Skip to comments.The FReeper Foxhole Remembers Attack on the USS LIBERTY - Part II (6/8/1967) - Sep. 9th, 2003
Posted on 09/09/2003 12:00:23 AM PDT by SAMWolf
are acknowledged, affirmed and commemorated.
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On June 8, 1967, during the Six Day War, Israeli forces attacked the USS Liberty, a U.S. Navy intelligence-gathering ship off the coast of Gaza, killing 35 men and wounding 171. Israeli apologized and called the attack an accident. The U.S. government accepted the apology and did not openly challenge the explanation For almost three decades the crewmen of the Liberty have waged a campaign to have the attack investigated. Indeed, they claim that not only was the attack was intentional, but also that Johnson recalled the Sixth Fleet rescue flights to avoid a clash between the U.S. and Israel.
In the view of the LIBERTY crewmen, there are two major questions relating to the attack on their ship. First, was the attack accidental or deliberate? Secondly, did President Johnson and Secretary of Defense McNamara delay rescue flights from the Sixth Fleet so that US forces would not clash with Israel?
These are two separate questions, and it would be possible for any observer to conclude that the attack was accidental, and also that the White House delayed the rescue flights. In fact, the crewmen are convinced that the answer is positive in both cases; the attack was deliberate, and LBJ delayed the rescue flights.
When Ennes wrote his book ASSAULT in 1980, he made an effort to find out about the recall of the rescue flights. The investigation is difficult because the US Government has provided almost no information concerning these flights. It has said only that the planes were recalled because Israel had announced that it had attacked the ship.
The US has never admitted that there was more than one flight of planes. There has been no investigation of any kind in this matter, as there was a Naval Court to explore some aspects of the attack. There have been no questions on the matter from Congress or the press; the issue was lost in the flurry of statements in the days after the attack.
Ennes found in 1980, after talking to crewmen and pilots of the Sixth Fleet that there were many confusing and erratic reports concerning the rescue flights , and that there were serious discrepancies between official documents and records on the one hand, and the testimony of reliable witnesses on the other. He concluded, tenatatively, that there had been two rescue flights. The first, at 1450 on June 8, was recalled almost immediately because the planes were carrying nuclear weapons. The second, at 1630 on that same afternoon, was recalled at 1715 because Israel had notified the US at 1700 that it had accidentally attacked the ship.
After Ennes wrote this in 1980, he learned more on the subject from two men who contacted him. The first was Captain Joe Tully, commander of the carrier SARATOGA , which was part of the Sixth Fleet stationed near Crete on June 8, 1967. Tully said that the radio message from LIBERTY, saying that the ship was under attack, was heard by SARATOGA at 1432. Tully notified his superior officer, RADM Geis, who was on a cruiser nearby, that he was turning into the wind and launching his ready group of planes to go to LIBERTY, unless he was given orders to the contrary. Geis approved and told Tully that he (Geis) was also ordering AMERICA, the other carrier in the unit of the Sixth Fleet at the time, to launch rescue planes. (The fleet unit, off Crete on that day, consisted of two carriers with a total of 160 planes, a command cruiser and eight destroyers. LIBERTY was only an hour's flight away at top speed of the planes).
Tully launched his ready group of planes. He noticed that AMERICA had launched no planes, and he signaled "WTH" ("what the hell?") to AMERICA but received no answer. (He did not know then that AMERICA was in the midst of complicated weapons exercises, and was not capable for some time of launching planes).
A moment later, with SARATOGA planes still not over the horizon, Tully received word from Geis that the planes should be recalled. Either VADM Martin, commander of the Sixth Fleet, or Geis, (Tully's memory is not exact) then sent a message to both carriers that a rescue flight should leave in 90 minutes. Tully protested that his planes were ready to leave at once, but he received no reply.
At 1630 planes were launched from both carriers. From this point on there are two confllicting stories. As Tully remembers it, the planes were once again recalled before they had cleared the horizon. However, another account (related in A.Jay Cristol's LIBERTY INCIDENT, and backed by other evidence) says that the planes were not recalled until 1715, after the Israelis had stated that they had accidentally attacked the ship.
Ennes also received new information from LCDR David Lewis, an officer on the ship, who told the following story: Lewis, wounded in the torpedo attack, was transferred to the hospital of AMERICA and RADM Geis sent for him. Geis told him that the first rescue flight had been cancelled on direct orders from Secretary McNamara, who ordered a 90 minute delay before further flights. When the second flight took off at 1630, Geis notified McNamara, who again ordered the recall of the flight. Any officer who doubts the wisdom of an order has the prerogative to go over the head of the officer giving the order, and in this case the only officer superior to McNamara was President Johnson. LBJ came on the phone, and told Geis "I don't care if the ship sinks and every man on board drowns; we are not going to fight against our allies (Israel)."
Geis made Lewis promise not to tell about this conversation as long as he, Geis, was alive. After Geis's death, Lewis revealed this.
This is an astounding and shocking statement by President Johnson. The accuracy of Tully's account and of Geis's account, as related by Lewis, are questions to be explored at greater length.
The accounts of the rescue flights and their recall rely upon minimal and inadequate documentation, possible flawed memories, and unanswered questions. As a result, the story is one of loose ends, unresolved problems and partisan charges. Yet the issues are of such importance that the debate cannot be avoided.
There are two issues of the greatest importance.
