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The Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty
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Introduction: For a number of years Admiral Thomas Moorer, former Chief of Naval Operations and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was my colleague at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Tom, after whom the F-14 Tomcat fighter is named, expressed to me his concern that US politics and foreign policy was in the clutches of Israel and that America was being led into war with the Arab Middle East. Admiral Moorer and the State Department and Pentagon at that time did not think that war with the Arab countries served the interests of the United States. However, Admiral Moorer thought that the war could not be avoided because of the hold Israel has over the US government.

What convinced him of this was Washington’s coverup of the 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty which resulted in 208 killed and wounded Americans. Tom was disheartened that Admiral John S. McCain Jr., the father of the current US senator, for career reasons had cooperated with the coverup. Tom worried that careerism had destroyed the integrity of the US military.

Last month was the 49th anniversary of the Israeli attack on the American ship. I raised the issue of the USS Liberty eight or nine years ago in a syndicated newspaper column, which, as I suspected would be the case, only a few news sources dared to publish. However, the article editor at Hustler magazine saw the article and contacted me. He said that Hustler was popular among US sailors and now that they were again thrust into needless war they should be aware that the US government could sell them out without notice. Would I write the USS Liberty story for the sailors so they would be aware of the betrayal that might await them?

I had already seen that Admiral Moorer’s prediction that Israel would have us in war against the Arabs had come true. I still hear his bitter statement that “no American president can stand up to Israel.” Tom was deeply wounded by the betrayal of the US Navy by the Commander-in-Chief. The Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff was powerless before the Israel Lobby.

I understood that to take on this task meant much work. I would have to hunt down USS Liberty survivors and interview them. I would have to find Captain Ward Boston and a pilot or commander of the rescue fighters that Washington called back, denying protection to the American sailors aboard the USS Liberty. They would have to be willing to talk. I undertook the task, and the story is below.

Surviving Sailors Break Their Silence 40 Years After Israeli Attack on US Navy Ship

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
Hustler Magazine, July 2008

June 8, 1967 — the fourth day of the Six Day War between Israel and Egypt, Syria and Jordan — was a beautiful day in the Mediterranean. The USS Liberty was in international waters off the coast of Egypt. Israeli aircraft had flown over the USS Liberty in the morning and had reported that the ship was American. The crew, in close proximity to the war zone, was reassured by the presence of Israeli aircraft. But at 2:00 p.m. sailors sunbathing on the deck saw fighter jets coming at them in attack formation. Red flashes from the wings of the fighters were followed by explosions, blood and death. A beautiful afternoon suddenly became a nightmare. Who was attacking the USS Liberty and why? The attack on the Liberty was an attack on America.

The Liberty was an intelligence ship. Its purpose was to monitor Soviet and Arab communications in order to warn both Israel and Washington should the Soviets enter the war on behalf of its Arab allies. The Liberty was armed only with four machineguns to repel boarders. Its request for a destroyer escort had been denied.

The assault on the Liberty is well documented. With no warning, the Liberty was attacked by successive waves of unmarked jets using cannon, rockets and napalm. The attacking jets jammed all of the US communications frequencies, an indication they knew the Liberty was an American ship.

The air attack failed to sink the Liberty. About 30 minutes into the attack three torpedo boats appeared flying the Star of David. The Israeli boats were not on a rescue mission. They attacked the Liberty with cannon, machineguns and torpedoes. One torpedo struck the Liberty mid-ship, instantly killing 25 Americans while flooding the lower decks. The Israeli torpedo boats destroyed the life rafts the Liberty launched when the crew prepared to abandon ship, sending the message there would be no survivors.

At approximately 3:15 two French-built Israeli helicopters carrying armed Israeli troops appeared over the Liberty. Phil Tourney could see their faces only 50/60 feet away. He gave them the finger. Surviving crewmembers are convinced the Israelis were sent to board and kill all survivors.

The Israeli jets destroyed the Liberty‘s communication antennas. While under attack from the jets, crewmembers strung lines that permitted the ship to send a call for help. The USS Saratoga and the USS America launched fighters to drive off the attacking aircraft, but the rescue mission was aborted by direct orders from Washington.

