Skip to comments.U.S.S. Liberty [NSA declassified more documents on 40th anniversary]
Posted on 06/08/2007 8:33:53 PM PDT by Dajjal
On 08 June 2007, the National Security Agency (NSA) finalized the review of all material relative to the 08 June 1967 attack on the USS Liberty. This additional release adds to the collection of documents and audio recordings and transcripts previously posted to the site on 02 July 2003.
The attack on the USS Liberty, like others in our nation's history, has become the center of considerable controversy and debate. It is not NSA's intention to prove or disprove any one set of conclusions, many of which can be drawn from a thorough review of this material. Instead, through these public releases, we intend to make as much information as possible available for the many scholars, historians, academia, and members of the general public who find interest in analyzing the information and forming their own conclusions.
Please Note: These historical documents are PDF images of formerly classified carbon paper and reports that have been declassified. Due to the age and poor quality of some of the PDF images, a screen reader may not be able to process the images into word documents. In accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, individuals may request that the government provide auxiliary aids or services to ensure effective communication of the substance of the documents. For such requests, please contact the Public Affairs Office at 301-688-6524.
According to this blog entry:
"The NSA web site does not distinguish in terms of how documents are grouped, between documents that were released in 2003 vs. documents released today. However, individual documents that are new have, at least on the first page, a stamp indicating a 2007 or 2006 date of the governmental authorization to declassify." [emphasis mine]
I used to work with a guy who was a young sailor serving onboard the USS Liberty that day.. Thanks for passing this on..
What do you think of this?
I met two of them when they came to our base after Liberty was attacked. I don’t remember a lot about them now, one was a Chief and one about the same rank as I was I think, E4. Anyway, he did not think this was an accident!
I was 13 when this happened but did not even know about it, or at least had forgotten all about it, till today when I saw someone carrying a sign downtown to commerate the 40th anniversay.
For all those who think this was deliberate....any speculation as to why the Israeli’s would deliberately attack a staunch ally?
I too was 13 when this happened. I stumbled on a book in our library by one of the survivors of the attack. He made it pretty clear that no one on the ship thought it was an accident.
Cue the Israel haters
James Kelly is the guy’s name.. he passed when I was in 7th or 8th grade.
why would Israel attack an ally? What possible benefit would there be to such an act?
I’ve always wondered that myself.
I’m no Israel hater but I believe the attack was deliberate. They were worried LIBERTY was going to hear something they didn’t want it to. And with their national survival at risk, they weren’t too worried about who they took out to eliminate that possibility.
The only explanation for an accidental attack is total and absolute incompetency in ship recognition in broad daylight by both Israeli naval and air forces. I can’t buy that.
I keep reading this but I still have not seen one bit of thought as to why. I can understand fully any sailor on that ship believing the worst about the attack, its pretty hard to go through all that and lose your buddies just on an oops....but s&&t happens.......
The U.S. accidentally shot down an Iranian airliner in 1988. I absolutely do NOT believe that was intentional, but Iran certainly does, and I am sure the loved ones of the victims do too.
If I remember correctly, it was a looong time ago his son and I talked about it, he believed they were trying to make the US think it was the Egyptians that attacked the Liberty so that we’d help Israel against Egypt... but I am not sure I am remembering the country correctly, it could’ve been some other nation. I wish Jim hadn’t passed so I could’ve talked to him about it. I got interested a couple years after he passed away. His brother (Fred, I think) was also on the Liberty, he never talked about it.
An ally doesn’t park an intelligence collection vessel next to your country.
Let remember this...the navy and NSA got together and thought it would be neat to build two vessels for the purpose of intelligence collection. They had lots of money and congress would not meddle into this if it was a NSA project. Neither boat had a single bit of defensive ability. You may remember the second boat...which today...sits in North Korean waters...on permanent display.
Both vessels had to be within a certain range of the coastline...and thus ventured too close. Neither vessel had any US navy protection...nor would it have been approved anyway.
As for the argument that the Israel government had no reason to attack. Why would I allow such a vessel to collect a huge amount of intelligence on me...and who would they provide it to? This is the fascinating thing about this whole attack. No one in the US government has ever fully explained why we parked the vessel there in the first place.
