By Victor Thorn
AMERICAN FREE PRESS and its predecessor, The Spotlight, are the only national newspapers that have regularly given coverage over the past quarter-century to the Israeli naval and air attack on the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967. During a December 30, 2011 interview with Phil Tourney, a Liberty survivor and co-author of the book What I Saw That Day, the Navy veteran revealed to AFP one more bombshell that few have ever been willing to discuss about the duplicitous attack.
“Forty-four years after the fact, I can only come to one conclusion about what happened on June 8, 1967,” said Tourney. “The USS Liberty was set up by the U.S. government to be sunk by the Israeli military so that they could blame it on Egypt. After this attack, two American aircrafts were launched carrying nuclear-tipped missiles in order to bomb Cairo. That city was within three minutes of being obliterated. Without a doubt, it would have started WWIII.”
Tourney lived through what has become the greatest military cover-up and conspiracy in this nation’s history. Thirty-four crewmembers were killed during this Israeli assault, and 174 were wounded, most of them critically.
One of the subjects discussed during this interview was, what would happen if the American public finally had their eyes opened about this unmitigated act of war perpetrated by the nation of Israel.
“If the truth ever came out,” Tourney began, “it would change history and how people felt about the Israeli state. If the mainstream media devoted an entire week of stories to the USS Liberty and exactly what happened, the American people would be up in arms, begging for blood. Even though I’ve been accused of being an anti-Semite for trying to tell the truth, everyone should remember one important point—USS Liberty crewmembers didn’t murder anyone. The state of Israel did. The truth will change history.”
When asked to elaborate, Tourney said: “Things would change drastically in regard to Zionism. There would no longer be any money, aid or weaponry being sent to Israel. If people were interested enough to study this subject, they’d find out further that Admiral [Thomas] Moorer and Captain Ward Boston wrote scathing articles to the Navy Board of Inquiry saying its report [on the Liberty] was a complete lie and sham.”
Tourney added that “Israel ruined many lives that day—not only survivors, but families that lost loved ones, too. Many of the wounded have long since died, taken their own lives, been thrown in prison or are messed up in the head.”
Today, Tourney’s feelings on how government officials turned their backs on him and his shipmates are heartfelt, sincere and poignant.
“It’s like parents hiring a hit man to kill you,” he added. “Then they go to the prison and spring your killer. That’s exactly what the U.S. government did to us. When they put a gun to our heads, they put a gun to everyone’s head.”
LEAD-UP TO THE ATTACK
As one of the self-described “walking wounded,” Tourney explained what transpired in the hours leading up to this pivotal event:
“On June 7, one day before the attack, I was aboard the Liberty, which was the world’s most sophisticated spy ship,” said Tourney. “We were heading toward the Mediterranean to monitor the Six-Day War so that we could communicate our findings directly back to the National Security Agency in Fort Meade. They received our communications immediately because we bounced microwave signals off the Moon.”
Only 20 years old at the time, Tourney took immense pride in his ship and its mission. He also felt safe in the supposed notion that Israel was our ally.
“I’d heard all through life how badly the Israelis had been treated,” he said. “I never knew any better. I never did any research. So, I believed it. But later I found out that historians were either wrong or they lied. Even on the morning of June 8 while on sound and security watch, I felt safe because our good friend Israel was protecting us. In the distance, I could see black smoke rising from bombs being dropped, yet gave little thought to being attacked, especially since large U.S. flags flying from the Liberty gave us cover.”
At 2 p.m. on June 8, Tourney’s life would be forever changed. His words are fueled by the sheer horror of what he endured that day:
“Jet aircrafts came in firing and strafing our ship,” he said. “Within minutes they took out hundreds of antennae and all of our four .50-caliber machine guns. We were defenseless.”
But all those aboard were not without hope. Utilizing true American ingenuity and never giving up their fighting spirit, Tourney described a miraculous effort.
“About half-an-hour into the attack,” he said, “one of our men stretched a long wire so that we could transmit a message to the Sixth Fleet: ‘Under Attack by Unmarked Fighters. Send Help.’ A number of ships received this SOS, and soon Captain Joseph Tully of the USS Saratoga ordered planes to rescue us.”
However, in an act that goes well beyond betrayal into the realm of full-fledged treason, Tourney laid out how Liberty became a ship without a country.
“Defense Secretary Robert McNamara contacted the Saratoga and recalled the fighters, telling them not to aid our ship,” he said. “But, showing true courage, Tully re-launched the jets, without authorization . . . After the second set of fighter jets were dispatched, the president of the United States—Lyndon Johnson—personally recalled them,” said Tourney.
