State Department blames flotilla participants for ‘risks’ they incur from Israel

Israel/Palestine
on 87 Comments

This statement at yesterday’s State Department briefing is appalling.  Note how spokesman Mark Toner passively refrains from attributing agency.  They don’t want to see people harmed, but Toner says nothing about insisting that Israel not harm passengers.  It’s practically an acknowledgment that Israel will harm people and that those people have been warned by the US, so Israel can now have a free hand.

QUESTION: Israeli – Israel television’s Channel 10 is reporting that the Secretary refused to meet with Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman when they were both in Paris last week for the OECD events. Is there any truth to that?

MR. TONER: I don’t know, frankly.

QUESTION: Mark, sorry, about Israeli and Gaza aid ships. The Israeli military said it will stop new Gaza flotilla. Do you –

MR. TONER: Flotilla, yeah.

QUESTION: Yeah, do you know, flotilla. They said – and one of the reasons from last year’s raid was, they said, especially Turkey is waiting for apology and compensation. Are you talking to Israeli government? Are they going to intervene in international waters or in Israeli waters?

MR. TONER: I’m sorry, so what’s just – the question is?

QUESTION: Yeah. Israeli military says they will stop new Gaza –

MR. TONER: Who says?

QUESTION: Israeli military.

MR. TONER: Okay.

QUESTION: They said they will stop new ships, new aid ships, international –

MR. TONER: Right, right. Okay.

QUESTION: – flotilla. Yeah. Are you talking to the Israeli government? Are they planning to intervene these ships in international waters? Is it okay with U.S. Government? Or in Israeli waters?

MR. TONER: We have made clear through the past year that groups and individuals who seek to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions that entail a risk to their safety. I think I’ve talked about this specifically. We’ve raised our concerns with the Turkish Government as well, and we’ve also met and said publicly as well as privately, meeting with some of these NGOs, that – about our concerns, about the risk for attempting to break this blockade. We want to just reiterate that there are established and efficient mechanisms for getting humanitarian assistance through to Gaza, and that’s been our message consistently. You’re asking me if we’ve raised it with the Israelis?

QUESTION: The Israelis, and if they’re going to intervene these ships in international waters (inaudible).

MR. TONER: You have to – I mean, I’d have to refer you to the Israeli Government as to what their actions may be if people attempt to break the blockade. Our message has been consistent, that there established mechanisms for getting humanitarian assistance into Gaza and that flotilla actions are indeed provocative, and we don’t want to see anybody harmed.

QUESTION: And you contacted NGOs, right, the special NGOs?

MR. TONER: Yeah.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you, Mark.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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87 Responses

  1. seafoid
    June 2, 2011, 10:25 am

    With a big shukran jazeelan to Sumud

    Walter Scott

    Oh! what a tangled web we weave
    When first we practise to deceive!

    John Trudell

    “they lie to us and then they lie to themselves ”

    link to irishtimes.com

    “However, aboard the sixth vessel were some 40 members of the IHH, an Istanbul-based terrorist organisation with a history of providing material support to jihadi campaigns worldwide, including in Chechnya and Afghanistan. They initiated a violent attack against the Israeli soldiers undertaking legal blockade-enforcement actions, while shouting: “Go back to Auschwitz!”

    “It should be noted that when these vessels purporting to deliver humanitarian aid were unloaded, two of the vessels – including the largest ship, the Mavi Marmara – carried no humanitarian aid whatsoever, while two-thirds of the medical “aid” found on board the other ships had expired prior to their voyage. These findings point to the fact that the goal of this flotilla was not the delivery of humanitarian aid but rather the delivery of a politically charged provocation.”

    • tree
      June 2, 2011, 2:02 pm

      …while two-thirds of the medical “aid” found on board the other ships had expired prior to their voyage.

      I know that all of seafoid’s Irish Times op-ed is lies and distortion, but I would like to respond to this particular bit because its something that can be easily disputed with a quick Google search, and yet I saw that distortion repeated on a BBC program about the flotilla. (Of course, the BBC could have made the same quick Google search to find out their statement was wrong, but that would have required a minute amount of investigative reporting and its so much easier to simply regurgitate talking points.)

      On the efficacy of “expired” drugs, from the Harvard Medical School Family Medical Guide:

      It turns out that the expiration date on a drug does stand for something, but probably not what you think it does. Since a law was passed in 1979, drug manufacturers are required to stamp an expiration date on their products. This is the date at which the manufacturer can still guarantee the full potency and safety of the drug.

      Most of what is known about drug expiration dates comes from a study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration at the request of the military. With a large and expensive stockpile of drugs, the military faced tossing out and replacing its drugs every few years. What they found from the study is 90% of more than 100 drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date.

      So the expiration date doesn’t really indicate a point at which the medication is no longer effective or has become unsafe to use. Medical authorities state expired drugs are safe to take, even those that expired years ago. A rare exception to this may be tetracycline, but the report on this is controversial among researchers. It’s true the effectiveness of a drug may decrease over time, but much of the original potency still remains even a decade after the expiration date. Excluding nitroglycerin, insulin, and liquid antibiotics, most medications are as long-lasting as the ones tested by the military. Placing a medication in a cool place, such as a refrigerator, will help a drug remain potent for many years.

      link to health.harvard.edu

  2. justicewillprevail
    June 2, 2011, 10:48 am

    Jesus, what an abdication of responsibility, and a complete fabrication of the situation. I suppose he would have enjoined anti-apartheid protesters not to ‘provoke’ the white security state in case they get killed. Has this idiot even heard of international law, the responsibility of states or the requirement for him to protect and defend the rights of US citizens on the open seas? Does he think Gaza is in Israel?

  3. Kathleen
    June 2, 2011, 10:50 am

    “It’s practically an acknowledgment that Israel will harm people and that those people have been warned by the US, so Israel can now have a free hand.”

    As Mearsheimer so clearly pointed out at the Move over Aipac conference the US has basically given Israel their blessing to kill Americans who protest or stand up against the illegal actions of the Israeli government. Congress, the State Department have done little to nothing about the killing of Rachel Corrie, Furkan Dogan, the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty and the subsequent deaths of American soldiers

  4. Kathleen
    June 2, 2011, 10:55 am

    link to ifamericansknew.org
    The USS Liberty
    Some of the USS Liberty Dead

    On June 8, 1967, 34 American servicemen were killed and 174 were wounded during an Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. According to former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Thomas Moorer, “Those men were then betrayed and left to die by our own government.” The survivors are still awaiting

    The US state Dept holds forums about the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. That helps so much. Choke
    link to ussliberty.com

    And as retired Colonel Ann Wright pointed out at the DC Bus Boys and Poets she has written several letters to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the Israeli killing of Furkan Dogan and has not received a response.

    • hophmi
      June 2, 2011, 5:13 pm

      It amazes me that you people keep bringing this up. Just curious, what exactly are you looking to prove with this discredited old story?

      • justicewillprevail
        June 2, 2011, 5:41 pm

        It amazes me you people keep trying to discredit it, despite the evidence.
        It’s not discredited, much as you would love it to be. The evidence is overwhelming and easily found. Go back to sleep, where your fantasies can remain intact.

      • ToivoS
        June 2, 2011, 5:45 pm

        Could you provide a link that discredits this story of the attack on the Liberty. I have often heard it said that this is all an urban legend and that the accounts from the crew were thoroughly discredited. But I have never seen it.

        I have read enough on this story that it would be worthwhile hearing the Israeli side.

      • Citizen
        June 2, 2011, 7:41 pm

        ToivoS, why don’t you go the web site set up by and for the survivors?
        There you can contact living US navy crew who were there, and get all the factual points at issue. To a living man they will tell you it was an intentional attack. If you want to read the Israeli government’s official spiel it’s also easy to find–of course they say their guys attacked accidentally. The US Congress has never thought the incident was important enough to fully investigate, the only time in American history it has not done so with even much less serious incidents. Further, the survivors were under direct orders for decades never to speak about the incident to anyone.

      • annie
        June 2, 2011, 9:25 pm

        The US Congress has never thought the incident was important enough to fully investigate

        i don’t believe that. it’s so important they are burying it and they’ve been gagging it since it happened.

      • Chaos4700
        June 2, 2011, 6:45 pm

        That Israel has an established history of attacking ships in international waters and killing American citizens? I suppose if you were a patriotic American, hophmi, you might understand.

      • Kathleen
        June 3, 2011, 8:03 am

        Here you go hophmi why not take the time to contact the US soldiers who were on that ship and are still alive and find out what they think you slimy coward.

        How long did Jewish individuals seek to find and hold WWII war criminals accountable? Can you imagine people saying to relatives of those who perished in such a brutal fashion….move on, next chapter, turn the page, lean forward and all of the horseshit that the Obama administration our congress, our justice dept, people like you hophmi (who only have a moral compass focused on selective genocides or murders).
        link to uss-liberty.com

        Call USS LibertyJoe Meaders or other survivors and talk with them. But we know you will not because your ability to apply compassion, justice is extremely selective , narrow and pathetic.
        link to democracynow.org

      • hophmi
        June 3, 2011, 8:45 am

        I’ll rely on the dozen or so investigations that are already out there.

      • Robert Werdine
        June 3, 2011, 3:06 pm

        “Here you go hophmi why not take the time to contact the US soldiers who were on that ship and are still alive and find out what they think you slimy coward.”

        Nice, Kathleen. I don’t know how to say this so I’m just going to say it: you, Annie, Chaos, justcewillprevail, and Citizen simply do not know what you are talking about.

        This is literally the lie that will not die. How many times do we have to go through this?

        Said Citizen: “The US Congress has never thought the incident was important enough to fully investigate, the only time in American history it has not done so with even much less serious incidents.”

        This is simply incorrect. The number of government investigations of the attack is rather lengthy:

        –US Navy Court of Inquiry, June 18, 1967 (“Case of mistaken identity”)

        –CIA Report, June 13, 1967 (“It remains our best judgment that the attack on the Liberty was not made in malice toward the US and was a mistake”)

        –Joint Chiefs of Staff (Russ Report) June 9, 1967 (Compiled all message traffic and found no evidence that the attack was not a mistake)

        –Clifford Report, July 18, 1967 (Attack was a mistake)

        –Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, June 12, July 14, July 26, 1967 (“The attack was not intentional”)

        –House Appropriations Committee, April and May 1968 (“The use and operational capabilities of the Defense Communications system is nothing less than pathetic, and the management of the system needs to be completely overhauled”)

        –House Armed Services Committee Investigation, May 10, 1971 (“The Navy remains in the Dark Ages insofar as routine communications with its deployed ships”)

        –Senate Select Committee on Intelligence 1979/1981 (USS Liberty mistaken for Egyptian ship as a result of miscalculations and egregious errors)

        –House Armed Services Committee 1991/1992 (No support for theory of intentional attack)

        Every investigation into this incident has thus come back with the same verdict: the attack was an accident.

        There is absolutely not a shred of evidence that the Israelis knowingly and deliberately attacked the USS Liberty during the Six-Day War of 1967. And not only that, no one has ever supplied a remotely plausible motive for the Israelis to knowingly and deliberately attack a ship belonging to their strongest ally. Why would they do it?

        This whole thing is simply crazy. The attack was an accident. Certainly we can all sympathize with those who were killed and wounded in the attack and those of their families. We can also rightly criticize the governments of the United States and Israel for stonewalling questions from survivors and their families for so many years, and creating the impression that both governments were covering up, but the release of the declassified material from both countries in 1997 put to rest all of the unanswered questions.

        I have posted the gist of this evidence on this blog many, many times, in an attempt to disprove the notion that the attack was intentional, apparently to no avail. Here goes again:

        The evidence in the released material showed that despite a warning from the White House to the American Sixth Fleet to keep its ships within a 250 mile arc from the Egyptian coast, the Liberty’s handlers in the NSA disregarded the order and put the Liberty within 12.5 miles of the coast to eavesdrop on Egyptian military communications with the Soviet Union. Five communications were sent by the Navy’s European headquarters to the Liberty for her to pull back at least 100 miles. However, due to the Six Fleet’s bulky communications apparatus, the messages got diverted to the Philippines and did not reach the Liberty until the day after she was attacked.

        Furthermore, the request of the Liberty’s skipper for a destroyer escort was denied by the Sixth Fleet CIC on the grounds that “the Liberty is a clearly marked US ship in international waters…and not a reasonable subject for attack.” A request by the Israeli ambassador at the outset of the conflict that the US provide a naval liaison to coordinate communications between the two countries was refused by the US, and thus no one informed Israel of the Liberty’s presence in the area.

        Israeli aircraft spotted the vessel in the early morning of June 8. The pilot could not make out the flag, but spotted a hull marking that read “GTR-5″ and the headquarters identified the ship as the USS Liberty. However, with the change in watch in the Israeli HQ at 11:00am, the officers, following standard operating procedure for removing old information from the board, had erroneously assumed that the Liberty had left the area. When an explosion rocked an Israeli arms depot at El Arish, the Israelis, spotting a vessel they incorrectly assumed was an Egyptian warship bombarding them, sent three torpedo boats to engage it.

        The skipper of the Liberty then executed a 90 degree starboard turn to the south. The Israelis, pursuing what they thought was an Egyptian warship heading home, called in for air support, and two Mirage fighters raked the Liberty with bombs, napalm, and cannon fire. Transcripts of communications between the Israeli pilots and HQ show that after the second strafing run an Israeli pilot recognized the Latin markings on the hull of the ship and the American flag and reported it to HQ–who immediately ordered him and his wingmen to disengage. They also show a breakdown in communications between the torpedo boats and HQ, and that when the Israeli boat captain got close enough to identify the hull markings and the flag of the Liberty, he immediately broke off the attack and gave help and medical attention to the survivors.

        The minutes of the 1967 Naval board of inquiry show that a lack of sufficient wind obscured the flag of the Liberty, thus hiding it from aerial observation and that the attack was “a case of mistaken identity.” Audio tapes transcripts indicate that the Israelis did not know they were attacking an American ship and immediately disengaged when they did. Contrary to decades of conspiracy-mongering, there is, in all the hundreds of pages of declassified material from both countries, not a shred of evidence to support the contention that Israel deliberately sought to attack and sink the USS Liberty.

        The release of the material also went a long way toward discrediting Israel’s supposed motives for the attack. The theory, posited by Liberty crew member James Ennes Jr., and endorsed by JC Admiral Thomas Moorer and UN Ambassador George Ball among others, that Israel struck the Liberty to hide its seizure of the Golan Heights from Syria from the US is contradicted by diplomatic cables showing that Israel informed Washington of its intention to do so before the Liberty attack, and that Washington had not objected. Even without the evidence, however, it begs the question as to why the Israelis would leave any survivors on the Liberty, if this was indeed their intent. The other theory, that Israel attacked the ship in order to blame the Egyptians and thus pull America into the war is belied by the fact that the Israelis were winning the war and, most importantly, that they made no effort to blame anyone and took responsibility for the incident moments after the attack. There is, and remains to this day, simply no remotely plausible motivation for Israel to have knowingly attacked a ship belonging to its strongest ally. (Source: “The Liberty Incident” A.J. Cristol, 2002)

        The facts behind the attack are thus beyond dispute, and there is absolutely no evidence of a “cover-up.” The release of the declassified material resolved all the previous ambiguities and answered all the questions. Any further skepticism is based on conjecture, not facts. The notion that there is still a conspiracy to “cover up” the truth can only rest on a spurious premise: that the lack of proof to substantiate a conspiracy is proof of a conspiracy to destroy all of the proof.

