'Smoking Gun' for Claims of NCOI Testimony Tampering
K. J. Halliwell (July 10, 2008 -- Revised June 2, 2015)

Navy Captain Ward Boston was the senior counsel (i.e., legal adviser) for the NCOI (Naval Court of Inquiry) that investigated the USS Liberty attack.  Before his death in 2008, Captain Boston wrote and made public a signed affidavit that, in part, claimed the NCOI testimony transcript was tampered, after its submission, by amending or removing apparently troublesome testimony:

"... I know that the Court of Inquiry transcript that has been released to the public is not the same one that I certified and sent off to Washington.

I know this because it was necessary, due to the exigencies of time, to hand correct and initial a substantial number of pages. I have examined the released version of the transcript and I did not see any pages that bore my hand corrections and initials. Also, the original did not have any deliberately blank pages, as the released version does. Finally, the testimony of Lt. Painter concerning the deliberate machine gunning of the life rafts by the Israeli torpedo boat crews, which I distinctly recall being given at the Court of Inquiry and included in the original transcript, is now missing and has been excised."

Whether or not Captain Boston's statements are accurate is unknown; although, at least one attack survivor, Lloyd Painter, who testified at NCOI proceedings, has publicly and repeatedly noted that part of his testimony -- torpedo boats firing on empty life rafts -- does not appear in the NCOI's record of his testimony.  No others (known to this author), who participated in the NCOI, have publicly stated explicit claims that support Boston's above claims.  Thus, one is left with reading and studying NCOI testimony for signs of possible tampering that might serve as material evidence to support Boston's and Painter's claims.

If one closely studies NCOI testimony, several instances can be found where individual (e.g., Ensign Lucas and LTJG Painter) testimony appears to contain chronological or event detail gaps, or seems to end abruptly; but these perceived anomalies may be due to unrealistic expectations of witness memory or other innocent causes, and not a true indication of tampering.

There is one glaring exception: a grossly out-of-order and somewhat unusual bit of testimony by LT Bennett appears on page 100 of the NCOI transcript.  On page 100, it states that witness Bennett was recalled and reminded of his oath. Bennett answered one question, not related to his job function, and then he was promptly dismissed.  Later, on page 114, it states that Bennett was called as a witness, took the oath, answered many questions related to his job function, and then he was dismissed.  It is clear, from the NCOI record, that testimony was recorded in chronological order.  So, LT Bennett's chronologically out-of-order (recalled before being called) and job function unrelated testimony is at least extremely confusing and highly suspicious; and at most, it is a "smoking gun" that directly supports Boston's claims.