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The FReeper Foxhole Remembers Attack on the USS LIBERTY - Part II (6/8/1967) - Sep. 9th, 2003 ^ | John E. Borne, PhD

Posted on 09/09/2003 12:00:23 AM PDT by SAMWolf


Keep our Troops forever in Your care

Give them victory over the enemy...

Grant them a safe and swift return...

Bless those who mourn the lost.

FReepers from the Foxhole join in prayer
for all those serving their country at this time.

God Bless America
...................................................................................... ...........................................

U.S. Military History, Current Events and Veterans Issues

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Attack on the USS LIBERTY - Part II

Link to Attack on the USS LIBERTY - Part I

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.

The Rescue Flights

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.

Recall of the Flights

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.

  1. We are dealing with the problem of the 90 minute delay, and final cancellation, in sending rescue flights to LIBERTY, when as far as the White House and the Sixth Fleet knew the ship was under constant attack and in danger of sinking. It would seem that only the most serious reasons could justify the recall of the flights. Yet if Dave Lewis is correct, LBJ stopped these flights in order to avoid any clash with Israel. As serious as this matter is, no Congressman or journalist asked LBJ or McNamara a single question about it in the 34 years since the attack.
  2. There is a problem concerning the timing of events. ADM Geis, speaking through Dave Lewis, says that McNamara ordered the cancellation of the first rescue flight at 0900 White House time. Yet the official history (such as President's Daily Diary) states that LBJ (and McNamara) were first notified of the attack on LIBERTY at 0949 White House time, nearly an hour later. If Geis is correct, then the White House documents are false and part of a cover-up.

The LIBERTY crewmen's account of the flights and recalls:

  1. Tully and Geis: flight from SARATOGA at 1450. Planes recalled at once by radiotelephone call from McNamara; planes returned to carrier at 1500. Tully ordered to wait for 90 minutes before a new flight. He said that his planes were ready to fly at once but he got no answer. Geis claimed that he protested McNamara's order for recall and spoke to LBJ but this availed nothing. (No official record of this flight and recall; no record of calls from LBJ or McNamara). Carrier AMERICA was not able to send planes on this flight because the carrier was in the midst of training exercises and had no ready group of planes available for an hour.
  2. Tully, Ennes and Cristol: At 1630 flights were launched from both carriers, but meanwhile events were moving to cancel need for flights. At 1610 Israel notified US attaché Castle that it had accidentally attacked LIBERTY. Castle's message on this reached White House at 1704 and went to Situation Room where LBJ met with advisers. McNamara contacted 6th fleet by radiotelephone; flights ordered at 1715 to return to carriers.

Cristol strongly attacks the above account of the 1450 flight on these grounds:

  1. It was not possible in 1967 to speak from Washington to a ship in the Mediterranean by radiotelephone.
  2. There was a well established chain of command from Geis to McNamara; Geis was not likely to shortcut this.
  3. McNamara in an interview with Cristol denies that he spoke to anyone in the Sixth Fleet on that day, and in particular did not speak to Geis.

Crewmen response to Cristol criticism:

  1. There was standard equipment for radiotelephone calls from White House to ships in Mediterranean in 1967. In fact, in another interview with Cristol, contradicting the one described above, McNamara says that he used radiotelephone to Sixth Fleet to recall the flight at 1715.
  2. Engen, although he generally praises Cristol and backs his version of events, nevertheless backs the LIBERTY men in detailed accounts and says that McNamara spoke directly to Geis by radiotelephone.
  3. Although a chain of command existed, the crewmen claim that LBJ and McNamara ignored it when speed of contact was an urgent matter.
  4. Call from McNamara to Geis was relayed through a US Naval communications station in Morocco and overheard by CPO Julian Hart, who later contacted Ennes to provide this evidence.

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:

  1. (From Cristol): Flights from both carriers at 1516 by order of ADM Martin; called back at 1609 after 55 minute flight. We do not know why flights were recalled. They were only a few miles from LIBERTY at the time.
  2. (From Engen): A flight took off from AMERICA at 1600 but was called back at once by RADM Geis. Engen says that LBJ had told Geis that Israel had admitted it accidentally attacked LIBERTY. However, the Israelis did not make this admission until 1700, an hour later, so this account makes no sense.

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.

