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Received The Medal of Honor for Defending The USS Liberty Against an Attack From Israel

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The United States and Israel have not always seen eye to eye, but they have been nothing less than strong allies since the Israeli State was founded in 1948.  So while it might seem odd to ponder a US Navy ship coming under attack from Israel, that is precisely what happened in 1967 to the USS Liberty commanded by Captain William McGonagle.

It occurred against the backdrop of the Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt and by the time it was over, 34 US servicemen had been killed and over 170 wounded.  And while controversy about the attack exists to this day, both Israel and the United States acknowledge it as a tragic error.

But when the bullets are raining down and torpedoes are in the water, all that mattered to Captain McGonagle was keeping the ship afloat and as many men alive as possible.  For his actions that day, he would be awarded the nation’s highest military honor from an incident that never should have occurred.

The USS Liberty

William McGonagle was born in 1925 and after high school and a little college, he enlisted in the Navy in 1944. Although World War II was still in full steam, he participated in a Navy training program at the University of Southern California that would eventually lead to a commission as an officer in 1947.

In the postwar years, he served in a variety of positions which included a tour on the USS Kite minesweeper ship during the Korean War. And while that gave him a little taste of action, his combat experience would be mostly defined in the middle of a war of which the United States had no part.

In 1966, he took command of the Belmont-class technical research ship USS Liberty. And while the public mission of these technical research ships was to conduct research into atmospheric and communications phenomena, it was for all technical purposes a ship design to intercept electronic communications from foreign nations.

Because it was widely known that the ships were essentially “spy ships,” there’s always been great deal of controversy around the Israeli attack and whether or not Israel knew full well what they were doing.

As the Six-Day War broke out in June 1967, the USS Liberty was dispatched to collect signals intelligence off the coast of both Egypt and Israel. Due to the hostile nature of the waters, it is reported that Capt. McGonagle asked the United States 6th Fleet for destroyer escort.

However, he was told that the USS Liberty is a clearly marked American ship and no reasonable person be they Israeli or Egyptian would have any reason to attack. In another unfortunate mistake, a message intended to direct the USS Liberty to increase its distance off the coasts of these two warring nations was delayed and not delivered until well after the attack had already taken place.

Amidships starboard hull and superstructure attack damage.
Amidships starboard hull and superstructure attack damage.

 

The USS Liberty conducted its mission as previously ordered and on June 8, 1967, one the most tragic military misunderstandings between two Allies took place in the Eastern Mediterranean off the coast of Sinai.

Attack from Air and Sea

General Yitzhak Rabin of the Israeli Defense force had made it clear that Israel would take all actions deemed necessary to protect its coast. However, a series of miscommunications early on the morning of June 8 led to what was a clearly marked American ship being labeled on maps as unknown and potentially hostile.

USS Liberty via commons.wikimedia.org
USS Liberty.

 

The problem was exacerbated by reports of an Egyptian ship shelling the coast of Israel. Around 2 PM local time, the uncertainty had reached critical mass and an approval for an attack on the American ship was given.

Two Israeli Mirage jet attack aircraft dived down on the ship firing 30 mm cannons and rockets catching the crew of the USS liberty completely by surprise as the attack began.

Israeli Motor Torpedo Boats (MTBs) in formation, circa 1967. These were the MTBs that attacked USS Liberty. Photo Credit.
Israeli Motor Torpedo Boats (MTBs) in formation, circa 1967. These were the MTBs that attacked USS Liberty. קודקוד צהוב – CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Unfortunately for the USS Liberty, they were only armed with 4 .50 caliber machine guns and hopelessly outmatched under such an attack. In the meantime, Capt. McGonagle was one of the men wounded during the initial wave of the attack taking hits to his arm and leg. Although the bridge was heavily damaged, McGonagle refused to leave and seek medical attention while the attack was still ongoing.

