James Bamford (2001; Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency from the Cold War through the Dawn of a New Century; New York: Doubleday) provides a riveting account of the 1967 war and the suppression of Israeli lies about the origins of the war and about the attack by Israelis on the U.S.S. Liberty. A major point is that the 1967 war initiated by Israel, quoting Menachem Begin, “We . . . had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.” Israel put out false reports that Egypt had attacked Israel and asked the U.S. for help in restraining the USSR. Bamford provides massive evidence that the Israeli attackers of the U.S.S. Liberty were aware that it was an American ship. The motive was to cover up Israeli war crimes—killing of captured soldiers, for which there is a great deal of evidence from Israeli sources. (Bamford cites the Israeli military historian Aryeh Yitzhaki, “The whole army leadership, including [then Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Chief of Staff [and later Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin and the generals know about these things. No one bothered to denounce them” (p. 203). At El Arish “Israeli soldiers turned the town into a slaughterhouse, systematically butchering the prisoners” (pp. 201–202). “An essential part of the Israeli battle plan  seemed to have been to hide much of the war behind a carefully constructed curtain of lies. Lies about the Egyptian threat, lies about who started the war, lies to the American president, lies to the UN Security Council, lies to the press, lies to the public” (p. 203). After the bloody attack (34 killed, 171 wounded), the NSA covered up their own evidence of Israeli knowledge of the identity of the Liberty. For officials in the Johnson administration, the highest motive was to protect Israel from embarrassment. The Pentagon ordered a total news ban; violators were threatened with court martial.. According to Rear Admiral Lawrence R. Geis, “President Lyndon Johnson [commented] . . . that he didn’t care if the ship sunk, he would not embarrass his allies” (p. 226). Similarly in Congress, fear of the pro-Israel lobby prevented any meaningful investigation into the incident.


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