[Congressional Record Volume 150, Number 130 (Monday, October 11, 2004)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E1886-E1889]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                         HON. JOHN CONYERS, JR.

                              of michigan

                    in the house of representatives

                       Thursday, October 7, 2004

  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, on February 5 of this year, a legendary 
American naval hero passed away in Bethesda, Maryland. Admiral Thomas 
H. Moorer epitomized the finest qualities of dedication and national 
service. His distinguished naval career spanned 41 years, including 
service as a naval aviator, as one of the first pilots off the ground 
during the attack on Pearl Harbor, as a decorated hero of numerous 
combat missions in the Southwest Pacific and the Battle of Midway, as 
Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, as commander of NATO's U.S. 
Atlantic Command and the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, becoming the only officer 
in the Navy's history to command both our Atlantic and Pacific Fleets, 
as Chief of Naval Operations, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 
and as a tireless advocate for American veterans. Admiral Moorer was 
instrumental in establishing the United States Navy Memorial on 
Pennsylvania Avenue. In numerous appearances before Congressional 
Committees, Admiral Moorer provided valuable testimony on a variety of 
national security concerns.
  Capping this extraordinary career, Admiral Moorer made his final 
appearance on Capitol Hill on October 22, 2003, as Chairman of the 
Independent Commission of Inquiry into the 1967 attack on the USS 
Liberty. It is a privilege for me to introduce the Findings of the 
Independent Commission of Inquiry Into the Israeli Attack on the USS 
Liberty into the Congressional Record.

  Findings of the Independent Commission of Inquiry Into the Israeli 
 Attack on the USS ``LIBERTY,'' the Recall of Military Rescue Support 
 Aircraft While the Ship Was Under Attack, and the Subsequent Cover-Up 
                    by the United States Government

       We, the undersigned, having undertaken an independent 
     investigation of Israel's attack on the USS Liberty, 
     including eyewitness testimony from surviving crewmembers, a 
     review of naval and other official records, an examination of 
     official statements by the Israeli and American governments, 
     a study of the conclusions of all previous official 
     inquiries, and a consideration of important

[[Page E1887]]