        The number of friendly fire incidents in wars is rather numerous. This was indisputably one of them.

        Of course, no amount of facts are going to convince some people for whom facts are irrelevant anyway. One of the most prominent of the Israel-is-guilty crowd is Alison Weir, of the execrable “If Americans Knew.”

        Oh, and by the way Kathleen, some of the testimony of the Liberty survivors is simply inaccurate.

        Kathleen, your advocacy of this conspiracy theory is of a piece with your other favorite conspiracy theory: that Bush lied us into war and that Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame “exposed” his “lies.” Face it: the attack on the Liberty was an accident, Bush did not “lie” about WMD (though he was mistaken), and Wilson and Plame are publicity hungry opportunists who never “exposed” anything.

      • Citizen
        June 3, 2011, 7:10 pm

        “Liberty survivors have said for 36 years that theirs is the only major maritime incident not investigated by Congress. Apologist Cristol’s response is to claim that no investigation is needed because the attack has been investigated repeatedly (13 times), and that each such investigation has exonerated Israel. That claim is pure fantasy. A recent (as 0f 2003) request to the Congressional Research Service for evidence of any congressional inquiry into the attack on the USS Liberty brought a report that Congress has never investigated the attack. Israeli culpability for the attack on the USS Liberty has never been investigated by any agency of the United States government. It should be.” To see why each of those investigations are a travesty of accountability & justice, see: link to ussliberty.org

      • Citizen
        June 3, 2011, 7:34 pm

        More: Declassified documents in 2007 indicate neither the US or Israeli government were interested in telling the full story of the USS Liberty incident: link to ifamericansknew.org
        link to articles.chicagotribune.com
        Two Years ago neither Obama (like Bush Jr before him) nor the US MSM were interested in covering the USS Liberty memorial service held at Arlington National Cemetery: link to ifamericansknew.org

        And see the links @ American’s post on this thread.

      • Kathleen
        June 4, 2011, 8:48 am

        easy to show us where those investigations are documented hophmi. Take the time to link. Otherwise your words are empty. Show us hophmi. Where is the proof of those “dozen or so investigations” You are so full of it

      • Kathleen
        June 4, 2011, 9:03 am

        Can you supply all of those links to those investigations, who was on those investigative teams.

        Here is a bit of the evidence that many of us were aware of before the illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq. Read it Robert. Read these investigations

        Hundreds of thousands of people are dead and injured as a direct consequence of that invasion Robert. Now it is clear that you do not give a rats ass about those deaths or injuries but some of us do. You have made it very clear in some of your other writings that you are only concerned about a very particular group of peoples pain and suffering. That selective concern permeates what you write.

        Read these reports

        link to web.mit.edu

        Here is Phase II of the SSCI. Was finally completed long after the 2004 Bush election. Senator Pat Roberts made sure this report was stalled
        link to intelligence.senate.gov

        Now Jason Vest at the Nation, former weapons inspector Scott Ritter, El Baradei, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, Kathleen and Bill Christison, Hans Blix and others wrote about, stated that there were deep concerns about the validity of the intelligence before the invasion…and some of them came out and said that the intelligence were down right forgeries (Niger Documents). So stop with the bull Robert. The proof that the Feith, Cambone, Cheney, Libby, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Rice, etc are all war criminals responsible for those hundreds of thousands of deaths is out there. Instead of prosecuting US war criminals our MSM just recycles them on .

      • Kathleen
        June 4, 2011, 9:08 am

        Robert when I google your very first supposed investigation here is what I come up with. No actual investigation report. But a document having to do with

        the Boston Ward Affadavit
        link to thelibertyincident.com

      • Citizen
        June 4, 2011, 10:24 am

        Cristol’s list of “investigations” into the USS Liberty incident:
        1. The U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry: The senior legal adviser to the Court of Inquiry reflected that, in his entire career, he has never seen court of inquiry appointing letters with such limited authority, or an investigation made in such haste. The court’s hearings began before the Liberty even arrived in Malta, and the report was completed just 10 days after the attack. The court commented on this haste in the official record: “The Court of Inquiry experienced no unusual difficulties incident to conducting the subject proceedings except for the necessity of investigating such a major naval disaster of international significance in an extremely abbreviated time frame.”

        Due in part to the required haste and the limitations imposed on the scope of the court’s inquiries (“It was not the responsibility of the court to rule on the culpability of the attackers, and no evidence was heard from the attacking nation”), the court concluded that “available evidence combines to indicate… [that the attack was] a case of mistaken identity.”

        How, one might ask, could one inquire into all of the circumstances without hearing from the attacking nation? In fact, the court did neither. According to Captain Ward Boston, chief legal counsel to the Court of Inquiry, the court found that the attack was deliberate, but reported falsely that it was not because they were directed by the president of the United States and the secretary of defense to report falsely. So the findings are fraudulent. Yet these fraudulent findings were the basis for several other reports that followed.

        2. Israeli government investigations: The Ram Ron and Yerushalmi reports of 1967 were not investigations. Both were elements of an Israeli process to determine whether anyone in Israel should be tried for a crime. That the attack itself was an accident was a given. Both hearings officers determined that no one in Israel did anything wrong, and that the USS Liberty was partly responsible, for a number of contrived reasons, such as “failure to fly a flag” and “trying to hide” — which the Navy Court of Inquiry found to be untrue.

        3. The Joint Chiefs of Staff Report of June 1967: This was an inquiry into the mishandling of several messages intended for the ship. It was not an investigation into the attack. It did not exonerate Israel, because it did not in any way consider the question of culpability.

        4. CIA report of June 13, 1967: This interim report, completed five days after the attack, reported “our best judgment [is] that the attack… was a mistake.” No investigation was conducted, and no first-hand evidence was collected. Then-CIA Director Richard Helms concluded and later reported in his autobiography that the attack was planned and deliberate — a fact ignored by Mr. Cristol.

        5. Clark Clifford report of July 18, 1967: Clark Clifford was directed by Lyndon Johnson to review the Court of Inquiry report and the interim CIA report and “not to make an independent inquiry.” His was merely a summary of other fallacious reports, not an “investigation” as alleged by Mr. Cristol. The report reached no conclusions and did not exonerate Israel, as Mr. Cristol also claimed. On the contrary, Clifford wrote later that he regarded the attack as deliberate — a fact ignored by Mr. Cristol.

        6. and 7. Two Senate Investigations: The Committee on Foreign Relations meeting of 1967 and Senate Armed Services Committee meeting of 1968 were hearings on unrelated matters which clearly skeptical members used to castigate representatives of the administration under oath before them. Typical questions were, “Why can’t we get the truth about this?” They were not “investigations” at all, but budget hearings, and reported no conclusions concerning the attack. They did not exonerate Israel, as claimed by Mr. Cristol.

        8. House Appropriations Committee meeting of April and May 1968: This was a budget committee meeting which explored the issue of lost messages intended for the ship. It was not an investigation and reported no conclusions concerning the attack, as alleged by Mr. Cristol.

        9. House Armed Services Committee Review of Communications, May 1971: Liberty communications were discussed along with other communications failures. The committee reported no conclusions concerning the attack, as alleged by Mr. Cristol.

        10. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 1979/1981: Mr. Cristol claims that the committee investigated the attack and exonerated Israel, yet he has been unable to provide minutes, a report or other evidence of such an investigation. Rules of the select committee require that any committee investigation be followed by a report. There is no report of such an investigation; ergo, there was no such investigation.

        11. National Security Agency Report, 1981: Upon the publication in 1980 of “Assault on the Liberty” by James Ennes, the National Security Agency completed a detailed account of the attack. The report drew no conclusions, although its authors did note that the deputy director dismissed the Israeli excuse (the Yerushalmi report) as “a nice whitewash.” The report did not exonerate Israel, as claimed by Mr. Cristol.

        12. State of Israel-Israel Defense Force History Department report of June 1982: This Israeli government report was a reaction to a published report by Sen. Adlai Stevenson III that he believed the attack to be deliberate and hoped to provide a forum for survivors to tell their story. It was primarily a summary of the Ram Ron and Yerushalmi reports. The Stevenson forum, which was the impetus for the report, was never held. The report supports the official Israeli position that the attack was a tragic accident.

        13. House Armed Services Committee investigation of 1991/1992: Though cited by Mr. Cristol as an investigation which exonerates Israel, the U.S. government reports no record of such an investigation. Cristol claims that the investigation resulted from a letter to Rep. Nicholas Mavroules from Joe Meadors, then-president of the USS Liberty Veterans Association, seeking Mavroules’ support. Instead of responding to Liberty veterans, however, Congressman Mavroules referred the matter to Mr. Cristol for advice. Survivors heard nothing further. Meadors’ letter was never answered. The U.S. government reports that there has been no such investigation.

      • Robert Werdine
        June 5, 2011, 6:25 pm

        Kathleen,

        I have dealt with the matter of the Liberty attack down below.

        You here urge me to read the reports you mention here. I have. In fact, I’m rather surprised that you would cite them yourself; they certainly do not advance your assertions. Quite the contrary in fact. I would have thought that the release of the bipartisan Senate Select Committee report of 2004, which you cite here and are obviously well acquainted with, would have indicated to you how thoroughly this whole Niger documents/Bush lied charge has been discredited once and for all. The report recounts how, Joe Wilson’s denial notwithstanding, his wife did recommend him to investigate what he could concerning whether Saddam was seeking uranium from Africa for the CIA. When Wilson returned and gave his report, he told the agency absolutely nothing that they did not already know. Nothing. With one exception: Wilson’s description of a meeting with the former prime minister of Niger, where the leader recounted a meeting with Iraqi businessmen where they expressed a desire to expand commercial relations, which the leader took to mean to acquire uranium. But nothing came from the conversation. The CIA, however, considered that this incident actually strengthened their belief that Saddam was pursuing enriched uranium. That was the extent of Wilson’s discovery. The conclusions of the bipartisan Senate Report are unequivocal: With the exception of the aforementioned incident, Joe Wilson shed absolutely no light whatsoever on whether Saddam was attempting to acquire enriched uranium from Africa. He therefore did not “expose” anything.

        The CIA may have been through with Wilson, but Wilson was far from through with them. A vociferous critic of the Iraq war and a shrewd self-promoter, Wilson, in a series of off-the-record interviews with The New York Times (05-06-2003), The Washington Post (06-12-2003), and The New Republic (06-30-2003) constructed an alternative, more dramatic version of his trip to Africa, one that cast him in a prophetic and heroic light, and put him front and center as the man who blew the whistle on the Bush Administration’s Iraq war “deceptions.”

        The new narrative went something like this: Upon request from Vice President Cheney’s office, the CIA (with no words of encouragement from Wilson’s wife, mind you) dispatched Wilson to investigate the claim of whether Saddam was seeking to acquire uranium from Niger. Wilson reports back that the claims are untrue, and that the documents upon which the claims were based are obvious forgeries, adding that the names and dates are wrong and that, in fact, a Niger minister whose name appears on one of the documents had been out of office for more than a decade. Furthermore, according to Wilson, he reported that the uranium mining program was structured so that any diversion of uranium would have been impossible. Yet, despite this “debunking,” President Bush and the administration go on citing it anyway, knowing all along that it was, in Wilson’s telling, “a flat out lie,” and it is upon such “lies” that the President brazenly and fecklessly misleads America into a costly and unnecessary war. The President and his minions’ efforts to deceive the American people might have continued, but for the efforts of one brave former ambassador.

        A staffer on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence read these three articles with great interest and no small bewilderment. She asked Wilson to submit to an interview. When asked how he could have seen the documents purporting to prove the Niger/uranium claim in February 2002 when the documents had not even been delivered to American custody until October 2002, Wilson claimed he “may have misspoken” and had been “confused in his recollection.” A look at all three articles shows a remarkable consistency to all this “confusion” and “misspeaking.” In each article, Wilson repeats verbatim his claims about the forged documents, what he saw on them, and his assertions about the administration’s continuing duplicity despite his allegedly setting them straight on the matter.

        As Stephen Hayes has written, “not surprisingly, Wilson changed his story after being confronted by the Senate’s investigators. In the New York Times on July 6 he acknowledged that he “never saw” the forgeries, and he later conceded the same point in a television interview. It should have been a crucial admission, giving pause to the editorialists and politicians who had relied on Wilson to support their claims about the administration’s mendacity. Wilson had been a compelling source precisely because he presented himself as a fact witness regarding the forged documents. His evolving narrative apparently escaped the notice of his editors at the New York Times. The same editorial pages that had published Nicholas Kristof’s columns, including the former ambassador’s claim that he had debunked the forged documents, now carried his admission that he had never seen them.”

        It was indeed a remarkable admission. The SSCI report has Wilson’s debriefers at the CIA testifying that there was absolutely no mention of any documents, forged or otherwise, mentioned by Wilson in their debriefing of him after his trip back in March 2002. All that business about the false names and dates on the documents and warning the administration about them? Wilson fabricated that whole scenario out of thin air. He had never seen any such documents and never reported seeing any following his trip. Yet he repeated that he had on at least three separate occasions in interviews with three separate news publications within a two month period. Is it really plausible that he “misspoke” identically on exactly the same points on all three separate occasions? And about that “confused recollection.” Is it really plausible that Wilson had been innocently mistaken about his seeing the documents, the contents of which he had described in elaborate detail, when he had not? Could he really have been similarly mistaken about whether or not he had informed the CIA, and hence the Bush administration, about those documents and their contents? In a word: no. He either saw the documents and warned the administration following his trip in March of 2002 or he did not. And he did not. Wilson, proud possessor of the Nation magazine’s “truth teller” award, also admitted to the committee that he had no evidence that President Bush knew the Niger/uranium claim was false and said that he based his subsequent accusations that he had on what he read and heard in the media.

        These facts do not merely tarnish Wilson’s credibility; they demolish it completely, utterly. As Stephen Hayes has pointed out, it was exactly because Wilson had claimed to have seen the documents and to have warned the CIA about them that his assertions about the alleged duplicity of the administration’s pre-war intelligence claims had carried such weight. The report exposes the full extent of Wilson’s deception, acquits the White House of any deliberate deception on WMD, and faults the CIA for a massive, indeed remarkable, intelligence failure. These conclusions have been corroborated by the bipartisan Robb-Silberman investigation into pre-war intelligence, the report of the Iraq Survey Group, and similar investigations into the Blair government’s handling of pre-war intelligence by Lord Hutton and Lord Butler.

        It would be difficult to think of a subject that has been more thoroughly investigated than the matter of pre-Iraq war intelligence. The whole “Bush lied, people died” canard should by rights have died the death it deserved. But it lives on. Why? Because Wilson’s accusations were the answer to the most fervent prayers of the liberal-democrat anti-war left and, of course, the mainstream media, who were only too happy to toss aside the mask of impartiality about a war they had never really supported and a president they had never much liked. Why bother exposing the falsehoods of a nobody former ambassador when the opportunity to tag a president–make that a republican–president, with having lied the nation into a war beckoned?

