Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Chomsky and The USS Liberty

Almost every one who is familiar with the Six Day War, has heard about the USS Liberty incident in which the Israeli army mistakenly attacked an American Warship. As Chomsky recounts,

There was an Israeli attack on a U.S. spy ship, USS Liberty, which killed about 35 sailors and crewman and practically sank the ship. The Liberty didn’t know who was attacking it. The attackers were disguised. Before they were disabled, they got messages back to the 6th Fleet Headquarters in Naples, who also didn’t know who was attacking it. They sent out Phantoms, which were nuclear armed, because they didn’t have any that weren’t nuclear-armed, to respond to whoever was attacking it, and they didn’t know who they were supposed to bomb – Russia, Egypt, you know, anybody. Apparently the planes were called back directly from the Pentagon sort of at the last moment. But that event alone could have lead to a nuclear war.
More or less Chomsky was describing the situation correctly and the facts that he has set out are not in dispute. However, what is in dispute is whether or not the Israeli attack was deliberate. I for one don't think it was, but that is not the issue. What is at issue is the out right lies and falsehoods that Chomsky makes in order to spin his web of lies that Israel made more than a mistake. Witness the following:
Most of this probably had to do with Israel’s plans to conquer the Golan Heights, which they did after the ceasefire. And they didn’t want the United States to know about it in advance because the U.S. would have stopped them, and probably that’s what lies behind most of this. Documents aren’t out, so we can only speculate, and they will probably never come out.
Read that last line again "Documents aren’t out, so we can only speculate, and they will probably never come out." It's a lie and a shoddy one at that. Chomsky should know that Israel, America and most of the democratic countries in the world have a thirty-year declassification policy. In fact Chomky even makes the claim on his blog stating, "The scheduled release of declassified documents in the official State Department history is 30 years. In practice it is a bit longer, about 35 years or so usually." If Chomsky cared to check the archives, instead of invoking them in vein, he might have learned something, but all he can do is make statements that he knows might not be true and hope no one will notice. But anyway Michael Oren who is a real researcher and who did search the archives has learned that,
Like the other claims for Israel's alleged motive in attacking the Liberty, the one linking the assault to the Golan Heights campaign cannot withstand the scrutiny of the newly declassified documents. These confirm that Israel made no attempt to hide its preparations for an offensive against Syria, and that the United States government, relying on regular diplomatic channels, remained fully apprised of them. Thus, on June 8, the American consulate in Jerusalem reported that Israel was retaliating for Syria's bombardment of Israeli villages "in an apparent prelude to large-scale attack in effort to seize Heights overlooking border kibbutzim." That same day, U.S. Ambassador Walworth Barbour in Tel Aviv reported that "I would not, repeat not, be surprised if the reported Israeli attack [on the Golan] does take place or has already done so," and IDF Intelligence Chief Aharon Yariv told Harry McPherson, a senior White House aide who was visiting Israel at the time, that "there still remained the Syria problem and perhaps it would be necessary to give Syria a blow." Similarly, the United States National Archives contain no evidence to suggest that information obtained by the Liberty augmented Washington's already detailed picture of events on the Golan front and of Israel's intentions there. The Israeli records, for their part, reveal no fear whatsoever of American opposition to punishing Syria, but only of possible Soviet military intervention. (It was this fear that led Israel to delay its decision to capture the Golan until the morning of June 9.) Nor do they suggest that there was any danger of an American ultimatum. On the contrary, from his conversations with presidential advisor McGeorge Bundy and other administration officials, Foreign Minister Abba Eban understood that "official Washington would not be too aggrieved if Syria suffered some painful effects from the war that it had started...." Once again, there is no indication in the archives that the Israelis were troubled by the Liberty, much less considered it worthy of attack. Indeed, there is no evidence that anyone in the Israeli government, or the IDF Chief of Staff, knew of the ship's presence at all.
So much for "Documents aren’t out, so we can only speculate, and they will probably never come out."