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tv   Consider This  Al Jazeera  November 1, 2014 1:00am-2:01am EDT

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>> early june, 1967. the six-day war in the middle east between israel, egypt, jordan and syria is underway. steeples into the mediterranean to eavesdrop. it is in the waters off the
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egyptian coast. with the war reaching its climax, they drop napalm before trying to sink it with torpedoes. >> we had no way to defend ourselves and we were just slaughtered. >> and they shot up life rafts that wur pu were put into the wd they shot up ones still on the ship. >> bullet holes, shell holes, everywhere, the front part of the ship was just red with blood. >> throughout the attack, the
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ship flies the stars and stripes, the united states of america, the name u.s.s liberty, carrying the name of a naval vessel. >> of a crew of just 3400, 100 killed and 174 injured, to varying degrees to life threatening life debilitating jishdebilitatinginjuries so than two-thirds of the crew. >> this audio-tape, never broadcast of was made in real time. the woman's voice in the background is counting down the seconds. it proves that israeli commanders knew all along that they were attacking an american ship.
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for the first time, this and other evidence, allows us to reveal the true story of what happened that day. and what came after. when a deadly assault by one ally on another was covered up, and an american president was manipulated by the secret agents of a foreign power. events that have shaped u.s.-israeli relations ever since. the united states navy memorial in washington, d.c. june the 8th, 2014. every year on the anniversary of the attack on the u.s.s. liberty, survivors relatives and supporters gather together.
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>> it is a remembrance of those who were killed that day, the 34. >> i'm dave lucas, in charge of the deck force, i was 25. my first child was born when i was one day out on that cruise. as long as there are survivors and navy children of survivors i think this will probably be an annual event. >> hand salute. >> the names of the 34 killed are read out. punctuated by the tolling of a navy bell. >> david marlboro. >> and the playing of taps. the traditional military funeral lament. [ ♪ taps ♪ ]
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>> it's important to not forget what happened and to try to find out why it happened and who made it happen. >> in the summer of 1967, america was in turmoil. an insendary mixture of racial discrimination and extreme poverty explode ed into a summer of riots across the country. but one issue dominated. the theet na vietnam war. in all 10,000 troops would die that year. the americans were trapped. they couldn't leave, and they couldn't win. in the middle east, too, war looked inevitable. there was growing tension between israel and its arab neighbors. armies were
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mobilizing. israel said they would not attack first, put they jammed the radar so the americans couldn't attack their jets taking off to launch a surprise assault on egypt. meanwhile, the u.s.s. liberty was sailing across the mediterranean into the war zone. >> liberty was a state-of-the-art intelligence gathering vessel of the time. and what we did was we were a listening ship. my name is lloyd painter. i was a research officer. we could send -- we could receive any signal that was out there. low band, high band, anything, intercepting it, recording it, and we had immediate translation what was going on. we would bounce signals off the moon back to nsa. >> we were spies. i'm jim cavanaugh. i was an officer aboard the u.s.s. liberty and we were
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spies, intercepting messages from police, anything and everything we could get to make sure the united states was comfortable what was going on in the world and no one was conspiring against us. basically it was to protect our interests. >> this was the cold war. american president lyndon johnson knew that the to make sure a local conflict did not become a world war. with the u.s. blocking israel and russia adesigned arab clause. >> i am bryce lockwood, united states marine corps, retired. our primary purpose was to intercept communications of the
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russian spy craft at alexandria, egypt. we were not targeted against israelis. >> life was relaxing. one of the nice things about the liberty we had air conditioning. it was cool in the hot days. it was a very laid back, very clean ship. it was spotless, the morale was high, very high. >> by the time the liberty arrived off the coast of egypt on the 8th of june the war had just two days left to run. israel had seized the old city of jerusalem, the west bank and the gaza strip. jordannian forces were stripped and only egypt held out. >> the only voices we got were those of israeli or hebrew what we were hearing. >> my name was bob wilson, i worked for nsa, on june the 8th, 1967, when the -- what we