The LIBERTY crewmen's account of the flights and recalls:
Cristol strongly attacks the above account of the 1450 flight on these grounds:
Crewmen response to Cristol criticism:
The discussion above concerns the 1450 flight from SARATOGA, and the1630 flight from both carriers. There are two other accounts of flights which provide uncertain information or false data. These are:
It is difficult to understand the two accounts above. Among other things, if both accounts were true, at about 1600-1609 we would have a situation where one flight was headed for LIBERTY while another flight, much nearer, was turning back in order and NOT to contact the ship.
The story of the rescue flights is poorly documented and largely still unknown. Tully was not able to find out why the 90 minute delay in the rescue flights was ordered. In a similar way, ADM Thomas Moorer says that later in his capacity as member of the JCS and as CNO, he was never able to find out the reason for the delay. It was considered a closely guarded secret.
Because this is still an area of unexplored history, the LIBERTY men hope to eventually have a Congressional hearing on the issue.
Without God and the Constitution where would we be?
The U.S. Navy E-2C Hawkeye is the "eyes and ears" for US Carrier Battle Groups. They are equipped with a long range surveillance radar, and have significant communication capability. The E-2C Hawkeye is normally based aboard aircraft carriers, acting as the airborne "quarterback," or battle manager for the fleet. There currently is one squadron of four Hawkeyes in each carrier air wing (CVW). The E-2C Hawkeye is an all-weather, tactical airborne warning and control system platform. It provides all-weather airborne early warning and command and control functions for the carrier battle group. With it's distinctive 24 foot diameter rotating radome and more than 12,000 pounds of electronics, the E-2C can monitor 6 million cubic miles of airspace and more than 150,000 square miles of ocean surface for the presence of aircraft, missiles, ships, and fixed targets. The Hawkeye's long-range radar and other electronic surveillance systems can simultaneously detect and track hundreds of ships and aircraft more than 200 miles away. With its specialized computer and communication equipment, the E-2C can also be used for missions such as air traffic control, surface surveillance coordination, strike and interceptor control, search and rescue guidance and communications relay. Designed and built by Northrop-Grumman Corporation, the has been on active duty with the US Navy since 1973.
The E-2 serves in a very similar role as that of the USAF E-3 AWACS. For this reason, E-2s are sometimes called "mini - AWACS." However, the E-2C does offer some advantages which the E-3 does not. For instance, the Hawkeye can provide its radar operators with raw radar data rather than only computer-generated, processed information. In some cases (with a skilled operator at the console) this can mean picking up contacts that the signal processors miss. Their primary mission is air defense, but they have operated as ABCCC platforms (Airborne Command Control and Communication), most recently in Kosovo. All of them are equipped with Navy Tactical Data System (NTDS) Link 11 and Fighter Control Link 4A. The block two aircraft have an improved radar and have Data Link 16 Joint Tactical Integrated Data System (JTIDS) installed.
Since its combat debut during the Vietnam conflict, the E-2 has served the Navy around the world. Hawkeyes directed F-14 Tomcat fighters flying combat air patrol during the two-carrier battle group joint strike against terrorist-related Libyan targets in 1986. E-2Cs and AEGIS cruisers, working together, provided total air mass superiority over the American fleet. More recently, E-2Cs provided the command and control for successful operations during the Persian Gulf War, directing both land attack and combat air patrol missions over Iraq and providing control for the shoot-down of two Iraqi MIG-21 aircraft by carrier-based F/A-18s in the early days of the war.
The E-2C provides air control to fighter aircraft to intercept enemy air threats, while reporting the situation back to the Battle Group and maintaining a tactical picture through the on-board data links. When it comes to projecting power ashore, the crew directs the concerted efforts of a strike to ensure interceptors, attack, and electronic warfare aircraft arrive and depart hostile territory safely.
Contractor: Northrop Grumann, Westinghouse
Primary Function: Airborne early warning, command and control
Unit Cost: $51 million
Powerplant: Two Allison T-56-A427 turboprop engines; (5,000 shaft horsepower each)
Length: 57 feet 6 inches (17.5 meters)
Wingspan: 80 feet 7 inches (28 meters)
Height: 18 feet 3 inches (5.6 meters)
Weights: Empty: 38,063 lb (17265 kg) / Maximum Takeoff: 51,933 lb (23556 kg)
Speed: 300+ knots (345 mph, 552 km/h)
Ceiling: 30,000 feet (9,100 meters)
Combat Radius: 1,300 nautical miles
Ferry range: 1,540-1,542 nm
Time on station, 175 nautical miles from base: 4 hr. 24 min
Endurance with maximum fuel: 6 hr. 15 min
Lockheed Martin Ocean, Radar, and Surveillance Systems [ex General Electric Corporation] AN/APS-145 radar since 1991
AN/ALR-73 Passive Detection System, IFF
All photos Copyright of Global Security.Org
I read a recent book on the genesis of the U.S. - Israeli alliance during the Kennedy administration. Interestingly, at the same time the New Frontiersmen were trying to put together an alliance with Nasser, a relationship like we have today with Egypt. Nasser was interested, but when he went to war in Yemen against the Saudis it was too hard to put together. Still, some very high level State Department types wanted a deal with Nasser. Did the Israelis suspect we were feeding Nasser intelligence?
I believe Navies had Ship ID books going back to at least WWII.
Phiol posted some info last night that says we were spying on Israel.