When the Liberty notified the Sixth Fleet it was again under attack, this time from surface ships, the Fleet commander ordered the carriers America and Saratoga to launch fighters to destroy or drive off the attackers. The order was unencrypted and picked up by Israel, which immediately called off its attack. The torpedo boats and the hovering helicopters sped away. Israel quickly notified Washington that it had mistakenly attacked an American ship, and the US fighters were recalled a second time.

The USS Liberty suffered 70% casualties, with 34 killed and 174 wounded. Although the expensive state of the art ship was kept afloat by the heroic crew, it later proved unsalvageable and was sold as scrap.

Why didn’t help come?

ORDER IT NOW

No explanation has ever been given by the US government for Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and President Lyndon B. Johnson’s orders for the Sixth Fleet to abort the rescue mission. Lt. Commander David Lewis of the Liberty told colleagues that Admiral L. R. Geis, commander of the Sixth Fleet carrier force, told him that when he challenged McNamara’s order to recall the rescue mission, LBJ came on the line and said he didn’t care if the ship sank, he wasn’t going to embarrass an ally. The communications officer handling the transmission has given the same account.

A BBC documentary on the Israeli raid reports that confusion about the attacker’s identity almost resulted in a US assault on Egypt. Richard Parker, US political counsel in Cairo, confirms in the BBC documentary that he received official communication that an American retaliatory attack on Egypt was on its way.

The US government’s official position on the USS Liberty corresponds with Israel’s: The attack was unintentional and a result of Israeli blunders. This is the official position despite the fact that CIA Director Richard Helms, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Assistant Secretary of State Lucius Battle, and a long list of US Navy officers, government officials and Liberty survivors are on record saying the Israeli attack was intentional.

According to Helms, Battle and the minutes of a White House meeting, President Johnson believed the attack was intentional. Helms says LBJ was furious and complained when The New York Times buried the story on page 29, but that Johnson decided he had to publicly accept Israel’s explanation. “The political pressure was too much,” Helms said

US communications personnel, intelligence analysts and ambassadors report having read US intercepts of Israeli orders to attack the Liberty. In one intercept an Israeli pilot reports that the Liberty is an American ship and asks for a repeat and clarification of his orders to attack an American ship. One Israeli who identified himself as one of the pilots later came to America and met with US Representative Pete McCloskey and Liberty survivors. The pilot said he had refused to participate in the attack when he saw it was an American ship. He was arrested upon returning to base.

The Liberty flew the US flag. The ship’s markings, GTR-5, measured several feet in height on both sides of the bow. On the stern the ship was clearly marked USS LIBERTY. Mistaking the Liberty for an Egyptian ship, as Israel claims to have done, was impossible.

Tattered flags show ferocity of the attacks

The Israelis claim the Liberty flew no flag, but two US flags full of holes from the attack exist. When the first flag was shot down, crewmen replaced it with a flag 7 feet by 13 feet. This flag with its battle scars is on display at NSA headquarters at Ft. Mead, Maryland.

Admiral John S. McCain Jr., the father of the current US senator, ordered Admiral Isaac C. Kidd and Captain Ward Boston to hold a court of inquiry and to complete the investigation in only one week. In a signed affidavit Captain Boston said President Johnson ordered a cover-up and that he and Admiral Kidd were prevented from doing a real investigation. Liberty survivors were ordered never to speak to anyone about the event. Their silence was finally broken 12 years later when Lt. Commander James M. Ennes published his book, Assault on the Liberty.

It is now established fact that the attack on the Liberty was intentional and was covered up by President Johnson and every administration since. There has never been a congressional investigation, nor has the testimony of the majority of survivors ever been officially taken. Moreover, testimony that conflicted with the cover-up was deleted from the official record.

Disgusted by the US government’s official stance discounting the survivors’ reports, Admiral Tom Moorer, retired Chief of Naval Operations and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, organized the Moorer Commission to make public the known facts about the attack and cover-up. The Commission consisted of Admiral Moorer, former Judge Advocate General of the US Navy Admiral Merlin Staring, Marine Corps General Raymond G. Davis and former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia James Akins.

The Commission’s Report concluded:

“That there is compelling evidence that Israel’s attack was a deliberate attempt to destroy an American ship and kill her entire crew.

