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Remembering the USS Liberty: Four Decades Later

by William Hughes Sunday, Jun. 10, 2007 at 8:27 AM

On June 8, 1967, the Israelis attacked the USS Liberty killing 34 Americans. They insist it was an “accident.” Lt. James M. Ennes, Jr., a Liberty veteran and an author, said it was “deliberate.” A book, “Operation Cyanide,” claims the attack was a set up to blame the Egyptians and bring the U.S. into the 1967 Six Day War on the side of Israel. Will the U.S. Congress do the Liberty justice? Lt. Ennes doubts it, but he adds: “We can’t stop asking for it.”

Remembering the USS ...
wreath_for_uss_liberty.jpgzubgvs.jpg, image/jpeg, 320x240

“Anybody who couldn’t identify the [USS] Liberty could not tell the difference between the White House and the Washington Monument!” - The late Admiral Thomas Moorer

Arlington, VA - On a beautiful, but very humid morning, Friday, June 8, 2007, I joined about two hundred others at the National Cemetery, located here, on the south side of the Potomac River, opposite Washington, D.C. My invitation card read: “No Greater Love: The 40th Anniversary Remembrance Ceremony: Honoring the 34 Americans killed on the USS Liberty.” (1) The proceedings began at 12 noon sharp, with a prayer given by U.S. Navy chaplain, Rev. Ray Houk. There was a presentation of colors, tributes, a roll call of remembrance, a wreath-laying ceremony, musical selections and the playing of taps. One of the keynote speakers was Stan White, the former Senior Chief Petty Officer on the Liberty (AGTR-5) on the fateful day in question. By the time he got done making his very touching remarks, there wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd.

Background: On a clear afternoon, June 8, 1967, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) bombarded the Liberty, in international waters, 13 miles off the coast of the Sinai Peninsula, and tried to sink it and kill all 294 American on board the spy ship. They did so after several hours of close reconnaissance of the vessel. The Israelis have falsely claimed it was all just a “accident,” since they thought they were attacking an Egyptian vessel. This is the same phony “accident” line that they used after they ran over Peace and Justice activist Rachel Corrie, in Rafah, Occupied Gaza, with a 9-ton bulldozer. Few, if anyone buys their utter nonsense.

After the one hour ceremony, I rode with Lt. James Marquis Ennes, Jr. over to the luncheon sponsored by the USS Liberty Veterans Association, at the Officers Club, at Fort Myer, VA. It was only a short car ride away. Mrs. Pat-Blue Roushakes, whose husband, Allen M. Blue, was killed on the Liberty, was the driver. Mr. Blue was a civilian technician. He died, along with 24 crew members, when the first, ultra-deadly, Israeli torpedo struck the vessel. Lt. Ennes was also serving on the Liberty the day of the Israelis’ malicious strike. He was on the bridge of the vessel. His book, “Assault on the Liberty,” is a compelling eyewitness account of what really happened on June 8, 1967. It is in its 12th printing. I asked him after lunch, how he had felt during the ceremony earlier that morning: He answered: “The thoughts that always come back to me time and time again is that this ‘thing’ is still being covered-up after forty years. We know without doubt from the circumstances that it was a ‘deliberate’ attack. Anyone who looks carefully at the details knows that it was ‘deliberate’ and that includes such people as Dean Rusk, the Secretary of State, and all of the heads of all of the Intelligence organizations. But, the word that gets out is that we that we are still told...falsely...that there were 15 investigations...That claim is...absolutely totally false.”

Thanks to Peter Hounam’s expose, “Operation Cyanide,” more light has recently been shed on the Liberty controversy. The author, a veteran investigative reporter, believes the murderous Israeli attack was a set up to blame the Egyptians and to bring the U.S. into the 1967 Six Day War on their side. The Liberty was an easy target for the Israeli jet planes, which were loaded with rockets, napalm and machine guns, too. Couple that with the repeated attacks on the vessel by their death-dealing motor torpedo boats. The bloodbath, a War Crime, by any fair standard, lasted for over 75 lethal minutes, killing 34 brave Americans and seriously wounding 174 others. (2)

Question: Why didn’t the U.S. retaliate against the Israelis? According to Hounam, the White House knew within minutes of the Liberty attack, that the perpetrator was really Israel (p. 94). On two separate occasions, the White House recalled aircraft rescue missions for the Liberty. On the last attempt, President Lyndon B. Johnson told Rear-Admiral Lawrence Geis of the Sixth Fleet, “I WILL NOT EMBARRASS OUR ALLY.” The Liberty was then left “dead in the water,” without any assistance for over 16 hours. (3) At pp. 267-268, Hounam said: “Sinking the Liberty and blaming Egypt and the Soviets would have freed Johnson’s hand to do almost anything--even to drop an atomic bomb on Cairo. Trouble only arose when the Israel operation failed and the...ship stayed afloat.” From the beginning, a cover-up of what really happened to the Liberty was put in place at the highest level of government. One of the men who is alleged to have played a role in that cover-up was none other than the father of U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)--the late Admiral John S. McCain, Jr. (4) Sen. McCain, like others in the mostly cowardly U.S. Congress, has refused to champion a full and public Congressional inquiry into the Liberty affair.

