USS Liberty Memorial Service Renews Calls of a Government Cover-Up

Survivors are calling for an investigation from the government on the 45th anniversary of the attack.

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USS Liberty underway in the Chesapeake Bay on July 29, 1967, upon her return from the Mediterranean Sea.

Forty-five years ago, the USS Liberty was attacked in international waters by Israeli jet fighters and torpedo boats.

The attack killed 34 members of the crew, and wounded 174 more on board. Both U.S. and Israeli governments conducted inquiries about the incident, and decided the attack was a result of Israeli confusion about who the USS Liberty was.

Many veterans don't agree.

This Friday, a USS Liberty memorial service will be held at the graves of the Liberty victims at Arlington Cemetery, in part to remember, but also to accuse.

A Facebook page for the event asks supporters to sign a petition calling for a renewed investigation of the attack. The petition suggests a U.S. government cover up, noting that the U.S. initially dispatched aircraft to aid the wounded USS Liberty, but say they were later recalled.

The page also points supporters to reports on the incident from USS Liberty veterans, including a draft letter to Congress asking for a better investigation.

"They were ordered to be abandoned by two flights of Sixth Fleet rescue aircraft," alleges the letter. "Until these facts are acknowledged.... any attempt to honor those who were killed in service to the United States on the USS Liberty is incomplete."

This past Memorial Day, Sen. John McCain was heckled about the Liberty attack while speaking to a crowd in California. "What about the cover-up for Israel of the USS Liberty?!" the heckler shouted. He was promptly escorted out by Secret Service.

In 2004, documents on U.S. foreign policy during the USS Liberty incident were declassified and published in a trilogy. At the time, Harriet Schwar, editor of the trilogy, told the State Department her staff found no evidence the U.S. knew about Israel's orders to attack the USS Liberty.

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  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at eflock@usnews.com or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.