Others have already suggested that they were worried that the Liberty would overhear something they didn’t want heard. A darker theory would be that they were hoping to destroy the ship and pin the blame on the Egyptians.
The Liberty was not able to clearly identify either the planes or the ships as Israeli at the time of the attack. The Israelis confessed only when the carriers started launching.
If you read through the newly released material, there is support for the understanding that the aircraft identified the ship as American on the first pass.
I personally have not concluded whether it was intentional or not, and this material doesn’t shed a whole lot of new light.
PUEBLO's cover was blown long before she arrived off shore it's quite obvious. Sending a ship with classified material into hostile waters without so much as an E.D. capability raises questions in my mind what were they thinking.
Two possibilities come to my mind with LIBERTY. One has been stated there was something going on Israel did not want leaked or transmitted even by accident. Remember they were in the middle of a war with several nations. The second possibility is they thought the U.S. was going to alert Syria or another nation to their movements. I think if it had been anyone else in the White House but LBJ then LIBERTY likely would have never happened even with it that close. I don't think Israel trusted LBJ.
Third possibility as well is Israel intercepted and misread a shore based communication from a covert operation and assumed PUEBLO was involved. The LIBERTY crew would not have picked up on it and would have been clueless.
Should read: Third possibility as well is Israel intercepted and misread a shore based communication from a covert operation and assumed LIBERTY was involved. The LIBERTY crew would not have picked up on it and would have been clueless.
I’m not seeing a whole lot to disprove the fog of war defense the Israelis put forth. Yes, they knew she was in the area, but so were a whole lot of unfriendlies. Mistakes were made on both sides.
Other nations, with a very few exceptions, are NOT on the distribution list for SIGINT product.
No one in the US government has ever fully explained why we parked the vessel there in the first place.
We put Intel Collection platforms where they're best able to get what's needed to meet U.S. National interests.
We lost hundreds of good men during WW III, who were in unsafe waters, airspace, or terrain doing their job.
They're still doing so today.
To all my brothers and sisters on the MI Ping List.
THANK YOU for your service!
And they will always do the job. It is the nature of the business.
Conspiracy Theories Persist in Israeli Attack on US Spy Ship
By Julie Stahl
CNSNews.com Jerusalem Bureau Chief
June 08, 2007
Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Forty years ago Friday, as Israel undertook a fierce battle for its survival, the Israeli Air Force bombed a U.S. spy ship off the coast of Egypt. Thirty-four American servicemen died in the attack.
Although Israel insisted it mistook the ship for an Egyptian vessel, some of the USS Liberty’s crewmembers still insist the attack was intentional and that subsequent investigations were a cover-up.
Numerous American (and Israeli) investigations officially concluded that the Israeli attack resulted from a case of mistaken identity and that no malicious intent was involved.
Israel apologized for the incident and paid compensation to the families, and the nations formally agreed not to re-open the case.
But in the minds of the some survivors, the case was never closed. Some of them gathered in Washington this week to mark the 40th anniversary of the incident.
It was June 8, 1967, the fourth day of the Six-Day war, which ended in Israel’s stunning victory over the armies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria. At midday, Israeli planes and then torpedo boats mistakenly identified the USS Liberty as an Egyptian war ship and opened fire.
But skeptics charge that Israel deliberately attacked the electronic intelligence-gathering ship, aiming to sink it.
Some say Israel hoped to blame the attack on the Egyptians, thereby giving the United States a chance to attack Egypt. Others say Israel wanted to prevent the U.S. from learning about an imminent attack to reclaim the Golan Heights. And some say Israel had slaughtered 1,000 Egyptian POWs and the U.S. vessel had intercepted a message about it.
A number of senior U.S. military and governmental figures, including then-Secretary of State Dean Rusk have gone on record saying they believed that the attack was deliberate and that Israel covered up the truth.
The USS Liberty Veterans Association’s website accused Israel of war crimes and is still demanding an investigation.
“The Israeli government, the Anti-Defamation League, and certain notorious apologists for Israel insist that the attack was a tragic accident and that the US government accepts that assertion,” the group says. “Virtually every knowledgeable American official with the lone exception of Robert McNamara is on public record calling the attack deliberate and the Israeli story untrue,” it says.