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were trying to monitor, find something coming from the direction of egypt, there just was nothing. they owned the skies and everything. they -- i don't think there was anything moving at that time that they didn't know about. >> listening to the chatter. nightly before. and they knew it was an american ship that came into the area. they knew who we were. >> 5:15 a.m., first light. the ship's plog ship's log recorded an aircraft. >> those are photoreconnaissance aircraft. >> israeli photographs recovered by the americans, found it was hull number gtr 5. >> i was on the bridge, i'm john scott, the damage control officer. it circled the ship in kind of a broad circle and headed back towards israel. >> israeli planes then continued
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to fly over the liberty, all morning. >> and they would do half-moon passes over us and we saw they were israeli. >> they were slowly lumbering over our ship. we were waving at them, they were waving at us. >> they were almost as sophisticated as us. we supplied them with all the technology to this day. >> and we felt we were in great shape because they knew who we were. >> it was secure to see them. >> one other thing that made the crew feel safe. >> we had an american flag to fly standard and then the holiday colors which was a huge american flag. it was a bright sunny day, the wind was blowing five or 10 knots. >> meanwhile israeli military jets were on the way. on the realtime audio tape, obtained by al jazeera, at 1:15
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p.m. israeli pilots asked about the ship. the u.s.s. liberty was the only ship of any size in the area. the american sixth fleet including two aircraft carriers was 500 miles away. >> oh it was a great today. hello, i'm jim smith i was the damage controlman in engineering. i'm 20 years old at the time. i come from a small town used to throw hay bales in the summer tine for a buck an hour. sun was shining, blue sky, nice, people sun bathing on the deck. we had lunch and five minutes later, here come the jets and nobody knew what was happening until they started firing. [ gun shots ]
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>> captain said to me, alert the attack. and i tried to raise the two soldiers in the forward gun mounts and i looked and they were blown to pieces by the ra tack. >> when we realized we needed help, we tried to communicate with the sixth fleet. >> they were jamming both the frequencies, the tactical frequencies are all right but the international frequencies, it is illegal to jam them and the israelis were jamming them. >> i have to ask, who would know the frequencies unless the allies? it wasn't egypt, it was israel. only they would know in this conflict what our frequencies would be. >> on techknow... >> these are some of the amazing spider goats >> small creatures, big impact
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>> it's a chilling and draconian sentence... it simply cannot stand. >> this trial was a sham... >> they are truth seekers... >> all they really wanna do is find out what's happening, so they can tell people... >> governments around the world all united to condemn this... >> as you can see, it's still a very much volatile situation... >> the government is prepared to carry out mass array... >> if you want free press in the new democracy, let the journalists live.
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>> cuts off from the outside world the crew on the liberty was defenseless. >> we had four 50-caliber guns on board that would basically repel any situation like pirates, certainly weren't designed to cut down jet aircraft hammering at us. >> you can't defend against aircraft with a 50 caliber machine gun,. >> dead, dying and walking wounded. it was unreal. >> gasoline barrels burst into flames. the crew rushed to put out the fires. >> i was watching the aircraft as they circled around and when they got to coming back towards the ship i just holler at him, down, they would fire circle back around and we would jump
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back up keep returning fire. the rocket sound is horrendous, you can't escape a rocket. >> what the crew didn't know is 3 minutes past 2 the israeli pilots were ordered to use a new most deadly weapon . >> the biggest problem i guess from that was, the napalm which they dropped from the airplane. the napalm had burned scorched almost the whole front part of the bridge, the ship area. >> the whole top part of the ship was set on fire, no longer navy gray. >> you had to stop the fires the flooding, that's your home, you have nowhere to go, you can't go down the road because there is no down the road.
