USS Liberty Veterans banned forever from Am Legion Nat’l Convention

On June 8, 1967, 34 American servicemen were killed and 174 were wounded during an Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. According to former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Thomas Moorer, “Those men were then betrayed and left to die by our own government.” The survivors are still awaiting justice.

Survivors of the lethal 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty have been attacked, threatened, and bullied. Yet, they continue to speak out, and their fellow American veterans support the them, one of the most decorated crews in US Naval history.

In 2017 the members of the American Legion passed a resolution calling for a full investigation of the Israeli attack.

Despite this resolution, American Legion leaders continue to censor the Liberty, prohibiting them from having a booth at the national convention.

(If you feel this is wrong and wish to support these American veterans, PLEASE TAKE THE ACTION DESCRIBED BELOW)

[Note: The Liberty was a Navy electronics surveillance ship operating in international waters during the Six-Day War. Israeli forces perpetrated an extended air and sea assault on the ship that killed 34 Americans, injured 175, and damaged the ship beyond repair. Afterward, Israel claimed the assault was an accident and provided $6 million in compensation for the loss of the $40 million ship. More information here.]

by Joe Meadors, reposted from the USS Liberty Veterans’ Association Blog

“You will not discuss the attack with anyone. Once the Court of Inquiry findings are released you will not contradict them. This order will remain in effect after you are discharged from the Navy. If you violate this order you will be prosecuted and will spend a considerable amount of time in a Federal Prison.”

This order was repeated every day at quarters while we were in drydock in Malta.

If anyone tells of witnessing the deliberate machine gunning of our life rafts in the water, he runs the risk of doing time in a Federal prison.

If anyone tells of witnessing the use of unmarked aircraft or of the jamming of our radios on both US Navy tactical and international maritime distress frequencies, he runs the risk of doing time in a Federal prison.

We cannot talk about this among ourselves. We cannot talk about this with our family. We cannot talk about this with any counselor. We cannot talk about this at a meeting of any veterans group we may become involved with. We cannot talk about this with our Congressional Delegation. We cannot talk about this at The American Legion National Convention.

We cannot talk about this with anyone.

If we do, we risk Federal prison.

But we defy the Federal Government and speak about the attack anywhere we can.

But now we cannot talk about it at The American Legion National Convention.

In an email to the USS Liberty Veterans Association, Kevin J. Bartlett, J.D., National Judge Advocate of The American Legion (and US Navy Veteran) writes:

I understand that your organization would like to submit an application for a booth at The American Legion National Convention in August.

The USS Liberty Association is not allowed to rent a booth at national conventions and have them staffed because one of your members committed assault and battery on one of our staff and was convicted of his crimes.  In addition, members of your organization have attempted to set up in the national convention exhibit hall without renting a booth.

The American Legion has a 100-year track record of helping veterans and their families. Unfortunately, we’ve had a long and unpleasant history with the USS Liberty Veterans Association, and we have chosen not to do business with them.

The American Legion has known for decades the constraints we have had placed on us. Do they care? No.

Instead of offering us the honor, support and compassion they routinely offer their members, they have chosen to take a relatively minor issue that was largely of their making, blow it all out of proportion, accuse someone they claim to be a USS Liberty survivor of trying to set up an unauthorized booth, and ban us from their National Convention forever.

All without the opportunity of appealing their decision. And without any reference to their Constitution and bylaws or Resolution that allows them to take the action they did.

This action by the hired help of The American Legion National Headquarters wasn’t taken in a vacuum. The National Organization has a long record of trying to stifle USS Liberty survivors in our effort to tell the story of what happened on a US Navy ship. Given the tremendous support we have from the rank and file of The American Legion, it is clear that The American Legion National Headquarters is governing by fiat instead of by the rule of its membership as reflected in Resolutions initiated by its local posts.

An extensive and heavily footnoted telling of the history between The American Legion and the USS Liberty Veterans Association is available here.  We are indebted to If Americans Knew for the effort they made to so expertly outline the history between the two veterans groups.