Rusk, in his 1990 memoir, wrote that the U.S. never accepted Israel’s explanation. “I didn’t believe them then, and I don’t believe them to this day,” he said.
Former President Lyndon Johnson’s biographer Robert Dallek wrote that the highest officials in Johnson’s administration, including the president, “believed it ‘inconceivable’ that Israel’s ‘skilled’ defense forces could have committed such a gross error.”
Captain William L. McGonagle, commanding officer of the USS Liberty, was wounded in the attack. At a memorial ceremony in 1997, he said that it “appears to me that it was not a pure case of mistaken identity.”
Author and historian Michael Oren, a senior fellow at the Shalem Center’s Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies in Jerusalem, said there are three reasons for the continued conspiracy theories.
First, the crewmembers are “hurt and sore,” Oren told Cybercast News Service on Friday. But war is about people shooting at everybody. It’s normal to have 20 percent of any side’s casualties in a war come from so-called “friendly-fire,” he said.
Oren, a reservist in the Israeli army, said he lost 25 of his men in a single “friendly-fire” incident in broad daylight during Israel’s 1982 war in Lebanon. And in an article he wrote on the USS Liberty incident seven years ago, Oren noted that more than five thousand American casualties in Vietnam were caused by friendly fire in 1967 alone.
Oren said the USS Liberty survivors’ organization appeared to be well-funded and hinted that some of the money may come from anti-Israel sources. (Israeli columnists Hirsh Goodman and Zeev Schiff noted earlier that “plainly, some groups, believed by Israeli intelligence to be funded by the Arabs, want to keep the issue alive.”)
Finally, Oren said, all the documents regarding the incident have been de-classified except one, which pertains to what the USS Liberty was actually doing in the war zone.
The vessel’s crew did not include any Hebrew speakers, so it could not have been spying on Israel, Oren said. Arabic and Russian translators were on board, however, and they were probably on a mission to track Egyptian troop movements and those of their Soviet advisors, he added.
Oren suggested that Israel is still blamed for the incident to avoid any culpability by the U.S. No Americans were ever accused of any wrongdoing in the incident but there were a number of “snafus” on the U.S. side, he said.
The ship had been ordered to pull back 100 miles from the Egyptian and Israel coasts but due to the Navy’s inefficient cabling system, the orders were received two days after they were sent — on June 9, the day after the attack.
Oren said no one — from President Johnson on down — actually knew where the Liberty was. Washington also had refused Israel’s request to identify all of its ships in the area; and it also refused a separate request for an American naval liaison, Oren said.
The ship’s captain William McGonagle and his officers were sunbathing on the deck of the ship when it was strafed for the first time, said Oren. According to Oren, McGonagle later was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, probably to disguise the fact that he was not court-martialed, he said.
One of the lingering discrepancies involves the claim of Liberty crewmembers that the ship was flying the American flag when it was attacked. But Israeli pilots insisted they never saw it. Oren said that one of the Israeli inquiries suggested that a flag hanging limply on a still day would not have been visible to pilots flying overhead.
A spokesman for the Anti-Defamation League in Jerusalem said that the cover-up theory has been discredited time and again by numerous U.S. investigations, which all concluded that the Israeli attack was a mistake.
“It’s pathetic and unfair and discriminatory against Israel,” Arieh O’Sullivan said. “It goes along with a host of other conspiracy theories.”
As a former journalist for the Jerusalem Post, O’Sullivan was one of two reporters in June 2004 allowed to listen to Israel Air Force archives audiotapes of the radio transmissions made prior, during and after the attack.
“Obviously, listening to the tapes sends chills down one’s spine,” he wrote at the time. “The pilots speak only before and after they act. There are full minutes of almost total silence and you know that men are being killed.”
On Friday, he said that a “chain of stupid mistakes” had led to the bombing.
In 2003, O’Sullivan was the first person ever to be granted an interview with the pilot, Reserve Brig-Gen. Yiftah Spector, who was the first to arrive at the USS Liberty’s position. Although he said he could not identify the ship, he knew it was military, according to the radio transmission.
“I did not fire on the Liberty as a human target. I was sent to attack a sailing vessel. This ship was on an escape route from the El Arish [Egypt] area, which at that same moment had heavy smoke rising from it,” Spector said. Spector said the ship was displaying no flag or symbol.