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>> up above, the israeli military argued what should happen next and who should sink the liberty. >> i remember thinking, i was pretty good shape then, i thought i could swim it to the shore and i thought sharks and i thought a lot of things, all quickly, you know. >> at 11 minutes past 2:00 with the israeli jets running out of ammunition, the pilots were instructed to fly down and confirm the identity of the ship. >> it was now 12 minutes past 2:00 and the israeli control tower knew for certain this was an american ship. the same one its forces had
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first identified at 5:15 a.m. that morning and then buzzed again during seven additional reconnaissance flights during the day. the jets then pulled out. but three israeli navy motor torpedo boats were already on their way. ship. in the event of an attack it was standard procedure for spies on board to destroy everything. just in case it fell into enemy hands. >> everyone was destroying material, everyone was stripping information off of computers. ripping computers open. pulling information out. that's something you just don't want to hear aboard ship. you have done all this work collected this intelligence and processed it and now you have to destroyed it. >> you don't want the enemy to get hold of anything classified.
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>> at 2:35 the israeli motor boats fired five torpedos, four missed. but one hit. it had been over nine hours since the israeli military first identified the liberty. israeli planes had flown over it repeatedly and 20 minutes earlier their control tower had confirme confirmed it yet again as an american ship. 25 americans were about to die in a single moment. this is are what i what it lookn a torpedo hits the ship the size of the liberty. >> the torpedo, hit us, lights
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and silence, smoke everywhere. >> i went to the drinking fountain and fid up with blood, reached to get a drink and a black man stared back at me. and when it fell back to get right, it just kept getting wrong. kept sinking and sinking and sinking. >> we just waited, all us waited thinking this is it, we're going down. >> and i figured that was the end of life for me. >> the torpedo had blown a huge hole in the hull. 39 feet by 24. killing 25 americans in a single hit. >> the torpedo hit the room that i was in, and it was just luck. this guy died, this one lived, that guy died. it was how much shrapnel was coming in your direction. the old fashioned typewriters, i had the letter h sticking out of my left foot. i had, i don't know, 80 pieces
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of shrapnel in my lower extremities and the place filled up with water that fast. totally black. totally filled with powder. nd oil. it was like you were agriculturing and you onlgaggins of space where you could catch your breath. only way i could go in that direction was drop down and swim underwater four or five strokes come back up and then frantically catch a breath and try find something else to hold onto. i got pulled through the hatch. and onto the deck. >> others were not so lucky. >> my friend rony campbell ronnie campbell had a desk right there. he said you fellows can do what
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you want to, i'm going to write a letter home. he began typing, dear eileen you never will know what's happening to us. seconds later, the torpedo struck and killed both the two marines, and my friend ronnie campbell. >> my job was to try to get 20 or 30 wounded marines to the life raft. i looked myself before i tried to get anyone up and that's when i observed a motor torpedo boat, israeli, clearly marked with the star of david, machine gunning our boat. >> the crew were trapped with nowhere run and nowhere to hide. >> the torpedo boats came in closer and began to machine gun the ship using armor piercing projectiles.
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>> they were leaving holes about that big in the metal plating. peeling it like orange peel. >> at close range the armor piercing rounds ripped true steel hull of the ship. nowhere was safe. >> this bullet was retrieved from one of the navigational books at the rear portion of the bridge. it penetrated the skin of the ship, gone through at least one other book and then stopped in the second book. this is part of an armor-piercing shell. the outer portion or jacket makes the hole that this then goes through. and a bullet like this had hit seaman francis brown and killed hip. >> he died on the spot, fell to the floor dead, he was barely 18. >> there weren't enough helmets to go around for everyone. >> it was like sitting in a
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cardboard box and having somebody shoot through it. the bullets were just coming everywhere. >> throughout the attack the liberty had been silent to the outside world. all its aerials were either smashed or jammed. >> we had one whip antenna which hadn't worked the entire cruise and it had a bullet hole in it. one of the radio men had taken a reel of collapsed cable and ran it from the whip antenna and took some shrapnel in the process. he got out and played it fire fox fire fox this is rock star rock star. under attack and require immediate assistance. >> the american sixth fleet was 500 miles away, around picked up the signal. so did the israeli armed
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services and the attack stopped sometime afterwards. the americans were in the middle of a drill and had to arm with conventional bombs before they could take off. they summoned the fairly attache and told them there had been a terrible mistake. planes were recalled, as they returned israeli planes filled flew out to the liberty. >> this one had personnel from the israeli government and the u.s. naval attache dropped a brown paper sack on the deck in the fore part of the ship, weighted down with an orange, had a business card in it. it landed right next to the severed leg of one of the deck personnel. >> and the note said: "do you
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have casualties?" >> pretty obvious that there were casualties. i mean there's still body parts and blood streaming down the bulk heads. so his message do you have casualties, was kind of out of place. >> one of the sailors carried that sack back to the captain. the captain took out the note and read it, looked up at the helicopter and popped the social finger at it. >> a brutal drug war >> this here were the remains of 31 people that were found... >> thousands disappearing >> the cost of kidnapping and killing a human being is almost zero >> fault lines, al jazeera america's hard hitting... >> today they will be
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>> protestors are gathering... >> there's an air of tension right now... >> the crowd chanting for democracy...
