U.S. Navy investigator of Israeli attack on USS Liberty comes clean

This testimony, tiptoed past by the AP “journalist” hunting and picking for suitable words, is given here complete and unabridged.

Affidavit of Captain Ward Boston, USN, JAG (Ret.)

(Counsel to the U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry’s investigation into the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty)

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For more than 30 years, I have remained silent on the topic of the USS Liberty. I am a military man and when orders come in from the Secretary of Defense and President of the United States, I follow them.

However, recent attempts to rewrite history compel me to share the truth.

In June of 1967, while serving as a Captain in the Judge Advocates General Department of the Navy, I was assigned as senior legal counsel for the Navy’s Court of Inquiry into the brutal attack on the USS Liberty, which had occurred on June 8th. The late Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, president of the Court, and I were given only one week to gather evidence for the Navy’s official investigation into the attack. Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., then Commander-in-chief, Naval Forces Europe (CINCUSNAVEUR), at his headquarters in London, had charged Admiral Kidd (in a letter dated June 10, 1967) to "inquire into all the pertinent facts and circumstances leading to and connected with the armed attack: damage resulting therefrom; and deaths of and injuries to Naval personnel." Despite the short amount of time we were given, we gathered a vast amount of evidence, including hours of heartbreaking testimony from the young survivors.

The evidence was clear. Both Admiral Kidd and I believed with certainty that this attack, which killed 34 American sailors and injured 172 others, was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew. I am certain that the Israeli pilots that undertook the attack, as well as their superiors who had ordered the attack, were aware that the ship was American.

I saw the flag, which had visibly identified the ship as American, riddled with bullet holes, and heard testimony that made it clear that the Israelis intended there be no survivors. Not only did the Israelis attack the ship with napalm, gunfire, and missiles, Israeli torpedo boats machine-gunned three lifeboats that had been launched in an attempt by the crew to save the most seriously wounded – a war crime.

I am outraged at the efforts of the apologists for Israel in this country to claim that this attack was a case of "mistaken identity." In particular, the recent publication of Jay Cristol’s book, The Liberty Incident, twists the facts and misrepresents the views of those of us who investigated the attack. It is Cristol’s insidious attempt to whitewash the facts that has pushed me to speak out.

I know from personal conversations I had with Admiral Kidd that President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered him to conclude that the attack was a case of "mistaken identity" despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Contrary to the misinformation presented by Cristol and others, it is important for the American people to know that it is clear that Israel is responsible for deliberately attacking an American ship and murdering American sailors, whose bereaved shipmates have lived with this egregious conclusion for many years.

October 9, 2003

S/Ward Boston
Ward Boston, Captain, USN, JAG (Ret.)
Senior Counsel to the Court of Inquiry

The First Freedom