He continued to direct damage control, maneuver the ship, and ascertain who was doing the shooting all while bleeding heavily. Once the Mirages ran out of ammunition, they were replaced by two Dassault Mystere aircraft armed with napalm. Their attack set the deck of the USS Liberty ablaze and the ship was engulfed in smoke and flames.

Dassault Mirage at the Israeli Air Force Museum. Photo Credit.
Dassault Mirage at the Israeli Air Force Museum. By Oren Rozen CC BY-SA 3.0

 

As if it were not bad enough, that is when the Israeli torpedo boats arrived. Throughout the attack, there were several delays where the Israelis held off as they were perplexed by the lack of return fire from the USS Liberty.

When the torpedo boats arrived, the smoke engulfing the ship made physical identification all the more difficult. As a result, the torpedo boats were given clearance to fire and sent five torpedoes heading directly towards the USS Liberty. Fortunately, only one made contact but for a ship which had already endured so much, that was enough.

WilliamMcGonagle
William Loren McGonagle, October 1967, recipient of the Medal of Honor.

 

An International Incident

Despite being heavily damaged, Capt. McGonagle was able to rally the crew and salvage the ship from sinking. It was after the torpedo attack that Israel became clear about who it was they were attacking and ceased fire. The torpedo boats returned to offer assistance which was less than politely refused by the American ship.

Over 30 men were dead and 170 wounded in an attack that never should’ve occurred in the first place. Capt. McGonagle maintained command of his ship despite bleeding heavily until a US destroyer arrived to offer assistance.

Damaged USS Liberty one day (9 June 1967) after attack.
Damaged USS Liberty one day (9 June 1967) after the attack.

 

Capt. McGonagle was placed in an impossible scenario to do anything other than fight for the lives of the men on his ship as best he could. For his actions that day, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Israel offered an apology for the mistake and later financial compensation for those involved.

Officially, the United States accepted the apology and the story that this was a mistake of human error. However, many in the government and the public had a hard time believing that Israel could have made this large a mistake given the multiple opportunities it had to clearly identify the ship.

Torpedo damage aboard the USS Liberty via commons.wikimedia.org
Torpedo damage aboard the USS Liberty.

 

It’s not always possible for the man to pick the conflict he wants as it is often just required to fight the one that comes to you. Capt. McGonagle displayed poise and gallantry in combat that had rarely been seen since the great naval conflicts of World War II.

He would go on to serve in the Navy until 1974 and rise to the rank of Captain as a hero of the war of which his nation was not even a part.

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Hillary Clinton’s Fingerprints Are All Over The FBI’s Investigation Into Trump’s Russia Ties

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A significant part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s basis for investigating the Trump campaign’s Russia ties is looking more and more like a political hit job carried out by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign. Her campaign’s fingerprints are on at least three separate pieces of information fed to the FBI, including the Christopher Steele dossier Republicans say formed the basis of a secret warrant obtained to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page.

A former State Department official confirmed on the record Thursday that Clinton associates were funneling information to Steele as he was compiling a dossier commissioned and paid for by the Clinton campaign and DNC. That’s on top of the recent revelation that a top Department of Justice official fed the FBI information compiled by his wife, who was working for the firm Clinton and the DNC were paying to dig up dirt on Trump, Fusion GPS.

The dossier was quoted “extensively” in the FBI’s application to obtain a warrant to spy on the Trump campaign, according to a memo released by Republicans on the House intelligence committee. In a January letter to the FBI made public this week, two Senate Republicans also said Steele’s information formed a “significant portion” of the warrant application.

“It is troubling enough that the Clinton Campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility,” Sens. Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, and Lindsey Graham wrote in the letter referring Steele to the FBI for a criminal investigation.

Taken together, here’s what we know so far about the extent of Clinton’s involvement in the FBI’s case.