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>> this is another significant development... >> we have an exclusive story tonight, and we go live...
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>> with the politics sorted the only remaining issue was the fate of the u.s.s. liberty. badly damaged and now in malta for extensive repairs, the torpedo hole was massive. and was revealed to be much bigger once they got the ship
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into dry dock and drained it of water. the sealed compartment was a water-filled tomb. full of bodies, body parts and top secret equipment. >> you could smell death and you remember. as soon as the air hit the rapidly. >> do you what you have to do. -- you do what you have to done. >> go with your shipmates, still are. >> the navy was more concerned with equipment instead of body parts and i knew you couldn't separate the two. we had to start shoveling the parts, 168 bags worth. >> elsewhere the makeup artists were getting to work. >> we were in the dry dock about six weeks and 300 maltese were cutting out holes, fabricating metal to cover the torpedo hole.
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>> and then on one day they panned the entire ship. we looked like nothing ever happened. we took it across the atlantic. it was like being in a cemetery. but the press were there and we looked like basically nothing had ever happened. it was great for the press to down play what really happened to us. >> while the survivors met the widows and friends, the 168 bags of body parts and top secret equipment were quietly taken to an incinerator and burned. a year later, william mcgonagle was given the medal of honor. the tradition had always been that it was presented by the president in the white house. >> i look at these two grant marines, and i -- gallant marines and i see america. >> captd
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mcgonigle, never heard these words, he received his medal in a quiet ceremony in the navy yard. president johnson was just four miles away at the time. he stayed in the white house to hand out diplomas to schoolchildren. the reason was revealed in this internal memo which advised president johnson that due to the nature and sensitivity of these awards they should be given by the department of defense not by him. the advice was clear. no press release regarding them should be made. >> when i received my purple heart, in a secret ceremony in the captain's office, i was admonished, threat of courts martial, don't tell anyone how you got this medal. >> the following year, american aid to israel increased four fold. and president johnson agreed a
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treaty classified above top secret with israel for mutual exchange of intelligence, an arrangement still in place today, code named, stone ruby. >> one of the things that astonished me there wasn't a nice explanation of what went on. no one wants too tal to talk abe why. >> the big secret the israelis wanted to talk about was the big move. they had told the americans this had been a limited war and not a land grab. but on june 8th, 1967, their forces were poised to seize the golan heights, something they wished to keep from the americans until they had done it. successful administrations both
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republican and democrat had refused to deal with the liberty even the issue of war crimes against unarmed americans has never been addressed. >> there was a war crimes report filed by the liberty association to address the issues of such war crimes as firing on life rafts. that was never answered. properly. i don't think it was answered period. the people who were responsible for attacking the liberty were, you know, by and large the room. i don't know how many. four, eight, ten. those were the people who came up with the plan. those are the individuals who are responsible for attack. the pilots, the motor torpedo boat personnel they were ordered, you know, you don't follow orders, go to jail. so they have to follow through. there wasn't the israeli people who ordered that attack. it wasn't the average jewish person who ordered that attack.