Hounam also disclosed some inside stuff on the “303 Committee.” It was working on a project called, “Frontlet 615.” It was later described as: “A secret political agreement in 1966, by which Israel and the U.S. had vowed to destroy [Egypt’s Gamal Abdel] Nasser.” The military name for the operation was, “Operation Cyanide.” At the time all of this was going down, LBJ’s popularity was hitting rock bottom because of the quagmire that was the Vietnam War. One of his closet advisors was a Zionist zealot, Walter W. Rostow, his then-Special Assistant for National Security Affairs. Here is how Hounam described the Neocon-like Rostow: “A sinister, Svengali-like figure, or simply the biggest and best fixer? He was crucial in determining [for LBJ] which way the U.S. might respond to the threatened hostilities in the Middle East...Rostow was a hawk who believed in...the Vietnam War and... his Zionism was strongly felt and expressed...(He) had daily contact with the President.” Shades of Paul Wolfowitz and other Neocons, who helped to drive the U.S. into the Iraqi War. (5)

For the sake of speculation, just imagine this scenario: The U.S. President on June 8, 1967 was a patriot in the tradition of “Old Hickory,” Andrew Jackson. Instead of recalling our aircraft that were on their way to rescue the Liberty, he (or she) orders them to continue on their mission, not only to defend the vessel and to stop the massacre, but to retaliate against the Zionist thugs by bombing their naval base at the port of Ashdod, their military headquarters at Tel Aviv and Haifa, and for good measure, dropping a few MX missiles on Dimona, their then-secret Nuke-making facility, located in the Negev desert. If, only?

One Liberty veteran, who asked me not to use his name in my story, told me he was below deck on the day of the mass killings by the Israelis. He said: “When it was announced [on the intercom] to ‘stand ready to receive a torpedo,’ I chalked myself off. My whole life quickly passed before me. I thought for sure I was going to die. When the torpedo did hit, I thought it was going to sink the ship, it listed so badly.” He added, after pausing, “I loved that ship!”

Getting back to Lt. Ennes. He was the first member of the crew to spot the Israeli planes. He wrote at p. 60: “I pointed to a single delta-wing Mirage jet about 45 degrees above the water, paralleling our course in that pattern that had become routine.” Lt. Ennes, at p. 62, then recalled his injuries as a result of being hit by the first Israeli air strike: “My khaki uniform was bright red now from the two dozen rocket fragments buried in my flesh. My left leg broken above the knee, hung from my hip like a great beanbag. The taste of blood was strong in my mouth as I tested my good leg. Was I badly hurt?” Suffice to say, Lt. Ennes did recover from his physical injuries. But, there are other kinds of wounds, that one never recovers from, but can only live with. Knowing that your government abandoned you in your time of desperate need is surely one such severe psyche wound. What LBJ did to the men of the Liberty is a stain on our Republic!

Finally, as to whether the U.S. Congress will ever do anything to bring justice to the cause of the Liberty, Lt. Ennes answered: “I don’t really see that happening. But, we can’t stop asking for it.”



One of the 34 murdered victims on the USS Liberty was Petty Officer William B. Allenbaugh, a native of my home town, Baltimore, MD, and also a graduate of Calvert Hall H.S., my alma mater. Petty Officer Allenbaugh left behind a wife and two very young children: a daughter, Patricia; and a son William. I was pleased to meet his son, William B. Allenbaugh, Jr., and his family at the ceremony. His poem about his hero dad can be found here:

2. and

Keep in mind, that Israel has also been charged with War Crimes by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for their outrageous conduct in 2006, in Occupied Gaza and the West Bank, and in Lebanon, too. The result: Nothing! It’s like the state of Israel is completely immune to the Laws on the Planet Earth! See: Check out an excellent documentary, “Dead in the Water,” on the USS Liberty, by the BBC. It’s available on DVD, at:



© William Hughes 2007.

William Hughes is an author and videographer. His work can be found at: Contact:

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