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On June 8, 1967, in one of the periodic explosions of violence we've learned to expect in the Middle East, an American intelligence ship named the USS Liberty was attacked with rockets, cannon fire and torpedoes while in international waters off the town of El Arish in the Sinai desert.
Thirty-four Americans were killed and 171 injured in what would remain the largest post-World War II loss of U.S. lives in the Middle East until the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in 1983.
But unlike that latter attack, or the 1983 truck bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut or the suicide bombing of the U.S. destroyer Cole in Aden, Yemen, which killed 17 less than three years ago, the attack on the Liberty was not made by terrorist bombs but by the jet fighters and torpedo boats of the nation of Israel.
The attack on the Liberty has never been fully explained. Official reports by both the Israelis and the U.S. Navy declared it accidental: "a case of mistaken identity" during the Six-Day War.
(Washington Post, February 1, 2003)
Thirty-six years have passed since the attack on USS Liberty, but the controversy has not abated. Only last month, Associated Press reported that in a signed affidavit retired Capt. Ward Boston (senior legal counsel to the Navy's original 1967 review of the attack) said President Lyndon Johnson and his defense secretary, Robert McNamara told those heading the Navy's inquiry to "conclude that the attack was a case of 'mistaken identity' despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary."
USS Liberty Survivors: Our Story raises questions about conflicting loyalties between the United States and Israel governments that are as relevant today as they were in 1967.
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