June 25, 2002
In the current issue of your publication, you re-open the matter of the USS LIBERTY, a terrible event that occurred 35 years ago.
I would have thought that this matter had been laid to rest. It has been copiously documented that the Israelis attacked the ship in the heat of battle and as a consequence of a number of tragic mistakes due to intelligence failures.
The whole episode was examined and analyzed in complete detail in The Atlantic Monthly of September 1984 ("The Attack on the LIBERTY").
I can make the article available to you, if you wish.
As you know, of course, the Israeli government, without
admitting culpability of any kind, compensated the U.S. government for
damage to the ship and also compensated the crew members who were wounded
and the families of the crew members who were killed.
You should perhaps show more understanding for the dreadful things, including "friendly fire," that occur in war, often due to faulty intelligence.
Without going too deeply back into history, let me remind you of the intelligence error, not so long ago, of our pilots bombing the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade and of the hundreds of civilians we killed by other intelligence errors in the "Kosovo action." That is, of course, in addition to the hundreds, perhaps thousands, killed as "collateral damage" in our current involvement in Afghanistan.
And I am sure that you remember the tragic incident, not too many years ago in which, in peacetime, trigger-happy personnel of the USS VINCENNES shot down a commercial Iranian airliner, killing over 200 innocent people.
I also want to remind you of the Iraqi fighter plane that attacked the USS STARK in the Persian Gulf, also in peacetime, and killed almost exactly as many navy personnel as were killed in the USS LIBERTY incident.
The Iraqis told us to fly a kite and never paid a penny
of compensation to anybody.
Those who continue to be obsessed with the USS LIBERTY after all these years and with Israels alleged "perfidy" might perhaps have another agenda. What could it be?
The editors of The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs have responded, in their August 2002 issue, as follows:
How about the truth. To begin with, one can only "re-open" something if it first has been closed. What the USS LIBERTY survivors and their families are seeking above all is a full congressional hearing on the Israeli attack. All the other incidents you cite were so investigated only the LIBERTY attack was not. Why do you think that is the case?
FLAME, as usual, appears more interested in attacking America and protecting Israel than in the facts. Among the facts you ignore are: Fact one Israel has never admitted that its assault was deliberate. Fact two The LIBERTY was in international waters away from the fighting. The only "heat of battle" the LIBERTY found itself in was Israel's attack on it. Fact three The LIBERTY was flying a U.S. flag clearly visible to aircraft. Equally important is the reason for the U.S. cover-up of Israel's culpability. Until these issues are resolved, the Washington Report will continue to examine the attack, as we do in the current issue on p.29.
Finally, we wonder if you may not be engaged in a cover-up of your own: could it be that FLAME in fact stands for "Fabrications and Lies About the Middle East"?
Dear FLAME reader: Should you wish to contact The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, you may reach them by fax at 202-265-4574.