Friday, June 08, 2007

The Liberty Incident

[posted by Callimachus]

Forty years ago now, it was one of the most provocative and unsettled chapters of the Cold War. Some people I know claim most Americans still don't know about it. I suspect that may be right. Here's the Wiki on it.

The Israeli and American governments conducted multiple inquiries into the incident, and issued reports concluding that the attack was the result of a mistake, caused by confusion among the Israeli attackers about the precise identity of the USS Liberty. These conclusions have been challenged, most notably by an organization of Liberty survivors as well as by some key former high-ranking U.S. officials who were in office at the time. These skeptics have included Secretary of State Dean Rusk, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Director of the NSA, and the senior legal counsel to the U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry into the incident. While the matter is officially closed for purposes of Israeli-American relations, it remains controversial in public discussion.

We have a local survivor around here. A handsome young fellow at the time, he came out of it with 101 shrapnel holes in his body and missing part of his bowels. Life's been hell for him ever since. He swears before the attack the Israeli plane buzzed the ship so close the pilot waved at the crew. It's really hard to buy the mistaken identity theory, but what do you think?

If nothing else, it's so much more proof to the world that America will tolerate literally anything if you act like a friend. The Saudis know this, too.

UPDATE: Matthew Hogan has a much better-informed, and more thoughtful, post on the topic than mine, here.

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