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Remember the Liberty! (Amazon)

In the annals of US military history, there are no doubt many unsolved and perplexing mysteries, but few could compare to the fate of the US Navy spy ship that was mercilessly attacked by one of its closest allies intentionally and without warning. One of the reasons it is still a mystery is because it is also the only peacetime attack on a US naval vessel that, to this day, has never been investigated by the Congress of the United States.

The USS Liberty was a 455-foot, 10,150-ton electronic intercept spy ship, originally a standard-design Victory Ship—a more evolved version of the World War II Liberty Ships—which were built as supply ships, not intended for direct fighting. The Liberty had been converted to an Auxiliary Technical Research Ship (AGTR), known colloquially as a “spy ship,” first deployed in 1965; its top speed was only 18 knots. Rather than speeding along at over 30 knots, as portrayed in the dubious, arguably absurd, explanation offered by Israel, at the time of the attack the Liberty was sailing along at five knots in international waters, seventeen to thirty miles off the coast of Egypt, even farther from the coast of Israel. Anyone who had ever been on a boat of any size more than a day, should have known by just looking at it that the estimated speed stated by Israel was patently ridiculous.

Yet the Liberty's fate, one of the most enigmatic, unresolved military mysteries of all time, is, paradoxically at its core, quite clear-cut and undisputed. The basic facts generally accepted by all are that, on the fourth day of the Six Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors (Egypt, Syria and Jordan), June 8, 1967, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) savagely attacked the U.S. spy ship, the USS Liberty.

On the warm, sunny-bright day of June 8, 1967, starting at about 6:00 a.m., at least twelve, possibly thirteen Israeli aircraft of different types began surveilling the Liberty, some of which were only 1,000 feet or less in altitude, apparently to photograph and “map” her for later targeting purposes. The precision of the later attack could only have been accomplished through such preplanning, specifically identifying the priority targets, starting with the gun mounts to render the ship defenseless, followed by all of the forty-five different radio antennae and related transmitting equipment. . Beginning just before 2:00 p.m., three unmarked French-built Mirage III-C swept-wing fighter jets, without warning, settled into a triangular formation, aimed straight at the Liberty and proceeded to bore down on the ship in a fast low-level attack that began with rockets targeted at the four gun mounts and heat-seeking missiles aimed at the communications gear, with their warmed transmitters. The first attack consisted of fighter jets shooting gunfire and missiles, followed by other, slower jets dropping packets of napalm, followed immediately by Israeli torpedo / gunboats that, combined, left the Liberty's entire upper deck on fire, fueled by napalm and gasoline, 841 cannon holes in its hull, antennae mounts, gunwales, bridge, cabins and all other equipment, as well as a 22x40 foot torpedo hole in its starboard side, mostly below the water line, which ordinarily would have sunk the ship within minutes. When the attack was over, thirty-four men were dead and one hundred seventy-four were injured to varying degrees, some near death.

Unlike all other books ever written about the tragic attack – none of which provide a satisfactory explanation of what really caused it – Remember the Liberty! examines it in complete context of how it was positioned there by Johnson himself, for the very purpose of being attacked, and sunk, with every one of the 294 men on board going to the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. His purpose was to use that event – while blaming Egyptian President Gamal Nasser for the attack – as a pretext for joining Israel in the war, even at the risk of igniting World War III with the Soviet Union. This book provides the only realistic explanation for why Lyndon Johnson did what he did, and why, in the heat of battle, he intervened with his Navy officers who were determined to rescue the Liberty and ordered them to recall the squadrons of fighter jets they had already dispatched – twice, 90 minutes apart – for that purpose.

The key to solving this fifty year “cold case” that remains unresolved despite the government’s best efforts to cover it up – for the first time by any book ever written on the subject – was to examine Lyndon Johnson’s psychotic state of mind, an issue that many of his confidants knew about and had witnessed first-hand. They attempted to cover it up then, and still do, but as Shakespeare once stated, eventually, and inevitably, “the truth will out.”

When the heroic crew saved the ship from sinking, it stopped Johnson’s plan to join Israel in the war and thereby saved the world from certain nuclear conflagration. It also prevented his strategy of entering what he felt would be a “popular war” (unlike his other one in Vietnam) in order to give him a better chance to be reelected president the following year. When that failed to materialize, so did his reelection campaign; ten months later he was forced to announce his decision to not re-run for the office that he had always considered his destiny.