. They always get what they want. The Israelis know what is going on all the time. I got to the point where I wasn't writing anything down. If the American people understood what a grip these people have got on our government, they would rise up in arms. Our citizens certainly don't have any idea what goes on.
Thomas H. Moorer, during an interview on 24 August, 1983
Admiral Thomas Moorer was Chief of Naval Operations - the highest ranking naval officer in the U.S. military - when the Zionist regime attacked the USS Liberty in 1967. He was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1970 to 1974. This Jan 2004 article published in the Houston Chronicle was the last public statement he ever made before his death four weeks later on Feb 5, 2004.
Betrayal Behind Israeli Attack on U.S. Ship
By ADM. THOMAS MOORER Jan. 9, 2004, 6:23PM
After State Department officials and historians assembled in Washington, D.C., last week to discuss the 1967 war in the Middle East, I am compelled to speak out about one of U.S. history's most shocking cover-ups. On June 8, 1967, Israel attacked our proud naval ship -- the USS Liberty --killing 34 American servicemen and wounding 172. Those men were then betrayed and left to die by our own government. U.S. military rescue aircraft were recalled, not once, but twice, through direct intervention by the Johnson administration. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's cancellation of the Navy's attempt to rescue the Liberty, which I personally confirmed from the commanders of the aircraft carriers America and Saratoga, was the most disgraceful act I witnessed in my entire military career. To add insult to injury, Congress, to this day, has failed to hold formal hearings on Israel's attack on this American ship. No official investigation of Israel's attack has ever permitted the testimony of the surviving crew members. A 1967 investigation by the Navy, upon which all other reports are based, has now been fully discredited as a cover-up by its senior attorney. Capt. Ward Boston, in a sworn affidavit, recently revealed that the court was ordered by the White House to cover up the incident and find that Israel's attack was "a case of mistaken identity."
Some distinguished colleagues and I formed an independent commission to investigate the attack on the USS Liberty. After an exhaustive review of previous reports, naval and other military records, including eyewitness testimony from survivors, we recently presented our findings on Capitol Hill. They include:
Israeli reconnaissance aircraft closely studied the Liberty during an eight-hour period prior to the attack, one flying within 200 feet of the ship.
Weather reports confirm the day was clear with unlimited visibility.
The Liberty was a clearly marked American ship in international waters, flying an American flag and carrying large U.S. Navy hull letters and numbers on its bow.
Despite claims by Israeli intelligence that they confused the Liberty with a small Egyptian transport, the Liberty was conspicuously different from any vessel in the Egyptian navy. It was the most sophisticated intelligence ship in the world in 1967. With its massive radio antennae, including a large satellite dish, it looked like a large lobster and was one of the most easily identifiable ships afloat.
Israel attempted to prevent the Liberty's radio operators from sending a call for help by jamming American emergency radio channels.
Israeli torpedo boats machine-gunned lifeboats at close range that had been lowered to rescue the most seriously wounded.
As a result, our commission concluded that:
There is compelling evidence that Israel's attack was a deliberate attempt to destroy an American ship and kill her entire crew.
In attacking the USS Liberty, Israel committed acts of murder against U.S. servicemen and an act of war against the United States.
The White House knowingly covered up the facts of this attack from the American people.
The truth continues to be concealed to the present day in what can only be termed a national disgrace. What was Israel's motive in launching this attack? Congress must address this question with full cooperation from the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency and the military intelligence services. The men of the USS Liberty represented the United States. They were attacked for two hours, causing 70 percent of American casualties, and the eventual loss of our best intelligence ship. These sailors and Marines were entitled to our best defense. We gave them no defense.
Did our government put Israel's interests ahead of our own? If so, why? Does our government continue to subordinate American interests to Israeli interests? These are important questions that should be investigated by an independent, fully empowered commission of the American government. The American people deserve to know the truth about this attack. We must finally shed some light on one of the blackest pages in American naval history. It is a duty we owe not only to the brave men of the USS Liberty, but to every man and woman who is asked to wear the uniform of the United States.
Moorer was chairman of the joint chiefs of staff from 1970 to 1974. He is joined in the independent commission of inquiry by Gen. Ray Davis (recently deceased); Rear Adm. Merlin Staring; former Judge Advocate General of the Navy and Ambassador James Akins.
America's Highest Ranking Naval Officer Admiral Thomas Moorer (1912 - 2004)
Former Chief of Naval Operations and Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Rejects the
From: Admiral Thomas H. Moorer
Subject: Attack on the USS Liberty June 8, 1967
Date: June 8, 1997
I have never believed that the attack on the USS Liberty was a case of mistaken identity. That is ridiculous. I have flown over the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, thousands of hours, searching for ships and identifying all types of ships at sea. The Liberty was the ugliest, strangest looking ship in the U.S. Navy. As a communications intelligence ship, it was sprouting every kind of antenna. It looked like a lobster with all those projections moving every which way.
