Remember the Liberty

USS Liberty

[Much of this post appears in Chapter 13 of Truth Is a Lonely Warrior.]

The USS Liberty was an American reconnaissance ship, unarmed except for four 50-caliber machine guns, serving with the U.S. 6th fleet in the Mediterranean. During the 1967 Six Day War between Israel and her Arab neighbors, it was stationed in international waters off the Egyptian coast. Israel’s air force and navy attempted to sink the Liberty. First their unmarked planes (bearing no Israeli insignia) hammered the ship with rockets, cannons, and napalm. They especially targeted the Liberty’s communication antennas; after destroying these, they sent in torpedo boats to finish the job. Five torpedoes were launched; one struck the ship, which had taken evasive action. In the meantime, Liberty crew members patched together some communications equipment, and got off a message to the 6th fleet that they were under attack. The aircraft carrier Saratoga replied that warplanes were on the way. The Israelis, apparently having overheard the communications, ceased attacking and fled. However, unknown to both the Liberty and her assailants, U.S. warplanes were not on their way. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara had ordered Rear Admiral Geis, commander of the task force which included the Saratoga, to recall them. As John E. Borne relates in The USS Liberty: Dissenting History vs. Official History:

The first rescue flight was canceled on direct orders by radio from Secretary of Defense McNamara, who ordered a 90-minute delay before any further flights. When the second flight took off at 1550 (having waited 90 minutes as ordered) Geis notified McNamara, who again ordered the recall of the flights. Any officer who doubts the wisdom of an order he has received has the prerogative to ask that the order be confirmed by a yet-higher officer, and Geis availed himself of that right. Since he was questioning the order of the Secretary of Defense, the only man superior to the Secretary was the President. President Johnson himself came on the radio and ordered Geis to recall the flights because “we are not going to embarrass an ally.” 1

The attack left 34 Americans dead and 173 wounded. The Israelis announced that they had misidentified the Liberty as an Egyptian transport ship, El-Quseir. This was implausible. The planes made many passes over the ship before commencing the assault. Liberty was approximately twice the size of El-Quseir; its markings were in English, not Arabic; and it flew an American flag. When that flag was shot down, the crew raised a huge ceremonial America flag.

The Liberty Damage
The Liberty after the attack; torpedo hole.

Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, former Chief of Naval Operations and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated:

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.2

Nevertheless, the United States government rubber-stamped Israel’s explanation. As Liberty survivor Richard Sturman relates:

Disgracefully, before awarding the Congressional Medal of Honor to our Commanding Officer for his heroic deeds our government first asked the government of the State of Israel if they had any objections. The Medal of Honor was then presented in a Washington, D.C. Naval Shipyard by the Secretary of the Navy. Hours later, then-President Lyndon Johnson awarded similar Medals of Honor at the White House with all the pomp and circumstance accorded the recipient of our country’s highest award for valor. Furthermore, Captain McGonagle is the only recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor in United States history who has not been accorded White House recognition. So not to embarrass the State of Israel for their attacking the USS Liberty, there is no mention in Captain McGonagle’s Medal of Honor Citation or in any Citation awarded the USS Liberty and her crew as to the identity of our attackers. A practice unheard of in American military awards.3

Also unprecedented for an attack of this magnitude: Congress never investigated the incident. The Navy’s investigation was limited to one week. The following is excerpted from the 2004 declaration of Ward Boston, Jr., chief counsel to the Naval Court of Inquiry; for the full text see

Declaration of Ward Boston, Jr., Captain, JAGC, USN (Ret.)

I, Ward Boston, Jr. do declare that the following statement is true and complete:

For more than 30 years, I have remained silent on the topic of USS Liberty. I am a military man and when orders come in from the Secretary of Defense and President of the United States, I follow them.

However, recent attempts to rewrite history compel me to share the truth.

In June of 1967, while serving as a Captain in the Judge Advocate General Corps, Department of the Navy, I was assigned as senior legal counsel for the Navy’s Court of Inquiry into the brutal attack on USS Liberty, which had occurred on June 8th.

