Subscribe Today

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, December 2008, page 67

Waging Peace

Ray McGovern on the USS Liberty

  • Ray McGovern allows USS Liberty survivor Sergeant Bryce Lockwood to tell his story via cell phone (Staff photo D. Hanley).

RAY MCGOVERN, who was a CIA analyst for 27 years—from the John F. Kennedy administration to that of George H.W. Bush—spoke about the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty at an Oct. 15 briefing at the Servant Leadership School at Washington, DC’s Festival Center. The retired intelligence officer explained what happened on June 8, 1967, during the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War and why this tragedy remains important today.

To introduce the subject, McGovern gave a quick overview of the Israel Lobby in the United States and why Americans are so susceptible to its power, citing Holocaust guilt and fear of being called anti-Semitic. He recommended recent books, including John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s The Israel Lobby, Jimmy Carter’s Palestine:Peace Not Apartheid, and Body of Secrets by James Bamford (all available from the AET Book Club).

McGovern said he was troubled by the fact that Mearsheimer and Walt “left out the most telling incident that shows the power of the Lobby—the USS Liberty cover-up.” It was the lobby’s first important success: a U.S. president covered up a foreign attack on his own ship so as not to embarrass Israel. “That was the most sensational proof of the power the Lobby knows it can exert over our government and Congress,” McGovern said—because from then on, Israel and its U.S. lobby knew they could, quite literally, get away with murder.

McGovern telephoned Sgt. Bryce Lockwood, a crewmember on the USS Liberty, whom McGovern first met in 2006 when he gave a talk on Iraq at the National Avenue Church in Springfield, Missouri. That day, as well as on a cell phone call during the Washington, DC briefing, Sergeant Lockwood described the attack and the many years he kept quiet about it, obeying orders. Lockwood”˜s voice broke as he described the sorrow he feels every day that goes by when his government continues to cover up Israel’s attack on his ship.

For more information see McGovern’s article on this subject: <>.

Delinda C. Hanley