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  • Fog of War

    Posted by Jonathan on June 26th, 2004 (All posts by )

    The Israeli government released transcripts of conversations among and between the pilots who mistakenly attacked the USS Liberty in June 1967, and the military air controllers who directed them. You can find a composite transcript, as well as excerpts from an interview with one of the pilots, in this Jerusalem Post article.

    The transcript is worth reading, if only because it confirms that the attack was a tragic blunder rather than an intentional act.

    The excerpted interview with the pilot is also worth reading because it gives a sense of what strikes me as a culture clash that has to some extent framed the interpretation of this event. On the one hand some Americans, including former Liberty crew members, are convinced that the Israeli attack was deliberate and that the U.S. and Israel conspired to cover up the truth about it (see, for example, this site). On the other hand, Yiftach Spector, the pilot interviewed in the Jerusalem Post article, comes across like a caricature of Israeli cluelessness about public relations. He seems to misread the motives of the Liberty conspiracy theorists, whom he speculates are motivated by anti-Semitism, or by a desire for monetary compensation, rather than, as appears more likely to me, by traditional American conspiracist wackiness. (Spector was one of the pilots cashiered by the Israeli government after they publicly protested Israel’s policy of assassinating terrorist leaders. Whatever his good qualities, he appears to be at least politically naive.)

    An analysis of the attack on the Liberty, by an authority on the subject, was recently published as a book.

    (Via In Context)