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U.S. agency confirms sinking of USS Liberty was accident
Haaretz ^ | 9/7/2003 | Nathan Guttman

Posted on 07/08/2003 4:33:17 PM PDT by Courier

U.S. agency confirms sinking of USS Liberty was accident

By Nathan Guttman, Haaretz Correspondent

WASHINGTON - New documents released this week by America's National Security Agency support Israel's version of a long-festering controversy between the two countries: Israel's sinking of an American spy ship, the USS Liberty, off the coast of Gaza during the 1967 Six-Day War.

Israel has always said it had no idea the ship was American, but conspiracy theorists and anti-Israel propagandists still claim Israel sank the ship in the full knowledge that it was American.

The documents, originally defined as top secret, were made public by Florida Judge Jay Cristol, who

has been investigating the Liberty incident for years and published a book on the subject last year. On Monday, the NSA gave him a transcript of conversations held by two Israeli Air Force helicopter pilots who were hovering over the Liberty as it was sinking, and these tapes confirm Israel's claim that the sinking of the ship, which killed 34 American servicemen and wounded 171, was a tragic error.

After the Liberty was bombed by both the Israel Air Force and the Israel Navy, the two helicopter pilots were summoned from their base to assess the damage and evaluate the possibility of rescuing the surviving crew members. An American spy plane, which had been sent to the area as soon as the NSA learned of the attack, recorded their conversations, which took place between 2:30 and 3:37 P.M. on June 8, the third day of the war.

The spy plane also recorded the orders radioed to the pilots by their supervisor at Hatzor Base, which instructed them to search for Egyptian survivors from the "Egyptian warship" that had just been bombed - thus supporting Israel's claim that it had believed the ship was Egyptian when it ordered it attacked. "Pay attention. The ship is now identified as Egyptian," the pilots were told.

Nine minutes later, Hatzor informed the pilots that it was not an Egyptian warship, but an Egyptian cargo ship. Only at 3:07 were the pilots first informed that the ship might not have been Egyptian at all: Hatzor told them that if they found Arabic-speaking survivors, they should be taken to El-Arish, but if they found English-speaking survivors, they should be taken to Lod. "Clarify by the first man that you bring up, what nationality he is, and report to me immediately," the supervisor instructed, according to the transcript. "It's important to know."

Then, at 3:12, one of the pilots informed Hatzor that he saw an American flag flying over the wounded ship. He was asked to investigate and determine whether it was really an American ship.

This is not the first time such transcripts have been made public: Israel gave its own recordings of the pilots' conversations to the British television station Thames in 1987. But conspiracy theorists charged that Israel had doctored the tapes before handing them over to the station in order to hide the fact that it sank the Liberty intentionally. No such imputation can be made about these new transcripts, as they were never in Israeli hands.

Israel has always said it attacked the Liberty, which America sent to the region to gather intelligence on the progress of the war, because it believed it was an Egyptian supply ship ferrying supplies to the Egyptian troops that Israel was then fighting. When it discovered the error, it immediately informed the Americans, apologized and paid compensation to the victims' families.

The incident was investigated by inquiry commissions in both Israel and the United States, and both concluded that it had, indeed, been a tragic error. Nevertheless, the controversy never died. In 1979, one of the survivors, James Ennes, published a book accusing Israel of bombing the American ship deliberately. Ennes claimed an Israeli spy plane had hovered over the ship all morning and had surely identified it as American, since the American flag was clearly visible.

A later book, written by James Bamford, charged that Israel sank the ship in order to keep America from learning of its plans to attack Syria, and further claimed that the NSA had tapes of conversations among Israeli pilots that not only confirmed this, but also proved that the tapes released by Israel had been doctored.

Another claim that appears frequently on the dozens of Internet sites devoted to the affair is that Israel sank the ship to conceal a mass murder of Egyptian soldiers on the Sinai peninsula.

In its letter to Cristol, the NSA stressed that, contrary to the claims that often appear in such books and Web sites - that the agency has tapes from both the Liberty and from a nearby American submarine that confirm Israel's guilt - the only tapes that exist were those made by the spy plane and given to Cristol this week.

"It's the last piece of intelligence that remained classified, and every rational person that will read it will understand that there is no truth in these conspiracy theories against Israel," Cristol said Tuesday. But he added: "Those who hate Israel, who hate Jews, and those who believe in conspiracy will not be convinced by anything."

Cristol, a former U.S. navy pilot and legal officer, began investigating the Liberty incident 14 years ago. Since publishing his book, which vindicates Israel, he has received threats and been accused of being an Israeli agent. "I take this lightly, but I am saddened to learn that there is this kind of hate toward Israel," he said.