“That fearing conflict with Israel, the White House deliberately prevented the US Navy from coming to the defense of USS Liberty by recalling Sixth Fleet military rescue support while the ship was under attack.

“That surviving crew members were threatened with ‘court-martial, imprisonment or worse’ if they exposed the truth; and [the survivors] were abandoned by their own government.

“That there has been an official cover-up without precedent in American naval history.

“That a danger to our national security exists whenever our elected officials are willing to subordinate American interests to those of any foreign nation.”

Why did Israel attack the Liberty? Was something super secret going on that is so damaging it must be protected at all cost?

Some experts believe Tel Aviv decided to sink the Liberty because the ship’s surveillance capability would discover Israel’s impending invasion and capture of Syria’s Golan Heights, an action opposed by Washington. Others believe Israel was concerned the Liberty would discover Israel’s massacre of hundreds of Egyptian POWs, a war crime contemporaneous with the attack on the US ship. Still others believe that Israel intended to blame the attack on Egypt in order to bring America into the war. It is known the US was providing Israel with reconnaissance and that there were joint US-Israeli covert operations against the Arabs that Washington was desperate to keep secret.

Survivors with whom I spoke said the attack was the easy part of the experience. The hard part has been living with 40 years of official cover-up and betrayal by the US government. One survivor said that he was asked to leave his Baptist church when he spoke about the Liberty, because the minister and fellow church-goers felt more loyalty to Israel than to a member of the congregation who had served his country. His church’s position was that if our government believed Israel, the survivors should also.

Survivor Phil Tourney said that “being forced to live with a cover-up is like being raped and no one will believe you.”

ORDER IT NOW

Survivor Gary Brummett said he “feels like someone who has been locked up for 40 years on a wrongful conviction.” Until the US government acknowledges the truth of the attack, Brummett says the survivors are forced to live with the anger and dismay of being betrayed by the country they served.

Survivor Bryce Lockwood has been angry for 40 years. The torpedo that killed his shipmates, wrecked his ship and damaged his health was made in the USA.

Survivor Ernie Gallo told me he “has been haunted for four decades” by the knowledge that his commander-in-chief recalled the US fighters that could have prevented most of the Liberty‘s casualties.

Every American should be troubled by the fact that the President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense prevented the US Sixth Fleet from protecting a US Navy ship and its 294-man crew from foreign attack. They should also be troubled that the President ordered the Navy to determine the attack was unintentional.

This article is based entirely on doumented sources and on interviews with six USS Liberty survivors, as well as Captain Ward Boston and Bill Knutson, the executive officer of the USS America fighter squadron dispatched on the first aborted rescue mission.

(Republished from PaulCraigRoberts.org by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: History • Tags: Israel, Israel Lobby, USS Liberty 
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  1. RobinG says:

    Thank you for this. The USS Liberty must not be forgotten.

    June 8, 2017, will be the 50th anniversary of Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty. It is about time that this atrocity is given proper coverage. If this story is repeated often enough, it may percolate into the general consciousness. Hopefully MSM journalists will not ignore next year’s commemoration and the crew’s long-neglected pleas for recognition.

    • Agree: SolontoCroesus
  2. By denying the Liberty the protection of a requested escort and by denying its defense with fighters from the nearby carriers after the attack began suggests that it was meant as a sacrificial lamb from the beginning. The administration wanted the ship sunk with loss of all hands and the blame placed on Egypt so America could be dragged into the war on the side of Israel. Simple bullshit as was used in the Gulf of Tonkin incident two years earlier to lock us into the Vietnam War was not going to work so easily again so soon. Actual dead bodies and a sunk ship would be what the public demanded to double down on America’s military adventurism. The only reason this gambit failed is that Israel was not efficient enough to sink the ship and kill all hands during its first strike. The American Navy would look complicit if they recalled their jets a second time after the calls for help, so the Israelis booked when they intercepted that encrypted message, not waiting to find out if the American fighters were on the way to help or hinder them. I know that sounds cynical, but experience has taught that cynicism is the only intelligent response to claims by the American government or its military.