The late Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, president of the Court, and I were given only one week to gather evidence for the Navy’s official investigation into the attack, despite the fact that we both had estimated that a proper Court of Inquiry into an attack of this magnitude would take at least six months to conduct. . . .

Despite the short amount of time we were given, we gathered a vast amount of evidence, including hours of heartbreaking testimony from the young survivors.

The evidence was clear. Both Admiral Kidd and I believed with certainty that this attack, which killed 34 American sailors and injured 172 others, was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew. Each evening, after hearing testimony all day, we often spoke our private thoughts concerning what we had seen and heard. I recall Admiral Kidd repeatedly referring to the Israeli forces responsible for the attack as “murderous bastards.” It was our shared belief, based on the documentary evidence and testimony we received first hand, that the Israeli attack was planned and deliberate, and could not possibly have been an accident.

I am certain that the Israeli pilots that undertook the attack, as well as their superiors, who had ordered the attack, were well aware that the ship was American.

I saw the flag, which had visibly identified the ship as American, riddled with bullet holes, and heard testimony that made it clear that the Israelis intended there be no survivors.

Not only did the Israelis attack the ship with napalm, gunfire, and missiles, Israeli torpedo boats machine-gunned three lifeboats that had been launched in an attempt by the crew to save the most seriously wounded – a war crime. . . .

I know from personal conversations I had with Admiral Kidd that President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered him to conclude that the attack was a case of mistaken identity despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Admiral Kidd told me, after returning from Washington, D.C. that he had been ordered to sit down with two civilians from either the White House or the Defense Department, and rewrite portions of the court’s findings.

Admiral Kidd also told me that he had been ordered to put the lid on everything having to do with the attack on USS Liberty. We were never to speak of it and we were to caution everyone else involved that they could never speak of it again.4

Liberty casualties

Air Force intelligence analyst Steven Forslund stated in a formal declaration:

On the day of the attack on the Liberty, I read yellow teletype sheets that spewed from the machines in front of me all day. We obtained our input from a variety of sources including the NSA [National Security Agency]. The teletypes were raw translations of Israeli air-to-air and air-to-ground communications between jet aircraft and their ground controller. I read page after page of these transcripts that day as it went on and on. The transcripts made specific reference to the efforts to direct the jets to the target which was identified as American numerous times by the ground controller. Upon arrival, the aircraft specifically identified the target and mentioned the American flag she was flying. There were frequent operational transmissions from the pilots to the ground base describing the strafing runs. The ground control began asking about the status of the target and whether it was sinking. They stressed that the target must be sunk and leave no trace.5

Air Force intelligence analyst James Ronald Gotcher, also on duty that day, has testified:

We received a CRITIC message, informing us that USS Liberty was under attack by Israeli aircraft. Shortly thereafter, we began receiving rough translations of the Israeli air to air and air to ground communications. . . . It was clear from the explicit statements made by both the aircraft crews and the controllers that the aircraft were flying a planned mission to find and sink USS Liberty. My understanding of what I read led me to conclude that the Israeli pilots were making every effort possible to sink USS Liberty and were very frustrated by their inability to do so. Approximately ten days to two weeks later, we received an internal NSA report, summarizing the Agency’s findings. The report stated in, in no uncertain terms, that the attack was planned in advance and deliberately executed. The mission was to sink USS Liberty. A few days after the report arrived, another message came through directing the document control officer to gather and destroy all copies of both the rough and final intercept transmissions, as well as the subsequently issued report. After the destruction of these documents, I saw nothing further on the subject.6

Navy communications technician Harold Cobbs has testified:

I arrived in Morocco, July of 1967. I was young and new to the NSG world. While performing my duties on base, I was a witness to the collection and order to destroy ALL traffic regarding the attack on the USS Liberty. Not wanting to believe what I had just seen and heard, I made the comment to comm officer, Lieutenant Rogers, “That’s just not right!” Upon making the above comment I received a severe lecture regarding the following of direct orders.7

The Liberty’s survivors maintain a website,, from which I have drawn most of this information, and which I urge you to visit.