TOPICS: Breaking News; Foreign Affairs; Government; Israel
KEYWORDS: accident; israel; nsa; sixdaywar; ussliberty
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Can't wait to see the responses.
1 posted on 07/08/2003 4:33:17 PM PDT by Courier
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2 posted on 07/08/2003 4:34:29 PM PDT by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
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bttt
3 posted on 07/08/2003 4:39:26 PM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: Courier
Here's my response:

I have been a critic of the government of Israel on this issue in the past.

I am now satisfied that the matter is closed and that the defense of IDF action made by the government of Israel is full and accurate.

But no anti-Semite will ever be convinced. They will just say that the US gov't is controlled by "The JOOZ" and that this is an ongoing part of some conspiracy.

4 posted on 07/08/2003 4:41:26 PM PDT by wideawake (God bless our brave soldiers and their Commander in Chief)
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To: CholeraJoe
Pinging...
5 posted on 07/08/2003 4:41:40 PM PDT by Lucy Lake
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To: Courier
I will trust the words of the men who served on that ship rather than our government or that of Israel's.
6 posted on 07/08/2003 4:41:54 PM PDT by Burkeman1 (If you see ten troubles comin down the road, Nine will run into the ditch before they reach you.)
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To: Courier
Surprisingly, the people that were actually there don't seem to agree with him.
http://ussliberty.org
7 posted on 07/08/2003 4:42:04 PM PDT by djf
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To: Courier
That certainly settles that....
8 posted on 07/08/2003 4:42:34 PM PDT by Cyber Liberty ( 2003, Ravin' Lunatic since 4/98)
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To: Courier
Israel didn't sink anything. They tried to sink the Liberty but she remained afloat.
9 posted on 07/08/2003 4:43:20 PM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: Ax
What do you think of this, AX?
10 posted on 07/08/2003 4:43:28 PM PDT by cardinal4 (The Senate Armed Services Comm; the Chinese pipeline into US secrets)
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To: djf
Strange article. Considering as the USS Liberty was not sunk... LOL :-\
11 posted on 07/08/2003 4:43:48 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (IN ZOT WE TRUST! ........... http:www.DRAFTTOM.com)
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To: NYC GOP Chick
*ping
12 posted on 07/08/2003 4:44:27 PM PDT by CholeraJoe (White Devils for Sharpton. We're baaaaad. We're Nationwide)
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To: SJackson; veronica; Cachelot
ping
13 posted on 07/08/2003 4:44:27 PM PDT by dennisw (G-d is at war with Amalek for all generations)
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To: Courier
"New documents released this week by America's National Security Agency support Israel's version of a long-festering controversy between the two countries"

I didn't think it was a "long festering controversy". It always struck me that the Palestinians and Arabs made more out of that incident than either the US and Israel did.

14 posted on 07/08/2003 4:45:19 PM PDT by DannyTN (Note left on my door by a pack of neighborhood dogs.)
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To: Non-Sequitur
I worked with a survivor and Purple Heart honoree on the Liberty. This is a piece of horse pucky article wise.
15 posted on 07/08/2003 4:45:40 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (IN ZOT WE TRUST! ........... http:www.DRAFTTOM.com)
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To: wideawake
"Those who hate Israel, who hate Jews, and those who believe in conspiracy will not be convinced by anything."

Comments such as the above drive the issue. It is SOP left wing cover-up rhetoric. Better to simply put the facts on the table and not assign motive. Soon as I see "hate" used, I automatically assume those using it are guilty of something or pushing a political agenda regardless of fact.

16 posted on 07/08/2003 4:45:45 PM PDT by DPB101
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To: wideawake
"But no anti-Semite will ever be convinced."

You were right is less then 60 seconds.
17 posted on 07/08/2003 4:46:03 PM PDT by Courier (Quick: Name one good thing about the Saudis.)
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To: djf
Well- they just hate Jews! That will be the response. The men who served and died on that ship will be called anti semitic rather soon on this thread.
18 posted on 07/08/2003 4:46:55 PM PDT by Burkeman1 (If you see ten troubles comin down the road, Nine will run into the ditch before they reach you.)
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To: DPB101
Soon as I see "hate" used, I automatically assume those using it are guilty of something or pushing a political agenda regardless of fact..........

Are you denying that many people hate Israel?

19 posted on 07/08/2003 4:47:30 PM PDT by dennisw (G-d is at war with Amalek for all generations)
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USS Liberty pix USS Liberty pix USS Liberty pix

Torpedo hole as seen from drydock in Malta


20 posted on 07/08/2003 4:47:54 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (IN ZOT WE TRUST! ........... http:www.DRAFTTOM.com)
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Yup! Looks sunk to me. :-|
21 posted on 07/08/2003 4:49:09 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (IN ZOT WE TRUST! ........... http:www.DRAFTTOM.com)
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To: Courier
The Liberty was not sunk, it was attacked with full knowlege that it was an an American ship. I am a Christian Zionist and "Haaretz" can pound sand, Labour Party sand at that.