IAK writes:

“Legion bigwigs have torpedoed American Legion members’ resolutions supporting the Liberty; prevented dissemination of information about the attack; refused to allow a booth by the Liberty Veterans Association at its 2013 national convention; and privately attempted to convince the Veterans of Foreign Wars to similarly prohibit a Liberty booth at its national convention.”

“In 2002 the Washington DC Legion delegation introduced a resolution calling for an investigation of the attack to a foreign relations subcommittee at the national convention. This was the first step towards procuring an American Legion resolution.

“I was present at this convention and witnessed most of what subsequently transpired. I had begun to investigate Israel-Palestine in fall 2000, a topic I had never previously studied. I was astonished at much of what I discovered, including the Israeli attack on the Liberty, which I had never heard about despite growing up in a military family.

“When I heard that a resolution was going to be introduced at the national convention, I went with the delegation to observe what happened.

“When the DC group introduced the resolution to the subcommittee, every American Legion delegate who addressed it spoke in favor of it. Delegate after delegate from diverse parts of America supported the resolution, and it was passed without objection.

“The DC delegates were jubilant. When a resolution is passed at this level, they explained, it is virtually assured of adoption. Typically, the resolution is then rubber-stamped by the next committee, and passed along to the general membership, which then normally passes all such committee recommended resolutions by one simple voice vote.

“This resolution, however, was to be different.

“The next day, American Legion staff told the Convention Committee on Foreign Relations that there was no need for such a resolution since the Legion already had passed resolutions on the Liberty. The staff and chair neglected to state that not a single resolution on the USS Liberty was live, and that therefore it was both necessary and appropriate to pass this one.

“This communication succeeded in killing the resolution. The main staff member for this committee had served in Israel; it is possible he is an Israeli citizen. The Committee chairman was Thomas Bock, of Colorado.[29] Three years later Bock was American Legion National Commander.

That evening, back in D.C., Admiral Thomas Moorer (USN retired) heard about the scuttling of the resolution. Outraged, he wrote an open letter to the American Legion Commander requesting that the resolution be put before the general membership.

Admiral Moorer was chairman of an association of admirals and generals who want the US government to conduct a hearing on the USS Liberty. He was also the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — the highest ranking military officer in the U.S. military — and a retired 4-star admiral who was once in charge of both the Pacific and Atlantic fleets. He was a Naval aviator and World War II hero; the Navy’s Tomcat fighter jet was named after him.

“Moorer had long been outraged at the cover-up on the Liberty attack. In a 1997 memo, he called it a “wanton, sneak attack,” writing: “What is so chilling and cold-blooded, of course, is that they could kill as many Americans as they did in confidence that Washington would cooperate in quelling any public outcry.” Many of the crewmembers, Moorer wrote, were from “small country towns, probably a lot like Eufaula, Alabama, where I grew up, and they represent the basic core of America …. “”

One has only to look to their reference to the USS Liberty in the American Legion’s Leadership FAQ to learn that they have chosen to support a Revisionist version of the attack instead of one supported by evidence and facts.

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 84th Annual National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, August 2002.

This position is a gross misrepresentation of the evidence currently available – a fact that we have made The American Legion aware of, but they are obviously not interested in acknowledging.

In the first place, there is no “controversy among surviving members of the crew and family members.”

Second, the incident was NOT “the subject of ten US investigations and three by the Israelis.” Prove that for yourself by emailing your Congressional Delegation and ask them to send you a copy of the Congressional investigation of the attack. They won’t be able to send you one because it doesn’t exist.

Third, Congress hasn’t taken any action on this “incident” so what the Foreign Relations Convention Committee reviewed is in question. A question The American Legion refuses to (i.e., cannot) answer.

Why would the leaders of a Federally chartered veterans association claiming a mission “To uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America,” “To foster and perpetuate a one hundred percent Americanism,” and “To make right the master of might” ban a group of American veterans who are the victims of War Crimes committed by our “best ally and only friend in the Middle East” from attending any American Legion National Convention forever?

Did I just answer my own question?

Are the leaders of The American Legion afraid that their members will learn about the War Crimes Israel committed during the attack and are blowing up this relatively minor event to prevent our relating the history of the attack during their National Convention?

