More on the attack on the Gaza aid flotilla

I have discussed in the past (see here and here) that all governments know the value right after a major event of controlling the message and getting their version of the story out first, especially if it is false.

The least effective way to do this is to actually own the media or practice overt censorship because then everyone sees propaganda for what it is. The most effective, as in the US, is have the aid of sycophantic major media that will self-censor and bias their reporting towards the point of view that puts their own country and government in the best light.
[Read more…]

The latest atrocity by Israel

There is nothing that I can add to Glenn Greenwald’s description of Israel’s descent into becoming a brutal nation that ignores international law and just plain human decency, as it continues its strangling of the people of Gaza with their blockade. This blockade, imposed after the deadly assault on Gaza in December 2008, destroyed a lot of its infrastructure such as water and power supplies and hospitals, and the aid flotilla was trying to both ameliorate the awful conditions as well as draw attention to the plight of Gazans.

Of course the US government and Congress and major media in the US, enablers of Israel’s out-of-control belligerence, will downplay this appalling crime by giving huge amounts of coverage to the Israel government’s justifications for its appalling actions which will consist of claiming that they are the true victims. Watch how Obama and Clinton will dance around this issue, just after expressing anger at North Korea and threatening punishment for the sinking of a South Korea warship Cheonan that killed 46 sailors.

As Greenwald says, “Just ponder what we’d be hearing if Iran had raided a humanitarian ship in international waters and killed 15 or so civilians aboard.”

Recall how these same groups downplayed, covered up, and sent down the memory hole even the 1967 Israeli attack on an American warship the USS Liberty that killed 34 US servicemen and reduced that state-of-the-art intelligence gathering ship to scrap. This 2005 report, prepared on behalf of the survivors of the attack, gives with footnotes the details of what happened. Note that the Liberty was not equipped for fighting and so could not defend itself.

On June 8, 1967 while patrolling in international waters[2] in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, USS Liberty (AGTR-5) was savagely attacked without warning or justification by air and naval forces of the state of Israel.[3]

Of a crew of 294 officers and men[4] (including three civilians)[5], the ship suffered thirty four (34) killed in action and one hundred seventy three (173) wounded in action.[6] The ship itself, a Forty Million ($40,000,000) Dollar state of the art signals intelligence (SIGINT) platform, was so badly damaged that it never sailed on an operational mission again and was sold in 1970 for $101,666.66 as scrap[7] .

Israel acknowledged the following facts without qualification:
a. USS Liberty was an American ship, hence a neutral vis-à-vis the June 1967 war between Israel and its Arab neighbors.[8]
b. USS Liberty remained in international waters at all times on June 8, 1967[9] .
c. The attacking Israeli forces never made a positive identification of the nationality of USS Liberty before unleashing deadly force in their attack on the ship.[10]

At approximately 0600 hours (all times local) on the morning of June 8, 1967 an Israeli maritime reconnaissance aircraft observer reported seeing “a US Navy cargo type ship,” just outside the coverage of the Israeli coastal radar defense net, bearing the hull markings “GTR-5″.[11] This report, made to Israeli naval HQ, was also forwarded immediately to the Israeli navy intelligence directorate.[12]

Throughout the remainder of the day prior to the attack, Israeli reconnaissance aircraft regularly flew out to USS Liberty’s position and orbited the ship before returning to their bases in Israel. A total of no fewer than eight (8) such flights were made.[13]

At approximately 1050 hours, the naval observer from the early morning reconnaissance flight arrived at Israeli air force HQ and sat down with the air-naval liaison officer there. The two officers consulted Janes’ Fighting Ships and learned that the ship reported earlier in the day was USS Liberty, a United States Navy technical research ship.[14]

From 0900 hours on June 8, 1967, until the time of the attack five hours later, USS Liberty maintained a speed of approximately five knots and a generally westerly-northwesterly course.[15]

At 1400 hours, while approximately 17 miles off the Gaza coast, USS Liberty’s crew observed three surface radar contacts closing with their position at high speed. A few moments later, the bridge radar crew observed high speed aircraft passing over the surface returns on the same heading.[16]

Within a few short moments, and without any warning, Israeli fighter aircraft launched a rocket attack on USS Liberty. The aircraft made repeated firing passes, attacking USS Liberty with rockets and their internal cannons. After the first flight of fighter aircraft had exhausted their ordnance, subsequent flights of Israeli fighter aircraft continued to prosecute the attack with rockets, cannon fire, and napalm. [17]

During the air attack, USS Liberty’s crew had difficulty contacting Sixth Fleet to request assistance due to intense communications jamming[18]

The initial targets on the ship were the command bridge, communications antennas, and the four .50 caliber machine guns, placed on the ship to repel boarders.[19]

After the Israeli fighter aircraft completed their attacks, three Israeli torpedo boats arrived and began a surface attack about 35 minutes after the start of the air attack. The torpedo boats launched a total of five torpedoes, one of which struck the side of USS Liberty, opposite the ship’s research spaces. [20] Twenty-six Americans in addition to the eight who had been killed in the earlier air attacks, were killed as a result of this explosion.

Following their torpedo attack, the torpedo boats moved up and down the length of the ship (both the port and starboard sides), continuing their attack, raking the ship with cannon and machine gun fire.[21] In Malta, crewmen were later assigned the task of counting all of the holes in the ship that were the size of a man’s hand or larger. They found a total of 861 such holes, in addition to “thousands” of .50 caliber machine gun holes.

Survivors report that the torpedo boat crews swept the decks of USS Liberty with continuous machine gun fire, targeting communications equipment and any crewmembers who ventured above decks.[22]

Damage control firefighters, who had already risked their lives merely by appearing on deck, had to abandon their efforts because their fire hoses had been shredded by machine gun fire.[23]

Survivors also report that the torpedo boat crews fired on the inflated life boats launched by the crew after the captain gave the order “prepare to abandon ship.”[24] This order had to be rescinded because the crew was unable to stand on the main deck without being fired upon and the life rafts were destroyed as they were launched.[25]

The defenseless crew, initially unable to report their plight or summon assistance and with only themselves to rely upon, fought heroically to save themselves and their ship. In recognition of their effort in this single action, they were ultimately awarded collectively one Medal of Honor, two Navy Crosses, eleven Silver Stars, twenty Bronze Stars (with “V” device), nine Navy Commendation Medals, and two hundred and four Purple Hearts. In addition, the ship was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

Many countries have been retaliated against and even invaded by the US for far less provocation, but this attack, so brazen and outrageous, did not provoke any serious reaction.

If such a deadly and unprovoked attack by Israel on a US ship did not result in any repercussions, should we be surprised that Israel takes the view that it can do anything it likes to anyone anywhere and that the US will support it?