I have been following this thing since 1967, it was a political act done for what ever reason, no amount of misdirection will absolve whomever made the descision.

22 posted on 07/08/2003 4:49:28 PM PDT by Little Bill (No Rats, A.N.S.W.E.R (WWP) is a commie front!!!!,)
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To: wideawake
I am now satisfied that the matter is closed and that the defense of IDF action made by the government of Israel is full and accurate.

I'm satisfied with a conclusion that all sides were in CYA/BS mode, covering up and deflecting their own mistakes, protecting their own reputations and promotion tracks. There was a "conspiracy" or two - invoking the perfection, supposed professionalism and faultlessness of the actors and their agencies, and the lack of the same on the other side. The greater furtive motives may sell more books, though.

IMO from what I've read.

23 posted on 07/08/2003 4:51:44 PM PDT by Shermy
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To: Courier
The writer of this garbage is a terrible researcher. He started out with this lie/miss statement:

U.S. agency confirms sinking of USS Liberty was accident!

The Liberty was not sunk. After reading his opening statement, I refused to read any more of his bs! Is this guy Jayson Blair with a pseudo name?

24 posted on 07/08/2003 4:53:26 PM PDT by Grampa Dave (Stamp out Freepathons! Stop being a Freep Loader! Become a monthly donor!)
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To: Little Bill
I am saddened that Haaretz posted such rubbish with such basic inaccuracies. Geesh!

* Melvin P. Johnson .. is the fellow I met in the mid-90s. He was a radioman if I am not mistaken. I noticed his license plate on his truck one day and asked how he received the Purple Heart. It was a hellacious attack. .

25 posted on 07/08/2003 4:55:48 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (IN ZOT WE TRUST! ........... http:www.DRAFTTOM.com)
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To: Little Bill
So if a Hebrew paper uses the term "sink", which has many meanings in English

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=sink

then that means NSA Top Secret real time recorded transcripts are a lie?

Get over yourself.
26 posted on 07/08/2003 4:56:11 PM PDT by Courier (Quick: Name one good thing about the Saudis.)
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To: Burkeman1
Why does it have to fall in one category or the other... "accident" or "deliberate." Why not "all of the above." A grand mix of mutual stupidity, snafu, and willful hubris that probably only God himself will ever get to the bottom of.
27 posted on 07/08/2003 4:56:39 PM PDT by drlevy88
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To: Courier
Maybe this will finally shut up some of the hyperpatriot-wannabe idiots on this very web site who continually bring this up, even thought it's been debunked time and time again.

You know who you are!
28 posted on 07/08/2003 4:57:54 PM PDT by adam_az
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To: wideawake
"But no anti-Semite will ever be convinced."

Labeling anyone who believes that the ship was sunk on purpose by certain individual rogue officers within the IDF as "anti-semites" is a tad paranoid and "conspiracy-theorist" in and of itself.

29 posted on 07/08/2003 4:58:03 PM PDT by You Gotta Be Kidding Me
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To: dennisw
Blacks, gays and liberals in general use the same tactic. Disagree with anything they say or do and you "hate" them. Do people hate them? Some no doubt do. But the writer of this article says anyone who doesn't agree with him about the Liberty hates Jews and hates Israel. That is simply false and it undermines his entire argument. So much so that I don't even care to bother with this thread. I've made my point. My only point.
30 posted on 07/08/2003 4:58:12 PM PDT by DPB101
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To: Grampa Dave
I have posted and read some of his articles in the past and they appeared to be within bounds. Obviously, he was half stewed when he wrote this, but it begs the question, what the hell was the Haaretz editor drinking that let this trash go out?
31 posted on 07/08/2003 4:58:24 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (IN ZOT WE TRUST! ........... http:www.DRAFTTOM.com)
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To: djf
Eyewitness accounts are not always the most accurate.

The guys who wrote that have an ax to grind - and apparently you do too.

32 posted on 07/08/2003 4:59:09 PM PDT by adam_az
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To: Courier
Where is A+Bert when you need him? LOL
33 posted on 07/08/2003 4:59:46 PM PDT by Straight Vermonter (Hey grandma, buy your own drugs!)
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To: Burkeman1
I will trust the words of the men who served on that ship rather than our government or that of Israel's.

Tell it like it is brother. Those 34 U.S. sailors were murdered that day by an "ally"...