This unilateral action by The American Legion was not taken in a vacuum.  The American Legion and the USS Liberty Veterans Association have a long history.  That history, in our opinion, shows a concerted, illegal and borderline treasonous effort by The American Legion National Organization to deny its members the right of hearing first-hand accounts of the attack on the USS Liberty.

To be perfectly clear, no one is denying the seriousness of a charge of assault and battery.  Nobody is denying the fact that a USS Liberty survivor was convicted of assault and battery on a staff member of The American Legion.

What happened, that resulted in the assault and battery being committed?  It all takes place as we were attempting to register at the 2012 National Convention.

Due to a communications error on our part, our delegation intending to staff our booth at the 2012 American Legion National Convention was unaware that payment for that booth and information about the requisite insurance had not been submitted to The American Legion prior to their arrival.

Upon learning that the payment had not been made, our representatives inquired if payment could be made while they were there.

Instead of responding to the inquiry, the registration desk called their security personnel who asked that our delegation be removed from the premises. The security personnel were obviously expert in intimidation – which was in full flower during the one-sided confrontation.

Having survived not only the attack and the US government’s disinterest in investigating that attack, but the history the USS Liberty Veterans Association has had with the higher-ups of The American Legion, one of our representatives out of frustration, took out his American Legion membership card and flicked it to no one in particular. He just wanted to be rid of it.

As luck would have it, it landed softly on the blouse of one of the ladies manning the registration desk. So soft that I doubt she felt a thing.

The American Legion called the police and had our representative arrested for assault and battery. He was taken to jail and released after receiving a court date.

When the date arrived to face the judge, our guy showed but The American Legion victim was nowhere to be found.

No doubt out of embarrassment that the very people The American Legion was established to help were being treated so poorly.

Which brings up the question, “What is the purpose of The American Legion” and why in the past 52+ years has The American Legion treated the survivors of the USS Liberty as an exception to that purpose?

Why has The American Legion National Organization shown more concern for the forces who attacked the USS Liberty than it has for their own countrymen?

Why has The American Legion National Organization felt it so important to stifle USS Liberty survivors that they have acted illegally to do so?

Let me suggest some reasons:

  1. We were attacked by Israel.
  2. We have insisted that The American Legion live up to its obligations as described in the Preamble to their Constitution.
  3. We were attacked by Israel.
  4. We have highlighted the hypocrisy of The American Legion in allowing its 1967 Resolution 508 to be ignored and unimplemented until it is finally rescinded in the 1990’s.
  5. We were attacked by Israel.
  6. During the many times we were allowed to purchase a booth at The American Legion’s National Convention we were welcomed with enthusiasm and support by the general membership of The American Legion.
  7. We were attacked by Israel.
  8. At their 2018 National Convention, the membership of The American Legion ignored the recommendation of The American Legion’s leaders and approved a resolution calling on the Congress of the United States to investigate the attack on our ship.
  9. We were attacked by Israel.

If you find the actions of The American Legion National Organization as disconcerting as we do, we urge you to submit two resolutions through your Post (these are necessary because the 2017 resolution has now expired). The resolutions are posted below.

If nothing else, it will educate you on what The American Legion National Organization feels about the USS Liberty and USS Liberty resolutions.


PLEASE SUBMIT the following two resolutions to your post.

Also, please subscribe to the USS Liberty Veterans Association blog for news & updates!

 

Investigate the Attack on the USS Liberty (draft resolution)

WHEREAS, At around 2 PM, local time, on June 8, 1967, while operating 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 aerial and naval attack by Israeli forces, lasting over an hour, that killed 34 members of the Liberty’s crew and wounded 173; and,

WHEREAS, In recognition of their heroic response to the attack, 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, In August 1967, after the conclusion of the Navy Court of Inquiry, The American Legion adopted National Convention Resolution 508 (“NCR 508”) declaring the official public report of the Navy Court of Inquiry into the attack on the Liberty “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, In September 1994, The American Legion adopted National Convention Resolution 205 (“NCR 205”) observing that “The miraculous survival of the U.S.S. Liberty, through the sustained courage of her crew in desperate circumstances—an episode of honor in the annals of the US. Navy—has gone largely unrecognized and unhonored”; and,