    • Replies: @tbraton
  3. Eustace Tilley (not) [AKA "Schiller/Nietzsche"] says:

    Let us hope that the truth about the USS Liberty continues to leak out as Political Correctness loses influence under First Consul Donald J. Trump and the Mainstream Media are seen for the Israeli whores that they truly are.

    The assault on the Liberty, 9/11, Waco, Ruby Ridge, the Vince Foster “suicide”, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, the JFK assassination, Pearl Harbor: What aren’t the government/media whores lying to us about?

    The “Holy” Book of (((Certain Chosen People))) is itself an extended false narrative to create a fabricated Deed of Title to a specific swathe of real estate in the Near East. Judaism, like its bastard son Islam, is a fake religion concocted for a political purpose: tribal expansion and world domination.

    Maybe in a few centuries Americans will be intellectually sophisticated enough to examine the true history of Europe from 1933 to 1945.

  4. John Loftus and Mark Aarons, in The secret war against the jews, claim that the Liberty transmitted intel to the arab side and Israel primarily aimed to destroy the radio equipment, that is probably why it didnt sink so fast. It is claimed that Israel transmitted fake messages to the Jordanians luring them to attack.
    The Liberty listened to Israeli tank transmitters and knew they were in time trouble to defend towards the Syrian Golan front. Israel saw its chances to win endangered and struck and ackording to other sources this was approved in advance by Johnson.
    It is not the only time when the military have a clash with their own political elite. It has happened repeatedly for the angloamericans, the military mostly act as the people expect them to while the political side are double-natured. Both worldwars were prolonged by deliberate help to the enemy since a long war was deemed advantageous for the angloempire.

    • Replies: @bunga
  5. Jeffrey S. says: • Website

    Simple question — how the heck does Roberts know this:

    “Israeli aircraft had flown over the USS Liberty in the morning and had reported that the ship was American.”

    Does he speak Hebrew and/or has access to radio transcripts of the Israeli aircraft flying that morning?

    Here is the real story:

    [MORE]

    The Israeli attack on the USS Liberty was a grievous error, largely attributable to the fact that it occurred in the midst of the confusion of a full-scale war in 1967. Ten official United States investigations and three official Israeli inquiries have all conclusively established the attack was a tragic mistake.

    On June 8, 1967, the fourth day of the Six-Day War, the Israeli high command received reports that Israeli troops in El Arish were being fired upon from the sea, presumably by an Egyptian vessel, as they had a day before. The United States had announced that it had no naval forces within hundreds of miles of the battle front on the floor of the United Nations a few days earlier; however, the USS Liberty, an American intelligence ship under the dual control of the Defense Intelligence Agency/Central Intelligence Agency and the Sixth Fleet, was assigned to monitor the fighting. As a result of a series of United States communication failures, whereby messages directing the ship not to approach within 100 miles were not received by the Liberty, the ship sailed to within 14 miles off the Sinai coast. The Israelis mistakenly thought this was the ship shelling its soldiers and war planes and torpedo boats attacked, killing 34 members of the Liberty’s crew and wounding 171. Ships from the Sixth Fleet were directed to launch four attack aircraft with fighter cover to defend the Liberty, but the planes were recalled after a message was received at the White House that the Israelis had admitted they had attacked the ship.

    Numerous mistakes were made by both the United States and Israel. For example, the Liberty was first reported — incorrectly, as it turned out — to be cruising at 30 knots (it was later recalculated to be 28 knots). Under Israeli (and U.S.) naval doctrine at the time, a ship proceeding at that speed was presumed to be a warship. The sea was calm and the U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry found that the Liberty’s flag was very likely drooped and not discernible; moreover, members of the crew, including the Captain, Commander William McGonagle, testified that the flag was knocked down after the first or second assault.

    According to Israeli Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin’s memoirs, there were standing orders to attack any unidentified vessel near the shore.1 The day fighting began, Israel had asked that American ships be removed from its coast or that it be notified of the precise location of U.S. vessels.2 The Sixth Fleet was moved because President Johnson feared being drawn into a confrontation with the Soviet Union. He also ordered that no aircraft be sent near Sinai.

