Well now, Mr Carter, I’m glad to see you are writing honestly about Israel and the Middle East, and our entanglements therewith–congratulations on being the first US president to do so. I hope your book does well in sales and more importantly, starts an honest discussion of our affairs in the region, and maybe, just maybe, starts us, the American people and state and the American Jewish community, on a path away from our blind and unconditional support of Israel at its neighbors and American democracy’s expense.
Your appearance in Austin this past Thursday was about as much of a dog-and-pony show as politics allows these days. All 1000+ of us here in Austin who bought the $30 ticket for your book, and waited several hours in line in front of the bookstore got to walk in front of you and watch you busily sign books and maybe, just maybe, say hi to you.
That’s just the nature of there being just one of you and a whole lot of us, each of whom want some piece of your time. I understand. But I’m not that interested in your book to spend that money and time for it, but I did so in order to ask you the question I did about one of the biggest unreported scandals during your administration, the Itavia DC-9 shootdown in June of 1980, and why you haven’t spoken out about that. You looked up from your scribbling, and replied that you really didn’t remember the issue, and that I should contact you about it. Here I am, here it is, and lets hear from you.
June 27, 1980, an Itavia DC-9 was en route from Naples to Palermo when it crashed into the ocean, killing all 81 persons aboard. Italian courts have determined that the airplane was hit by two radar homing air-to-air missiles that were fired either by US or possibly French warplanes that were chasing a Libyan Mig-25, whose pilot, disoriented, shortly thereafter crashed it into an Italian mountainside, where it was found two weeks later. To date, the US has denied all responsibility for any role in the shootdown, and has not cooperated with the Italian courts’ investigations. I am particularly proud of the US government’s denying the existence of any relevant US military radarscope tapes of the event until fairly recently, until when finally pressed sufficiently by the Italian courts, producing the relevent tapes with a truly Nixonian 15 minute blank spot in them at the key time of the events.
Mr Carter, this event took place on your watch, when you were commander in chief of all US armed forces. As you are an Annapolis graduate, I need not remind you any further of your clear command responsibility for any US military forces’ actions that occured on your four year watch. So tell us, Mr Carter, what did happen there in the Mediterranean that night? Did US naval aviators inadvertently shoot down that DC-9? If French aviators fired the missiles, were our military forces in any way contributory to their doing so? Were you briefed on this event immediately, and if not, why weren’t you? Did you take appropriate action against those military officers under you who failed to brief you promptly and properly on their command’s actions, and if not, why didn’t you? That clearly is your command responsibility under US civil law, military law, and your oath of office.
Did it ever occur to you that we, the American people and government, owed the Italian families and corporations injured by our actions due recompense? Do you deny that we at this date still owe them their due?
Mr. Carter, our government has for 26 years failed to man up and accept responsibility for its actions that night in 1980. Scores of Italian lives were brutally ended prematurely, and scores more were scarred forever by the loss of their husbands and wives, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, friends and loved ones. You started the coverup, you started our 26 year long dodge of our moral and financial responsibilities to the Italian people and nation, you failed our nation and your oath of office both. You owe all of us an explanation and an apology–our country needs it, the Italian people need it, and you owe it to yourself too. It’s not too late; get started now.
DANIEL WHITE can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org