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US: The USS Liberty episode



Miles Seeley recalls the attack on the USS Liberty, when he was in Jordan: "I first heard about the attack on the USS Liberty from Jordanian military and intelligence officials, with whom I was in daily contact throughout the 6-Day War and the aftermath. They said the Israelis had attacked an electronic intercept vessel and that many American lives were lost. Everybody, they said, knew the ship was there and that it was probably reading radio signals from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Israel. It was in international waters. That night I read the State Department traffic about the incident, which added little except that the ship had clearly identified itself to Israeli air and naval units that had been in the vicinity, but that suddenly the Israelis attacked anyway.

Then the coverup began. State had almost nothing more to say, and the Israeli version was obviously flying in the face of the facts as we knew them. For whatever "diplomatic and political" reasons, the US did not press very hard or publicize the attack. My Jordanian contacts just shrugged and smiled and said it was typical; but if the attackers had been Arab, the US would have been publicly outraged and would have taken revenge. Much later, there was some talk about a weak Israeli apology (hedged by spurious reasons the "accident" had happened) and minimal reparations. Clearly, I was in no position, then or now, to sort things out. To those of us serving in Arab countries, it did seem like just another example of dual standards of the US Government. It was not the only one".

Ronald Hilton - 4/27/03


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