    A CIA report on the incident issued June 13, 1967, also found that an overzealous pilot could mistake the Liberty for an Egyptian ship, the El Quseir. After the air raid, Israeli torpedo boats identified the Liberty as an Egyptian naval vessel. When the Liberty began shooting at the Israelis, they responded with the torpedo attack, which killed 28 of the sailors. In 1981, the National Security Agency noted that accounts by members of the Liberty crew and others did not have access to the relevant signal intelligence reports or the confidential explanation provided by Israel to the United States, which were used in the CIA investigation. The NSA concluded: “While these [signal intelligence of Israeli communications] reports revealed some confusion on the part of the pilots concerning the nationality of the ship, they tended to rule out any thesis that the Israeli Navy and Air Force deliberately attacked a ship they knew to be American.”2a

    The Joint Chiefs of Staff investigated the communications failure and noted that the Chief of Naval Operations expressed concern about the prudence of sending the Liberty so close to the area of hostilities and four messages were subsequently sent instructing the ship to move farther away from the area of hostilities. The JCS report said the messages were never received because of “a combination of (1) human error, (2) high volume of communications traffic, and (3) lack of appreciation of sense of urgency regarding the movement of the Liberty.” The report also included a copy of a flash cable sent immediately after the attack, which reported that Israel had “erroneously” attacked the Liberty, that IDF helicopters were in rescue operations, and that Israel had sent “abject apologies” and requested information on any other U.S. ships near the war zone.

    Initially, the Israelis were terrified that they had attacked a Soviet ship and might have provoked the Soviets to join the fighting.3 Once the Israelis were sure what had happened, they reported the incident to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and offered to provide a helicopter for the Americans to fly out to the ship and any help they required to evacuate the injured and salvage the ship. The offer was accepted and a U.S. naval attaché was flown to the Liberty.

    The Israelis were “obviously shocked” by the error they made in attacking the ship, according to the U.S. Ambassador in Tel Aviv. In fact, according to a secret report on the 1967 war, the immediate concern was that the Arabs might see the proximity of the Liberty to the conflict as evidence of U.S.-Israel collusion.3a A second secret report concluded, “While the attack showed a degree of impetuosity and recklessness, it was also clear that the presence of a U.S. naval vessel, unannounced, that close to belligerent shores at a time when we had made much of the fact that no U.S. military forces were moving near the area of hostilities was inviting disaster.”3b

    Many of the survivors of the Liberty remain bitter, and are convinced the attack was deliberate as they make clear on their web site. In 1991, columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak trumpeted their discovery of an American who said he had been in the Israeli war room when the decision was made to knowingly attack the American ship.4 In fact, that individual, Seth Mintz, wrote a letter to the Washington Post on November 9, 1991, in which he said he was misquoted by Evans and Novak and that the attack, was, in fact, a “case of mistaken identity.” Moreover, the man who Mintz originally said had been with him, a Gen. Benni Matti, does not exist.

    Also, contrary to claims that an Israeli pilot identified the ship as American on a radio tape, no one has ever produced this tape. In fact, the official Israeli Air Force tape clearly established that no such identification of the ship was made by the Israeli pilots prior to the attack. Tapes of the radio transmissions made prior, during and after the attack do not contain any statement suggesting the pilots saw a U.S. flag before the attack. During the attack, a pilot specifically says, “there is no flag on her!” The recordings also indicate that once the pilots became concerned about the identity of the ship, by virtue of reading its hull number, they terminated the attack and they were given an order to leave the area. A transcript of the radio transmissions indicates the entire incident, beginning with the spotting of a mysterious vessel off El Arish and ending with the chief air controller at general headquarters in Tel Aviv telling another controller the ship was “apparently American” took 24 minutes.5 Critics claimed the Israeli tape was doctored, but the National Security Agency of the United States released formerly top secret transcripts in July 2003 that confirmed the Israeli version.

