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WASHINGTON, Oct.

22 (UPI) -- A private commission investigating the 1967 attack on


the U.S. spy ship USS Liberty on Wednesday released the sworn testimony of one naval
investigator that the Israelis knew the ship was American and intended to "murder its
entire crew."
Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats attacked the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967, killing 34
U.S. sailors and injuring 172 others in one of the deadliest attacks suffered by a U.S. ship
that remained afloat.
The Israeli government claimed it was a case of "mistaken identity" and that their pilots
were gunning for a 1937-era Egyptian freighter, but this claim set off a 36-year
controversy between the two countries. Both U.S. and Israel groups have investigated the
attack over the years, but the issue has never been settled.
Coming now, the evidence becomes part of a controversy over Israelis influence in
Washington and whether it has tilted the Bush administration toward Jerusalem.
A private commission headed by a former chief of naval operations, retired Adm. Thomas
H. Moorer, made public an affidavit by retired Capt. Ward Boston, formerly of the judge
advocate general's office and one of two senior naval officials investigating the attack.
"The evidence was clear. Both Admiral (Isaac) Kidd and I believed with certainty that
this attack, which killed 34 America 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 the ship was American."
Though Boston had made these charges informally, this was the first time a sworn
affidavit supported them. Boston said he had been a serving naval officer and followed
orders keeping quiet about his knowledge for 36 years. "I am outraged at the efforts of
apologists for Israel in this country to claim this attack was a case of 'mistaken identity,'"
he wrote. "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."
Cristol, a retired Navy pilot and member of judge advocate's office, published a book in
2002 that found the attack was accidental.
Boston said "I saw the flag, which visibly identified the ship as American, riddled with
bullet holes, and heard testimony that made it clear the Israelis intended there be no
survivors."
With the help of Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., the private commission arranged a news
conference in the Rayburn House Office building. Moorer said the group wants the
official naval report rescinded and a new court of inquiry convened and investigations
launched by appropriate Capitol Hill committees.

The first court of inquiry was ordered by Adm. John S. McCain Jr. -- father of Sen. John
McCain, R-Ariz. -- who was then commanding in London and over the vessels in the
Mediterranean. Kidd and Boston conducted the inquiry in Malta where the Liberty had
been taken for repairs and care of the wounded. Though they both agreed the attack was
intentional, Kidd prepared a report that went with the Israeli version. "I know from
personal conversations I had with Admiral Kidd that President Lyndon Johnson and
Secretary of Defense (Robert) McNamara ordered him to conclude the attack was a case
of 'mistaken identity,'" Boston's affidavit said.
There are numerous discrepancies between the Israeli version and the U.S. sailors' report.
The U.S. sailors reported they were under aerial surveillance by Israeli planes for hours
before the attack and were flying the American flag. They said they were hit by aircraft,
torpedoed and strafed by fast-moving surface vessels. The Israelis said only aircraft were
used in the attack. The sailors said that when they tried to launch lifeboats to secure the
wounded the torpedo boats strafed and sank them. They reported that the Israelis jammed
the radio so they couldn't call for help, but later when American aircraft were launched to
help, they were recalled. Moorer said he has interviewed officers on the USS Saratoga,
where the planes were based, who said the White House ordered them to abandon the
rescue.
The Liberty was a World War II freighter converted to the role of a spy ship that the Navy
said was very distinctive with massive aerials and satellite dishes. These spy vessels and
spy flights later were replaced by satellite surveillance.
Why the Israelis would want to attack an American vessel has never been explained, but
the incident came a few months before the 1967 Middle East war in which Egypt and
Israel were adversaries.
Copyright 2001-2003 United Press International
Israel has been murdering with impunity since the treacherous attack on the USS Liberty
in 1967 (in which 34 American sailors were killed and 171 were wounded) as the USS
Liberty survivors have been trying to get an official investigation (to no avail) for
decades :