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we really need to exonerate the average jewish person israeli from this and go towards those individuals who were responsible for the attack. >> no one was really willing to take this on. not the state department, the white house, not the congress, it's in everybody's best interest to just let this go. and that's exactly what they did. but by doing that, they left a lot of pain for the survivors, and for the families. because there was a lot of broken families, broken marriages, alcoholism, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder. , so those crew members suffered a lot but so did the families. >> the hardest part was the reaction of the american government towards us. and we were actually -- the
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fingers were pointed to us. and the israelis were -- they were never questioned as to why they did it. they only questioned us. >> the families still want answers from their government which remains silent. for many, some memories never fade. >> we had a wonderful time just being together. i met allen at a party. we spent a lot of time talking throughout the evening. and at the end of the evening, he said to me, "are you busy tomorrow afternoon?" and i said, "well, no." and he said, "do you think we could get married?" then i was told that he was among the dead. it was absolutely the worst moment of my life. >> there's not a day that doesn't go by where i don't think about those guys. i mean i went through hell but they left the earth.
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>> when i'm walking up to the mass grave i still feel a connection with those people. hard to explain, but it's still there. so i want to remember that connection. as long as i can. >> what we shared, what we felt, . >> it took 13 years of haggling before both sides both agreed on the compensation for ship. in 1980 the bill for the ship minus interest was $17 million. the israelis offered 6, the americans accepted then sold the ship for $700,000 scrap. still many are
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unsatisfied. >> it wasn't a fair settlement, i would have accepted it but i was so sad and broken i just didn't have the energy to take on that fight. and it wasn't a fight that i thought i could win. state department were very eager for the survivors to make that settlement. they sent a check for the amount, and that was that. >> the american government came up with a formula for the israelis to compensate the widows and children for their loss. this included a payment for shock and mental anguish. the widows got $25,000 with $10,000 for each of their children over five. an american government lawyer doubted that children under five could sufficiently comprehend the event to suffer shock and grief. the u.s. proposed they should therefore receive nothing. an offer the israelis accepted.
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since the attack on the liberty, the u.s.a. and israel have grown ever closer. at the time, george ball, the u.s. undersecretary of state noted that it seemed clearly to the israelis that as american leaders did not have the courage to punish them for blatant murder of american citizens they would let them get away with anything. >> america votes 2014 midterms it's all come down to this... >> you are going to determine whether i'm going to be the next senator from iowa >> the candidates last chance to convince voters
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they're the one... they will stop at nothing to get your vote >> david young, how are you? >> run for congress >> it's important to be out here talking to voters >> director aj schnack's unprecedented series concludes >> it's certainly something that doesn't exist in politics on television >> america votes 2014 midterms only on al jazeera america >> all of these people eagerly waiting in line are about to get closer than they ever have before to an 8,000 pound giant.
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>> hi bamboo! >> bamboo is the oldest elephant here at seattle's woodland park zoo. she shares this space with two other elephants, 35 year old chai and 45 year old retoto. >> so even when we have elephants that are sharing the same space together, they often times choose just to share opposite ends of the exhibit. >> a growing body of evidence shows that zoo elephants thrive when they are able to socialize with each other in a herd of three or more. the a.z.a. is requiring all of its accredited zoos with less than three elephants, increase their herds or phase out their programs and donate their elephants to other zoos. animal rights advocates say that's not enough. >> what would you like to see for these elephants? >> i would like to see them retired to a sanctuary where they can roam on vast acres of land. >> but curator martin ramirez believes zoos have a duty to breed new elephants and sanctuaries are meant for the animals to live out their days, not procreate.
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>> there you go, perfect! >> ramirez hopes that providing an up close and personal experience will inspire everyone to join the effort to save the elephants. >> and accident in the desert. virgin galactic spaceship 2 goes down. one pilot dead, the other injured. the second setback in just three days. what does this mean for the future of space exploration? >> this business is worthy business, it's not easy, if it would be easy, it wouldn't be for my colleagues standing with us. i would say stay the course. >> i'm ali velshi. this is "real money."