    A U.S. spy plane was sent to the area as soon as the NSA learned of the attack on the Liberty and recorded the conversations of two Israeli Air Force helicopter pilots, which took place between 2:30 and 3:37 p.m. on June 8. The orders radioed to the pilots by their supervisor at the Hatzor base instructing them to search for Egyptian survivors from the “Egyptian warship” that had just been bombed were also recorded by the NSA. “Pay attention. The ship is now identified as Egyptian,” the pilots were informed. Nine minutes later, Hatzor told the pilots the ship was believed to be an Egyptian cargo ship. At 3:07, the pilots were first told the ship might not be Egyptian and were instructed to search for survivors and inform the base immediately the nationality of the first person they rescued. It was not until 3:12 that one of the pilots reported that he saw an American flag flying over the ship at which point he was instructed to verify if it was indeed a U.S. vessel.6

    In October 2003, the first Israeli pilot to reach the ship broke his 36-year silence on the attack. Brig.-Gen. Yiftah Spector, a triple ace, who shot down 15 enemy aircraft and took part in the 1981 raid on the Iraqi nuclear reactor, said he had been told an Egyptian ship was off the Gaza coast. “This ship positively did not have any symbol or flag that I could see. What I was concerned with was that it was not one of ours. I looked for the symbol of our navy, which was a large white cross on its deck. This was not there, so it wasn’t one of ours.” The Jerusalem Post obtained a recording of Spector’s radio transmission in which he said, “I can’t identify it, but in any case it’s a military ship.”7

    Spector’s plane was not armed with bombs or, he said, he would have sunk the Liberty. Instead he fired 30mm armor piercing rounds that led the American survivors to believe they had been under rocket attack. His first pass ignited a fire, which caused the ship to billow black smoke that Spector thought was a ruse to conceal the ship. Spector acknowledged in the Post interview that he made a mistake, and said he admitted it when called to testify in an inquiry by a U.S. senator. “I’m sorry for the mistake,” he said. “Years later my mates dropped flowers on the site where the ship was attacked.”

    None of Israel’s accusers can explain why Israel would deliberately attack an American ship at a time when the United States was Israel’s only friend and supporter in the world. Confusion in a long line of communications, which occurred in a tense atmosphere on both the American and Israeli sides (five messages from the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the ship to remain at least 25 miles — the last four said 100 miles — off the Egyptian coast arrived after the attack was over) is a more probable explanation.

    Accidents caused by “friendly fire” are common in wartime. In 1988, the U.S. Navy mistakenly downed an Iranian passenger plane, killing 290 civilians. During the Gulf War, 35 of the 148 Americans who died in battle were killed by “friendly fire.” In April 1994, two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters with large U.S. flags painted on each side were shot down by U.S. Air Force F-15s on a clear day in the “no fly” zone of Iraq, killing 26 people. In April 2002, an American F-16 dropped a bomb that killed four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. In fact, the day before the Liberty was attacked, Israeli pilots accidentally bombed one of their own armored columns.8

    Retired Admiral, Shlomo Erell, who was Chief of the Navy in Israel in June 1967, told the Associated Press (June 5, 1977): “No one would ever have dreamt that an American ship would be there. Even the United States didn’t know where its ship was. We were advised by the proper authorities that there was no American ship within 100 miles.”

    Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara told Congress on July 26, 1967: “It was the conclusion of the investigatory body, headed by an admiral of the Navy in whom we have great confidence, that the attack was not intentional.”

    In 1987, McNamara repeated his belief that the attack was a mistake, telling a caller on the “Larry King Show” that he had seen nothing in the 20 years since to change his mind that there had been no “cover­up.”9

    In January 2004, the State Department held a conference on the Liberty incident and also released new documents, including CIA memos dated June 13 and June 21, 1967, that say that Israel did not know it was striking an American vessel. The historian for the National Security Agency, David Hatch, said the available evidence “strongly suggested” Israel did not know it was attacking a U.S. ship. Two former U.S. officials, Ernest Castle, the United States Naval Attache at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv in June 1967, who received the first report of the attack from Israel, and John Hadden, then CIA Chief of Station in Tel Aviv, also agreed with the assessment that the attack on the Liberty was a mistake.10

    The new documents do not shed any light on the mystery of what the ship was doing in the area or why Israel was not informed about its presence. The evidence suggests the ship was not spying on Israel.

    Israel apologized for the tragedy immediately and offered on June 9 to compensate the victims. Israel ultimately paid nearly $13 million in humanitarian reparations to the United States and to the families of the victims in amounts established by the U.S. State Department. The matter was officially closed between the two governments by an exchange of diplomatic notes on December 17, 1987.