     new evidence and recent statements from individuals having 
     direct knowledge of the attack or the cover up, hereby find 
     the following:
       1. That on June 8, 1967, after eight hours of aerial 
     surveillance, Israel launched a two-hour air and naval attack 
     against the USS Liberty, the world's most sophisticated 
     intelligence ship, inflicting 34 dead and 172 wounded 
     American servicemen (a casualty rate of seventy percent, in a 
     crew of 294);
       2. That the Israeli air attack lasted approximately 25 
     minutes, during which time unmarked Israeli aircraft dropped 
     napalm canisters on the Liberty's bridge, and fired 30mm 
     cannons and rockets into our ship, causing 821 holes, more 
     than 100 of which were rocket-size; survivors estimate 30 or 
     more sorties were flown over the ship by a minimum of 12 
     attacking Israeli planes which were jamming all five American 
     emergency radio channels;
       3. That the torpedo boat attack involved not only the 
     firing of torpedoes, but the machine-gunning of the Liberty's 
     firefighters and stretcher-bearers as they struggled to save 
     their ship and crew; the Israeli torpedo boats later returned 
     to machine-gun at close range three of the Liberty's life 
     rafts that had been lowered into the water by survivors to 
     rescue the most seriously wounded;
       4. That there is compelling evidence that Israel's attack 
     was a deliberate attempt to destroy an American ship and kill 
     her entire crew; evidence of such intent is supported by 
     statements from Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Undersecretary 
     of State George Ball, former CIA director Richard Helms, 
     former NSA directors Lieutenant General William Odom, USA 
     (Ret.), Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, USN (Ret.), and Marshal 
     Carter; former NSA deputy directors Oliver Kirby and Major 
     General John Morrison, USAF (Ret.); and former Ambassador 
     Dwight Porter, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon in 1967;
       5. That in attacking the USS Liberty, Israel committed acts 
     of murder against American servicemen and an act of war 
     against the United States;
       6. That fearing conflict with Israel, the White House 
     deliberately prevented the U.S. Navy from coming to the 
     defense of the Liberty by recalling Sixth Fleet military 
     rescue support while the ship was under attack; evidence of 
     the recall of rescue aircraft is supported by statements of 
     Captain Joe Tully, Commanding Officer of the aircraft carrier 
     USS Saratoga, and Rear Admiral Lawrence Geis, the Sixth Fleet 
     carrier division commander, at the time of the attack; never 
     before in American naval history has a rescue mission been 
     cancelled when an American ship was under attack;
       7. That although the Liberty was saved from almost certain 
     destruction through the heroic efforts of the ship's Captain, 
     William L. McGonagle (MOH), and his brave crew, surviving 
     crewmembers were later threatened with ``court-martial, 
     imprisonment or worse'' if they exposed the truth; and were 
     abandoned by their own government;
       8. That due to the influence of Israel's powerful 
     supporters in the United States, the White House deliberately 
     covered up the facts of this attack from the American people;
       9. That due to continuing pressure by the pro-Israel lobby 
     in the United States, this attack remains the only serious 
     naval incident that has never been thoroughly investigated by 
     Congress; to this day, no surviving crewmember has been 
     permitted to officially and publicly testify about the 
       10. That there has been an official cover-up without 
     precedent in American naval history; the existence of such a 
     cover-up is now supported by statements of Rear Admiral 
     Merlin Staring, USN (Ret.), former Judge Advocate General of 
     the Navy; and Captain Ward Boston, USN, (Ret.), the chief 
     counsel to the Navy's 1967 Court of Inquiry of the Liberty 
       11. That the truth about Israel's attack and subsequent 
     White House cover-up continues to be officially concealed 
     from the American people to the present day and is a national 
       12. That a danger to our national security exists whenever 
     our elected officials are willing to subordinate American 
     interests to those of any foreign nation, and specifically 
     are unwilling to challenge Israel's interests when they 
     conflict with American interests; this policy, evidenced by 
     the failure to defend the USS Liberty and the subsequent 
     official cover-up of the Israeli attack, endangers the safety 
     of Americans and the security of the United States.
       Whereupon, we, the undersigned, in order to fulfill our 
     duty to the brave crew of the USS Liberty and to all 
     Americans who are asked to serve in our Armed Forces, hereby 
     call upon the Department of the Navy, the Congress of the 
     United States and the American people to immediately take the 
     following actions:
       First, That a new Court of Inquiry be convened by the 
     Department of the Navy, operating with Congressional 
     oversight, to take public testimony from surviving 
     crewmembers; and to thoroughly investigate the circumstances 
     of the attack on the USS Liberty, with full cooperation from 
     the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency 
     and the military intelligence services, and to determine 
     Israel's possible motive in launching said attack on a U.S. 
     naval vessel;
       Second, That every appropriate committee of the Congress of 
     the United States investigate the actions of the White House 
     and Defense Department that prevented the rescue of the USS 
     Liberty, thereafter threatened her surviving officers and men 
     if they exposed the truth, and covered up the true 
     circumstances of the attack from the American people; and
       Third, That the eighth day of June of every year be 
     proclaimed to be hereafter known as USS Liberty Remembrance 
     Day, in order to commemorate the Liberty's heroic crew; and 
     to educate the American people of the danger to our national 
     security inherent in any passionate attachment of our elected 
     officials for any foreign nation.

 affidavit of captain ward boston, usn, jag (ret.), Senior counsel to 
                     the U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry

       For more than 30 years, I have remained silent on the topic 
     of the USS Liberty. I am a military man and when orders come 
     in from the Secretary of Defense and President of the United 
     States, I follow them.
       However, recent attempts to rewrite history compel me to 
     share the truth.
       In June of 1967, while serving as a Captain in the Judge 
     Advocates General Department of the Navy, I was assigned as 
     senior legal counsel for the Navy's Court of Inquiry into the 
     brutal attack on the USS Liberty, which had occurred on June 
     8th. The late Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, president of the Court, 
     and I were given only one week to gather evidence for the 
     Navy's official investigation into the attack. Admiral John 
     S. McCain, Jr., then Commander-in-chief, Naval Forces Europe 
     (CINCUSNAVEUR), at his headquarters in London, had charged 
     Admiral Kidd (in a letter dated June 10, 1967) to ``inquire 
     into all the pertinent facts and circumstances leading to and 
     connected with the armed attack: damage resulting therefrom; 
     and deaths of and injuries to Naval personnel.'' Despite the 
     short amount of time we were given, we gathered a vast amount 
     of evidence, including hours of heartbreaking testimony from 
     the young survivors.
       The evidence was clear. Both Admiral Kidd and I believed 
     with certainty that this attack, which killed 34 American 
     sailors and injured 172 others, was a deliberate effort to 
     sink an American ship and murder its entire crew. I am 
     certain that the Israeli pilots that undertook the attack, as 
     well as their superiors who had ordered the attack, were 
     aware that the ship was American.
       I saw the flag, which had visibly identified the ship as 
     American, riddled with bullet holes, and heard testimony that 
     made it clear that the Israelis intended there be no 
     survivors. Not only did the Israelis attack the ship with 
     napalm, gunfire, and missiles, Israeli torpedo boats machine-
     gunned three lifeboats that had been launched in an attempt 
     by the crew to save the most seriously wounded--a war crime.
       I am outraged at the efforts of the apologists for Israel 
     in this country to claim that this attack was a case of 
     ``mistaken identity.'' In particular, the recent publication 
     of Jay Cristol's book, The Liberty Incident, twists the facts 
     and misrepresents the views of those of us who investigated 
     the attack. It is Cristol's insidious attempt to whitewash 
     the facts that has pushed me to speak out.
       I know from personal conversations I had with Admiral Kidd 
     that President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert 
     McNamara ordered him to conclude that the attack was a case 
     of ``mistaken identity'' despite overwhelming evidence to the 
     contrary. Contrary to the misinformation presented by Cristol 
     and others, it is important for the American people to know 
     that it is clear that Israel is responsible for deliberately 
     attacking an American ship and murdering American sailors, 
     whose bereaved shipmates have lived with this egregious 
     conclusion for many years.

