IMHO Noone Special has it right – in cases like these, the only logical tool at our disposal is Occam’s Razor.
Israel and the IDF and IAF are motivated to lie about the attack – if they fucked up, they want it to seem like they didn’t fuck up as bad as they did. And if they didn’t, they of course want that to be covered up.
The survivors obviously have biased views as well. This is unavoidable: I can’t imagine how one could survive a deadly attack and record one’s observations without some kind of slant. It is normal human reaction to vilify one’s attackers.
And the US government probably just wants the whole thing to go away. At some level, they have to balance the needs of a proxy state in the region (which has been incredibly effective at acting as a lever for the US) with the needs of its servicemen. They have to draw that line in the sand somewhere.
We have no irrefutable evidence either way. So we have to go with the simplest story. The simplest story does not involve a bi-national coverup extending to the highest levels of government. Congressional investigations “ordered” by the president to find in a particular way (isn’t Congress supposed to be independent?). Plans, apparently phoned in from Washington, which immediately called off the Liberty’s air cover within an hour, as claimed by Mr. Duality’s cite. We are talking 1967 here, when it took two weeks to decide on targets to bomb in North Vietnam. 35 years of nearly complete silence by every member of both sides of the government. These things appear as flights of fancy, at least to me. So we have to go with human error, IMHO.
Even with much greater levels of technology, we drop bombs on our own troops and those of our allies. Even with the most precise GPS targeting, we blow up Chinese Embassies. There has always been a fog of war, and there probably always will be. To posit an extensive, highly coordinated coverup between two different governments in the height of a vicious war is IMHO a little ludicrous.
The USS Liberty is not unique in this fact. Other incidents of friendly fire have drawn the exact same calls of conspiracy and cover up. One which comes to mind is when Norman Schwarzkopf lost 8 men to US artillery in Vietnam.
The parents of one of the men lost, Michael Mullen, became convinced of a cover up, and have testified to Congress and written books about it. Again, officials including Schwarzkopf deny any such conspiracy, and blame it on the fog of war. Friendly fire is tragic, especially because survivors cannot vilify the enemy and take comfort in the fact that their loved ones died in a brave necessary fight.