        Criticism of the Bush administration’s decision to go to war, the pre-war intelligence failures, and their mishandling of the subsequent occupation are, of course, completely legitimate and will continue to be debated and argued, and this is as it should be. But the continued willingness, indeed the eagerness, to smear President Bush with this slander and the failure to expose Wilson’s falsehoods in scores of reports, articles, columns, and interviews with him (too numerous to count) when the facts were there for all to see constitutes an act of journalistic malpractice of the first magnitude. The press (with a few, lonely exceptions) has failed in one of its most basic tasks: to inflict accountability on one who has successfully eluded it on an issue of national importance.

        Instead they opted to pursue the romance of the Wilson-Plame scandal in all its opulent preposterousness. Once Wilson had gone public with his accusations, the exposure of his wife’s identity would only have been a matter of time. Even if the White House had, by some miracle of restraint, not commented on or off the record on Wilson’s charges, his wife’s identity and her involvement in arranging his trip would have leaked in the glare of the bright media spotlight brought to bear on Wilson, his explosive accusations, not to mention how and why he was selected by the CIA for his Africa trip. All would have pointed to his wife. As the Washington Post editorialized, no one did more to expose Valerie Plame’s identity than Joe Wilson and his own big mouth, attended and reinforced by his insatiable appetite for publicity and shameless self-promotion. Joe Wilson spun gold out of whole falsehood and was, and has been aided and abetted by a mainstream media too corrupted by its opportunism and utterly seduced by its own biases.

        Well, I guess what matters is that the Wilsons finally landed their film, a plush vanity piece portraying them as lonely, maligned patriots pursuing truth, dignity and tender family life amidst a hailstorm of invective and abuse from a brutal, war-mongering leviathan-like administration scheming in dark corridors and crushing its truth-telling enemies like so many swatted flies. The truth is that the Wilsons have been the much-fawned-over darlings of the media from the moment this whole mess hit the fan. They have milked their celebrity to quite extraordinary lengths and have profited handsomely in the bargain. To portray them otherwise is a shameless mockery of the truth, extreme even by Hollywood’s standards.

        In any event, I grant you that Saddam was not an imminent threat, even if he had the WMD stockpiles we thought he had. Then again, no one in the Bush administration claimed that Saddam was an imminent threat or that he was ever on the verge of attacking us. Rather, it was argued that the threat consisted in a). a past record of aggression, in which he had invaded two countries in ten years and used chemical and biological weapons against both the Iranians and the Kurds, killing thousands, b). a lavish and longstanding support for terrorism, c). having labored frenetically and unceasingly to obtain, develop, and conceal a range of conventional and nuclear WMD in the teeth of the most intense and intrusive UN inspections and coming within a hair of obtaining a nuclear weapon three times (1981, 1991, and 1995) within the previous two decades, and d). sitting on top of the worlds second most plentiful oil reserves which enabled him to pursue and finance the whole range of these sinister activities and much, much worse. The threat from Saddam was thus seen as a cumulative and growing one rather than an imminent one. 12 years of diplomacy and 16 unenforced UNSC resolutions had failed completely to bring him to book and verifiably disarm him. He thumbed his nose at UNSCR 1441, which gave him his final opportunity to cooperate with the UN, and dearly did he pay for it.

        Of course we now know that Saddam had no stockpiles of Chemical and Bio weapons and was much further (more than a decade) away from possibly attaining a nuclear device. Yet anyone who reads the Iraq Survey Group report would see that the absence of WMD stockpiles hardly negated the totality of the threat Saddam posed and that he was a catalyst of danger and instability with or without WMD. It also showed that he had merely postponed, not abandoned his WMD pursuits until the sanctions were removed or rendered irrelevant and that he was well advanced on this course of action.

        People can, I think, agree to disagree on whether we were right or wrong to take the action that we did. In any event, we were not “lied” into war, and we did not commit “war crimes.”

        The contention that the Iraq war was waged for oil is factually baseless. What attempt has been made to possess and exploit Iraq’s oil wealth for our own purposes? None whatsoever. For God’s sake we will be leaving Iraq within a year. If we had meant to us their oil for our own purposes, why haven’t we maintained possession of the oil fields the way that, say, the British held on to the Suez Canal for so many years? Why? Because we are not “imperialists” and did not remove Saddam from power to steal Iraq’s oil, that’s why.

        The contention that Bush invaded Iraq knowing that there were no WMD is similarly bereft of any factual basis, and is, in fact, nonsensical. Two things are in order here. First, if Bush did know that Saddam had no WMD, how did he know this? How did he know what his own CIA–who overwhelmingly believed that Saddam had already possessed Chem&Bio WMD and was aggressively pursuing nuclear WMD–did not know? This consensus of the CIA was supported by the intelligence services of more than a dozen nations, including Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Even bitter opponents of the war like France, Germany, Russia, and China never argued that Saddam did not have WMD; indeed, the German intelligence stated their belief that Saddam was within 1-3 years of obtaining a nuclear device–more than several years ahead of the CIA’s estimate. France and the others merely argued, for their own self-interested reasons, that war was the wrong way to disarm Saddam, not that he had no WMD.

        Few subjects have been more thoroughly and exhaustively investigated than the matter of pre-Iraq war intelligence. The reports of the Iraq Survey Group, the two-phase bipartisan Senate-Select Committee on Intelligence, and the bipartisan Robb-Silberman report have all cleared the Bush Administration of any deliberate deception or manipulation concerning the pre-Iraq war intelligence.

        Secondly, if Bush did know that Saddam had no WMD, is it really plausible that he would lead the nation into war knowing that his claims on Saddam’s WMD would be thoroughly discredited when Saddam was removed? The failure to find WMD in Iraq was one of the worst embarrassments that any president or administration has ever endured. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Powell all declared that Saddam had WMD in the most absolute and unequivocal terms. Would they all really do so if they didn’t believe it to be true and knowingly lead the nation into war in the full knowledge that their claims would be discredited? Please. Anyone who would believe that will believe anything.

        These conspiracy theories do much to damage the fabric of our civil discourse. To disagree with the Iraq war is reasonable. The notions that we waged a war-for-oil, or that we were “lied” into war–assertions not only unsubstantiated but contradicted by an overwhelming array of evidence and testimony–are not. I feel no less about those who indulge the preposterous assertions about Obama being a Muslim or about his birth certificate. Yet many of the same people who so passionately defend Obama from these ludicrous accusations continue to peddle this baseless, scurrilous slander against President Bush and members of his administration. It is grossly hypocritical and betrays the hatred, the disregard for facts, and rank partisanship that lurk behind most conspiracy theories. You seem to have a fondness for these conspiracy theories, though it would be unfair to single you out. Indeed, you are in good company; just read some of the other posts on this blog. The evidence discrediting these conspiracy theories is rather extensive, to say the least. I should like to say that I credit your motives as hating all war and violence and that that is commendable. And while you, like anyone else, have every right to your opinions, you do not have the right to your facts.

      • Citizen
        June 6, 2011, 7:09 am

        Werdine, you have dealt with the USS Liberty attack by gushing
        glib Israeli-AIPAC talking points that ignore the facts or try to cloud them up, after first telling us the incident was no longer in dispute when in fact it is very much in dispute and the weight of the evidence points toward a conclusion that Israel intentionally attacked the US ship and its crew. And Americans need to go to the survivors web site and sign the petition to finally have a long-deserved full congressional investigation of the matter.

        Otherwise, for starters, one of 4 key insights gleaned from the 1st chapter of the Silberman-Robb commission report:
        “No matter how fucked-up the U.S. intelligence community is institutionally, even if it weren’t, the Bush administration probably would have gone to war anyway.
        As the report notes in several places, the commission’s mandate did not allow it “to investigate how policy makers used the intelligence they received from the Intelligence Community on Iraq’s weapons programs,” and the commission treated the issue of politicos misusing or subverting intelligence like a third rail. There is, however, at least one place in the report where the commission strays ever so slightly from its mandate. On page 155, the report states that “over the course of 12 years the Intelligence Community did not produce a single analytical product that examined the possibility that Saddam Hussein’s desire to escape sanctions, fear of being ‘caught’ decisively, or anything else would cause him to destroy his WMD.”
        According to that line’s endnote, at least one intelligence official put forth that very hypothesis to top Bush officials—who, unlike the intelligence community, actively considered it but shot it down: “The former assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research noted that he had discussed this possibility with other senior administration officials before Operation Iraqi Freedom began, but that ultimately they had rejected the possibility. They rejected it because they thought Saddam would have no reason not to come clean with the inspectors if he had truly disarmed. Although they considered the possibility that Saddam’s behavior could be explained by his pride, as well as by his desire to intimidate and deter his adversaries by allowing them to think he had WMD, they ultimately rejected that theory.” ” link to villagevoice.com

  5. seafoid
    June 2, 2011, 11:25 am

    “Those men were then betrayed and left to die by our own government.”

    Just like numerous poor veterans who ended up in Walter Reed. The US has an appalling record of care for its own soldiers.

  6. Jan
    June 2, 2011, 11:33 am

    When Israel faced no repercussions from the US after their deliberate attack on the USS Liberty they knew they could get away with anything and the US would look the other way.

    • Kathleen
      June 2, 2011, 11:44 am

      Israel can kill American citizens and not be held accountable. Clear message

      • chet
        June 2, 2011, 1:05 pm

        If Rusty Tillman’s parents were able to raise a sufficient fuss to get a Congressional hearing with the appropriate authorities being questioned under oath, why can’t the survivors or the families of those killed get the same?

      • Cheryl
        June 2, 2011, 1:46 pm

        Because Pat Tillman was killed in Iraq by fellow Americans.
        Nobody touches Israel. Remember Congress jumping up and down like Rumplestiltskins. Nobody touches Israel.

      • Avi
        June 2, 2011, 2:13 pm

        chet June 2, 2011 at 1:05 pm

        If Rusty Tillman’s

        If Pat Tillman’s parents were able to get some time with their government representatives while the survivors of the Liberty were not, it’s a clear indication that the US government is answerable to Israel on matters concerning Israel’s intransigence — a government within a government. That’s what the Lobby has become.

      • Kathleen
        June 3, 2011, 7:48 am

        Tillman was killed by his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan
        link to sportsillustrated.cnn.com

        The lies told to his family about his death was a pile of shit a mile high. The hearings were amazing. His mother and brother were articulate, fact based and their testimonies moved most of us to tears. The father sat, listened and you could feel him exploding inside. A crime was committed and no one no one held accountable

        There were rumors that Tillman had made an appointment to talk with Seymour Hersh about what he was witnessing going on in Afghanistan. Was it an accident? Big questions around this.
        Mary and Kevin Tillman..listen and learn

      • Kathleen
        June 3, 2011, 7:55 am

        More of the Tillman hearing
        link to youtube.com

        Watched the whole thing live…was so moving.

        Some official said to Mary Tillman “that it must make their family feel terrible that Pat is worm dirt” Heaven help this very sick person. Sick, cruel and should be punished for that kind of cold hearted, vicious comments

      • Citizen
        June 2, 2011, 1:23 pm

        I read on Twitter that the Israelis shot a Palestinian American in the back during the NakBa demonstration a week or so ago and that the US embassy has treated an American’s report and request for help for him as if the incident did not happen, that is, very shabbily. Also, Israel has declared it will move to violent bullet suppression of the upcoming demonstration as a way to handle future nonviolent demonstrations.

      • Walid
        June 2, 2011, 3:35 pm

        Citizen, the Palestinian-American that also holds a Jordanian citizenship is Munib al-Masri, a 22-year old student at the American University of Beirut. His family is looking into ways of taking legal action but cannot do it from Lebanon because this country does not recognize Israel. Here’s a bit more about the story:

        “… The families of the martyrs and wounded want to search for ways for justice and have chosen to go for legal accountability.”

        Because Lebanon’s judicial system does not recognise the state of Israel, the lawyers are investigating the appropriate jurisdiction in which action could be taken.

        “Look, the chances are perhaps slim, but this is a matter of principal to try to have access to justice,” said Mr Nashabe. “No one can deny the families this right.”

        At the forefront of calls to pursue legal action is Munib al Masri, a veteran Palestinian political figure and billionaire businessman.

        His 22-year-old grandson, also named Munib al Masri, remains in serious condition in a Beirut hospital after being shot during the demonstration.

        According to his grandfather, the bullet hit his spine, and he has had his spleen and a kidney removed.

        “Those responsible should be put on trial and punished for this barbaric act against people who were without arms and demonstrating,” Mr al Masri said yesterday.

        “It was very emotional for my grandson to see his soil. He said he couldn’t stop himself [from going toward the border fence] – he was overwhelmed.”

        link to thenational.ae

  7. Jeffrey Blankfort
    June 2, 2011, 12:59 pm

    For that very reason, the attack on the Liberty was probably the defining moment in US-Israel relations. Just 13 years before, Eisenhower considered Israel to be a greater threat to regional stability and discussed the necessity of taking military action against it should it initiate a war in meeting of the National Security Council. Had not Britain and France joined it in attacking Egypt in 1956 it might have done so. Then The Lobby was in its infancy which brings to mind, for those who remember it, “Rosemary’s Baby.” That’s what we got.

    • Kathleen
      June 2, 2011, 1:50 pm

      Jeffrey the history of your involvement your knowledge and important insights are much appreciated. I stood on the corner with you as the young Palestinian man told the story of his two brothers being killed by Israeli forces. I asked the older Jewish/Aipac attendee standing in ear shot if he thought a Palestinian life was as valuable as a Jewish life. He answered “absolutely not” His wife then came storming at us. And also said “no” in a caustic way when I asked her the same question. You thought you had captured the whole exchange on your phone camera. Did you?

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        June 2, 2011, 6:14 pm

        I did, Kathleen but have had some problem getting my YouTube account straightened out with its Google Link. But it’s ready to go and I will try again to upload it when I go into town tomorrow. From where I live, uploads are problematic.

        For those who are interested, the morning after I returned from DC, I had a conversation with Palestinian professor and long time friend and colleague, Dr. Hatem Bazian, about what happened in Washington which was set up and recorded by Collision Course Video. It can be seen at

      • Bumblebye
        June 2, 2011, 9:38 pm

        Jeffrey, your link to talk with Dr Hatem Bazian seems to have fallen off your comment!

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        June 3, 2011, 3:03 am
      • Woody Tanaka
        June 3, 2011, 6:43 am

        Disgusting. But I harbor little doubt that most Aipac people would agree, but are too politic to do it in public like these pigs.

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        June 3, 2011, 4:32 pm

        Kathleen, et al. The clip of your exchange with this loathsome creature is now uploaded and can be viewed at link to youtube.com

      • hophmi
        June 3, 2011, 5:17 pm

        Ooooh. An old guy you ambushed Blumenthal-style says yes to your statement and then walks off befuddled.

        As if pro-Palestinian activists have never been caught saying and doing nasty things, like comparing Israelis and Nazis.

        Oh wait, that’s the same video where one of you says “Israel uber alles” as if Israel and Nazi Germany are the same thing.

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        June 3, 2011, 11:12 pm

        Not the same thing, hophmi, but the same mentality, it wasn’t just that man who demonstrated it. Before that, a much younger man kippa-covered, as was his son, told the young Palestinian who told him of his brothers being killed in Gaza that “they deserved it.” Unfortunately, I didn’t catch that on camera nor did anyone else. There were a number of exchanges between AIPAC attendees who came over to engage the protesters which were of a similar nature. It was like seeing the Branch Davidians only with political clout. All mental cases, as you might say.