34 posted on 07/08/2003 5:00:51 PM PDT by clockwork
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To: Courier
PROPAGANDA
35 posted on 07/08/2003 5:00:59 PM PDT by Bill Davis FR
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To: You Gotta Be Kidding Me
Labeling anyone who believes that the ship was sunk on purpose by certain individual rogue officers within the IDF

Prove it or print and eat those words.
36 posted on 07/08/2003 5:01:54 PM PDT by adam_az
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To: Courier
Hebrew is extremely terse. My guess, maybe someone can confirm, is the word for "sink" also serves for "attack with intent to sink."
37 posted on 07/08/2003 5:02:39 PM PDT by drlevy88
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To: Straight Vermonter
LOL... He's sunk. :-|
38 posted on 07/08/2003 5:02:42 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (IN ZOT WE TRUST! ........... http:www.DRAFTTOM.com)
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To: NormsRevenge
I'll try to follow.

The radioman and other crew on the Liberty knew that Israel was deliberately attacking an American ship, but the Israelis themselves as their conversations being secretly recorded by the United States prove, did not.

39 posted on 07/08/2003 5:03:17 PM PDT by Courier (Quick: Name one good thing about the Saudis.)
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To: Bill Davis FR
Yeah, that NSA is a real bitch.
40 posted on 07/08/2003 5:04:30 PM PDT by Courier (Quick: Name one good thing about the Saudis.)
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To: Courier
but the Israelis themselves as their conversations being secretly recorded by the United States prove, did not.

At some level. The US spy planes picked up the communications to the pilots only.

41 posted on 07/08/2003 5:05:55 PM PDT by drlevy88
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To: DPB101
Take a hike...... I notice you don't deny there are many who hate Israel out there. Go play your game of lumping 'em all together on some one else.
42 posted on 07/08/2003 5:07:27 PM PDT by dennisw (G-d is at war with Amalek for all generations)
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To: NormsRevenge
You worked with someone who was traumatized by the attack, but how could this person claim to know what was in the minds of Israeli pilots?

The "eyewitness" accounts differ in man important ways - they are not all identical. That's how eyewitness accounts are, especially eyewitness accounts under fire. It's also natural to want to blame people for the loss of your friends lives. I have nothing against the survivors - they survived a horrible accident.

Why would the NSA release this at such a late date if they were just making it all up? Are you saying the intercept was doctored by the NSA? For what purpose?

You guys are really getting into tinfoil territory here.

43 posted on 07/08/2003 5:08:14 PM PDT by adam_az
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To: Courier
They had no idea what they were trying to sink:

"Pay attention. The ship is now identified as Egyptian," the pilots were told.

"Clarify by the first man that you bring up, what nationality he is, and report to me immediately,"

Considering the circumstances, I don't blame them. It wasn't murder, it was self defense. Their nation was on the line.

44 posted on 07/08/2003 5:08:29 PM PDT by Nexus
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To: Burkeman1
The men who served and died on that ship will be called anti semitic rather soon on this thread.

I hope not. The men who were there have an excellent reason for not accepting the truth: they do not want to be told that they suffered and died for nothing more than somebody's negligence. They want to believe that their agony redounded to somebody's geopolitical purpose. They want a villain to blame, not a careless functionary. It's perfectly understandable...but that shouldn't affect the judgment of those of us who weren't there.

45 posted on 07/08/2003 5:09:48 PM PDT by Physicist
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To: drlevy88
Combat BUMP.

Jammer
46 posted on 07/08/2003 5:09:51 PM PDT by JamminJAY (This space for rent)
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To: adam_az
Even I didn't expect some of these responses.

Maybe they are too stupid to understand.

The NSA, that's our spy agency, spying on Israeli communications as the event was occurring, at a time of war by the way, proves that the Israelis didn't know who they were attacking, and the issue becomes why the reporter for this story used the term "sink".
47 posted on 07/08/2003 5:10:02 PM PDT by Courier (Quick: Name one good thing about the Saudis.)
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To: NormsRevenge
When I see an amazing lie/miss quote like that at the beginning of a story, that is it. The switch in my mind goes off, my CNS reflexes shout out, "Danger! This Article is full of lies! Go elsewhere!"
48 posted on 07/08/2003 5:10:14 PM PDT by Grampa Dave (Stamp out Freepathons! Stop being a Freep Loader! Become a monthly donor!)
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To: drlevy88
At some level. The US spy planes picked up the communications to the pilots only.

DID YOU EVEN READ THE ARTICLE????

"Then, at 3:12, one of the pilots informed Hatzor that he saw an American flag flying over the wounded ship. He was asked to investigate and determine whether it was really an American ship."

What made you think they only recorded one side when the article quotes both sides?

Both sides are also available from the Israelis - who released them in 1987. Wanna bet both copies are identical?
49 posted on 07/08/2003 5:12:39 PM PDT by adam_az
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To: Courier
Why doesn't someone poll the survivors? At this late point most are no doubt out of the military and free to tell their individual stories.

It doesn't get any better than first person accounts.

50 posted on 07/08/2003 5:14:33 PM PDT by fightu4it (Hillary Clinton -- Commander-In-Chief of US Armed Forces? Never.....Never....Never!)
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