  6. Avery says:
    @Jeffrey S.

    {Simple question — how the heck does Roberts know this:}

    How the heck do we know things without being there?

    Don’t know how PCR knows, but the American sailors and officers on Liberty – you know, the actual witnesses to the crime – have told everybody that will listen what happened.

    {Here is the real story:}

    No: there is the real Israeli spin.

    I’ll believe the American victims of the crime before I believe the foreign perpetrators of the crime.
    Now please tell us the ‘real story’ about Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.
    You never know: maybe that was a ‘grievous error’ too.
    Maybe Pollard thought he was spying on Russians or something.

    • Replies: @Jeffrey S.
  7. bunga says:
    @Peter Grafström

    Israel continued to attack even after the resolution in UN had been passed asking for ceasefire because Israel wanted to extend the fight to Golan and capture it . Sinking of USS Liberty came at this juncture

    • Replies: @Peter Grafström
  8. The US should have glassed the place.
    Think of the money and lives saved.
    What a treasonous pos LBJ was.

  9. Dominic says:

    @Jeffrey

    Typical Hasbara spin. Post long walls of text with a seemingly objective tone. Tell me what is the source of that text? The report of the Inquiry which has already been dismissed as a cover up or is that something your paymasters in Tel Aviv gave you to post here?

    • Replies: @Jeffrey S.
  10. @Jeffrey S.

    I wondered how long it would take for someone to pedal the mendacious claim that “it was a grievous error.”

    Things must be looking up; it’s usually the first response after an article like this.

    The usual suspects certainly do get creative with the BS at times:

    John Loftus and Mark Aarons… claim that the Liberty transmitted intel to the arab (sic) side …

    So which was it, an error or some “justified” reason?

    This sounds the most plausible to me.:

    The administration wanted the ship sunk with loss of all hands and the blame placed on Egypt so America could be dragged into the war on the side of Israel.

    Thank you, PCR!

  11. Survivor Bryce Lockwood has been angry for 40 years. The torpedo that killed his shipmates, wrecked his ship and damaged his health was made in the USA.

    Apparently the planes were of French origin, but you can bet that a lot more than just the torpedoes were Made in America, including the napalm. Similarly, weapons and ammo used to kill Americans in Vietnam was given to them by the US before the Vietnamese, who were fighting WW2 on behalf of the “Allies,” were betrayed.

    Another story that’s been shoved down the memory hole but needs to be resurrected is that of James Forrestal.

  12. @Jeffrey S.

    “Israel ultimately paid nearly $13 million in humanitarian reparations to the United States and to the families of the victims in amounts established by the U.S. State Department.”

    $13 million was a lot of money in those day but fortunately, Israel had just cashed the most recent cheque from the U.S. State Department for American aid to Israel and so the “humanitarian reparations” actually represented a tiny fraction of that. So that’s all right then.

  13. John W. says:

    In a little-known book that came out a few years ago, titled LBJ: From Mastermind to the Colossus, the author Philip K. Nelson writes persuasively about the Liberty incident. According to him, Lyndon Johnson dearly wanted to go down in history as a “great” president. Looking at other presidents who achieved that status, he believed that greatness required victory in war. By 1967 the already unpopular Vietnam war seemed unlikely to provide that victory.

    In his quest for a military victory, Johnson conceived of the idea of an American naval vessel being sunk in the eastern Mediterranean with the loss of all hands, and that this would be blamed on Egypt, and would be a pretext for the US invading Egypt. Israel did indeed carry out the attack, not because they saw the Liberty or the US Navy as a hostile presence, and not by mistake, but at the urging of the head of state of their most important ally. So by this telling, Israel is not the villain of the piece; that would be President Johnson.