           commonly asked questions about the uss ``liberty''

       1. What happened to the USS Liberty? The USS Liberty was a 
     virtually unarmed American Navy ship that was attacked by 
     Israeli planes and torpedo boats on June 8, 1967.
       2. What were the American casualties? 34 American sailors 
     were killed and 172 injured that day, a casualty rate of 70%. 
     This is the highest casualty rate ever inflicted upon a U.S. 
     naval vessel that remained afloat after an attack.
       3. What was Israel's explanation for the attack? Israel 
     claimed the attack was ``a case of mistaken identity''; that 
     they didn't know it was an American ship.
       4. Why would we question that explanation more than 30 
     years later? The ship's survivors were afraid to speak out in 
     the early years because of threats of ``court martial, prison 
     or worse'' if they did not remain silent. However, as time 
     passed, they have stepped forward to say the attack was 
       Recently, high government and military officials have 
     suggested that not only was the attack deliberate, but that 
     the US government covered up the incident. Today, an 
     Independent Commission of Inquiry has found that Israel 
     committed ``an act of war'' against the United States (see 
     Findings of Independent Commission).
       In addition, the Navy's chief attorney to the original 1967 
     military Court of Inquiry has issued a statement that orders 
     to cover up the incident were issued by President Lyndon 
     Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara [see 
     Statement of Captain Ward Boston, USN, JAG (Ret.)].
       5. Did Israel have reason to believe the USS Liberty was an 
     Egyptian ship? Israel says its pilots and torpedo boat 

[[Page E1888]]