Israel knew perfectly well that the ship was American. After all, the Liberty's American flag and markings were in full view in perfect visibility for the Israeli aircraft that overflew the ship eight times over a period of nearly eight hours prior to the attack. I am confident that Israel knew the Liberty could intercept radio messages from all parties and potential parties to the ongoing war, then in its fourth day, and that Israel was preparing to seize the Golan Heights from Syria despite President Johnson's known opposition to such a move. I think they realized that if we learned in advance of their plan, there would be a tremendous amount of negotiating between Tel Aviv and Washington.
And I believe Moshe Dayan concluded that he could prevent Washington from becoming aware of what Israel was up to by destroying the primary source of acquiring that information the USS Liberty. The result was a wanton sneak attack that left 34 American sailors dead and 171 seriously injured. What is so chilling and cold-blooded, of course, is that they could kill as many Americans as they did in confidence that Washington would cooperate in quelling any public outcry.
I have to conclude that it was Israel's intent to sink the Liberty and leave as few survivors as possible. Up to the point where the torpedo boats were sent in, you could speculate on that point. You have to remember that the Liberty was an intelligence ship, not a fighting ship, and its only defensive weapons were a pair of 50-caliber machine guns both aft and on the forecastle. There was little the men could do to fight off the air assault from Israeli jets that pounded the Liberty with bombs, rockets, napalm and machine gun fire for 25 minutes.
With the Liberty riddled with holes, fires burning, and scores of casualties, three Israeli torpedo boats closed in for the kill. The second of three torpedoes ripped through a compartment at amidships, drowning 25 of the men in that section. Then the torpedo boats closed to within 100 feet of the Liberty to continue the attack with cannons and machine guns, resulting in further casualties. It is telling, with respect to whether total annihilation was the intent, that the Liberty crew has reported that the torpedo boats' machine guns also were turned on life rafts that were deployed into the Mediterranean as well as those few on deck that had escaped damage.
As we know now, if the rescue aircraft from U.S. carriers had not been recalled, they would have arrived at the Liberty before the torpedo attack, reducing the death toll by 25. The torpedo boat commanders could not be certain that Sixth Fleet aircraft were not on the way and this might have led to their breaking off the attack after 40 minutes rather than remaining to send the Liberty and its crew of 294 to the bottom. Congress to this day has failed to hold formal hearings for the record on the Liberty affair. This is unprecedented and a national disgrace. I spent hours on the Hill giving testimony after the USS Pueblo, a sister ship to the Liberty, was seized by North Korea. I was asked every imaginable question, including why a carrier in the area failed to dispatch aircraft to aid the Pueblo. In the Liberty case, fighters were put in the air not once, but twice. They were ordered to stand down by Secretary of Defense McNamara and President Johnson for reasons the American public deserves to know.
The captain and crew of the Liberty, rather than being widely acclaimed as the heroes they most certainly are, have been silenced, ignored, honored belatedly and away from the cameras, and denied a history that accurately reflects their ordeal. I was appalled that six of the dead from the Liberty lay under a tombstone at Arlington Cemetery that described them as having "died in the eastern Mediterranean," as if disease rather than Israeli intent had caused their deaths. The Naval Academy failed to record the name of Lt. Stephen Toth in Memorial Hall on the grounds that he had not been killed in battle. I intervened and was able to reverse the apparent idea that dying in a cowardly, one-sided attack by a supposed ally is somehow not the same as being killed by an avowed enemy.
Commander McGonagle's story is the stuff of naval tradition. Badly wounded in the first air attack, lying on the deck and losing blood, he refused any treatment that would take him from his battle station on the bridge. He continued to direct the ship's defense, the control of flooding and fire, and by his own example inspired the survivors to heroic efforts to save the ship. He did not relinquish his post until hours later, after having directed the crippled ship's navigation to a rendezvous with a U.S. destroyer and final arrival in Malta.
I must have gone to the White House 15 times or more to watch the President personally award the Congressional Medal of Honor to Americans of special valor. So it irked the hell out of me when McGonagle's ceremony was relegated to the obscurity of the Washington Navy Yard and the medal was presented by the Secretary of the Navy. This was a back-handed slap. Everyone else received their medal at the White House. President Johnson must have been concerned about the reaction of the Israeli lobby.
The Liberty Veterans Association deserves the encouragement of everyone who wants the facts of the Liberty incident revealed and proper homage paid to the men who lost their lives, to their families, and to the survivors. I have attended many of their reunions and am always impressed with the cohesion of the Liberty family. They arrive in town with their whole entourage grandmas, grandpas, grandchildren. They promote the memory of the boys who were killed and I respect them for that. They are mostly from small country towns, probably a lot like Eufaula, Alabama, where I grew up, and they represent the basic core of America that has enabled us to be a superpower for so long. These are the kind of people who will make certain that our Liberty and freedom survive if fighting is what it takes.