KEYWORDS: 6daywar; freeperfoxhole; israel; michaeldobbs; usnavy; ussliberty; veterans
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To: snippy_about_it
Thanks for the additional pictures Snippy.
21 posted on 09/09/2003 8:43:34 AM PDT by SAMWolf (A horse may be forced to drink but a pencil must be lead.)
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To: w_over_w
LBJ was Bill Clinton without the "charming" personality.
22 posted on 09/09/2003 8:44:55 AM PDT by SAMWolf (A horse may be forced to drink but a pencil must be lead.)
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To: w_over_w
23 posted on 09/09/2003 8:45:47 AM PDT by SAMWolf (A horse may be forced to drink but a pencil must be lead.)
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To: snippy_about_it
24 posted on 09/09/2003 9:05:59 AM PDT by manna
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To: manna
Good Morning Manna
25 posted on 09/09/2003 9:09:45 AM PDT by SAMWolf (A horse may be forced to drink but a pencil must be lead.)
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To: SAMWolf
Your welcome SAM. I liked the one of the men standing in the hole, gives you an idea of how huge it is.
26 posted on 09/09/2003 9:22:57 AM PDT by snippy_about_it (Pray for our troops)
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To: manna
27 posted on 09/09/2003 9:23:20 AM PDT by snippy_about_it (Pray for our troops)
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To: SAMWolf
Okay, fellow retirees and veterans, this is going to get some brogans or boots thrown at me..... I hope you will forgive a slightly commercial plug but every time I raised my hand and said the oath the word 'Constitution' has had special meaning for me (and I know all of you). I have been looking for years for good parchment copies of the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Bill of Rights to frame and hang on the wall and I have finally found a source for excellent reproductions. I have placed these precious documents on my G. I. Memories web page for any who might want them.

Without God and the Constitution where would we be?

28 posted on 09/09/2003 11:04:50 AM PDT by hardhead ('Curly, don't say its a fine morning or I'll shoot you.' - John Wayne, 'McLintock' 1963)
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To: hardhead
No boots being thrown from here.

Thanks for the link. 32 bucks for all three documents isn't a bad deal.
29 posted on 09/09/2003 11:11:26 AM PDT by SAMWolf (A horse may be forced to drink but a pencil must be lead.)
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To: SAMWolf
To give you an idea that I'm older than dirt, about 4 years after I retired I became a Radio Shack manager and the TRS-80 'CoCo' was THE hot seller!
30 posted on 09/09/2003 11:24:11 AM PDT by hardhead ('Curly, don't say its a fine morning or I'll shoot you.' - John Wayne, 'McLintock' 1963)
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To: hardhead
LOL! I'm there with you.

I remember playing "Star Trek" on a Trash 80.
31 posted on 09/09/2003 11:29:13 AM PDT by SAMWolf (A horse may be forced to drink but a pencil must be lead.)
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To: *all

Air Power
E-2C Hawkeye

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
Crew: Five
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)

Performance :
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

32 posted on 09/09/2003 12:42:45 PM PDT by Johnny Gage (God Bless President Bush, God Bless our Troops, and GOD BLESS AMERICA)
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To: SAMWolf
Sam, I went back to yesterday's thread to study the picture of the ship. It is obviously some kind of communication or intelligence ship. I'm no sailor, but don't navies maintain books with the naval ships of the world identified? The Israelis had the ship spotted for hours, plenty of time to check with the general staff for an I.D. The attack sure seems deliberate. The question I have is why?

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?

33 posted on 09/09/2003 12:56:05 PM PDT by colorado tanker (Iron Horse)
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To: Johnny Gage
Hiya Johnny, that's a neat looking plane!
34 posted on 09/09/2003 1:05:51 PM PDT by snippy_about_it (Pray for our troops)
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To: colorado tanker
I'm no sailor, but don't navies maintain books with the naval ships of the world identified?

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.

35 posted on 09/09/2003 1:38:13 PM PDT by SAMWolf (A horse may be forced to drink but a pencil must be lead.)
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To: snippy_about_it; SAMWolf; radu; AntiJen
And anyone else that I forgot at this time.
I'm back, somewhat.
Will be tweaking my setup for a bit until everything is back to what I want it to be.
Larger explanation on old thread here:
36 posted on 09/09/2003 2:02:44 PM PDT by Darksheare ("It's Howdy Doody time kiddies... the Bad Man is here..")
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To: Darksheare
Yippee!! Now get over to last Friday's thread and see what SAM and I have been up to! We had a vacation while you were gone.

The FReeper Foxhole - SAM and Snippy Tour the USS Tarawa LHA-1 & meet bkwells - Sept. 5th, 2003

37 posted on 09/09/2003 2:14:42 PM PDT by snippy_about_it (Pray for our troops)
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To: snippy_about_it

I shall now have to get officially jealous.
38 posted on 09/09/2003 2:24:24 PM PDT by Darksheare ("It's Howdy Doody time kiddies... the Bad Man is here..")
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To: Johnny Gage
Thanks Johnny.

39 posted on 09/09/2003 2:42:46 PM PDT by SAMWolf (A horse may be forced to drink but a pencil must be lead.)
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To: SAMWolf
Countries spy on each other all the time, especially if there's a war going on. I wouldn't think the Israelis would shoot at us for spying unless they thought we were using the information against them in some way.
40 posted on 09/09/2003 2:45:17 PM PDT by colorado tanker (Iron Horse)
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