        As for the comparisons between the Nazis and Israelis, frankly, having seen the Israel wehrmacht in action, not fighting, but humiliating civilians in occupied Lebanon as well as occupied Palestine, I see far more similarities between the two than differences. Not sorry if that offends you. What both have visibily in common is their sadism. That is what cannot be forgiven.

      • Chaos4700
        June 4, 2011, 1:59 am

        Like comparing Israelis and Nazis.

        Like comparing one group of ethnocentric ultra-nationalists who enriched themselves by persecuting, stealing from and then mass murdering via, among other tactics, direct military attacks against concentrated civilians who believed that said minority needed to be culled to preserve a “pure” “democratic” majority…. to Nazis?

    • Walid
      June 2, 2011, 4:08 pm

      “…Had not Britain and France joined it in attacking Egypt in 1956 it might have done so.”

      Jeffrey, wasn’t it a case of Israel joining Britain and France that wanted to attack because of the nationalization of the canal rather than the other way around? I remember reading several years ago in a Paris Match or like magazine that for the air assault, French Mystere jets landed in Israel and changed the markings on the planes from the tricolor to the star of David and were the ones that did the actual attacking.

      The part of the story I never understood was about Israel attacking a British Navy ship during the assault on Egypt; it was somewhat what Israel did to the USS Liberty in 1967. Do you have an idea what that was about?

      From Hansard:

      “H.M.S. “Crane” (Aircraft Attack)HC Deb 19 December 1956 vol 562 c180W 180W
      § 129. Mr. Edelman asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty when, and in what circumstances, the Royal Navy frigate “Crane” was attacked by Israeli jet aircraft while patrolling in the Suez area.

      Mr. Ward H.M.S. “Crane” was attacked by jet aircraft on the 3rd November just before sunset while on a routine patrol near the entrance to the Gulf of Aquaba. The aircraft were first sighted making a bombing attack ashore, after which they climbed and flew straight towards H.M.S. “Crane” where they formed in close formation. Attacks were then made by five aircraft with rockets, small bombs and cannon fire. H.M.S. “Crane” did not open fire until the first aircraft was committed to a dive-bombing attack. One aircraft was almost certainly destroyed. H.M.S. “Crane” suffered some damage, but her operational efficiency was not impaired. Three men were slightly injured. The aircraft were not positively identified.”

      link to hansard.millbanksystems.com

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        June 2, 2011, 6:36 pm

        Walid, I was not aware of the Israeli attack on the British ship. Thanks for bringing it up. I have not seen convincing evidence either way as to whose idea it was to attack Egypt although both Britain and France had strong motivations and they were still mired in their pre-war colonial mindset, but, as I recall, it was carried out without advance warning to the US, which very much upset Eisenhower. Ben-Gurion immediately declared the Sinai to be Israel’s land in perpetuity and I suspect that it was he that instigated the war which, although victorious, ended in humiliation for Britain and France. Because of the presence of British and French forces, Eisenhower felt he was unable to move militarily but he scared Israel and its US supporters by threatening to end the tax-exempt status of all the Jewish organizations that were sending money to Israel. One can’t begin to imagine that happening today where the IRS is as much an Israeli occupied territory as is the Treasury Dept.

      • lysias
        June 2, 2011, 7:05 pm

        France, desperate over the war in Algeria, was the first to want the attack on Egypt, although Eden didn’t require much persuasion after Egypt seized the Suez Canal. Then the two of them had to buy Israel off to induce it to join the conspiracy. One of the prime inducements was a promise by France to help Israel develop nuclear weapons.

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        June 3, 2011, 2:53 am

        That’s an interesting analysis, Lysias, and, of course, Israel backed France in its efforts to put down the NLF in Algeria, but somehow I don’t see that Israel had to be induced to seize more land, particularly where there was some oil, although it was quite possible. Do you have a good source for that?

        There were those, particularly among the “denying of the power of the lobby” set, who would have had us believe that Israel’s war on Lebanon in 20o6 was done at Bush’s behest. No Israeli soldier has ever lifted his finger, let alone a weapon, in Washington’s behalf and the suggestion that Israel was forced into a war it didn’t want flies in the face of reality. Having been bloodied by Hezbollah during its 22 years of occupation, Israel wanted another chance to wipe out them out but again their inability to move on the ground against Hezbollah was a humiliation. Which is why there is a lot of talk in Israel that another war with Lebanon will “break out” as if they are talking about the measles or a case of hives which will certainly be the case for some of the Israeli soldiers who were scared stiff in Lebanon because there they found an opposition with weapons that knew how to fight back.

      • Walid
        June 3, 2011, 2:53 am

        The attack on Egypt was provoked by Nasser’s nationalization of the British-owned Suez Canal Company. The British and the French had had enough of Nasser undermining their influence in the Arab world and were looking for a pretext to remove him. Their opportunity came when in 1956, John Foster Dulles told Nasser that the US would not be financing the Aswan dam project. The US was pissed off at Nasser for his recognition of China and his arms purchases from the Eastern Bloc and his refusal to shut down the communists in Egypt. Nasser reacted to the US refusal a week later by nationalizing the canal that was set to revert back to Egypt in 1968. The French took this as the opportunity to depose Nasser and masterminded the plot to bring in the British and the Israelis that would have the war started by Israel attacking Egypt, followed by the British and the French jumping into the war supposedly to protect ther interest in the canal and finish off Nasser in the process. The bonus for Israel for its participation would be the Sinai, access to the canal and French assistance to set up its nuclear program. It became the most documented war plot (The Protocol of Sèvres) according to Avi Shlaim that wrote a comprehensive report on the whole thing, based on released archival Ben-Gurion and other material. It’s a fascinating read for history fans:

        The Protocol of Sèvres,1956: Anatomy of a War Plot
        Avi Shlaim

        International Affairs, 73:3 (1997), 509-530.

        Reprinted in David Tal, ed., The 1956 War: Collusion and Rivalry in the Middle East (London: Frank Cass, 2001), 119-43.

        The tripartite aggression against Egypt in 1956 involved an extraordinary reversal of Britain’s position in the Middle East. The French were the matchmakers in bringing Britain and Israel into a military pact whose principal aim was the overthrow of Gamal Abdel Nasser. The war plot against Egypt was hatched towards the end of October 1956 in a secret meeting in Sèvres, near Paris. The discussions lasted three days and culminated in the signature of the Protocol of Sèvres. British, French and Israeli sources are used here to reconstruct the sequence of events that produced the most famous war plot in modern history.

        Full Avi Shlaim esay:

        link to users.ox.ac.uk

      • Walid
        June 3, 2011, 3:32 am

        Jeffrey, reading through Avi Shlaim’s recounting of how the French planned the false-flag operation using the Israelis in 1956 because of its concern over Algeria as Lysias said, with plans to have bogus Egyptian raids on Be’ersheva to justify Israel hitting back, the Israeli markings on the French Mystere jets stationed in Israel and Ben-Gurion salivating at the prospect of picking up the Sinai with its newly discovered oil and his idea of running a pipeline from there to Haifa, doesn’t it make you think of what is happening in Libya today and the French involvement and false-flag operations there to over demonize Gadaffi to break up the country? I woudn’t be surprised to learn one day that Israel has been involved in Libya all along especially in the early stories of f16 jets straffing civilians; sounds like something Israel is used to doing.

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        June 3, 2011, 3:07 pm

        Walid, I look forward to reading Shlaim’s book but I don’t see, at least at the moment, the same scenario being played out in Libya today. Libya, despite all the bombast from Col. Qaadafi, has never been seen by Israel as a serious threat and it would have no reason that I can see to take the risks that would be involved were it to found to have been attacking Libyans.

        Were it not for the uprisings that have been taking place across the region there is little likelihood that we would be seeing the strife taking place in Libya today which reflects an understandable displeasure from a significant segment of the Libyan people to have been ruling by a dictatorship for 42 years, although the social welfare benefits notwithstanding.

        Qaadafi demonstrated that he has no compunction in killing his fellow Libyans if he sees them as a challenge to his rule as was shown when his forces executed 1200 prisoners, many of them political, in the Tripoli prison in 1996.

        As far as Iraqi oil, that has all been presold by Qaadifi to the major oil giants of Europe and the USA with BP having the rights to everything offshore, so this is not a war about oil. From some reports I have seems to be, at least in part, about the British and French seeking to relive some of their past colonial glory, buried in the sands of North Africa, and show off some of their new weaponry which they hope to sell on the international market.

        I don’t see any evidence that the US, at least Obama and Gates, were willing participants in this intervention since Libya, unlike Egypt, Saudi Arabia and GCC nations, does not have a significant place in US geopolitical goals for the region and following the giving up of his nuclear weapons program and making a payoff for the downing of the PanAm jet, which he probably wasn’t responsible for, he has been Washington’s ally in the “war on terror” working closely with the CIA.

  8. Jim Haygood
    June 2, 2011, 1:02 pm

    So who is ‘Mark Toner’ anyway? Prolly the spoiled young son of the guy who has the printer cartridge monopoly, doing his noblesse oblige bit in government service.

    • Kathleen
      June 2, 2011, 1:52 pm

      Toner another Israeli agent Representative in the US State Dept
      link to jpost.com

    • lysias
      June 2, 2011, 1:57 pm

      Mark Toner is the replacement they dug up to take P.J. Crowley’s job at the State Department after Crowley made the mistake of telling the truth. Toner claims to be a proud Irish-American and a proud alumnus of Notre Dame.

      • Citizen
        June 3, 2011, 7:04 am

        Sounds like he’s a cousin of Chris Matthews; some Catholics, even fallen ones, remain altar boys; they always need a Papacy of some kind.

  9. Leper Colonialist
    June 2, 2011, 1:02 pm

    Gee, how about “The US has a responsibility to see that US lives and US property are respected all over the world”? Yes. I know it’s a tad inconvenient for The Light Unto The Nations and the pandering jackals who give Bibi 29 standing O, but….

    Supposedly the minimal function of any gov’t is to protect the security of the persons who swear allegiance to it. Given the world class fatutity of Mark Toner’s comments [upon whose direction, I wonder?] I’m starting to fear that I’m a citizen of a failing, if not failed, state.

    This is preposterous beyond words.

  10. American
    June 2, 2011, 1:30 pm

    Just as an average citizen I feel betrayed by my country in many ways, the USS Liberty is one of the outstanding symptoms of what is wrong with our political system.
    I can only imagine how the survivors of the USS Liberty feel.
    I also can’t understand why the Navy wasn’t more forceful…their entire command should have resigned in protest…that would have put Johnson in a real hot seat.

    Meanwhile:…you can order a pamphlet package to distribute on Liberty. I am going to order this packet and then make addition copies of it to pass out. The Liberty survivors haven’t given up on this.

    USS Liberty Packs — Order Now:
    link to paypal.com !
    (link to trk.cp20.com)
    Cost: $29.50
    Contents:
    50 – Commonly Asked Questions About the USS Liberty (link to trk.cp20.com)
    50 – Independent Commission into the Attack on the USS Liberty (link to trk.cp20.com)
    50 – Remember the USS Liberty Business Cards (link to trk.cp20.com)
    10 – American Media Miss the Boat (link to trk.cp20.com)

    10 – Israeli Attacks on the US Navy and Marines (link to trk.cp20.com)
    5 – Remember the Liberty Buttons ()

    Or email your order to [email protected]
    Tell us your mailing address and how many packs (or individual materials) you want.

    You can then mail a check or money order or donate online (link to trk.cp20.com).

    If Americans Knew
    3020 El Cerrito Plaza #157
    El Cerrito, CA 94530
    (202) 631-4060

    We feel that the young men who were killed, maimed, injured and traumatized by Israel – and by the abandonment by
    their own government – deserve our help. We feel that the Israel lobby’s attacks on these men and their families are intolerable. We feel that the media manipulation and the governmental obeisance to Israel must be opposed.

    Please help us. We have created a pack of materials about this attack and the media cover-up on it containing materials that we hope people will distribute throughout the country by the thousands.

    We now ask you to take them to your local American Legion and VFW Posts, library, Rotary Club, college campus, etc…
    give them to neighbors, colleagues, family members, and friends.

    Best wishes,
    The If Americans Knew Team

    • Kathleen
      June 2, 2011, 1:46 pm

      Yep drop your wonderfully informative postcards off everywhere. For many years dropping them off on about 10 college campuses. University of Colorado being one of them.

      If Americans Knew is the premiere website to go get your info to hand out.

      Talked with Allison Weir a fair amount at the Move over Aipac conference. A real gem. Hopefully convinced her and maybe your team to take up shining some light on Camera for trying to shut down the I/P debate and info that is being shared on C spans Washington Journal. The I lobby is trying to shut down the debate on one of the only MSM outlets allowing any factual info about the conflict on their program.

      Camera’s cspan watch
      link to camera.org

      Hope folks call into open phones on Washington Journal state facts about the conflict, encourage viewers to come to Mondoweiss, If Americans knew etc and ask them to have Allison Weir, Phillip Weiss, Carter, Tutu, Noura Erekat and others on their program to discuss the issues.

      Also please call your Reps on a regular basis and demand that aid to Israel be cut etc. Let them know we are out here. They need to hear from you

    • Robert Werdine
      June 3, 2011, 6:09 pm

      American,

      I challenge you or anyone else here to answer two questions, if you can:

      1) Why would the Israelis knowingly attack a ship belonging to their strongest ally?

      2). What evidence is there that the attack was anything but an accident?

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        June 3, 2011, 10:58 pm

        I have not seen any entries from you before on Mondoweiss, so I assume you are a sayan, one of many in the American Jewish community, who believes their role is doing damage control for Israel. But since you raised what are fair questions, I will answer them:

        1) Having gotten away with firebombing the US consulate library in Alexandria, Egypt in 1954, part of a covert operation, code named Operation Susannah, designed to turn the US against Egypt, the first terrorist act committed against the US in the region which became known in Israel as the Lavon Affair (a story which, like that of the Liberty, has been kept from the American people by the Zionist dominated press), the Israelis had taken the measure of Washington and believed, correctly, as it turns out, that they had nothing to worry about. Their thought processes included, no doubt, the knowledge that the beautiful Matilda Krim, a convert to Judaism, a former Mossad operative and wife of Arthur Krim, a well-heeled Jewish donor to the Democrats, was sleeping, actually doing something more than sleeping, with the president and was, in fact, the first person that LBJ told about the attack.

        Moreover, LBJ was the first of our presidents to be totally engulfed in the folds of the pro-Israel lobby and had been from at least the time, when as a Texas Senator, he publicly opposed Pres. Eisenhower’s demand that Israel withdraw from the Sinai in 1956. That the war in Vietnam was going badly and he had to think of the 1968 election in which once again, he would rely, as the Democrats are wont to do, on donations from wealthy Jews, what were the lives and wellbeing of a couple of hundred of US servicemen compared to that?

        His actions should have led to his impeachment, particularly, when those sailors of the Liberty who survived were sworn to secrecy on the penalty of court-martial and the awarding of the Congressional Medal of Honor was awarded to the captain not at the White House by LBJ but at the Navy Yard by an underling.