He said it’s a good thing he didn’t have bombs in his plane on that day, or the ship would have gone to the bottom of the sea.
“It was a tragic accident for which Israel has strictly apologized and paid compensation,” said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev.
He said Israel has experienced “many examples of friendly fire” in the course of various conflicts. Israel regards the incident with the USS Liberty in a “similar light,” Regev said.
Copyright 1998-2006 Cybercast News Service
We put intel platforms where intelligence is gathered against an enemy or potential enemy. I don’t we’ve ever wasted effort watching Belize, Bolivia or Aruba...now would waste efforts against Tonga, Fiji, or Nova Scotia. There isn’t a single gov’t offical or military officer today that will say in front of the media or public that Israel is the enemy of the US. So, when we waste hardware and man-hours on this kind of project...it must be for “weapons of mass destruction” potential. We can all sit here and guess what kind of WMD’s that Israel might have and why in the 1960s this mattered.
In 1968 (one year after the Liberty incident), the USAF attacked an Australian Navy destroyer off Vietnam.
Did they confuse it with one of the North Vietnam Charles F Adams class destroyers, or something darker?
There's something pathetic about Americans - with the worst Air Force in history for blue on blue incidents - imagining any attack on then HAD to be planned.
"British, wave and cheer. German, shoot at it. American, take cover." British Army aircraft maxim circa 1944.
As a student of a Catholic high school, the Sisters of Loretta taught me, I am pleased to be at an institution of higher education with such strong and celebrated Catholic and Jesuit traditions . . . You see, I got my Master's Degree at Notre Dame. (Boos.) I acquired a passion for the fighting Irish . . . and my family has been college educated and Presbyterian ever since. (Laughter and applause.) . . . I wandered into a course on international politics taught by a Czech refugee who specialized in Soviet studies, a man who had a daughter by the name of Madeleine Albright. With that one class, I was hooked. I discovered that my passion was Russia and all things Russian.
What? Knowing all that we know about Israel’s fight in the Six Day War... what was there that they did not want the Americans to hear?
The Egyptians had no aircraft. They had been destroyed during the first day of the war, so that is out. Plus, them big old Stars of David on the planes are another sure give away.
I herd a theory from a guy connected to naval intelligence. That the data the Liberty was collecting was mapping the war in real time. But because the ship could not or did not have the computers necessary to do it they sent via microwave to a, British, American joint intelligence base on, Cyprus where they had the computer to do the mapping. Someone connected with that operation was slipping battle field information to the Egyptians, USSR. That then Israel found out and disabled the Liberty ability to harvest data. The accidental attack was cover so British and American Intelligence could find out who was leaking the information to the USSR.
Considering the size of computers then it would take to do this real time mapping and the Cold war it made sense to me.
why would Israel attack an ally? What possible benefit would there be to such an act?
Since the last release of information I have actually been inclining more to the accident theory, but there are a variety of reasons why the attack might have benefited Israel.
I think the most plausible scenario is that some of the Israeli generals, e.g. Dayan, were a little wild as good generals often are. They didn't want to take any chance that the intelligence collected by the US could be used in any way to restrict Israeli action. The primary thing that they were worried about was that if the US realized the vast amount of territory that Israel was conquering, there would be diplomatic pressure to end the war sooner. Thus some subset of the Israeli command decided to act first and worry about justification later.
Countries don't have friends. They have interests. Sometimes their interests diverge. Israel may have viewed this as one of those times.
Got a link to what you’re talking about?
Why? It can be summed up in two words, St*t Happpens. In war St*t Happens.
"I was never satisfied with the Israeli explanation. . . . Through diplomatic channels we refused to accept their explanations. I didn't believe them then, and I don't believe them to this day. The attack was outrageous " -- US Secretary of State Dean Rusk
"...the board of inquiry (concluded) that the Israelis knew exactly what they were doing in attacking the Liberty." -- CIA Director Richard Helms
"I can tell you for an absolute certainty (from intercepted communications) that the Israelis knew they were attacking an American ship." -- NSA Deputy Director Oliver Kirby
"That the Liberty could have been mistaken for the Egyptian supply ship El Quseir is unbelievable" -- Special Assistant to the President Clark Clifford, in his report to President Lyndon Johnson
"The highest officials of the [Johnson] administration, including the President, believed it 'inconceivable' that Israel's 'skilled' defense forces could have committed such a gross error." -- Lyndon Johnson's biographer Robert Dallek in Flawed Giant, Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 430-31)
"A nice whitewash for a group of ignorant, stupid and inept [expletive deleted]." -- Handwritten note of August 26, 1967, by NSA Deputy Director Louis W. Tordella reacting to the Israeli court decision exonerating Israelis of blame for the Liberty attack.