  14. @bunga

    That was already implicit in my comment although at that stage there was also a risk that things wouldnt work out according to plan. It could have been Syria crossing the border instead. But the Israelies appart from those involved in propaganda admitted that there was never any initial threat from the arabs as recognized by the previous Israeli leader who was sacked and warmongers took over. The new generation of Israeli elites were like Hitler jugendt. And Hitler jugendt btw, was created, except for the name, by the angloamerican quaker movement. The friends service committee kept its quaker leaders in the Hitler jugendt all through the war. And the british caused the jews to be unable to remain in Germany. The british H S Chamberlain was praised by Goebbels as the pathbreaker for nazism. Important to know that it isnt all about nazis and later jews acting like nazis. There were some truly nasty masterminds behind it and they were neither germans nor jews.

    • Replies: @bunga
  15. tbraton says:
    @Just visiting this reality

    ” The American Navy would look complicit if they recalled their jets a second time after the calls for help, so the Israelis booked when they intercepted that encrypted message, not waiting to find out if the American fighters were on the way to help or hinder them.”

    According to Mr. Roberts’ excellent account, “The order was unencrypted and picked up by Israel, which immediately called off its attack.” Just speculating here, but I suspect that the Fleet Commander deliberately chose to send an unencrypted message knowing that the Israelis would call off their attack and thus avoid confrontation with the Americans, which would have taken the incident to a whole different level.

    BTW I find LBJ’s show of being furious at the attack (per the account of CIA head Richard Helms) to be totally disingenuous. That is inconsistent with the fact that the White House called off the rescue mission. LBJ was a lying POS who had a habit of telling everybody exactly what he wanted to hear.

  16. Jeffrey S. says: • Website
    @Dominic

    Dominic,

    I should have included the footnotes to that piece:

    1For the most comprehensive analysis, see A. Jay Cristol, The Liberty Incident. (Washington, D.C.: Brassey’s Inc., 2002); Yitzhak Rabin, The Rabin Memoirs, (CA: University of California Press, 1996), pp. 108-109.
    2Rabin, p. 110.
    2aAttack on a SIGINT Collector, the U.S.S. Liberty.
    3Dan Kurzman, Soldier of Peace: The Life of Yitzhak Rabin, (NY: HarperCollins, 1998), pp. 224-227; Rabin, p. 108-109.
    3a“United States Policy and Diplmacy in the Middle East Crisis, May 15-June 10, 1967,” declassified secret document, Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library, pp. 143-144.
    3bL. Wainstain, “Some Aspects of the U.S. Involvement in the Middle East Crisis, May-June 1967,” Institute for Defense Analysis, (February 1968).
    4Washington Post, (November 6, 1991).
    5Hirsh Goodman, “Messrs. Errors and No Facts,” Jerusalem Report (November 21, 1991); Arieh O’ Sullivan, “Exclusive: Liberty attack tapes revelead,” Jerusalem Post, (June 3, 2004) .
    6Nathan Guttman, “Memos show Liberty attack was an error,” Ha’aretz, (July 9, 2003).
    7“Pilot who bombed ‘Liberty’ talks to ‘Post,“ Jerusalem Post (October 10, 2003).
    8Hirsh Goodman and Ze’ev Schiff, “The Attack on the Liberty,” Atlantic Monthly, (September 1984).
    9“The Larry King Show” (radio), (February 5, 1987).
    10Jerusalem Post, (January 13, 2004); Washington Times, (January 13, 2004).

    The Cristol book seemed to put to rest all the various conspiracy theories that were floating around. Again, unless you speak Hebrew and have access to radio transcripts, it is clear to anyone who is not crazy what happened. Tragic yes, but not a deliberate act of evil.

  17. Jeffrey S. says: • Website
    @Avery

    Avery,

    My question was specific — how would PCR know what the Israeli’s said (i.e. they “had reported that the ship was American”?) Again, without access to Hebrew transcripts (or translations) of the pilots, PCR has no idea what the Israeli pilots said to each other. Furthermore, the pilot who did attack first has told his side of the story (sure he could be lying — but his account matches the confusion expressed by the other Israelis picked up by our own spy plane.)

    The victims of the attack would have no idea why the Israelis were attacking them. All they know (and remain pissed off about) is that they were attacked for no good reason. But mistakes happen in war time and this was just a tragic mistake — something those sailors just won’t accept.

    As for Pollard, I wish he remained in jail, rotting away. He deserved life in prison for his crimes. No one contests that he was a spy — some people (mistakenly in my opinion) believe he deserved mercy.

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