James Scott writes a painfully vivid account of what is now known about the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty in 1967. I emphasize the word “attack” because “friendly fire” incidents don’t occur over an hour with rockets, napalm, and cannon on a lightly defended ship with an American ensign waving in the afternoon sky.
The heroism of the crew is rightly legendary, if not highlighted in American naval history in the manner the bravery and ingenuity of other recent crews on the USS Cole & USS Stark has been considered. Scott handles these particulars as well as he unfolds the aftermath, weaving together opinions from the Israeli Ambassador to the US about the need for accountability and apology to the sailors and their families and the stifled indignation of many an American government official of the time at soft-pedaling Israel’s responsibility and never letting the truth put the issue to rest.
Scott steps into a minefield of lies, distortions and murky agendas without falling prey to undue recriminations or relatively baseless accusations. He lays calm, clear fire at several people in the government who (given the evidence available now after several vital pieces of evidence were declassified) appear to be the most culpable in hiding the truth both from the public and the sailors whose lives were irrecoverably changed on that dark day.
In an era where an Israeli attack on Iran’s hostile nuclear sites could provoke a lethal response from the Islamic Republic and its proxies that take the lives of hundreds of Americans in the days and weeks afterward, clearing up the USS Liberty attack via an investigation by an independent commission empowered by the government to view all relevant evidence and clear up this the lies and deceptions inherent in the official account of the murder of dozens of US sailors by our ally.
A few links help answer the following questions or points raised in response to discussion of the attack:
(A) this is all in the past, why bring it up? (B) its only fodder for anti-Semites and other opponents (C) this will further imperil US-Israeli relations
Our sailors richly deserve for the government to stop lying to them. The dead are entitled to be honored for valor in combat, not in a “friendly fire” accident. The nation deserves to have justice for the needless shedding of its defenders’ blood, in the form of at least an official accounting and apology from the Israeli government as well as our own. To do otherwise in the face of mounting evidence is to disgrace the sailors who endured an unwarranted assault and saved their ship with as many of their shipmates as possible.
(apparently if you’re like me and don’t watch TV, let alone have cable, you can watch the episodes online starting tomorrow).
Kudos to the Navy for greenlighting this PBS project which is airing this week April 27-May 1.
The creators had near-total editorial freedom and present crew members on the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-6 8) for an entire six month deployment to the Persian Gulf. They interviewed hundreds of the 5,000 sailors and Marines onboard while focusing largely on more than a dozen individuals, ranging from a fighter pilot to a ship’s cook.
Everything from sex on the boat to disillusionment with the mission is captured, as well as daily living conditions, challenges and the mission each crew member plays a part in achieving.
Above all else, the series profiles a unique band of individuals who the American people have perhaps never seen before, except for split second viewings in a movie like “Top Gun” or a TV show like “JAG”. The human growth (and failure) that occurs when pushed to your physical and emotional limits is eloquently profiled. Truly a must see if you have any interest in the Navy or the youth that join the Navy and serve their country.