Thursday 19 February 2004

Ex-officer alleges cover-up in probe of spy ship attack

Anyone who wants to accuse me of anti-semitism needs to answer the following two questions:

1. If it was a case of mistaken identity, with Israel attacking what they thought was a legitimate enemy ship in time of war, why did they attack using UNMARKED aircraft and boats?

2. If Israel thought they were attacking an Egyptian ship, why did they jam AMERICAN military emergency channels?

Ward Boston is an unassuming octogenarian who resides in a gated community on Coronado's Silver Strand.

A retired Navy captain, he hardly attracts attention in a town full of active-duty and retired sailors.

Yet Boston is in the maelstrom of a nearly 37-year-old controversy surrounding Israel's deadly attack on the Navy's spy ship Liberty during the Six-Day War with Egypt, Syria and Jordan. The June 1967 attack killed 34 Americans and wounded 171.

Last October, Boston broke decades of silence and declared that the Navy admiral who investigated the incident had been ordered by President Lyndon Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara to conclude it was a case of mistaken identity, despite evidence to the contrary.

As the chief counsel for the Navy's court of inquiry, Boston had an insider's view.

"I didn't speak up earlier because I was told not to," Boston said in an interview.

His revelation, repeated last month before a State Department conference about the Six-Day War, has rekindled a smoldering debate over how it happened and whether the United States and Israel covered up the truth.

Anti-Israel factions portray Boston's words – true to his legal background, memorialized in two affidavits but rarely spoken to an audience larger than one person – as proof of Israel's guilt.

Israel's supporters, including a federal bankruptcy judge who researched the attack and wrote a book on it, say Boston is lying. Some pin an anti-Semitic badge on his lapel.

On Web pages and through e-mail, an electronic brawl is raging over Boston's disclosures among his admirers and detractors.

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