        2) You ask for evidence. Let’s begin with the testimonies of the sailors who survived which the so-called investigating commissions never heard, not to mention NSA transmissions that were reported by James Bamford in his book, “Body of Secrets.” Now, there are those who have challenged their statements with the intent of covering up for Israel, as you and hophmi are doing now. Why were their testimonies unheard and would you say they would be less convincing than those of survivors of the Nazi judeocide who are never questioned, even when they turn out to be inaccurate decades years later such as what happened in the trial in Israel of Ivan [John] Demanjuk, the Ukranian prison guard who they insisted was another Ivan, the notorious prison guard whose nickname was “Ivan the Terrible.”

        Several years ago, I personally interviewed one of the Liberty survivors, John Hrankowski, who passed away in March, and he gave me an account that those charged with covering up the attack, for their role was nothing less than that, never heard. Those so-called “investigations” had as much to do with the reality of the attack as the “9-11 commission” had to do with what really happened that day ten years ago, which has since been discredited.

        What you and I probably agree on is that if the American people knew the truth about the USS Liberty, a significant segment may become outraged enough to do something about it. My own experience passing out a flyer describing the attack at an event in San Francisco several years ago in which a plaque honoring the young men from the city who died in Vietnam was being unveiled lead me to think that would be the case and it would be Israel that would be sunk and, ironically, by the Liberty.

        Not a single person to whom I handed the flyer objected and a number of them came over to thank me and when I held the flyer up so the Marine color guard could read it, and they did, no one tried to pull me away. Can you imagine, Mr. Werdine, similar flyers being handed out at every assembly of veterans and their families across the country. Does that prospect disturb you? It may yet happen and the USS Liberty will sail once more.

      • MRW
        June 4, 2011, 12:46 am

        Great reply, Jeffrey.

      • Robert Werdine
        June 4, 2011, 8:57 pm

        Jeffrey Blankfort,

        On June 8, 1967, on the fourth day of the Six-Day War between Israel and the Arabs, the USS Liberty, an American intelligence gathering vessel, was strafed and bombed by Israeli Warplanes and then converged upon by torpedo boats in an obvious effort to sink her. After a brief exchange of fire and a torpedo that slammed into the Liberty’s starboard side, the Israeli vessels abruptly ceased attacking, and extended help and immediate medical attention to the Liberty’s crew. 34 Americans died and 171 were wounded in the attack. The Israelis, who said they had mistaken the Liberty for the Egyptian warship El Quseir, immediately apologized to the US for the attack, and assumed full responsibility. They would eventually pay some $12 million in compensation to the victims and their families, to survivors, and to the US government.

        A slew of American and Israeli inquiries, including a 1967 Navy Court of Inquiry convened in Malta by Rear Adm. Isaac C. Kidd Jr., generally substantiated the Israelis’ explanation that the attack was an accident. But the inquiries also raised more questions than they answered, and these questions were by no means limited to those hostile to Israel; they were also harbored by some of Israel’s strongest supporters in the Johnson Administration. Why did the Israelis attack a neutral ship without provocation? How had they failed to see the Liberty’s flag or the painted markings on her hull after several overflights by their aircraft? How could they confuse the Liberty with the El Quseir?

        For the next three decades the absence of satisfactory answers to these questions would help spawn a cottage industry of books and conspiracy theories asserting that Israel had deliberately attacked the Liberty and that the US government had covered it up. And Israel’s motive? It was asserted that the Israelis had done so to prevent the Liberty from revealing their impending seizure of Syria’s Golan Heights, a move that Washington was said to have opposed. It was also asserted that the Israelis may have done so in an attempt to blame the Egyptians and thus draw America into the conflict. Another theory, posited by author James Bamford, asserted that the Israelis attacked the Liberty to conceal a massacre of 1000 Egyptian prisoners in the Sinai. The Israelis, all had argued, had thus killed 34 Americans in cold blood and the American government had covered it up, influenced, aided and abetted by the all-powerful pro-Israel lobby, at whose pleasure they serve.

        That Israel struck the Liberty to hide its seizure of the Golan Heights from Syria from the US is contradicted by diplomatic cables showing that Israel informed Washington of its intention to do so before the Liberty attack, and that Washington had not objected. The theory that Israel attacked the ship in order to blame the Egyptians and thus pull America into the war is belied by the fact that the Israelis were winning the war and, most importantly, that they made no effort to blame anyone and took responsibility for the incident moments after the attack. James Bamford’s assertion that the Israelis attacked the Liberty to conceal a massacre of 1000 Egyptian prisoners in the Sinai is unsubstantiated by any evidence whatsoever. Journalist Gabi Bron and IDF historian Aryeh Yitzhaki, the two sources Bamford cites to prove this “massacre” contradict him completely, and have both stated that no such massacre ever took place. Bamford’s third source, Marvin Norwicki, who was then a chief petty officer aboard an NSA aircraft spying on Israel, wrote Bamford a letter in which he stated in no uncertain terms his belief that the attack on the Liberty was a mistake. Said Norwicki to Bamford: “Our intercepts showed the attack to be an accident on the part of the Israelis.” Bamford thus knowingly and deliberately misrepresented the three sources he cited to “prove” his conspiracy theory. The powerful Jewish organizations who, according to Bamford, have supposedly have been working overtime to strong-arm and intimidate any attempts to investigate the Liberty attack were apparently not powerful enough to silence James Bamford.

        Said you of the Lavon Affair: “the Israelis had taken the measure of Washington and believed, correctly, as it turns out, that they had nothing to worry about.”

        I find it highly unlikely that the Israelis would knowingly attack a U.S ship on the basis of the evidence you proffer here. The Lavon Affair was an embarrassment for Israel, and though the Americans were certainly miffed at the obnoxiousness of the operation and annoyed at having some of the books in the libraries of the U.S. Information Agency in Alexandria and Cairo acid-bombed, the fact that the damage was trivial, and no one was killed or injured hardly called for a massive retaliation. Any comparison of the Lavon Affair to the attack on the Liberty is simply inapt; no Americans were killed or injured in the Lavon Affair, whereas 34 American sailors were killed, and 170 more seriously wounded in the attack on the Liberty. That the Israelis in 1967 would conclude from the Lavon Affair of 1954 that they could somehow attack a U.S ship on the high seas, killing and wounding its sailors with impunity, strains credulity and is not substantiated by any evidence that I am aware of.

        The trajectory of U.S.-Israel relations following the Lavon Affair was hardly favorable to Israel, and was unlikely to convince them that American obeisance, or even goodwill, could be easily got. Eisenhower was severely critical of Israel on a number of issues, condemned Israel’s seizure of the Suez peninsula in the 1956 War in no uncertain terms, and threatened to sever relations with them if they did not return it, which they did in 1957. Like Eisenhower, Kennedy was sharply critical of Israel’s retaliation policy against Arab fedayeen raids, and its attempts to divert the Jordan River. He also criticized their refusal to repatriate Palestinian refugees—something the Arabs have never forgotten.

        Johnson, though a friend of Israel, was not an uncritical one, often complaining that Israel was ungrateful for his support, and that their failure to support him on Vietnam was evidence of their ingratitude. He told Abe Feinberg “Israel gets more than it’s willing to give…It’s a one-way street.” The consequences of Israel’s disastrous Samu raid in late 1966, which did much to destabilize the regime of Jordan’s King Hussein, an Arab moderate whose goodwill and influence America had been cultivating to calm the tensions of the region, angered Johnson even more. Prior to 1967 Israel’s primary military benefactors were Britian and France, not America. On the eve of the 1967 War, Israel asked America for assistance in the event of hostilities–and was refused. At best, America gave Israel reluctant diplomatic cover both during and after the conflict–that was it. Again, it is highly unlikely that the Israelis would ever, or could ever, conclude that they could attack a U.S ship on the high seas with any degree of impunity.

        Johnson was certainly close friends with the Krims, but whether he had an affair with Mathilde is doubtful, though, given Johnson’s penchant for philandering, I can hardly say I would be shocked to find out that he did. Conspiracy monger Jeff Gates gives no evidence of an affair with the President, and, even if true, proves nothing with regard to the attack on the Liberty.

        Said you: “Moreover, LBJ was the first of our presidents to be totally engulfed in the folds of the pro-Israel lobby and had been from at least the time, when as a Texas Senator, he publicly opposed Pres. Eisenhower’s demand that Israel withdraw from the Sinai in 1956. That the war in Vietnam was going badly and he had to think of the 1968 election in which once again, he would rely, as the Democrats are wont to do, on donations from wealthy Jews, what were the lives and wellbeing of a couple of hundred of US servicemen compared to that?”

        This seems to be an assumption based on an assumption. First of all, there is no evidence that Johnson or McNamara ever believed the attack on the Liberty was anything but an accident, thus negating any motive to cover up anything in the first place. The notion that Johnson “knew” of a deliberate attack on the Liberty, and covered it up, thus betraying those killed and wounded in the attack to further his reelection prospects with the Jewish vote, is equally baseless. That Johnson should have been impeached on the basis of these two baseless assumptions, unsubstantiated by any evidence whatsoever, is preposterous.

        And what of this supposedly great silencing operation? Did it prevent numerous survivors of the Liberty from speaking out and giving numerous interviews over the years? Did it prevent James Ennes Jr. from publishing a book accusing Israel of deliberately attacking the Liberty and the US government of covering it up? Where was the long arm of the all-powerful Israel Lobby to prevent this, and punish the perpetrators? Please.

        Your assertion that no survivors of the Liberty were ever interviewed in an investigation of the Liberty attack is simply incorrect. The U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry headed by Admiral Kidd in June 1967 took the testimony of 19 witnesses, 14 of whom were crewmen of the Liberty. The investigation was hardly a cursory one, and certainly not the “farce” that John Hrankowski claimed it to be: A record of the investigation runs to hundreds of pages, including 158 pages of testimony, 49 exhibits, and concludes with 52 findings, endorsed by Admiral McCain with the following conclusion: “The foregoing comments by the convening authority lead to an overall conclusion that the attack was in fact a mistake.”

        That the survivors of the Liberty have suffered none of us can dispute or question. They are certainly experts on what they witnessed and experienced; they are not experts on why the Liberty was attacked by Israel or the inner workings of the U.S. government and military, or whether there has been a cover up. That many survivors felt betrayed and deceived by their government and grew to believe that there was a cover up is understandable. However, some survivors have made assertions based on conjecture and hearsay that have been discredited. James Ennes Jr., for example, told the History Channel in a 2001 documentary that the Navy Court of Inquiry of 1967 never heard testimony from the Liberty crew. This is false, as pointed out above. He also claimed that the Israeli Motor Torpedo Boats (MTB’s) never offered help to the Liberty crew, saying “They claim that they came alongside and immediately offered help. Well, that is the purest of baloney.”

        In the fist place, Ennes could not have been a fist-hand witness as to whether an Israeli MTB did or did not extend help to the Liberty; he was wounded in the first minutes of the air attack and was taken below deck, where he remained until he was transferred to another ship the next day. Secondly, Ennes is contradicted on this by Commander McGonagle, skipper of the Liberty. In his testimony before the 1967 Court of Inquiry, McGonagle cited the ship’s deck log for 1503 on Thursday, June 8, 1967, which states “One MTB returned to ship and signaled ‘Do you need help?’ Commanding Officer directed that ‘Negative’ be sent in reply.”

        In 2003 there was an independent inquiry of the Liberty attack conducted by Admiral Thomas Moorer and Ward Boston, a former JAG lawyer who handled the Naval Court of Inquiry of 1967 headed by Adm. Kidd. The inquiry was animated by an affidavit by Ward Boston that asserted that the Johnson Administration had ordered Kidd to conclude that the attack was an accident “despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.” Ward not only failed to produce a shred of evidence to prove this, but was contradicted by judge and former naval aviator A.J. Cristol, a long time friend of Kidd’s (who died in 1999) who produced a letter from Kidd to him in 1991 expressing his belief that the attack was a mistake. The investigation was largely ignored by the press; it merely re-hashed the arguments presented in the old conspiracy theories and ignored the new evidence contained in the declassified documents released in 1997.

        The credibility of the inquiry was further undermined by the militantly anti-Israel (indeed, anti-Jewish) tone of the statements contained in the reports’ conclusions. It asserted, without evidence, that there had been a cover-up “due to the continuing pressure of the pro-Israel lobby,” that “due to the influence of Israel’s powerful supporters in the US, the White House had deliberately covered up the facts of this attack from the American people,” and that “a danger to our national security exists whenever our elected officials are willing to subordinate American interests to those of any foreign nation.” Again, the inquiry presented nothing new, rehashed what was old, ignored the newly released evidence that undermined their conclusions, and made paranoid, unsubstantiated assertions about Jewish “power” that betrayed the blatantly anti-Israel bias of it’s panel members.

        One wonders, how was all this “power” and “influence” leveraged? The American State Dept., under George Marshall, strongly urged President Truman not to recognize the state of Israel in 1948 to avoid angering the Arabs. Indeed, anyone who knows anything about the contentious history of the relationship between the State Dept and Israel knows how absurd this is. The simple truth is that the American State Department, like the British Foreign Office, has always had a strong Arabist bent. Like Marshall, most of the subsequent Secretaries of State like John Foster Dulles, Dean Rusk, William Rogers, Cyrus Vance, James Baker, Colin Powell and others made perfectly clear their belief that America’s relationship with Israel was a drag on our relations with the Arabs. The nebulous charges of Jewish “power” here and elsewhere, lead where they always do when scrutinized–nowhere. It is a conspiracy so powerful that it leaves no trace of itself to be examined.

        The notion that the United States government and military would, over the course of 44 years and 9 administrations all cover up what they knew to be a deliberate attack killing 34 American sailors and wounding 171 by any nation is preposterous. What sinister, far-reaching power was forcing their hand?

        Oh, and Chaos, said you: “There is absolutely no question that the Israelis knew exactly who they were attacking. And let’s say the Israelis didn’t know? That means they were committing war crimes by attacking random ships in international waters. That’s not exactly much of a defense, even if it were true.”

        The attack on the Liberty was not a “random” attack. The Israelis thought they were attacking an Egyptian ship that was firing on them at El Arish during a state of hostilities between the two countries. This is a “war crime?” Priceless!

      • David Samel
        June 5, 2011, 1:07 am

        Robert Werdine, on June 3, you wrote, “Why would the Israelis knowingly attack a ship belonging to their strongest ally?” If memory serves, this is a question you have asked previously on several occasions. Yet on June 4, you wrote, “Prior to 1967 Israel’s primary military benefactors were Britian and France, not America. On the eve of the 1967 War, Israel asked America for assistance in the event of hostilities–and was refused. At best, America gave Israel reluctant diplomatic cover both during and after the conflict–that was it. Again, it is highly unlikely that the Israelis would ever, or could ever, conclude that they could attack a U.S ship on the high seas with any degree of impunity.”

        What happened between June 3 and June 4 to turn Israel’s “strongest ally” into a dubious, unreliable fair-weather friend? Could it be that you will make up whatever shit you mistakenly believe will be persuasive at the time you are writing?

