Review: The Attack on the Liberty–The Untold Story of Israel’s Deadly 1967 Assault on a U.S. Spy Ship

5 Star, Atrocities & Genocide

Attack LibertySummary Review Intended to Inspire Wrath of US Voters,June 20, 2009

James Scott

I have reviewed earlier books on the Liberty, and stood with the Liberty survivors and their kin in believing that the U.S. Government then led by Lyndon Johnson betrayed the public trust in this instance. A handful of books support the general betrayal of the public trust that began with Lyndon Johnson and continues to this day:
An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King, New and Updated Edition
Someone Would Have Talked: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the Conspiracy to Mislead History
The Trial of Henry Kissinger
None So Blind: A Personal Account of the Intelligence Failure in Vietnam
Who the Hell Are We Fighting?: The Story of Sam Adams and the Vietnam Intelligence Wars

That is the context within which the USS Liberty was attacked with impunity, and the deliberate attack covered up by the US Government, i.e. the White House and Cy Vance the Secretary of Defense. The US Navy protested but was silenced.

Perhaps the most important contribution this book makes is to record the current (2007) views of participants on both sides to the effect that this was a deliberate premeditated attack ordered by a person high enough in Israel to order the combined “joint” attack by both air force attack jets and naval torpedo boats.

The book confirms what has been claimed before, that the vessel was known to be US, and that the American flag was clearly seen by the attackers. DCI Richard Helms, interviewed in 2008, specifically confirmed the atrocity.

QUOTE from page 47: “The fighters destroyed the Liberty's machine guns, knocked out the antennas, and targeted the bridge to kill the officers and spark chaos among the crew.”

I am especially angry at the manner in which the Israeli's have bought the US Congress along with Wall Street and the banking world. See for instance:
They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby
The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy

Israel also spies with impunity on the US, both with formal and technical spy networks such as depicted in Robert Maxwell, Israel's Superspy: The Life and Murder of a Media Mogul, where every American Jew is considered a “sayonim,” a person who will support Israel spy operations that are treason against the US, and with non-official spying such as Congresswoman Jane “this conversation never happened” Harman supports.

The book is both a labor of love and extremely well-executed investigative journalism.

Israel murdered 34 US naval personnel and wounded 171. This was an international war crime.

This is a RIGHTEOUS BOOK (I actually write this just before putting the book down). Here are some of my notes:

+ Immediate impact of the cover-up was the failure to learn anything, such that the USS Pueblo was captured by the North Koreans (at the request for the Soviets, completing their needs for use of the crypto cards they acquired earlier).

+ Middle of the book is sad sickening detail not here-to-fore presented in such an organized and detailed manner, along with 22 compelling shameful photographs of battle damage. Points to remember:

–Smell of rotting bodies

–Oil-soaked environment

–Partial bodies were a recovery & identification challenge

+ Communications breakdowns combined with a quick Israeli apology kept reinforcements from reaching the Liberty for 17 hours.

+ The Skipper ramped readiness up, wanted to move, but would have lost line of sight needed for NSA intercepts. Similarly, Navy advisor to Adm McCain (the father) wanted to pull the Liberty back at same time that a submarine was pulled back, but Admiral McCain did not want to tangle with NSA and claimed he did not have the authority when he actually did. (Later he redeems himself somewhat by insisting on Purple Hearts and combat pay.]

+ The context (Viet-Nam in particular) made the Liberty a “problem” for LBJ. Quote from page 93: “The Liberty–now riddled with cannon blasts, its decks soaked in blood, and its starboard side ripped open by a torpedo–evolved in a matter of hours from a top-secret intelligence asset to a domestic political liability.”

+ We learn that LBJ's upbringing taught him to favor Jews, and that “Johnson has too heavy a roster of Jewish and pro-Israeli advisors” (page 139.

+ We learn that Pentagon loyalists toed the party line on covering the whole thing up.

+ We learn that the US inquiry did not answer the question “How and why did this happen,” that Admiral McCain forbade travel to Israel, and that the Israeli's were not forthcoming with logs from any of the attacking units.

+ We learn that the original Israeli “investigation” was done by one officer alone, and after very angry exchanges on all sides, redone with an outcome of 7 counts of negligence recommended and not accepted. The final report from Israel is riddled with lies that are pointed out by the Israeli Ambassador himself in furious messages home. I am reminded of Kiss the Boys Goodbye: How the United States Betrayed its Own POWs in Vietnam and Is Anybody Listening?: A True Story About POW/MIAs In The Vietnam War.

+ We learn the Israeli's ordered napalm to be used against the USS Liberty as it would be “more efficient,” and we learn that the US politicians in the White House considered sinking the USS Liberty at sea to get rid of the evidence–one can only recoil in horror knowing that they considered the crew “expendable” and did not care if it was sunk with or without crew.

+ We learn that the US was willing to accept $3.3 million for the families, and the Israeli'[s refused, offering $1.25 million. Ultimately the Israeli bill came to $17 million of which $9 million was interest, and they finally settled for $6 million in three payments of $2 million each. What the author does NOT tell us is that the US taxpayer pays 20% of the entire Israeli government budget every year at the same time that the USA turns a blind eye to Israeli genocide against the Palestinians and Israeli theft of water from the Arab aquifers (see Chuck Spinney's brief on this at

The book ends on a graceful note. I am impressed by the author's balance throughout. He finally visits Israel and meets one of the pilots, now Brigadier General Yiftah Spector. Accompanied by his father, who served on the USS Liberty, the author witnesses the Israeli officer saying “I'm sorry,” and his father saying “Thank you.”

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