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US Diplomat Praises USS Vincennes Captain
[Diary of a Vengeance Foretold] Part 13 - July 15, 1988
Ludwig De Braeckeleer (ludwig)     Print Article 
Published 2008-07-15 15:34 (KST)   

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Friday, July 15, 1988

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"Given the circumstances, timeframe, and information at hand, you took the only action possible to safeguard your ship and your people."
--Charles H. Price II, US ambassador to Great Britain, in a letter to USS Vincennes Captain Will C. Rogers III

The American ambassador to Great Britain has sent the captain of the cruiser Vincennes a congratulatory message. The rather unusual message was circulated through the Navy Department in Washington, D.C.

Price told Rogers that he understood "how extremely concerned you must be about the episode in the Persian Gulf."

"I join other Americans in congratulating you for having done your duty," he wrote.

"We have received numerous letters from British citizens at the embassy here in London. These letters, without exception, are fully supportive of your actions," the ambassador added.

Tehran Released Flight Transcript

On Thursday, July 14, at the United Nations, Iran's Foreign Minister, Dr. Ali Akbar Velayati, made public the transcript of radio calls between the downed Iran Air jetliner and air controllers.

The transcript confirms Tehran's assertion that the plane was sending out normal radar signals for a civilian aircraft. The information exchanged was standard for civil flights: headings, temperatures, altitudes and checkpoints.

From takeoff to the time it was shot down, the pilots of Flight 655 talked with three different controllers on three different frequencies.

The transcript also establishes that the airbus was climbing from 12,000 feet to its assigned altitude of 14,000 feet when it was shot down by the US Navy.

According to official US statements, the Vincennes radar showed the Iranian plane flying at about 9,000 feet and descending toward the ship.

The transponder code -- a four-digit transponder code assigned to each flight that makes the radar echo display information unique to that flight -- was working normally. "Squawk 6760" was confirmed each step of the way from three sets of controllers to the pilot.

"Squawk 6760 read back is correct. Call when ready for takeoff," the tower controller in Bandar Abbas told the pilot at 10:10 a.m. local time. "Have a nice day."

"Thank you very much. Good day," Flight 655's pilot replied after having confirmed clearance.

No UN Resolution Condemning the US

The UN Security Council is unwilling to support a resolution condemning the United States for the downing of the Iranian airliner. Vice President George H. W. Bush dismissed Velayati accusation's as "offensive and absurd."

Bush blamed the tragedy on Tehran officials. "They allowed a civilian aircraft loaded with passengers to proceed on a path over a warship engaged in battle," Bush said. "That was irresponsible and a tragic error."

Tehran suffered a second rebuff as the International Civil Aviation Organization, meeting in Montreal, rejected an Iranian call for a condemnation of the US.

"The United States does have its influence and its power," said Seirous Naseri, Iranian ambassador to the UN in Geneva. "It is not easy for member countries to speak openly, frankly, decisively against the United States, even when the United States commits a very serious crime."

Back to the Present

Around the world, many people have reacted to this week's news that Abdelbaset Ali Al-Megrahi may be soon freed and sent home.

Dr. Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the Lockerbie tragedy, is adamant that a full hearing would expose the "appalling collusion of Britain and America."

"There may be an attempt to remove the awkward problem of Megrahi by allowing him to return home and to remove the possibility of a public examination of the evidence."

"Such a move would be a bit of a downer to those still seeking the truth," Dr. Swire added.

"Washington Talk: Briefing; Diplomatic Praise," July 15, 1988.

"Iran Falls Short in Drive at UN to Condemn US in Airbus Case," July 15, 1988.

"Radio Calls Say Flight 655 Was Climbing in Last Minutes," July 15, 1988.
©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ludwig De Braeckeleer

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