     confused the USS Liberty with the El Quseir, an Egyptian ship 
     allegedly firing upon its forces in the Sinai. But there was 
     no Egyptian naval bombardment that day; nor did the El Quseir 
     (an unarmed 1920s-era horse carrier out of service in 
     Alexandria) bear any resemblance to the Liberty.
       6. Isn't it difficult to identify a ship if you're in an 
     airplane? In 1967, the USS Liberty was the most sophisticated 
     intelligence ship in the world, with dozens of large 
     antennas, including a large moon-bounce ``satellite-dish'' 
     mounted on a tall structure near the stern. It may have been 
     one of the most easily identifiable ships of any navy in the 
     world. With a displacement of 10,000 tons, it was four times 
     the size of the antique Egyptian transport it is claimed to 
     have resembled. Freshly painted, the Liberty carried large 
     white identification numbers on its bow. Egyptian hull 
     numbers are painted black.
       7. Doesn't Israel say that the Liberty flew no flag? 
     According to American survivors, a 5-by-8 feet American flag 
     was hoisted early that morning and was flying all day until 
     it was shot away by attacking aircraft. Within several 
     minutes, it was replaced by the giant 7-by-13 feet holiday 
     ensign, which flew for the duration of the attack.
       8. Could Israel have thought the ship was in a war zone, 
     acting suspiciously? According to surviving crewmembers, 
     Israeli reconnaissance aircraft closely studied the Liberty 
     over an eight-hour period prior to the attack, one flying 
     within two hundred feet of the ship. At all times the Liberty 
     was a clearly marked American ship in international waters, 
     proceeding at a speed of only 5 knots.
       9. What was the weather like the day of the attack? Weather 
     reports confirm that it was a clear day with unlimited 
     visibility. The Israeli reconnaissance planes could have seen 
     the Liberty's crew sunbathing on the upper decks just before 
     the attack. The flag was flying in a 12-knot breeze for most 
     of the afternoon.
       10. Doesn't Israel say they ended the attack the minute 
     they saw someone hoist an American flag? The Israeli attack 
     by combined air and naval forces spanned two hours--as long 
     as the attack on Pearl Harbor. The air attack alone lasted 
     approximately 25 minutes: consisting of more than 30 sorties 
     by approximately 12 separate planes using napalm, cannon, and 
     rockets which left 821 holes in the ship. Following the air 
     attack, three Israeli motor torpedo boats torpedoed the ship, 
     causing a 40' x 40' wide hole in her hull, and machine-
     gunning firefighters and stretcher-bearers attempting to save 
     their ship and crew. More than 3,000 machine-gun bullet holes 
     were later counted on the Liberty's hull. After the attack 
     was thought to have ended, three life rafts were lowered into 
     the water to rescue the most seriously wounded. The Israeli 
     torpedo boats returned and machine-gunned these life rafts at 
     close range. This was followed by the approach of two large 
     Israeli Army assault helicopters filled with armed commandos 
     carrying what appeared to be explosive satchels (they 
     departed after hovering over the ship for several minutes, 
     making no attempt to communicate).
       11. Did the Liberty send out a distress signal when it was 
     under attack? Throughout the air attack, the Liberty's radio 
     operators found it difficult to transmit a distress signal 
     because the attacking Israeli aircraft jammed all five of the 
     Liberty's American, not Egyptian, emergency radio channels. 
     However, a call for help did reach the U.S. Navy command in 
     the Mediterranean.
       12. What was the American response time? Although American 
     carrier-based air support was only 40 minutes away, help did 
     not reach the USS Liberty for seventeen hours. Navy fighters 
     were launched from the aircraft carriers America and Saratoga 
     while the Liberty was under attack. However, they were 
     quickly recalled by the White House. This is the only 
     instance in American naval history where a rescue mission was 
     cancelled when an American ship was under attack.
       13. Why would Israel have deliberately attacked an American 
     ship? Israel's motive for launching the attack has never been 
     determined with certainty. This is why an impartial 
     investigation is critical. One hypothesis is that Israel 
     intended to sink the ship (with no survivors) and blame Egypt 
     because this might have brought the United States into the 
     1967 war. Another hypothesis is that the Liberty was 
     gathering intelligence about activities that Israel did not 
     want revealed. Examples might include the massacre of 
     Egyptian prisoners of war that was then occurring in the 
     Sinai, as well as Israel's impending invasion of Syria.
       14. Has the incident been investigated in the past? Some 
     people say that there have been ``thirteen official 
     investigations'' all concluding the attack was a case of 
     mistaken identity. Several were conducted by Israel. Upon 
     examination, however, every one is based upon the conclusions 
     of the original 1967 U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry, which 
     accepted the Israeli version, but which has been exposed and 
     discredited by its chief attorney as a cover-up.
       15. Did the surviving crewmembers testify in the other 
     investigations? In not one of these ``investigations'' were 
     any of the Liberty's surviving crewmembers permitted to 
     publicly testify.
       16. Why would the White House prevent the rescue of an 
     American ship? This is, perhaps, the most disturbing question 
     arising out of Israel's attack. It is why there needs to be a 
     thorough investigation of the actions taken by the White 
     House and the Secretary of Defense. Why did they order the 
     recall of the planes that had been sent to rescue the 
     Liberty? Why did they order that the survivors be silenced 
     and the true facts be withheld from the American people?
       17. What kind of investigation are you calling for? We are 
     calling for a new Court of Inquiry by the Department of the 
     Navy, with congressional oversight, to take public testimony 
     from surviving crewmembers and otherwise thoroughly examine 
     the circumstances of the attack.
       18. Why are you calling for a naval--and not a 
     congressional--investigation? We believe this would remove 
     the inquiry from the political pressures traditionally 
     exerted by special interest groups upon individual 
     congressional offices. Fundraising and election pressures 
     have prevented an honest investigation from being conducted 
     for the past 36 years.
       19. Why is this significant for the American people 36 
     years later? We have a duty to the crew of the USS Liberty, 
     while the survivors are still alive to testify, and while the 
     perpetrators can be brought to justice. Furthermore, any 
     policies that paralyze our elected leadership to the extent 
     they become unable or unwilling to protect Americans and 
     American interests, endangers not only the safety of all 
     Americans but also the national security of the United 
       20. Doesn't America have a special relationship with 
     Israel? No nation or people should be above the law; nor 
     should American interests be subordinated to the interests of 
     any foreign nation. Those Israelis responsible for ordering 
     the attack and the resulting murder of American sailors must 
     be held accountable for their actions.

