the Back Cover --
In June 1967, jet aircraft and
motor torpedo boats of Israel brutally assaulted an American naval
vessel, the USS Liberty, in international waters off the Sinai Peninsula
in the Mediterranean Sea. The attack was preceded by more than six hours
of intense low-level surveillance by Israeli photo-reconnaissance
aircraft, which buzzed the intelligence ship thirteen times, sometimes
flying as low as initiated by high-performance jet aircraft, was
followed up by slower and more maneuverable jets carrying napalm, and
was finally turned over to lethal torpedo boats, which blasted a
forty-foot hole in the ship’s side.
The attack lasted more than two hours—killing 34 Americans and wounding
171 others—and inflicted 821 rocket and machine-gun holes in the ship.
And when the Liberty stubbornly remained afloat despite her damage,
Israeli forces machine-gunned her life rafts and sent troop-carrying
helicopters in to finish the job. At this point, with Sixth Fleet rescue
aircraft finally en route, the government of Israel apologized and the
attacking forces suddenly withdrew. Only then did the identity of the
assailants become known.
Details of the attack were hushed up in both countries. Israel claimed
that her forces mistook the Liberty for an Egyptian ship, and our
government quietly accepted that excuse despite evidence to the
contrary. Then our government downplayed the intensity of the
surveillance and the severity of the attack, and imposed a news blackout
to keep the story under control. The official version is that the
Liberty was reconnoitered only three times and then only from great
distance. The American people were told that the air attack lasted only
five minutes and that it was followed by a single torpedo and an
immediate apology and offer of assistance.
Now, after more than twelve years of research and dozens of interviews
with government executives, military officers and Liberty survivors, a
former ship’s officer who was there reveals the inside story of the
assault on the USS Liberty
and of our government’s attempt to keep the truth from public knowledge.