1. Clinton ally Sidney Blumenthal funneled information to the FBI through a contact at the State Department.

In an account published by The Washington Post, former State Department official Jonathan Winer describes how research compiled by a Clinton ally made its way into his hands and then to the FBI. Winer was in charge of combating transnational organized crime at the State Department under Bill Clinton in the 1990s, and returned under the Obama administration to work on international law enforcement. Between his two gigs, he became friends with Steele, who as a result began feeding information to the State Department, and tipped Winer off in Sept. 2016 to the Trump dossier he was compiling.

That same month, Winer met Blumenthal, who provided him with notes on Trump and Russia compiled by another Clinton insider, Cody Shearer. “What struck me was how some of the material echoed Steele’s but appeared to involve different sources,” Winer writes in The Washington Post. He decided to show the notes to Steele, who told him the information could be used to corroborate his dossier. Steele walked away with a copy of the notes, which he provided to the FBI.

Shearer and Blumenthal, known respectively as “Mr. Fixer” and “Vicious Sid” in Clinton world, are staunch allies of the Clintons. Winer notes he didn’t know whether the information Blumenthal fed him was accurate, but says he fed it to Steel anyway because he was “alarmed at Russia’s role in the 2016 election.”

Grassley and Graham express concern in their criminal referral that Steele was “vulnerable to manipulation” while compiling his dossier on Trump, as he has admitted to meeting with at least four different news outlets during that time (in violation of an agreement he had with the FBI), and indicated he received unsolicited and unverified tips on Trump and included them in his dossier. “Simply put, the more people who contemporaneously knew that Mr. Steele was compiling his dossier, the more likely it was vulnerable to manipulation,” they wrote in their letter.

Of course, the Clinton network knew to some extent about the dossier, since Hillary’s campaign and the DNC had commissioned and funded the effort through Fusion GPS. Whether Blumenthal was planting bogus information to manipulate Steele or passing along what he regarded as a legitimate tip is unclear, but it’s certainly not a good look.

Regardless, this second unverified and unsolicited dossier made its way to the FBI thanks to the Clinton camp.

2. Steele was at that same time compiling a dossier paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC.

As noted, Steele was already well into work on a dossier paid for by the Clinton campaign and DNC regarding Trump’s Russia ties when Winer approached him. Perkins Coie, a law firm representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, had hired Fusion GPS to dig up opposition research on Trump prior to the election. Fusion in turn employed Steele, a former British spy, to compile the dossier. His work was entirely funded by Democrats.

The FBI was never able to verify the salacious claims in Steele’s dossier, so relied heavily on his reputation to infuse the document with credibility before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, according to the Republican memo and criminal referral. The bureau continued to vouch for him before the court in subsequent applications to renew the warrant, even after learning he was “desperate” to stop Trump from getting elected, had broken the bureau’s trust by dishing to the press in one case, and potentially lied to the bureau outright in several other instances — a criminal offense. The court learned none of this, and continued to grant the FBI permission to spy on a U.S. citizen based in part on Steele’s research.

3. A top DOJ official fed the FBI research on Trump from his wife also paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC.

The third piece of information provided to the FBI in connection with Clinton allies is research compiled by the wife of former senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, who worked closely with Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and her replacement, Rod Rosenstein. Ohr was also a friend of Steele.

Ohr’s wife was employed by Fusion GPS to help compile opposition research on Trump. According to the Republican memo, Ohr eventually turned over all of the information she compiled — while working ultimately for the Clinton campaign and the DNC — to the FBI. It’s unclear whether this information made it into the FISA applications, but it’s one more example of evidence received by the FBI that can be traced back to the Clinton campaign.

According to the Republican memo, the FISA court was never informed of the Ohr’s connections to Fusion GPS and Steele.

In sum: To obtain a warrant to spy on a Trump campaign associate, the FBI relied heavily on a dossier that was never substantiated, put together by a former spy “desperate” to stop Trump. That dossier was paid for by powerful Democrats on Trump’s rival campaign, who also paid for opposition research the FBI received from a powerful couple inside President Obama’s DOJ. Separately, two Clinton allies worked together to funnel a second unsubstantiated dossier to the FBI through the State Department.

