The USS Liberty incident

By Les Kinsolving

President Truman’s almost instant recognition of the newly proclaimed state of Israel in 1948, followed by so many billions of dollars in U.S. aid, is evidence that the U.S. has been Israel’s strongest ally.

Therefore, the theory that Israel, during the Six Day War in 1967, would have deliberately attacked the U.S.S. Liberty is utterly preposterous.

It is as preposterous as the idea that Capt. John Paul Jones would have been ordered by Gen. George Washington to sink the French troop ships bringing soldiers and artillery to help us win our war of independence.

But, just as that vicious and preposterous forgery – the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” – is still in circulation, so Arab propagandists and other Jew-baiters – plus some U.S. journalists who should surely know better – have continued raising this battle issue.

Despite 13 official investigations – 10 by the United States and three by Israel – all of which concluded that the attack on the Liberty was definitely a mistake, the charge of a deliberate Israeli attack on this U.S. spy ship is still being made, even by some of the Liberty’s crew, who circulate a newsletter. This charge is made despite the fact that two days before the attack on the Liberty, the United States announced in the United Nations that it had no ships within 100 miles of this war.

Now, Brassey’s, a publisher in Dulles, Va., has produced what is surely the definitive coverage of what has been so distorted into the lowest point in the history of the U.S.-Israeli alliance. The book, “The Liberty Incident,” is the result of 14 years of research by a retired U.S. Navy captain and fighter pilot who is now a federal-court judge in Miami, as well as a law school professor. A. Jay Cristol, Ph.D., spent 18 years as a naval aviator and 20 years in the Navy’s Judge-Advocate General Corps.

This book is an historical masterpiece. It has the very strong commendations of three top ranking U.S. admirals, and Sen. John McCain who wrote:

Judge Cristol has reached a similar conclusion to one my father reached in his June 18, 1967, endorsement of the findings of the court of inquiry. I commend Judge Cristol for his thoroughness and fairness and I commend this book.

Particularly notable in this book is the manner in which Judge Cristol deals with some of his strongest opponents, the Liberty Veterans Association. While disagreeing – in impressive detail – with many of their claims, he notes:

The U.S. Navy recognized the heroism of the crew (of the Liberty) by awarding many citations as well as the highest unit award, the Presidential Unit Citation for “exceptionally meritorious and heroic achievement.”

Judge Cristol also notes:

All of the surviving Liberty crew members suffered a horrible experience on June 8, 1967. Many continue to suffer from that experience to this day. Like many other victims of “friendly fire,” they have become obsessed with the cause of their pain as they perceive it – all the more so since they have attracted willing but unholy allies who, if anything, have fanned their flame, in order to promote their own agenda. With all the respect that is certainly due the survivors of the Liberty incident, their objectivity is lost or tainted.

As an example, one Liberty crew member James Ennes, author of a book entitled “Assault on the Liberty: The True Story of the Israeli Attack on an American Intelligence Ship,” on Sept. 28, 1989, wrote a letter to the editor of New Hampshire’s daily newspaper the Keene Sentinel:

It is Israel that daily maims and murders an unarmed population in Palestine. It is Israel that daily bulldozes homes of suspected adolescent rock-throwers.

This absolute incredibility was republished in the Liberty Newsletter.