"Never before in the history of the United States Navy has a Navy Board of Inquiry ignored the testimony of American military eyewitnesses and taken, on faith, the word of their attackers. -- Captain Richard F. Kiepfer, Medical Corps, US Navy (retired), USS Liberty Survivor
"The evidence was clear. Both Admiral Kidd and I believed with certainty that this attack...was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew.... It was our shared belief. . .that the attack. . .could not possibly have been an accident.... I am certain that the Israeli pilots [and] their superiors. . .were well aware that the ship was American." -- Captain Ward Boston, JAGC, US Navy (retired), senior legal counsel to the US Navy Court of Inquiry
That the attack was deliberate "just wasn't a disputed issue" within the National Security Agency -- Former NSA Director retired Army Lieutenant General William Odom on 3 March 2003 in an interview for Naval Institute Proceedings
Former NSA/CIA Director Admiral Bobby Inman "flatly rejected" the Cristol/Israeli claims that the attack was an accident -- 5 March 2003 interview for Naval Institute Proceedings
Of four former NSA/CIA seniors with inside knowledge, none was aware of any agency official who dissented from the position that the attack was deliberate -- David Walsh, writing in Naval Institute Proceedings
"It appears to me that it was not a pure case of mistaken identity." -- Captain William L. McGonagle, Commanding Officer, USS Liberty, speaking at Arlington National Cemetery, June 8, 1997
"To suggest that they [the IDF] couldn't identify the ship is ... ridiculous. ... Anybody who could not identify the Liberty could not tell the difference between the White House and the Washington Monument." -- Admiral Thomas Moorer, Chief of Naval Operations and later Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, quoted in The Washington Post, June 15, 1991, p. 14
Radigan’s Raiders ping.
There are several good links in #28, the replied-to post.
Some on a plane that got knocked down near or over East Germany. No survivors. I don't know the details but have an ASA friend who was scheduled to be aboard, but couldn't do it for some reason, so he lived to tell about it. A specially good thing, too, because he's been very productive in the conservative movement.
“British, wave and cheer. German, shoot at it. American, take cover.” British Army aircraft maxim circa 1944.”
I learned about this in The Pacific Stars & Stripes in a hotel lobby in Saigon. Reading about it later, the Israelis believed that Liberty was crewed by Hebrew linguists monitoring Israeli comms. If what I read further was to be believed, it was crewed by Arab and Russian linguists; the Russians were there to determine if Soviet pilots were flying Arab aircraft. Everything else I read led me to believe that the U.S. flag was flying off the fantail. I believe to this day that it was deliberate, and I’m a big supporter of Israel.
My grandfather was connected to a herd a couple times a day.
There is a theory floating around that, the Soviets were decoding the satellite links, and then passing the intercepted info, to the Egyptians...
The USS Liberty attack is very painful to many. Painful to me as a Jew and supporter of Israel. You can talk and deconstruct the USS Liberty all you want but this is today. Where Islam is the menace. Jews and Israel are a footnote in the global Jihad. One arm of which is conquering Europe via immigration, sucking off madly generous European welfare programs, via making far more babies than European families
THE DEMOGRAPHIC JIHAD
2. (Deleted because it became too mission specific.)
“Im no Israel hater but I believe the attack was deliberate. They were worried LIBERTY was going to hear something they didnt want it to. And with their national survival at risk, they werent too worried about who they took out to eliminate that possibility.”
Neither were we.
Its just not a very sexy story esp for the Israeli haters
In the late 1990’s the collection came to our facility. Showing the evidence on display, my chief explained to us that there is no way the attack was accidental. We (the Liberty) were in their way, and they (Israelis) will do anything it takes to ensure survival. It wasn’t so much that they thought we were an enemy - we were an obstacle.