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After Settlement With Fraternity, The Rolling Stone Rape Hoax Saga Is Officially Over

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More than three years after Rolling Stone published the most significant false accusation of rape since the Duke Lacrosse hoax, the saga is officially over for the magazine.

That’s right, Rolling Stone is only now able to put this travesty behind them — at least legally. The magazine reached a final settlement in late December with the members of the fraternity that were falsely maligned in the story. The details have not been disclosed, but at least two members of the fraternity will be the beneficiary of the settlement. Three fraternity members – George Elias IV, Ross Fowler and Stephen Hadford alleged there was enough information in the article to identify them as some of the potential rapists in the story.

The original story was told by a young woman named Jackie Coakley — identified only as “Jackie” in the article — who said she was taken on a date by a handsome member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at the University of Virginia, and then led back to the fraternity house where several other members of the fraternity violently gang-raped her on top of a broken glass table.

The three named brothers filed their lawsuit in July 2015, seven months after the article was published. They each claimed they were harassed by family, friends, and coworkers as potential rapists in the months following publication. A year later, a judge dismissed their lawsuit, claiming “the article’s details about the attackers are too vague and remote from the plaintiffs’ circumstances to be ‘of and concerning’ them.”

Bizarrely, U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel in Manhattan, who dismissed the lawsuit, also wrote: “Their defamation claims are directed toward a report about events that simply did not happen.” Yes, Castel, that is how defamation works.

The 2nd Circuit reversed Castel’s decision in September 2017, after Rolling Stone had reached settlements on two other lawsuits brought in the wake of the infamous article. The federal appellate circuit stated readers “could plausibly conclude that many or all fraternity members participated in alleged gang rape as an initiation ritual and all members knowingly turned a blind eye to the brutal crimes.” Rolling Stone and the fraternity members reached a settlement three months later.

The first settlement the magazine had to pay was to former UVA dean Nicole Eramo, who was portrayed as the “chief villain” in the story and as someone who was callous and indifferent to rape accusations from students. She filed a lawsuit in May 2015, and the suit eventually went to trial. During the trial, it was revealed that Rolling Stone removed information that cast Eramo in a favorable light.

Rolling Stone, its publisher Jann Wenner, and the article’s author Sabrina Rubin Erdely, were all found liable for defamation in November 2016. Eramo was awarded $3 million in damages. The two sides settled in April 2017 for an undisclosed amount.

Then in June 2017, the magazine settled with the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity for $1.65 million. The fraternity said it would give “a significant portion” to victims’ advocacy groups.

Those who were wronged by the article have received compensation for their suffering, but only Rolling Stone has been punished for its role in the fake story. Will Dana, who was the managing editor of the magazine at the time the false story was published, left the magazine in 2015, but was not fired. Publisher Jann Wenner agreed to sell his share of the magazine in 2017, meaning he would walk away with millions. Erdely has not written anything since and appears to still be underground. In a strange bit of irony, the last thing she ever tweeted was a reply to ProPublica reporter Pamela Colloff about correcting a tweet to label Erdely as a “journalist,” instead of simply a “woman.”

Shortly after this tweet, the article began to fall apart. She hadn’t even done the most basic journalism, like confirming that the man Coakley went on a date with actually existed (he did not). In fact, Jackie made him up in an elaborate attempt to win the affections of another student.

The magazine itself was punished with a blow to its credibility and the settlements. But, just as in the Duke Lacrosse case, many of the people who enabled the false accusation and unfairly deemed the fraternity as guilty from the start were unharmed by the article. UVA President Teresa Sullivan still has her job, even though she prematurely punished the entire Greek system at the university in the wake of the article.

Sullivan extended a voluntary ban on social activities for months after the article was punished, and required organizations to sign new agreements in order to resume such activities. She never apologized for her behavior and rush to judgement.

