Ostensibly, the American Legion is an American veterans group that supports the American military and veterans communities. Some may question the use of “ostensibly” to define the American Legion but if you look at the Meriam-Webster definition of the term (i.e., “to all outward appearances”) I’m sure you will agree that I am being kind by using the term.
Outraged but undaunted by the National Organization’s refusal to pass a single resolution calling on Congress to investigate the attack on the USS Liberty, the membership has routinely approved annual USS Liberty resolutions at the Department level and passed them along to the National Organization to be considered at the National Convention.
Oftentimes these resolutions are passed without a single dissenting vote at any level of the American Legion. Until they reach the National Organization.
The National Organization of the American Legion has not passed a single USS Liberty resolution since now-rescinded Resolution 508 was passed in 1967.
For a while we were confused why all USS Liberty resolutions fail to pass at the National level of the American Legion.
Then we learned of the American Legion’s “Quick Guide for Leadership” where they write:
What is The American Legion doing about the USS Liberty tragedy?
The tragic mistaken identity attack by Israelis on the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967 provoked a great deal of controversy among surviving members of the crew and family members. Though residual anger and suspicions remain, the incident was the subject of ten US investigations and three by the Israelis. In the American investigations, the full weight of the US Government allowed access to all of the relevant security information. Though some accusations were made suggesting the reports sought to hide facts or protect Israel, no credible evidence for these charges has been produced at the US Government level.
The Foreign Relations Convention Committee of The American Legion reviewed the action taken by OSD and Congress on this incident and they voted to reject Resolution 235 submitted by the Department of District of Columbia at the 84 Annual National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, August 2002.
This is a bald faced lie from the National Organization of the American Legion to its membership. Repeated and continuing efforts to have the National Organization explain its position have been ignored.
Realizing the lie told to them by the National Organization, the Department of Washington has approved and passed a USS Liberty resolution to the National Organization. That resolution is provided below. We are under no misconception about what will happen to it. We wonder how long the membership of the American Legion will remain silent about their organization being ruled by a group that has an agenda that is contrary to their stated values.
THE AMERICAN LEGION DEPARTMENT OF WASHINGTON
WHEREAS, on June 8, 1967, while operating in support of the National Security Agency (NSA) in international waters, properly marked as to her identity and nationality, and in calm, clear weather in the eastern Mediterranean, the USS Liberty (AGTR-5) was the target of an unprovoked attack by Israeli military forces that killed 34 members of the Liberty’s crew and wounded 173; and,
WHEREAS, in recognition of their heroic efforts during and after the Israeli onslaught, Liberty crew members were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, 2 Navy Crosses, 12 Silver Stars, 20 Bronze Stars, more than 200 Purple Hearts, and the ship’s captain, Navy Commander William. L. McGonagle, was awarded the Medal of Honor; and,
WHEREAS, the June 28, 1967 public summary of proceedings of the Navy Court of Inquiry into the attack stated: “It was not the responsibility of the Court to rule on the culpability of the attackers and no evidence was heard from the attacking nation”; and,
WHEREAS, according to Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) information reports from June and October, 1967, sources in Tel Aviv reported: “Israel’s forces knew exactly what ﬂag the LIBERTY was ﬂying” and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan “personally ordered the attack” on the Liberty over the objections of senior uniformed military personnel, one of whom characterized the attack as “pure murder”; and,
WHEREAS, Richard Helms (Director of Central Intelligence, 1966-1973), stated in a 1984 CIA interview: “everything possible was done to keep from the American public really the enormity of this attack on an American naval vessel” and “since this is for the Agency’s record, I don’t think there can be any doubt that the Israelis knew exactly what they were doing any statement to the effect that they didn’t know that it was an American ship is nonsense”; and,
WHEREAS, Lieutenant General Marshall S. Carter, USA (ret.) (Director of the NSA, 1965- 1969), recalled in a 1988 NSA interview that he stated at a Congressional hearing in 1967 that the attack on the Liberty “couldn’t be anything else but deliberate. There’s just no way you could have a series of circumstances that would justify it being an accident” and Carter indicated this remained his belief in 1988; and,
WHEREAS, in a 2003 affidavit published in the Congressional Record, Captain Ward Boston, Ir., JAGC, USN (ret.), legal counsel for the 1967 Navy Court of Inquiry stated: “I know from personal conversations I had with Admiral Kidd [president of the Court of Inquiry] 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”; and,
WHEREAS, according to the findings, published in the Congressional Record, of the 2003 Independent Commission of Inquiry, chaired by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, USN (ret.): “there is compelling evidence that Israel’s attack was a deliberate attempt to destroy an American ship and kill her entire crew’ and “the White House deliberately covered up the facts of this attack”; and,
WHEREAS, in 2013, the Veterans of Foreign Wars adopted Resolution 423 calling “upon Congress to immediately investigate the attack on the USS Liberty by the armed forces of Israel on June 8, 1967, in order to determine the truth behind the attack, and to bring closure to the families and crew”; and
WHEREAS, in August 1967, after the conclusion of the Navy Court of Inquiry, the American Legion adopted Resolution 508 (rescinded in 1984 without being first reviewed) declaring the published report of the Navy Court of Inquiry “fails to provide the American public with a satisfactory answer as to the reason for the attack” and stating that “The American Legion denounces and condemns Israel’s irresponsible attack” and demanding “a complete and thorough investigation of the incident”; and,
WHEREAS, according to Gurney Williams III, writing in The American Legion Magazine (“Death Strikes the Liberty”, July 1997), Congress has never investigated the Israeli attack on the Liberty; now therefore be it,
RESOLVED, by Post 40, the American Legion, Department of Washington, in regular meeting assembled in Seattle on March 14, 2017, that the American Legion should call upon the United States Congress to publicly, impartially, and thoroughly investigate the attack on the USS Liberty and its aftermath and to commence its investigation before the end of 2017, the 50th anniversary year of the attack.