- "Those God-Damned Murdering Bastards Intended To
Kill Everyone On
- Board." -- Ward Boston, Captain, USN retired.
Chief legal officer investigating the attack on the U.S.S. Liberty.
- Forty years ago to this day, thirty four American Sailors
were murdered on the high seas. There crime goes unanswered. They
will not be forgotten. It's time to clear the air. This is
not going to go away.
- As senior legal counsel to the Navy Court of Inquiry,
it was my job to help uncover the truth regarding Israel's June 8, 1967,
bombing of the Navy intelligence ship Liberty.
- Forty years ago this week, I was asked to investigate
the heaviest attack on an American ship since World War II. As senior legal
counsel to the Navy Court of Inquiry, it was my job to help uncover the
truth regarding Israel's June 8, 1967, bombing of the Navy intelligence
- On that sunny, clear day 40 years ago, Israel's combined
air and naval forces attacked the Liberty for two hours, inflicting 70
percent casualties. Thirty-four American sailors died, and 172 were injured.
The Liberty remained afloat only by the crew's heroic efforts.
- Israel claimed it was an accident. Yet I know from personal
conversations with the late Adm. Isaac C. Kidd - president of the Court
of Inquiry - that President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert
McNamara ordered him to conclude that the attack was a case of "mistaken
- The ensuing cover-up has haunted us for 40 years. What
does it imply for our national security, not to mention our ability to
honestly broker peace in the Middle East, when we cannot question Israel's
actions - even when they kill Americans?
- Today, survivors of Israel's cruel attack will gather
in Washington, D.C., to honor their dead shipmates as well as the mothers,
sisters, widows and children they left behind. They will continue to ask
for a fair and impartial congressional inquiry that, for the first time,
would allow the survivors themselves to testify publicly.
- For decades, I have remained silent. 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, attempts to rewrite history
and concern for my country compel me to share the truth.
- Adm. Kidd and I were given only one week to gather evidence
for the Navy's official investigation, though we both estimated that a
proper Court of Inquiry would take at least six months.
- We boarded the crippled ship at sea and interviewed survivors.
The evidence was clear. We both believed with certainty that this attack
was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire
- I am certain the Israeli pilots and commanders who had
ordered the attack knew the ship was American. I saw the bullet-riddled
American flag that had been raised by the crew after their first flag had
been shot down completely. I heard testimony that made it clear the Israelis
intended there be no survivors. Not only did they attack with napalm, gunfire
and missiles, Israeli torpedo boats machine-gunned at close range three
life rafts that had been launched in an attempt to save the most seriously
- I am outraged at the efforts of Israel's apologists to
claim this attack was a case of "mistaken identity."
- Adm. Kidd told me that after receiving the president's
cover-up orders, he was instructed to sit down with two civilians from
either the White House or the Department of Defense and rewrite portions
of the court's findings. He said, "Ward, they're not interested in
the facts. It's a political matter, and we cannot talk about it."
We were to "put a lid on it" and caution everyone involved never
to speak of it again.
- I know that the Court of Inquiry transcript that has
been released to the public is not the same one that I certified and sent
to Washington. I know this because it was necessary, due to the exigencies
of time, to hand-correct and initial a substantial number of pages. I have
examined the released version of the transcript and did not see any pages
that bore my hand corrections and initials. Also, the original did not
have any deliberately blank pages, as the released version does. In addition,
the testimony of Lt. Lloyd Painter concerning the deliberate machine-gunning
of the life rafts by the Israeli torpedo boat crews, which I distinctly
recall being given at the Court of Inquiry and including in the original
transcript, is now missing.
- I join the survivors in their call for an honest inquiry.
Why is there no room to question Israel - even when it kills Americans
- in the halls of Congress?
- Let the survivors testify. Let me testify. Let former
intelligence officers testify that they received real-time Hebrew translations
of Israeli commanders instructing their pilots to sink "the American
- Surely uncovering the truth about what happened to American
servicemen in a bloody attack is more important than protecting Israel.
And surely 40 years is long enough to wait.
- Ward Boston Jr.
- Boston served as chief counsel to the Navy's Court of
Inquiry into the attack on the U.S. Navy intelligence ship Liberty. He
also served as a naval aviator in World War II on the carrier Yorktown
and as an FBI agent prior to his assignment to the Navy's Judge Advocates
General Corps. He is a graduate of the College of William and Mary School
of Law and a resident of Coronado.