And Coakley, the woman who made up the story that led to tarnished reputations of her alma mater and an innocent fraternity, never saw any sort of punishment except for lies being debunked in the national media. UVA never punished her for lying, and she faced no legal consequences.

Clearly, Coakley was an emotionally disturbed individual, and many shy away from taking on someone like that even if they did hurt other people (even though we could claim that anyone who commits a heinous crime is also disturbed). At the same time, she was enabled by adults who should have known better, but instead enabled her, apparently because they couldn’t believe someone would lie about something so horrific.

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5 Awesome Sci-Fi Movie Technologies That'd Suck In Real Life

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Victory Over PC Art Censorship In England Proves We Can Have Nice Things If We Try

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An art gallery in Manchester, England removed a famous painting by pre-Raphaelite painter John William Waterhouse from an exhibit in January. By February, after public outcry, it was back.

The painting is Hylas and the Nymphs, a depiction of a young man being lured into a pond by a group of beautiful, nude water nymphs. It’s certainly sexual in nature, probably a PG-13 or even R scene if one had to subject it to the ratings of the Motion Pictures Association. But it wasn’t religious groups, armies of homeschooling moms, or puritanical conservative activists who wanted the painting removed.

No, it was the new puritan — the woke activist.

The painting, which hung in a room entitled “In Pursuit of Beauty,” was removed “to prompt conversations about how we display and interpret artworks in Manchester’s public collection.” The gallery’s curator felt a “sense of embarrassment” that the 19th century art displayed in the room depicted women as passive objects and femme fatale figures without proper modern #TimesUp and #MeToo context.

After its removal, there was indeed conversation in newspapers, social media, and on the wall of the gallery, where visitors left Post-It notes: “good subject for debate, but please put it back and analyze in context!” and “Why not remove ‘Sirens & Ulysses’ in Gallery 6? Based on similar concept of femme fatale? Was it a bit too heavy to carry?”

The removal was a prelude to a March exhibition by Sonia Boyce, a modern artist and professor at Middlesex. She called its removal “art in action,” saying the idea was to get more people involved in the value judgments that go into what art is displayed. The gallery claims the removal was never meant to be permanent. Postcards of the work were also removed from the gift shop. Her full explanation is here.

Here’s how the removal of the piece went down — in the most eye-rollingly woke, modern art professor way possible. A professor and five members of a “drag collective” walk into an art gallery to talk about viewing art in a non-binary way. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

“The reason why I invited five performance artists to Manchester Art Gallery last month — Lasana Shabazz, and the drag collective Family Gorgeous: Anna Phylactic, Venus Vienna, Liquorice Black and Cheddar Gorgeous — was to ask them to respond artistically to various works in these historical galleries with an audience of gallery-goers. This was to help us consider these artworks in a non-binary way. The takedown of Hylas and the Nypmhs happened at the end of this event. I think people who weren’t there imagine a rather raucous, militant action, but in truth the taking down was sedate and quite low-key. Once the painting was off the wall, people continued mingling.”

Calm, censorious mobs are still censorious mobs. The point of this exercise, whether it created conversation or not, was to send the signal that this particular work is outside

After a seven-day absence and lots of outcry, the painting is back up, and the gallery calls the response “fantastic.”

“We’ve been inundated with responses to our temporary removal of Hylas and the Nymphs as part of the forthcoming Sonia Boyce exhibition, and it’s been amazing to see the depth and range of feelings expressed. The painting is rightly acknowledged as one of the highlights of our pre-Raphaelite collection, and over the years has been enjoyed by millions of visitors to the gallery. We were hoping the experiment would stimulate discussion, and it’s fair to say we’ve had that in spades — and not just from local people but from art lovers around the world. Throughout the painting’s seven-day absence, it’s been clear that many people feel very strongly about the issues raised, and we now plan to harness this strength of feeling for some further debate on these wider issues.”