        As for evidence of Israel’s intent, what would satisfy you? An admission by Levi Eshkol? Intent is inferred from the circumstances. If someone points a gun at another’s head and pulls the trigger, it is reasonable to infer intent to kill. If four or five Israeli jets and naval vessels attack a US ship over the course of hours in broad daylight, it is reasonable to infer that they knew the identity of their target. This was not one shot, like the missile fired by the USS Vincennes that brought down the Iranian civilian airliner in 1988. This was a concerted, long-lasting attack.

        Why do you continue to trot out this essay on the Liberty? Unlike you, most people who read this blog do not believe, or pretend to believe, anything Israel says. What you swallow and regurgitate will not be swallowed by others, no matter how many times you rinse and repeat. Give it up.

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        June 5, 2011, 3:41 am

        Mr. Werdine, your pile of pseudo scholarship does not negate the fact that Israel attacked a lightly armed US intelligence ship that was clearly identified as such and did so repeatedly. Unlike Johnson who was in the Lobby’s pocket, his Secretary of State Dean Rusk was not, and two days later sent a communication to the Israeli Ambassador in which he stated: “At the time of the attack, the USS Liberty was flying the American flag and its identification was clearly indicated in large white letters and numerals on its hull. … Experience demonstrates that both the flag and the identification number of the vessel were readily visible from the air…. Accordingly, there is every reason to believe that the USS Liberty was identified, or at least her nationality determined, by Israeli aircraft approximately one hour before the attack. … The subsequent attack by the torpedo boats, substantially after the vessel was or should have been identified by Israeli military forces, manifests the same reckless disregard for human life.”

        I am quite aware of all the history of US-Israel relations and the view from Washington prior to JFK’s assassination that Israel was more of a liability than an asset which makes the fact that LBJ represented a qualitatively different view of Israel than had his predecessors a point of considerable significance in this case. Whatever one thought of JFK, as a former Naval officer and not in the Lobby’s pocket, he would not have allowed Israel to get away with murdering 34 US sailors and wounding 171 more. Johnson even went so far as to reduce the number of dead to 10 and the wounded to 110 in his memoirs where the incident rated barely a mention.

        While a Naval inquiry did interview 14 of the survivors they paid no attention to their testimony since they were obviously operating under instructions as what their findings should be.

        Lt. Jim Ennes only spoke out and wrote his book when he was out of the Navy and no longer subject to court-martial and the mainstream media has kept its distance from the incident and other survivors in the years afterward in keeping with its pro-Israel bent.

        As I assumed in my original response to your first comment, it seems you are acting as a sayan for Israel and one of a number of Israel-firsters here and abroad who see their role as supplying pro-Israel propaganda and countering criticism of Israel on popular websites. Your dismissal of Israel’s Operation Susanah which came to be called in Israel, the Lavon Affair and involved three separate terrorist acts, as a minor peccadillo, is in keeping with that role. Whether your entering the lists on Israel’s behalf in this instance has been productive from your point of view I won’t venture an opinion.

        Since I was curious about where you were coming from I did a Google search and came up with a lengthy comment of yours (brevity, like honesty, not being among your strong suits) on an article by Walter Russell Mead, a bloviated pseudo intellectual, who would have his readers believe that the reason Congress falls all over itself when it comes to pleasing Israel is because that’s what Americans want them to do. Your comment on that site is as full of falsehoods, distortions and leaps of faith as have been your comments here. For MW readers, interested in Mr. Werdine, here’s the link: link to blogs.the-american-interest.com

      • Citizen
        June 5, 2011, 7:47 am

        Werdine, quit channeling Dennis Ross, your hero. We all know Ross has always been “Israel’s lawyer.” You are just trying to cloud up the great cover-up over the USS Liberty incident as Americans are becoming more aware of the fact that the Israeli military attacked a US Naval vessel in international waters with the intention of sinking the ship and blaming it on Egypt in order to draw the United States into the ongoing war on the side of the Israelis. Things did not go as planned. This is what is known as a false flag attack, where one entity attacks another and blames it on a third. On the fourth day of the 1967 Arab Israeli War, the intelligence ship ‘USS Liberty’ was steaming slowly in international waters, 14 miles off the Sinai Peninsula. Israeli armored forces were racing deep into Sinai in hot pursuit of the retreating Egyptian army.

        ‘Liberty’ had been rushed to Sinai to monitor communications of the belligerents in the Third Arab Israeli War: Israel and her foes, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. ‘Liberty,’ a World War II freighter, had been converted into an intelligence vessel by the top-secret US National Security Agency, and packed with the latest signals and electronic interception equipment. The ship bristled with antennas and electronic ‘ears’ including TRSSCOMM, a system that delivered real-time intercepts to Washington by bouncing a stream of microwaves off the moon. At 0800 hrs, 8 June, 1967, eight Israeli recon flights flew over ‘Liberty,’ which was flying a large American flag. At 1400 hrs, waves of low-flying Israeli Mystere and Mirage-III fighter-bombers repeatedly attacked the American vessel with rockets, napalm, and cannon. The air attacks lasted 20 minutes, concentrating on the ship’s electronic antennas and dishes. The ‘Liberty’ was left afire, listing sharply. Eight of her crew lay dead, a hundred seriously wounded, including the captain, Commander William McGonagle.

        At 1424 hrs, three Israeli torpedo boats attacked, raking the burning ‘Liberty’ with 20mm and 40mm shells. At 1431hrs an Israeli torpedo hit the ‘Liberty’ midship, precisely where the signals intelligence systems were located. Twenty-five more Americans died.

        Israeli gunboats circled the wounded ‘Liberty,’ firing at crewmen trying to fight the fires. At 1515, the crew were ordered to abandon ship. The Israeli warships closed and poured machine gun fire into the crowded life rafts, sinking two. As American sailors were being massacred in cold blood, a rescue mission by US Sixth Fleet carrier aircraft was mysteriously aborted on orders from the White House.

        An hour after the attack, Israeli warships and planes returned. Commander McGonagle gave the order. ‘prepare to repel borders.’ But the Israelis, probably fearful of intervention by the US Sixth Fleet, departed. ‘Liberty’ was left shattered but still defiant, her flag flying.

        The Israeli attacks killed 34 US seamen and wounded 171 out of a crew of 297, the worst loss of American naval personnel from hostile action since World War II.

        Less than an hour after the attack, Israel told Washington its forces had committed a ‘tragic error.’ Later, Israel claimed it had mistaken ‘Liberty’ for an ancient Egyptian horse transport. US Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, and Joint Chiefs of Staff head, Admiral Thomas Moorer, insisted the Israeli attack was deliberate and designed to sink ‘Liberty.’ So did three CIA reports; one asserted Israel’s Defense Minister, Gen. Moshe Dayan, had personally ordered the attack.

        In contrast to American outrage over North Korea’s assault on the intelligence ship ‘Pueblo,’ Iraq’s mistaken missile strike on the USS ‘Stark,’ and the bombing of the USS ‘Cole’ in Aden, and the US-China air incident, the savaging of ‘Liberty’ was quickly hushed up by President Lyndon Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara.

        The White House and Congress immediately accepted Israel’s explanation and let the matter drop. Israel later paid a token reparation of US $6 million. There were reports two Israeli pilots who had refused to attack ‘Liberty’ were jailed for 18 years.

        Surviving ‘Liberty’ crew members have not been completely silenced despite direct orders never to mention the incident in public. They keep demanding an open inquiry and try to tell their story of deliberate attack to the media. Israel’s government has worked behind the scenes to thwart these efforts, going so far as having American pro-Israel groups accuse ‘Liberty’s’ survivors of being ‘anti-Semites’ and ‘Israel-haters.’ Major TV networks cancelled interviews with the crew. A book about the ‘Liberty’ by crewman James Ennes’ was dropped from distribution. The Israel lobby branded him ‘an Arab propagandist.’

        Hence, the attack on ‘Liberty’ was fading into obscurity when intelligence expert James Bamford came out with Body of Secrets, his book about the National Security Agency. In a stunning revelation, Bamford wrote that unknown to Israel, a US Navy EC-121 intelligence aircraft was flying high overhead the ‘Liberty,’ electronically recording the attack. The US aircraft crew provides evidence that the Israeli pilots knew full well that they were attacking a US Navy ship flying the American flag.

        Why did Israel try to sink a naval vessel of its benefactor and ally? Most likely because ‘Liberty’s’ intercepts flatly contradicted Israel’s claim, made at the war’s beginning on 5 June, that Egypt had attacked Israel, and that Israel’s massive air assault on three Arab nations was in retaliation. In fact, Israel began the war by a devastating, Pearl-Harbor style surprise attack that caught the Arabs in bed and destroyed their entire air forces.

        Israel was also preparing to attack Syria to seize its strategic Golan Heights. Washington warned Israel not to invade Syria, which had remained inactive while Israel fought Egypt. Bamford wrote that Israel’s offensive against Syria was abruptly postponed when ‘Liberty’ appeared off Sinai, then launched once it was knocked out of action. Israel’s claim that Syria had attacked it could have been disproved by ‘Liberty.’

        Most significant, ‘Liberty’s’ intercepts may have shown that Israel seized upon sharply rising Arab-Israeli tensions in May-June 1967 to launch a long-planned war to invade and annex the West Bank, Jerusalem, Golan and Sinai.

        Far more shocking was Washington’s response. Wrote Bamford: ‘Despite the overwhelming evidence that Israel attacked the ship and killed American servicemen deliberately, the Johnson Administration and Congress covered up the entire incident.’ Why?

        Domestic politics. Johnson, a man never noted for high moral values, preferred to cover up the attack rather than anger a key constituency and major financial backer of the Democratic Party. Congress was even less eager to touch this ‘third rail’ issue.

        Commander McGonagle was quietly awarded the Medal of Honor for his and his men’s heroism – not in the White House, as is usual, but in an obscure ceremony at the Washington Navy Yard. Crew member’s graves were inscribed, ‘died in the Eastern Mediterranean..’ as if they had be killed by disease, rather than hostile action.

        A member of President Johnson’s staff believed there was a more complex reason for the cover-up: Johnson offered Jewish liberals unconditional backing of Israel, and a cover-up of the ‘Liberty’ attack, in exchange for the liberal toning down their strident criticism of his policies in the then raging Vietnam War.

        Israel, which claims it fought a war of self defense in 1967 and had no prior territorial ambitions, was much displeased by Bamford’s revelations, which supported the fact that Israel illegally occupies the West Bank and Golan.

        Much more important, the US government’s long, disgraceful cover-up of the premeditated attack on ‘Liberty’ had become more public and demands came for a full-scale congressional investigation. After 44 years, the voices of ‘Liberty’s’ dead and wounded seamen remain to be so finally heard by the American public.

      • Citizen
        June 5, 2011, 8:08 am

        Further, I believe the survivors’ assertion the attack was deliberate. If you can find a crewmember who thinks otherwise, I’m all ears. BTW, the IDF’s failure to send the Liberty to the bottom wasn’t for a lack of effort. Five torpedoes were more than enough to sink the ship. That only one found its mark is a testament to the skill and heroism of the Liberty crew, not the IDF’s lack of will in sending all hands to the bottom. And the Israelis did all they could to murder every US navy guy trying to put out the fire on deck.

        Werdine’s scramble to excuse Israel reveals his intentional unfamiliarity with each specific fact that makes up the actual incident. Americans, if you do you homework thoroughy on this USS Liberty incident, it’s not difficult to disprove his blanket assertions but my point is this: internet chat rooms and publications from pro-Israel Jewish authors (e.g., Cristol, Oren, etc.) are not the proper forum for ascertaining the truth. Only the Congress can do this. This has been done for the Pueblo, the Stark, the Cole, and every other attack on a US vessel. This has not been done for the Liberty (sorry, boards of inquiry and other kangaroo court investigations don’t count). This is all the survivors ask for. If you would like to see it done, please sign the online petition on the Liberty survivors’ web site. Until that time comes, Mr. Werdine et al, Cristol’s book doesn’t destroy “any myths, tall tales, and red herrings” at all, and neither do you.

      • Citizen
        June 5, 2011, 8:24 am

        More, read: “The Attack on the Liberty” by James Scott. Subtitled, “The Untold Story of Israel’s Deadly 1967 Assault on a U.S. Spy Ship”
        This book was published for distribution on June 2, 2009
        It’s available from the Simon Schuster website at link to tinyurl.com or from Amazon at link to tinyurl.com and from other online booksellers.
        The Simon and Schuster website tells us that “Scott documents, for the first time, the fact that the ship was correctly identified by at least one of the pilots prior to the attacks.”
        The outset of the book tells us the conclusion is its “highly implausable” that the attack was not intentional. The book lays out in full detail Johnson’s and congressional political considerations at the time, a time of growing public dissatisfaction with his Vietnam War, for covering up a direct attack on a US Navy ship and its crew, which resulted in 2/3rd casualties of that crew.

      • David Samel
        June 5, 2011, 10:30 am

        Jeffrey, it seems you were unfamiliar with Werdine until yesterday or so. Your assumption that Werdine is a member of the American Jewish community is reasonable enough, but he would hotly dispute it, as he claims that his mother is Lebanese-American and he was raised a Shiite Muslim. His youthful mind was twisted by the likes of Chomsky and Said, until the 1990′s when he witnessed Arafat screaming for the blood of Jews, pocketing Israeli concessions and giving none in return, opinions he lamely and unsuccessfully tried to support when challenged by me and others. Werdine burst upon mondoweiss about two months ago with lengthy comments, in my opinion highly articulate and readable, but of course deeply dishonest. With the new commenter profile feature, you can look for yourself. Ignore the Liberty stuff, which he has repeated many times, and go further back. He excuses almost every act of Israeli violence save Baruch Goldstein’s. For example, Qibya was an “operation” that he concedes “lapsed” into a massacre. He even excuses Israel’s bloody romps into his mother’s homeland. Qana 1996 was, like the Liberty, a mistake; Rabin’s bombing in 1993 did not deliberately kill civilians because only 118 died, and Israel was capable of killing many more. Even the 1982 invasion was OK, because he doubts Israel murdered 20,000 civilians in cold blood (he doesn’t say whether the deaths were accidental or fewer than 20,000). His real story is anyone’s guess. Apparently he is 40-ish, with an awful lot of time on his hands, and his ability to present voluminous, sophisticated hasbara that does not appear to be direct quotes from any other source is rather impressive, in a rhetorical sense. If only he had even minimum levels of decency, integrity and honesty. . .

      • Robert Werdine
        June 6, 2011, 6:03 pm

        My oh my, what fan mail I have been getting here!

        Nice to hear from you again, David. Having another go at me, I see.

        “What happened between June 3 and June 4 to turn Israel’s “strongest ally” into a dubious, unreliable fair-weather friend? Could it be that you will make up whatever shit you mistakenly believe will be persuasive at the time you are writing?”

        Could it be that you are making another one of your transparently silly attempts to catch me in a “lie?”

        Please. America was Israel’s strongest ally at the time. Do you know of a more powerful nation that was friendly to Israel at the time? My point in my June 4 post was that the relationship with Israel in the 1948-1967 period, though friendly, was far from tension-free, and American diplomacy in general attempted balance its interests in the ME, and not always successfully. Johnson was certainly friendlier to Israel than his two predecessors, though that had limits: He gave Israel $52 million in civilian aid, but hedged on military aid; he would sell M-48 tanks and A-4 Skyhawk fighters to Israel, but only through West Germany, so as not to offend the Arabs. Certainly America never armed Israel to anywhere near the extent that the Soviet Union had been openly arming Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, among others. Between 1956-1967 the Soviets poured about $2 billion in military aid alone—1700 tanks, 2400 artillery, 500 jets, and 1400 advisers, 43% all going to Egypt.