Now the paramount question: Why attack the Liberty? This was, in all probability, to be another Maine, another Lusitania, Pearl Harbor, Tonkin Gulf. The plan was to sink the Liberty with no survivors. That’s why the Israelis even machine-gunned the lifeboats. They flew in unmarked planes because, if successful, the attack would have been blamed on the Arabs. The intention was probably to then bring the U.S. into the Six Day War on Israel’s side, guaranteeing victory.

We can better understand the Liberty incident if we give it context.

After World War II, the British were governing Palestine, with their administrative, military and police headquarters in Jerusalem’s King David Hotel. Zionists wanted Britain to exit Palestine so they could proclaim Israel a nation. In 1946, members of Irgun, an Israeli terrorist group, entered the King David dressed as Arabs. They brought in explosives, concealed in milk cans, and blew up the hotel, leaving 91 dead and many others mutilated. This was one of numerous Zionist terrorist acts against the British, who got the message and departed.

In 1986, U.S. soldiers were frequenting a Berlin discotheque called La Belle. One night a bomb tore through it, killing two American servicemen and wounding over 50 others. U.S. intelligence then intercepted radio messages, originating in Libya, that congratulated alleged perpetrators of the crime. President Reagan sent bombers which struck Libya. The adopted daughter of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi was killed in those raids. However, Victor Ostrovsky, former agent of the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service, has revealed in his book The Other Side of Deception that the Mossad originated the radio signals from Libya, completely deceiving U.S. intelligence.8

And on 9-11, a group of Middle Eastern-looking men were spotted celebrating the World Trade Center bombings. They were dancing, high-fiving each other, and photographing themselves against the backdrop of the burning buildings. They then took off in a van. Neighbors wrote down the license number and gave it to police. The men were arrested. As Scotland’s Sunday Herald reported:

There was terror and ruin in Manhattan, but, over the Hudson River in New Jersey, a handful of men were dancing. As the World Trade Centre burned and crumpled, the five men filmed the worst atrocity ever committed on American soil as it played out before their eyes.

Who do you think they were? Palestinians? Saudis? Iraqis, even? Al-Qaeda, surely? Wrong on all counts. They were Israelis – and at least two of them were Israeli intelligence agents, working for Mossad, the equivalent of MI6 or the CIA.9

The FBI detained the men, but since they were from “friendly” Israel, and the crime was attributed to Al-Qaida, they were deported back to Israel after less than two months. But a critical question had been left unanswered. On 9-11, we didn’t yet officially know who had attacked us – the FBI announced that two days later. So why were Mossad agents already celebrating on the day of the tragedy? At the very least, it means they knew about the attacks, and knew that America was therefore about to deepen its alliance with Israel. At the most, it means Mossad was directly involved with the 9-11 atrocities.

Seen in historical context, the attempted sinking of the Liberty fits a long-term pattern of Israeli strategy: deceive Americans into thinking they have been attacked by Arabs so that America will fight Israel’s enemies.

Let us remember that the next time an “Islamic terror attack” occurs on our soil. To the Zionists, Americans lives are as cheap as those of the Palestinians they are killing in Gaza.

Liberty sign


1. John E. Borne, The USS LIBERTY: Dissenting History vs. Official History (New York: Reconsideration Press, 1995), 38.

2. Thomas Moorer, “A Fair Probe Would Attack Liberty Misinformation,” Stars and Stripes, January 16, 2004, as quoted at

3. Statement of Richard Sturman,

4. Declaration of Ward Boston, Jr.,

5. Declaration of Steven Forslund,

6. Declaration of James Ronald Gotcher,

7. Statement of Harold Max Cobbs,

8. Victor Ostrovsky, The Other Side of Deception: A Rogue Agent Exposes the Mossad’s Secret Agenda (New York: HarperPaperbacks, 1994), 143-49.

9. Sunday Herald, Nov. 2, 2003, (link now down)

Picture of James Perloff

James Perloff

James has been writing for alternative media since 1985 when he began contributing to The New American magazine. He is the author of six books, the subjects of which range from COVID-19 to political history to creationism.

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