This week, word also came out of Duluth that public schools there will stop requiring the study of Mark Twain’s
“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “To Kill a Mockingbird,” because the canon of American classics is not properly woke and uses racial slurs that school officials feel students can’t possibly handle and contextualize, despite having teachers who are supposed to teach them to handle and contextualize things.

Duluth schools will generously allow these American masterpieces to stay in the school library where students can read them on their own time, but they will not be part of required 11th grade readings thanks to years of complaints about the use of racial slurs in these works.

The local NAACP head called the novels “just hurtful” and local school officials suggested plenty of other novels can teach the same lessons without hurting students.

“We felt that we could still teach the same standards and expectations through other novels that didn’t require students to feel humiliated or marginalized by the use of racial slurs,” curriculum director [Michael] Cary told the Duluth News Tribune.

The decision did not involve teachers, only administrators. The Superintendent has an interesting take on what teaching and learning should be about.

“When curriculum materials are making some students feel uncomfortable, then we need to make a better choice,” Superintendent Bill Gronseth said.

Getting rid of “To Kill A Mockingbird” and Mark Twain works are not without precedent. They’ve been moving steadily up the American Library Association’s list of banned and challenged books over the last two and a half decades as wokeness becomes the new cause for censors.

The most recent high-profile jettisoning of “To Kill a Mockingbird” happened in Biloxi, Miss. in 2017. There, officials brought the book back after outcry in the community. Students now have the option to do an intensive study of the book with parental permission.

At the time, a group of mature 11th-graders from New Jersey wrote letters appealing to Biloxi officials not to abandon the book, making me believe for a fleeting moment that the children really are the future.

“These derogatory and offensive words are powerful; they make people uncomfortable because they are painful to hear. However, it is critical that discrimination, offensive language and racism are discussed in the classroom,” they wrote. “We need a book like ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ to illustrate the extreme prejudice that existed in our country’s past and to help start a conversation about the issues that sadly still exist today.”

A lot of art can potentially make people uncomfortable, particularly when it deals with different times and hard issues. Disappearing controversial words and works doesn’t make us smarter. Even if art is calmly removed by a non-binary group of performers with awesome outfits and names, let’s not pretend it’s a conversation.

More speech makes a conversation, not less.

In Manchester and Biloxi, speaking up for speech subverted silencing. If we have some more of that, we might be able to keep more nice things and nice conversations.

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How to Set a Music Alarm With Your Google Home Speaker

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I love starting every morning with a daily briefing from my Google Home speaker (just say “Hey, Google good morning” and you’ll get the weather, news and any events on your calendar), but using it as an alarm clock is another story. That’s because Google’s never made it easy to wake up to music instead of a wailing siren—until now.

Thanks to a new Google Assistant update announced this week, you can finally set a music alarm for Google Home with a simple voice command. Just say, “Hey Google, set an alarm for 6 a.m. (or any other time) that plays [name of band or musician].” This will work with whatever streaming service you have set up, like Spotify or Google Play Music.

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As you can probably guess from the voice command, it’s not easy to pick a specific song. Instead you’re just picking an artist, which adds an element of surprise when the alarm goes off each morning.

If you do want to hear a certain track, there’s a workaround (courtesy of BGR). All you need to do is create a one-song playlist and ask Google Home to use that as your alarm. It may not be a seamless process but it’s still a lot better than the old system, which required saving your song offline before you could use it as an alarm with Google Home.

Just don’t use your favorite song as an alarm. It may sound like a good idea now, but you’ll be sick of it in a couple of weeks and the song will be ruined. Instead, try something pleasant that builds up to an exciting climax to get you out of bed, or take BGR’s advice and torture yourself with Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” every morning.

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Whatever you pick, make sure to set a backup alarm that doesn’t rely on a smart speaker. That way if the power or internet go out overnight you’ll still wake up.

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