        The relationship with Israel at the time of the 1967 War was, in short, friendly, but plagued by tensions stemming from the unstable dynamics of ME politics and America’s reluctance to identify itself too closely with one side. The relationship of 1967 was certainly not what it is now in 2011. In any event, my whole point, which you obviously missed, was to emphasize the complexity of the America/Israel relationship at the time and to underscore the preposterousness of Jeffrey Blankfort’s suggestion that the Israelis could have thought of attacking a U.S. ship with impunity, or that Johnson or any other President “knew” that the attack on the Liberty was deliberate, and covered it up at the behest of the supposedly all-powerful Israel Lobby so as to ensure his reelection in 1968. This ludicrous charge not only betrays a cartoonishly conspiratorial view of history, but is slanderously devoid of even a shred of any factual or evidentiary basis.

        “Intent is inferred from the circumstances. If someone points a gun at another’s head and pulls the trigger, it is reasonable to infer intent to kill. If four or five Israeli jets and naval vessels attack a US ship over the course of hours in broad daylight, it is reasonable to infer that they knew the identity of their target. This was not one shot, like the missile fired by the USS Vincennes that brought down the Iranian civilian airliner in 1988. This was a concerted, long-lasting attack.”

        Fair point. Let us look (again) at the circumstances:

        1) Why the Liberty was in the area.

        The White House had ordered the American Sixth Fleet to keep its ships within a 250 mile arc from the Egyptian coast, but the Liberty’s handlers in the NSA disregarded the order and put the Liberty within 12.5 miles of the coast to eavesdrop on Egyptian military communications with the Soviet Union. Five communications were sent by the Navy’s European headquarters to the Liberty for her to pull back at least 100 miles. However, due to the Six Fleet’s bulky communications apparatus, the messages got diverted to the Philippines and did not reach the Liberty until the day after she was attacked.

        Furthermore, the request of the Liberty’s skipper for a destroyer escort was denied by the Sixth Fleet CIC on the grounds that “the Liberty is a clearly marked US ship in international waters…and not a reasonable subject for attack.” A request by the Israeli ambassador at the outset of the conflict that the US provide a naval liaison to coordinate communications between the two countries was refused by the US, and thus no one informed Israel of the Liberty’s presence in the area.

        2) The Liberty is spotted, identified, and then misidentified.

        Israeli aircraft spotted the vessel in the early morning of June 8. The pilot could not make out the flag, but spotted a hull marking that read “GTR-5″ and the headquarters identified the ship as the USS Liberty. However, with the change in watch in the Israeli HQ at 11:00am, the officer on duty at Israel’s naval headquarters, Capt. Avraham Lunz, concluded his shift, and, in accordance with procedures, removed the Liberty’s green marker from the control board on the grounds that it was already five hours old and no longer accurate. The officers on the new watch thus erroneously assumed that the Liberty had left the area. For all intents and purposes to the Israelis, the Liberty had ceased to exist. When an explosion rocked an Israeli arms depot at El Arish at 11:24am, the Israelis, later spotting a vessel they incorrectly assumed was an Egyptian warship bombarding them, sent three torpedo boats to engage it.

        3) The attack.

        The skipper of the Liberty then executed a 90 degree starboard turn to the south, eventually turning 283 degrees west. The Israelis, pursuing what they thought was an Egyptian warship heading home, called in for air support, and two Mirage fighters, closing in on the Liberty from the west at 1:57pm, raked her with 30mm cannon fire in three strafing runs until their ammo was spent. The first air attack had lasted three and a half minutes.

        By this time Commander McGonagle, the Liberty skipper, though seriously wounded, ordered the ship to turn full right 360 degrees to the north. The second air attack, at 2:06pm, was by a squadron of three Mysteres fighters returning from bombing Egyptian infantry. Hastily recalled from this ground support mission, they raked the Liberty with bombs, napalm, and cannon fire—hardly appropriate ordinance for attacking a naval vessel.

        At 2:11pm transcripts of communications between the Israeli pilots and HQ show that after the second strafing run an Israeli pilot recognized the Latin markings on the hull of the ship: “Ship’s marking is Charlie Tango Romeo 5” (i.e., CTR 5—the Israeli pilot in fact misidentified the hull markings; they were GTR-5). When this was reported to HQ they immediately ordered him and his wingmen to disengage. This second air attack had lasted about five minutes.

        There was also a breakdown in communications between the three torpedo boats and the IAF HQ—another common occurrence in the heat of battle. The Israeli MTB skipper, Commander Oren, arriving at the scene at 2:24pm, consulted his intelligence manual and, viewing the silhouette of a smoke-engulfed ship some six thousand yards distant and directed westward toward the sun at an elevation of 50 degrees and azimuth 88 degrees, concluded that the ship was the Egyptian freighter El Quseir, and the skippers on the other two torpedo boats reached the same conclusion themselves. Oren attempted to signal the ship, asking for identity; getting no response, he ordered the MTBs into battle formation. At 2:37pm Naval HQ gave the go ahead to attack.

        The Israeli MTB’s caught up with the Liberty as a sailor on board her opened up fire on them with .50 caliber machine guns, not receiving McGonagle’s order not to fire on the approaching craft; the MTBs then returned fire with 20mm and 40mm cannon, and at 2:43pm fired back torpedoes. Four missed but one hit the Liberty’s starboard side midship, killing 25 sailors.

        At 2:47 the MTB captain cut off the attack. At 2:51 the IDF Navy log reads “May be Russian nationality, based on writing on aft”; the Israelis thought they might be attacking a Russian vessel. When the Israeli boat captain got close enough to identify the hull markings of the Liberty, now listing badly, he recognized the Latin markings on the hull, and offered help and medical attention to the survivors at 3:03pm.

        Well David, these are the circumstances of the attack. What may be inferred from them?

        Said you: “If four or five Israeli jets and naval vessels attack a US ship over the course of hours in broad daylight, it is reasonable to infer that they knew the identity of their target.”

        No, it is not. In the first place the attacks did not occur “over the course of hours”; the combined air attacks lasted all of about eight and a half minutes, and the following naval attack about ten minutes.

        The 1967 Navy Court of Inquiry stated that “the calm conditions and slow ship speed may well have made the American flag difficult to identify.”

        But let’s say this was not the case, and that there was sufficient wind. Is there any evidence that the Israeli pilots could have known they were attacking an American ship or that they could have seen the flag, even if it were extended by wind? No, there is not. In the first place the pilots were sent to attack a ship, not to reconnoiter or identify it. Secondly, the strafing runs on the first attack were a head-on attack of the Liberty’s bow. The Liberty was cruising at about five knots westward and the Mirage fighter was approaching it head-on eastward at about 600mph., or at about 1000 feet per second. In the attack run it had 2-3 seconds at most to fire its guns and pull off the target before getting closer than 3000 feet. Was it really possible to positively identify a 5×8 foot flag in the proscribed time of 2-3 seconds (at most), and at the speed of 600mph and a distance of in excess of 3000 feet? Hardly.

        Audio tapes transcripts indicate that the Israelis did not know they were attacking an American ship in both air attacks and, five minutes into the second air attack, immediately disengaged when they did.

        All available evidence, including IDF Navy logs, indicate that the Israeli boat captain misidentified the ship, then engulfed with smoke, at 6000 yards distance at about 2:30 pm, incurred fire from the Liberty as they approached her, returned it, cut off the attack at 2:47pm pending further ID, got close enough to identify the Latin hull markings of the Liberty, and offered help and medical attention to the survivors at 3:03pm. (See link to thelibertyincident.com for more details).

        Those are the facts. The air attacks occurred in minutes, not hours, of intense combat at high subsonic speeds and long distances, rendering positive ID difficult to say the least, and the naval attacks lasted about ten minutes from distances of thousands of yards while being fired on, making positive ID also difficult. The only logical inference that can be drawn from them is that the attack was a case of mistaken identity. There is, in all the hundreds of pages of declassified material from both countries, not a shred of evidence to support the contention that Israel deliberately sought to attack and sink the USS Liberty. None whatsoever.

        The attack on the Liberty was a classic case of friendly fire. After winning the battle of Chancellorsville in 1863, Stonewall Jackson was accidentally killed by his own Confederate troops. On February 22, 1940 a German bomber sank two German destroyers in the North Sea, killing 578 German sailors. During the 1956 War the Israelis attacked a British destroyer, the HMS Crane, that it had mistaken for an Egyptian Z-class destroyer. The largest tank battle of the 1956 War occurred at Abu Ageila where two Israeli tank units fought each other. On June 5, 1967 The IAF bombed a column of IDF Sherman tanks in the battle for Jerusalem, and did so again on June 8, just a few hours before the attack on the Liberty. Many, many more instances could be cited.

        Jeffrey Blankfort. Said you:

        “While a Naval inquiry did interview 14 of the survivors they paid no attention to their testimony since they were obviously operating under instructions as what their findings should be.
        Lt. Jim Ennes only spoke out and wrote his book when he was out of the Navy and no longer subject to court-martial and the mainstream media has kept its distance from the incident and other survivors in the years afterward in keeping with its pro-Israel bent.”

        Yes Jeffrey, they must all continue to obey the Zionist-enforced blackout on criticizing Israel just like all the rest of us. After all, you know what “the Jews” will do to them if they don’t, right? Zap!

        You have cited not a shred of evidence, besides hearsay and conjecture, that the 14 crewmembers who testified at the Inquiry were “obviously operating under instructions as what their findings should be” and there is no record of any crewmember of the Liberty being disciplined for “speaking out” their beliefs. Your assertions, here and elsewhere, seem to reflect a penchant for conjecture, hearsay, and conspiracies rather than arguments based on facts and evidence. BTW, thanks for the reference. I hope others will read it!

        Citizen,

        Said you:

        “You are just trying to cloud up the great cover-up over the USS Liberty incident as Americans are becoming more aware of the fact that the Israeli military attacked a US Naval vessel in international waters with the intention of sinking the ship and blaming it on Egypt in order to draw the United States into the ongoing war on the side of the Israelis. Things did not go as planned. This is what is known as a false flag attack, where one entity attacks another and blames it on a third.”

        It was not a false flag attack. This is not only utterly baseless, but nonsensical. As I’ve said before, the theory that Israel attacked the ship in order to blame the Egyptians and thus pull America into the war is belied by the fact that the Israelis were winning the war and, most importantly, that they made no effort to blame anyone and took responsibility for the incident moments after the attack. Besides being nonsensical, there is no evidence to support this charge.

        “At 0800 hrs, 8 June, 1967, eight Israeli recon flights flew over ‘Liberty,’ which was flying a large American flag.”

        The Liberty was first spotted by the IAF at 5:55am and again at 9:00am, both times identifying her positively as an American ship. They noticed the hull markings but neither pilot spotted a flag—not surprising since they were flying fast and high and a 5×8 foot flag would be hardly visible to them even if it was extended, which it probably wasn’t.

        “The air attacks lasted 20 minutes, concentrating on the ship’s electronic antennas and dishes.”

        The air attacks lasted eight and a half minutes and there is no evidence in the IAF transcripts that the Israelis knew that they were attacking an intelligence freighter and were deliberately targeting the intelligence gathering equipment; they were simply trying to sink what they thought was an Egyptian ship before the navy arrived to hog the glory, and were merely throwing everything they had at the Liberty to accomplish this while they were attacking.

        “At 1424 hrs, three Israeli torpedo boats attacked, raking the burning ‘Liberty’ with 20mm and 40mm shells. At 1431hrs an Israeli torpedo hit the ‘Liberty’ midship, precisely where the signals intelligence systems were located.”

        Israeli naval HQ did not authorize the naval attack until 2:37pm, and the torpedo did not hit the Liberty until 2:43pm. They had identified the ship at 6000 yards as Egypt’s El Qusier and there is no evidence that the MTBs knew they were attacking an intelligence gathering ship of any kind, and no evidence that they were even attempting to target any of its intelligence gathering capacity. They were returning fire on a ship that was firing on them from a considerable distance.

        “Israeli gunboats circled the wounded ‘Liberty,’ firing at crewmen trying to fight the fires. At 1515, the crew were ordered to abandon ship. The Israeli warships closed and poured machine gun fire into the crowded life rafts, sinking two.”

        In his testimony before the 1967 Court of Inquiry, McGonagle cited the ship’s deck log for 1503 (3:03pm) on Thursday, June 8, 1967, which states “One MTB returned to ship and signaled ‘Do you need help?’ Commanding Officer directed that ‘Negative’ be sent in reply.” By 3:15pm the attack on the Liberty had been over for 28 minutes. Machine gun fire occurred when the Liberty and the MTBs were exchanging fire and not 12 minutes after the captain of the first Israeli MTB offered help to the Liberty.

        “As American sailors were being massacred in cold blood, a rescue mission by US Sixth Fleet carrier aircraft was mysteriously aborted on orders from the White House.”

        American sailors were not being “massacred in cold blood,” the mission was not “mysteriously aborted,” and the order did not come from the White House. The planes, launched at 4:00pm—more than an hour after the attack had ended—were recalled by Vice Admiral Martin after he received a message from Commander Castle, the American naval attaché to Tel Aviv, informing him that the Israelis had attacked the Liberty by mistake. Martin received the message long before the White House even learned about the attack.

        “In contrast to American outrage over North Korea’s assault on the intelligence ship ‘Pueblo,’ Iraq’s mistaken missile strike on the USS ‘Stark,’ and the bombing of the USS ‘Cole’ in Aden, and the US-China air incident, the savaging of ‘Liberty’ was quickly hushed up by President Lyndon Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. “

        There was plenty of outrage, and still is—just read this blog. Clifford and Rusk were both furious about it and so were many others. There is a qualitative difference, however, between an attack by an enemy, and an accidental one by an ally. Also, as I said before, there is no evidence that Johnson or McNamara ever believed the attack on the Liberty was anything but an accident, thus negating any motive to cover up anything in the first place. The notion that Johnson “knew” of a deliberate attack on the Liberty, and covered it up, thus betraying those killed and wounded in the attack to further his reelection prospects with the Jewish vote, is equally baseless. If you have evidence to the contrary, cite it.

        “Hence, the attack on ‘Liberty’ was fading into obscurity when intelligence expert James Bamford came out with Body of Secrets, his book about the National Security Agency. In a stunning revelation, Bamford wrote that unknown to Israel, a US Navy EC-121 intelligence aircraft was flying high overhead the ‘Liberty,’ electronically recording the attack. The US aircraft crew provides evidence that the Israeli pilots knew full well that they were attacking a US Navy ship flying the American flag.”

        No they do not. Bamford’s source for this charge, Marvin Norwicki, who was then a chief petty officer aboard an NSA aircraft spying on Israel, wrote Bamford a letter in which he stated in no uncertain terms his belief that the attack on the Liberty was a mistake. Said Norwicki to Bamford: “Our intercepts showed the attack to be an accident on the part of the Israelis.” Norwicki, then flying in an EC121M spy plane at 35,000 feet, overheard the Israeli MTBs positively identifying the Liberty after the attack.