Tourney says Johnson told Tully: “I don’t give a [expletive] if that ship goes to the bottom and every sailor is lost. We will not embarrass our ally, Israel.”
If the audacity of this heartless command wasn’t bad enough, Tourney interjected with his own appraisal of the situation.
“The only message we’d sent from the makeshift wire that had been strung was: ‘Attacked by unmarked aircraft’,” he added. “We never initially identified the attackers. So how did LBJ know Israel was behind the assault?”
Following a hellish two-hour attack where Israeli jets dropped napalm on Liberty, pierced its sides with 850 cannon holes and blasted open a gaping 40-foot-by-40-foot hole with a torpedo, a “prepare to abandon ship” order had been given. But Tourney tells what ensued: “The [Israelis] immediately shot our life rafts in the water. They sunk two of them and took a third aboard their boat as a trophy.”
When asked what he did in the aftermath, Tourney replied: “We kept looking for American help because we knew they got our message. But none ever arrived. So that night, I held a lantern as a doctor operated on my good friend Gary Blanchard. I could tell he wasn’t long for this world. . . . [T]he doctor cut Gary open from his chest to groin. . . . [H]is kidneys were shot up. He died a few moments later.”
AFP inquired as to Tourney’s state of mind at that moment, surrounded by death and chaos.
“You have to remember,” he began. “our ship had been on fire with napalm, and Liberty’s fuel tanks were burning. I was filled with rage and anger. We’re the greatest nation on Earth, and no one came to help. . . At that point I realized: We’re going to have to do this on our own. My biggest fear, though, was that the Israelis would return and finish us off. Plus, let’s be clear, every crewmember knew Israel was responsible, because we saw their flag on the torpedo boats.”
A day or two later as Liberty limped toward a port in Malta, Admiral Isaac Kidd assembled the survivors in small groups and, after removing his stars, demanded to know what occurred.
After learning the truth, a red-faced Kidd pinned his stars back on his uniform and said, “If any of you ever repeat a word, I’ll make sure you end up in the penitentiary, or worse,” Tourney said.
Stunned by these remarks, Tourney told AFP: “I thought he was going to say that America would make sure that Israel paid for what it did to us. But instead, I think the government hoped that our ship would sink before it ever reached Malta.”
McCain, Bachmann Confronted Over ‘Incident’
By Victor Thorn
Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) knows the truth about what happened to the USS Liberty, because his father was directly involved in the cover-up. During a January 4 interview with AFP, James Morris, the editor of a news and commentary website entitled “America Hijacked,” referenced a monumentally historical event when Liberty survivor Captain Ward Boston approached McCain at a political fundraiser and told him he’d worked with his father.
According to Morris, McCain’s face abruptly turned white before he ushered Boston away and moved on to the next person in line.
“McCain and his admiral father covered up the USS Liberty attack on orders that came down from the highest corridors of the U.S. government,” Morris said. Liberty survivor Tourney agrees. “McCain has been part of the cover-up and knew exactly what happened to us,” Tourney said. “This fact has been documented since at least 1981. But his reaction leaves a lot to be desired. He claims: ‘It was a tragic mistake. Forget it. Get over it. Israel paid reparations.’ . . . McCain won’t tell people that most of the crewmen only received $200 or $250 in compensation.”
On December 29, 2011, during a national radio broadcast from Des Moines, Iowa that was simulcast on C-SPAN, host Jan Mickelson had as his guest Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who at the time was still vying for the Republican presidential nomination. After a brief introduction and a few pleasantries, Mickelson took calls from his listeners.
The first to dial in was Morris, who addressed the guest with a taboo subject.
“I suggest Michele Bachmann do a Google search for Cindy McCain and the USS Liberty,” Morris told listeners to the radio show. “Israel is not an ally of America. They deliberately murdered American sailors and Marines on the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967. Michele Bachmann is willing to overlook that. She’s also spreading lies about Ron Paul, who is not going to put our country at risk militarily. Michele Bachmann is a neocon Israel firster. She’s willing to get us into World War III by initiating a war with Iran. [Iran’s president Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad never threatened to wipe Israel off the map.”
At this point, Mickelson abruptly cut off Morris and snidely remarked, “He’s on a Ron Paul rant there.” He then asked Mrs. Bachmann if she had any comments.
Completely ignoring all references to the Liberty, Mrs. Bachmann instead repeated a mantra indicative of her slavish devotion to Israel.
“I do believe Israel is our ally, and we need to stand for Israel,” she said.
Yet again, the unprovoked attack by a foreign power on an American ship remained the 800-pound gorilla in the room—ignored by the media and politicians that are supposed to stand with our servicemen against such hostilities.
Victor Thorn is a hard-hitting researcher, journalist and author of over 50 books.