                 the independent commission of inquiry

       Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of 
     Staff--The distinguished naval career of Admiral Thomas H. 
     Moorer spanned 41 years. Following his Graduation from the 
     Naval Academy in 1933, he became a Navy pilot, a war hero, 
     and a ship's captain. On December 7, 1941, as a naval 
     aviator, Lieutenant Moorer was one of the first pilots off 
     the ground following the attack on Pearl Harbor. A hero of 
     the Battle of Midway, his numerous decorations for valor 
     during WWII include the Silver Star and Purple Heart. In 
     1957, Moorer was promoted to the rank of Admiral. In 1965, he 
     broke new ground, becoming the only American admiral to have 
     ever commanded both our Atlantic and Pacific Fleets. He later 
     served as Chief of Naval Operations, and Chairman of the 
     Joint Chiefs of Staff. The F-14 Tomcat, the Navy's main 
     fighter for many years, was named for Admiral Moorer. Since 
     his retirement in 1974, Admiral Moorer has served on the 
     boards of many American corporations, and is a tireless 
     advocate for American veterans. Working with Admiral Arleigh 
     Burke (CNO), Admiral Moorer was instrumental in establishing 
     the United States Navy Memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue in 
     Washington, D.C. He is currently Chairman of the Liberty 
     Alliance, an organization dedicated to obtaining an honest 
     investigation of Israel's attack on the USS Liberty and the 
     official cover-up that followed.
       General of Marines Raymond G. Davis (MOH), former Assistant 
     Commandant of the Marine Corps--General Davis, one of 
     America's most decorated heroes, passed away on September 3, 
     2003. As a combat veteran of three wars and a dedicated 
     member of the Marine Corps for 34 years, General Davis 
     received the Congressional Medal of Honor--the nation's 
     highest award for valor--as well as the Navy Cross, two 
     Distinguished Service Medals, two Silver Stars, two Legion of 
     Merit awards, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart. General 
     Davis was renowned for his exploits in the Pacific during 
     WWII, as a battalion and regimental commander during the 
     Korean War, and as Commanding General of the 3rd Marine 
     Division in Viet Nam. Attaining four-star rank in 1971, Davis 
     served as Assistant Commandant of the Corps before retiring 
     in 1972. A strong proponent of veterans' issues, General 
     Davis served as chairman of the advisory board to the Korean 
     War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., dedicated in 1995. 
     Prior to his death, General Davis served as Vice Chairman of 
     the Liberty Alliance and was a principal member of the 
     Commission of Inquiry into the cover-up of the attack on the 
     USS Liberty.
       Rear Admiral Merlin Staring, former Judge Advocate General 
     of the Navy--Merlin Staring's distinguished naval career, 
     which spanned nearly 25 years, began as an ensign in December 
     1941. Among his numerous decorations, Admiral Staring was 
     awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal. In June of 
     1967, Staring served as Staff Legal Officer to Admiral John 
     S. McCain, Jr., the Commander-in-chief, U.S. Naval Forces 
     Europe (CINCUSNAVEUR) in London, which encompassed the 
     Mediterranean, and was assigned to review the record of the 
     Navy Court of Inquiry's investigation into the Israeli attack 
     on the USS Liberty. Admiral Staring later served as the 
     Navy's legal advisor to Secretaries of the Navy Paul R. 
     Ignatius and John H. Chafee. Attaining the rank of Rear 
     Admiral in 1972, he was appointed Judge Advocate General of 
     the Navy--the Navy's chief attorney--a position he held 
     through 1975. Currently, Admiral Staring is Treasurer and a 
     director of the Liberty Alliance.
       Ambassador James Akins, former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi 
     Arabia--James Akins served his country for 25 years as a 
     distinguished member of the diplomatic corps. From 1963-1965, 
     he served as an attache at

[[Page E1889]]

     the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and later as the U.S. Ambassador 
     to Saudi Arabia during the Nixon administration. An 
     internationally respected expert on the Middle East and 
     energy issues, Ambassador Akins has been an active and 
     outspoken proponent for a just resolution of the Arab-Israeli 
     conflict. He is a respected and highly sought speaker and 
     analyst on the Middle East peace process as well as Arab 
     politics in general. Author Jeans-Jacques Servan Schreiber 
     called Ambassador Akins ``the westerner who knows the most 
     about the Middle East and has the closest relationship of 
     trust with its leaders.'' Ambassador Akins is a director of 
     the Liberty Alliance.