Statement of Ambassador Edward Peck
Former Chief of Mission in Iraq and Deputy Director of
Ronald Reagan’s White House Task Force on Terrorism
The Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest decoration for bravery that our
nation can bestow, was awarded to the Commanding Officer of the USS Liberty, Captain
Three significant aspects of the fully deserved recognition of his heroic actions
are worthy of note. Each of them constitutes additional evidence and compelling
indictments of the nature and extent of the cover-up, the shameful efforts to protect
relations with a foreign country at the expense of American military personnel.
First, the Congressional Medal of Honor is always presented at the White House
by the President. Captain McGonagle received his at the Washington Navy Yard,
presented by the Secretary of the Navy. The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral
Moorer, referred to the hastily arranged ceremony as a ‘back-handed slap’. It is similar
in effect to handing it to him in a paper bag in some back alley.
Second, this was the first time in history the Congressional Medal was awarded
for action in the face of an enemy with which the United States was not at war. In fact,
Israel, the nation that launched and sustained a two-hour air and sea attack on a US Navy
ship was considered a friend.
Third, the US has just gone through a long, painful, costly and embarrassing effort
to unravel the cover-up of the death by friendly fire of Pat Tillman in Afghanistan.
American servicemen will be punished for attempting to conceal the circumstances of
the accidental killing of a single American soldier by his own comrades. It is totally
unacceptable that even though Israeli servicemen would not receive punishment for
carrying out their orders, orders that resulted in the killing and wounding of more than
200 of the Liberty’s crew, our government has steadfastly refused to permit the survivors
of the heaviest attack on a Navy ship since WWII to tell properly constituted official
investigators what happened on that fateful day.
This is obsequious, unctuous subservience to the peripheral interests of a foreign
nation at the cost of the lives and morale of our own service members and their families.
It should no longer be condoned.