Thanks to former crewman Ed Mark, who laboriously hand typed the full text of the Court of Inquiry file, we now have the testimony from that document for visitors to study. The full document contains more than 700 pages including photographs, messages and documents. Testimony accounted for about 170 pages.
As survivors have frequently pointed out, Liberty men were not permitted to speak freely and were directed to reply only to the questions asked. Some men who wished to testify were not permitted to do so. George Golden, who was the second ranking man to survive the attack, was severely limited in the testimony he was permitted to provide. Jim Ennes, who was Officer of the Deck during most of the daylight reconnaissance and could personally testify to the closeness and frequency of overflying aircraft and other key details, provided a sworn statement from his hospital bed, but this statement was not permitted into evidence. Jim's hand-written deck logs for his watch were key evidence, but they were not entered into the record. Instead, they were rewritten and signed by someone else, which is a violation of Navy Regulations.
When you read the "Findings of Fact," look for supporting testimony. Navy Regulations require that all findings of fact be supported by evidence in the record. In this case, such evidence is often absent. For example, where the court finds that the flag may not have been seen by the attacking pilots because it may have hung limp at the mast on a windless day, all the evidence in the record points in the opposite direction, indicating that the flag was clearly displayed in adequate wind to hold it aloft for the pilots to see. The court also had access to and reviewed the Ship's Weather Log which showed that there was ample wind at all times to hold a flag aloft and clearly displayed. Yet the court chose to ignore that log and did not enter it into the record. The careful reader will find numerous other discrepancies in the way the hearing was conducted.