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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; bloodlibel; 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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