The Attack on the Liberty: The Untold Story of Israel’s Deadly 1967 Assault on a U.S. Spy Ship
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On June 8, 1967, as war raged between Israel and its neighbors, an American spy ship, the U.S.S. Liberty, eavesdropped on communications off the coast of Egypt. When Israeli fighter jets flew overhead, the Liberty's crew assumed that the ship's identifying markings and American flag would be visible to the pilots in the clear skies above. After several passes over a period of hours, the jets suddenly opened fire and began strafing and napalming the deck of the Liberty, which had minimal defenses. When the air attack ended, Israeli torpedo boats appeared and scored a direct hit. By the time the assault was over, 34 crewmen had been killed and 171-two-thirds of the crew-seriously injured. Only heroic efforts by the crew saved the ship from sinking.
James Scott is a journalist and the son of a surviving Liberty officer. In this riveting book, he recounts the story of the horrifying attack and the tremendous impact it had on the lives of the crew. He puts the attack in context, showing how political considerations trumped the demands for justice from the survivors and their supporters in the military and in Congress. Drawing on new interviews and recently declassified documents, he demonstrates that Israel's initial insistence that the attack was a mistake caused by mis-identification of the ship is implausible.
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. His descriptions of the crew under fire and their frantic work to save the ship are dramatic and unforgettable. Scott takes readers into the conference rooms at the White House where the most senior officials in the government debated how to respond to the attack and then eventually devised a plan to protect Israel from public outrage.
Softcover , 384 pages
Excerpt from page 247:
Lost in the pentagon’s arithmetic was the incalculable toll the attack took on the sailors and their families. Many of the families still grieved and sought answers to explain how loved ones had been killed. Others wanted guarantees that Israel would be held accountable. William Allenbaugh, whose son died in the torpedoed research spaces, expressed that in a letter to President Johnson. He asked what action, if any, the government planned to take against the Israeli government. “This was a dastardly deed,” Allenbaugh wrote. “We feel something should be done to correct the loss we have all felt so keenly. Please advise, if possible, what course we can take in regards to this matter.”