        “Why did Israel try to sink a naval vessel of its benefactor and ally? Most likely because ‘Liberty’s’ intercepts flatly contradicted Israel’s claim, made at the war’s beginning on 5 June, that Egypt had attacked Israel, and that Israel’s massive air assault on three Arab nations was in retaliation. In fact, Israel began the war by a devastating, Pearl-Harbor style surprise attack that caught the Arabs in bed and destroyed their entire air forces.”

        First of all, the White House was well aware that Israel had attacked Egypt on June 5, had been expecting the attack for some time, and there was no attempt, or need, to cover it up, though certainly some misleading statements were made in the early hours. There is, also, no evidence that the Liberty intercepted any such information in the first place. Egypt had about 150,000 troops mobilized in the Sinai, and Jordan and Syria mobilized some 130,000 troops along Israel’s long western borders. They were hardly “caught in bed.”

        “Israel was also preparing to attack Syria to seize its strategic Golan Heights. Washington warned Israel not to invade Syria, which had remained inactive while Israel fought Egypt. Bamford wrote that Israel’s offensive against Syria was abruptly postponed when ‘Liberty’ appeared off Sinai, then launched once it was knocked out of action. Israel’s claim that Syria had attacked it could have been disproved by ‘Liberty.’

        The notion that Israel struck the Liberty to hide its seizure of the Golan Heights from Syria from the US is contradicted by diplomatic cables showing that Israel informed Washington of its intention to do so before the Liberty attack, and that Washington had not objected. Israel may have attacked Egypt on June 5, but Jordan and Syria were the first to attack Israel. The White House was well aware of this. On June 8, the American consulate in Jerusalem reported that Israel was retaliating for Syria’s bombardment of Israeli villages “in an apparent prelude to large-scale attack in effort to seize Heights overlooking border kibbutzim.” That same day, U.S. Ambassador Walworth Barbour in Tel Aviv reported that “I would not, repeat not, be surprised if the reported Israeli attack [on the Golan] does take place or has already done so,” and IDF Intelligence Chief Aharon Yariv told Harry McPherson, a senior White House aide who was visiting Israel at the time, that “there still remained the Syria problem and perhaps it would be necessary to give Syria a blow.”

        Well, David, Jeffrey, and Citizen that about finishes it. Nice chatting with you boys, as always.

      • Citizen
        June 6, 2011, 7:35 pm

        Always good to chat with you Werdine, and I am sure All Americans appreciate your looking to what happened to their boys on the USS Liberty and what President Johnson did about it–lied about the number of dead and wounded, was the last thing he did, and of course Congress, which has never conducted the customary full investigation. I advise once again all Americans to read up on the incident and you will find Werdine’s information is very misleading. Read the lastest book on it referenced in one of my comments on this thread. For now, here’s a small bit of information contradicting Werdine:

        “Israel has claimed that it was a mistake and that they were firing upon an arab horse freighter. The El Quesir was the name of the Arab ship. It was tied up and not sea worthy during the Six Day War, and the Israelis knew this.
         
        As for our Flag. All American ships fly the flag. Ours was flying until the Israelis shot it down and within seconds another was put up. It was our holiday Ensign, sized 9 feet by 13 feet.
         
        As for the slow moving aircraft. Planes started flying over us and checking us out at 5:30am and did so 9 to 13 times until the attack at 2:00PM. There is no doubt in my mind that they knew who they were attacking.
         
         
        It has been reported that the USS Saratago, responding to a SOS from the Liberty, launched jets to help the Liberty approximately 15 minutes into the Israeli attack. Why were the jets recalled? One could say that this act left American sailors to be murdered by an enemy force?
         
         
        A message from the USS Liberty got to the USS Saratoga 9 minutes into the attack. The USS Saratoga launched a flight of fighters immediately and they were called back. This happened three different times throughout the attack. Robert MacNamara called them back twice, and President Johnson called them back once, saying his thoughts were not for the USS Liberty. He did not want to embarrass his ally Israel. That act did leave us to get murdered, and what it actually is called is abandonment.
         
        Once your captain, William Loren McGonagle, realized that the Liberty was in danger of sinking, he ordered the crew to abandon ship. At this point, there were only three life rafts left that weren’t damaged. Your crew placed as many wounded into the life rafts and lowered them over the side of the Liberty. Please tell us what happened next.
         
         
        The order was given by the captain to abandon ship, because he thought we were going to sink. Three life rafts were in the water, but then Israeli Torpedo boats came up to them and shot two of them up and grabbed one on the boats. That is against the Geneva Convention.”–Survivor’s words @ link to rense.com
         

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        June 7, 2011, 2:03 am

        Thank you for the bg on Werdine, David. He does seem to have some connections to sources that otherwise might be not so easily available although everything he postulates regarding the attack on the Liberty is consistent with the stream of lies that we have been accustomed to receiving from the Israel Disinformation Ministry for whom he seems to be a diligent worker, whether paid or unpaid being irrelevant.

        I am puzzled to learn that he became converted to the Israeli scenario after having “witnessed Arafat screaming for the blood of Jews” in the 90s. Where could he have been to have done that? During the 90s, after Oslo, Arafat was on the receiving end of an $8 million payout from Israel, directly into his private bank account which caused that great democrat, Natan Schransky, then in the Israeli cabinet to object since, said Schransky, he was not running a very democratic PA. This story made the first page of the Forward at the time and the only other reference to it is in the Jewish Virtual Library which noted that he had received $395 million from the Israeli treasury. I have never had any kind of positive opinion of Arafat since seeing him speak on several occasions in Jordan and Lebanon in 1970, but I was not aware that among the more ridiculous things he would say from time to time that he ever called for “the blood of Jews,” and if he had, Werdine would not likely have been around to see it.

        As to his background, since Werdine has demonstrated an acute allergy to the truth which is accentuated by his tendency to long-windedness and repeating himself which go hand in hand, there is no reason to believe that what he says about his origins and his conversion to a Zionist sock puppet has any more truth to it then what he has to say about the Liberty.

      • Chaos4700
        June 4, 2011, 2:03 am

        You’d have to ask the Israelis that first question. It’s not a question THAT it happened — the Israeli military made a sustained attack on a US naval ship and anything you say to cover that up makes you dishonest and — if you have American citizenship — traitorous.

        There really was no mistaking that ship for anything other than a lightly armed US naval vessel. It was in international waters, it was flying the US flag and (until the Israeli attack targeted its radio tower and left them mute for much of the duration of the attack) they were perfectly capable of identifying themselves when queried.

        There is absolutely no question that the Israelis knew exactly who they were attacking. And let’s say the Israelis didn’t know? That means they were committing war crimes by attacking random ships in international waters. That’s not exactly much of a defense, even if it were true.

      • Citizen
        June 4, 2011, 4:49 am

        Werdine, the USS Liberty was a state of the art spy ship; it was monitoring what was going on in the area, which was its job. Any green light Johnson had given (while himself engaged in the Vietnam War & concerned about reelection) Israel had limits. Israel, being totally opportunistic as usual, wanted to go beyond those limits. The details of Israel’s activities at the time, and its aims, is available in the tremendous amount of data available to you and anyone on the internet concerning the USS Liberty incident. And you know it. Quit playing naive. Israel’s motives, intentions, are as directly available as Hitler’s regarding “the final solution,” which is to say, they’ve never been found like a smoking gun.

        There is plenty of evidence that the attack was intentional. Again, anyone can read all the details on the internet. This subject has been debated in detail on MW more than a few times before. Quit playing naive.

        Why were the survivors ordered to remain mum for decades?

  11. Kathleen
    June 2, 2011, 1:56 pm

    Rachel Corries parents still trying to seek justice. But not our US state Dept. If Iran had killed US citizens Clinton, Dennis Ross etc would be all over it
    link to democracynow.org

    AMY GOODMAN: In the midst of Joe Biden’s first visit to Israel as vice president, the Israeli government has embarrassed the Obama administration by announcing plans to add 1,600 more homes to a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem. Biden said Israel’s move “undermines the trust we need right now and runs counter to the constructive discussions that I’ve had here in Israel.” His comments were released Tuesday after a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where he reiterated the “unbreakable” ties between Israel and the United States. Biden is scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah today.

    This comes as an unusual trial gets underway in Haifa. An American family is suing the state of Israel for the unlawful death of their daughter, Rachel Corrie, a twenty-three-year-old student from Evergreen College in Olympia, Washington. She was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza seven years ago. Today, the Haifa District Court in northern Israel will begin hearing evidence from eyewitnesses to Rachel’s death. An earlier internal army investigation exonerated the bulldozer drivers, concluding the soldiers could not see the young American peace activist in front of them. The eyewitness testimony is expected to challenge Israel’s version of events with evidence that she was clearly visible to the soldiers, standing before the bulldozer in her florescent orange jacket.

    Well, I interviewed Rachel Corrie’s parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie, and her sister, Sarah Simpson, a few days ago, just before they headed to JFK Airport here in New York to go to Israel. I asked Rachel’s mother, Cindy, to go back to those events of March 16, 2003, and explain why Rachel had gone to Gaza to begin with.

    CINDY CORRIE: In January of 2003, Rachel went first to the West Bank for training with the International Solidarity Movement. It was a Palestinian-led nonviolent resistance movement to oppose the occupation and what was happening to Palestinians at the time. That movement was founded because there was a resolution in the United Nations, submitted by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, to have a human rights monitoring force in the area after the start of the Second Intifada, when there was so much killing and violence. And that resolution was vetoed by the United States and by Israel. And at that point, ISM was formed.

    Some of the co-founders included an Israeli woman, Neta Golan; Americans, Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf; a Palestinian academic, Ghassan Andoni; and others. And Rachel joined that effort. She was trained in Beit Sahour. She had prepared here before she left. She was studying Arabic. She had done a lot of education, and she was beginning to educate our family, because we were new to this issue.

    She went—she chose to go to Gaza, to Rafah particularly, because she felt that it was maybe the most forsaken part of the Occupied Territories. It was where she felt her focus and attention was needed. She was there for about seven weeks. She was working, doing a lot of things during the time. Part of what she was doing was writing back and informing us about what she was seeing. And her words have since been incorporated into a play, and her writing from there is in a book of her work.

  12. Cheryl
    June 2, 2011, 1:57 pm

    I note that Mr. Toner does not talk about who has the right to be in these waters. He talks about it being provocative. When Rachel stood in front of the Nasrallah home she had more than every right to be there. Under Oslo, this was Palestinian land. But Israeli power means they can blockade or bulldoze wherever they please and America will stand by and say things like we have a travel advisory in place or we think this is provacative. I think it is clear that if Mr. Tomer had been working during the Freedom Riders journey to the South he would have called it provocative and suggested that a travel advisory was in place because danger could be anticipated. So it confuses me why Obama went to Cairo and tells folks to emulate the Civil Rights movement and nonviolent resistance or did I misunderstand him?

  13. Kathleen
    June 2, 2011, 2:02 pm

    Toner interrupts the first question and then does the “um” song and dance and then gives Israel a pre-emptive pardon for killing human rights activist

  14. Avi
    June 2, 2011, 2:21 pm

    MR. TONER: We have made clear through the past year that groups and individuals who seek to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza

    “Blockade” seems to be the preferred term among beltway insiders — including AIPACers — as its often connotational with the American blockade on Cuba during the so-called missile crisis of the Cold War.

    It lends Israel’s actions legitimacy; if the US did it to protect itself from Soviet missiles, then Israel is well within its right to do the same to protect itself from Hamas’ rockets. That is the Orwellian rationale.

    In addition, the term “siege” conjures images of cruelty and oppression.
    Hence, “blockade” is the preferred euphemism among Israel’s apologists to whitewash Israel’s put-them-on-a-diet criminal policy, as one Israeli official put it.

    • lysias
      June 2, 2011, 6:53 pm

      JFK and his administration were very careful to call what they were doing a “quarantine” — and not a “blockade” — because people thought of a blockade as an act of war.

      • Avi
        June 2, 2011, 11:25 pm

        The power of words changes depending on public perceptions. That is why I referenced “blockade” because that is what many Americans call the naval blockade on Cuba, they do not call it a “quarantine”. Even American newspapers in the 1960s called it a “blockade”. Thus, Kennedy’s choice of words is irrelevant in this context.

        link to emersonkent.com

        Indeed a blockade is an act of war as Israel had shown when it attacked Egypt following the closure of the Straits of Tiran.

        By the same token, Israel’s imposed siege on Gaza was an act of war.

      • James
        June 3, 2011, 12:51 am

        bds is one of the best ways to respond to israels act of war with it’s siege of gaza… boneheads like toner are just mouthing the official bullshit usa gov’t lines…

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        June 3, 2011, 3:00 am

        I remember the situation very vividly. It was considered a blockade in every report I heard although JFK made an effort to modify the definition. I was working at the office the night that the Russian ships were approaching and suddenly I asked myself, “What am I doing here when we might be on the eve of a nuclear war? Fortunately, Kruschev had the good sense not to try and run the blockade and I had the good sense not to any more work in the office after hours.

      • Woody Tanaka
        June 3, 2011, 6:47 am

        Well, much of the history of the Cold War (and almost all after Stalin died) could be summed up as “both sides lost their minds and the Russians came to their senses.”

  15. Cheryl
    June 2, 2011, 4:21 pm

    ” We want to just reiterate that there are established and efficient mechanisms for getting humanitarian assistance through to Gaza, ” Toner
    thinks we are stupid. Does he mean the tunnels? Toner and his boss Clinton actually believe they can spout this garbage and no one will push back.
    The first question has to be, “Have you been to Gaza?”
    Toner, Clinton and Obama – none of them would have been part of the Civil Rights movement nor would they have been in the streets of Cairo because it is not pretty enough for them. not filled with beautiful meaningless words. The streets, the seas scare them.
    They are unable to stop settlement building, they are unable to deter Netanyahu, they are unable get a credible investigation into an American citizen’s death let alone have the stomach to bring peace to the Liberty survivors as they go to their graves aware that their government, that government whose highest duty is to protect its’ citizens, deserted them.

    • annie
      June 2, 2011, 4:48 pm

      They are unable to stop settlement building, they are unable to deter Netanyahu, they are unable get a credible investigation into an American citizen’s death

      unwilling, not unable.

      • seafoid
        June 2, 2011, 4:56 pm

        Yes we can but no we won’t

      • Kathleen
        June 3, 2011, 7:52 am

        bingo

  16. seafoid
    June 2, 2011, 5:19 pm

    It is such a freak show. The US runs a network of military and navy bases on every continent, in every ocean, in support of US capital and it can’t guarantee the safety of American peace activists who go anywhere near Israel.

    • Woody Tanaka
      June 3, 2011, 6:49 am

      It can, it just won’t, because Israel’s agents on Capital Hill and in the White House don’t want to.

  17. yourstruly
    June 2, 2011, 5:27 pm

    they’re giving israel a free hand?

    proof

    of what?

    that the u. s. government is willing to waste some of its very own, not to mention how many of other people’s very own

    just so that that the israeli siege of gaza isn’t broken

    even if only by a few small ships

    oh, the symbolism of it all

    one defeat, that’s all it’ll take

    but by only a few small vessels on a mission of mercy?

    ….and the walls come tumbling down

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