WHEREAS, In August 2017, The American Legion adopted National Convention Resolution 40 (“NCR 40”) calling “upon the 115th 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”; and,

WHEREAS, Despite repeated calls by The American Legion and other veterans organizations Congress has never investigated the attack on the Liberty, now therefore be it,

RESOLVED, By Post ____, Department of _________, in regular meeting assembled in ________ on _____________, 201__ that the American Legion reaffirms NCR 508, NCR 205, and NCR 40; and, be it further,

RESOLVED, That The American Legion calls upon the United States Congress to publicly, impartially, and thoroughly investigate the attack on the Liberty and its aftermath; and, be it further,

RESOLVED, That The American Legion encourages its members, posts, districts, and departments to annually deliver, on or about June 8, a copy of this resolution, together with a copy of NCR 508, NCR 205, and NCR 40, to every member of their Congressional delegation; and, be it finally,

RESOLVED, That the Adjutant of The American Legion is encouraged to annually deliver, on or about June 8, a copy of this resolution, together with a copy of NCR 508, NCR 205, and NCR 40, and a suitable cover letter to every member of the United States Congress and to prepare and make available to any Legionnaire who requests it an annual summary of Congressional responses to the resolutions so delivered.


Rescind American Legion ban on LVA at American Legion Convention (draft resolution)

WHEREAS, At around 2 PM, local time, on June 8, 1967, while operating 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 aerial and naval attack by Israeli forces, lasting over an hour, that killed 34 members of the Liberty’s crew and wounded 173; and,

WHEREAS, In recognition of their heroic response to the attack, 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, In 1994, The American Legion, adopted National Convention Resolution 205 (“Recognition of Crew of USS Liberty”) observing that: “The miraculous survival of the U.S.S. Liberty, through the sustained courage of her crew in desperate circumstances—an episode of honor in the annals of the US. Navy—has gone largely unrecognized and unhonored”; and,

WHEREAS, By dint of their wartime military service the survivors of the attack on the USS Liberty are eligible for membership in The American Legion and, in fact, some of them are members of the Legion; and,

WHEREAS, The survivors of the attack on the USS Liberty have formed the USS Liberty Veterans Association (“LVA”); and,

WHEREAS, With the exception of 2013, the Veterans of Foreign Wars has rented exhibit space to the LVA at its national convention every year since 2012 and done so without incident; and,

WHEREAS, The LVA has been banned from renting exhibit space at Legion national conventions on the basis of vague and unsubstantiated allegations, without any process of notice, hearing, or appeal and, apparently, without proper authority; and,

WHEREAS, An open-ended, collective ban imposed under such circumstances against the entire membership of any veterans organization is contrary to The American Legion’s purposes, including, but not limited to, the mastery of right over might, good will, justice, comradeship, and mutual helpfulness; now therefore be it,

RESOLVED, By Post ____, Department of _________, in regular meeting assembled in ________ on _____________, 201__ that the national convention exhibit space rental ban and any other restrictions imposed against the LVA are hereby rescinded; and be it,

FINALLY RESOLVED, that the The American Legion hereby adopts a standing rule to ensure that in the future no other veteran or veterans organization shall be banned or otherwise restricted from Legion activities without being: 1) First informed in writing of the reasons and formal authority for said action; and, 2) Granted a reasonable opportunity to fairly and transparently appeal the reasons and authority for the imposition of any such ban or restriction.


RELATED READING:

American Legion calls for full investigation into Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty

Israeli documents on USS Liberty: ‘Americans have findings showing our pilots were aware the ship was American’

New revelations in attack on American spy ship

The Six Day War and Israeli Lies: What I Saw at the CIA

The Unz Review: The USS Liberty Wins One!

One Freedom Flotilla Passenger was a USS Liberty Survivor

Source Article from https://israelpalestinenews.org/uss-liberty-vets-banned-forever-american-legion-national-conference/

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