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USS Liberty Pictorial History

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     Israeli Attacks on the US Navy and Marines
                                                                                                      Israeli Attacks on the
                                                                                                      US Navy and Marines
    “I saw the flag, which had visibly identified the
    ship as American, riddled with bullet holes, and
    heard testimony that made it clear that the
    Israelis intended there be no survivors.”
                    -Captain Ward Boston
    Counsel to the US Navy Court of Inquiry’s investigation



             “Those men were then betrayed and
             left to die by our own government.”
                  - Admiral Thomas Moorer
        Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1970-1974
                                                                                                                              INSIDE:

                                                                                                          The Attack on the USS Liberty and its Cover-up
           About James Akins and Donald Neff                                                                By former U.S. Ambassador James Akins

      James Akins was U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia during                                           A fair probe would attack Liberty misinformation
      the Nixon administration. An internationally respected expert                                     By former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
      on Middle East and energy issues,Akins has been described as
                                                                                                                   Admiral Thomas Moorer
      “the westerner who knows the most about the Middle East.”

      Donald Neff has been a journalist for forty years. He spent                              A ffidavit of the chief counsel to the USS Liberty C o u rt of Inquiry
      16 years in service for Time Magazine and has been a regular                                               Signed by Captain Ward Boston
      contributor the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. He is
      the foremost expert on U.S. policy in the Middle East and is the
      author of five must-read books on the subject.                                             Israel Charged with Systematic Harassment of U.S. Marines
                                                                                                     By former Time Magazine Bureau Chief Donald Neff



                            www.IfAmericansKnew.org
6312 SW Capitol Hwy, #163, Portland, OR 97239 • contact@IfAmericansKnew.org • (202) 631-4060



                                                                                                                    Published by If Americans Knew
                     IF AMERICANS KNEW
                     M I S S I O N S TAT E M E N T



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Unfortunately, such information is not always forthcoming.

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It is the mission of If Americans Knew to ensure that this does not happen -
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est groups. It is our goal to supply the information essential to those respon-
sible for the actions of the strongest nation on earth - the American people.
                                                                                                                                                               Ambassador James Akins




                                            NOTES:


1    New York Times, 3/18/83. For a detailed            20 New York Times, 8/30/83.
     review of these clashes, see Green, Living         21 Ball, Error and Betrayal in Lebanon, pp.
     by the Sword, pp. 177-92, and Clyde                   75-77.
     Mark, "The Multinational Fo rce in                 22 New York Times, 9/5/83.                                THE ATTACK ON THE USS LIBERTY AND ITS COVER-UP
     Lebanon," Congressional Researc h                  23 Fisk, Pity the Nation, pp. 489-91;
     Service, 5/19/83.                                     Friedman, From Beirut to Jerusalem, p.
2    See "NBC Nightly News," 6:30 PM EST,                  179.
     3/17/86; a l s o, George C. Wilson,                24 New York Times, 9/6/83.                         Former Ambassador James Akins delivered this speech at the Center
     Washington Post, 2/5/83.                           25 Fisk, Pity the Nation, p. 505.
3    Ball, Error and Betrayal in Lebanon, p. 51;        26 New York Times, 9/14/83.                        for Policy Analysis on Palestine in September of 1999. It was the
     Cooley, Payback, pp. 69-71.                        27 New York Times , 9/13/83.                       second Annual Distinguished Lecture.
4    Frank, U.S Marines in Lebanon: 1982-               28 Philip Taubman and Joel Brinkley, New
     1984, p. 137.                                         York Times, 12/11/83. Also see
5    Frank, U.S. Marines in Lebanon: 1982-                 Cockburn, Dangerous Liaison, p. 335;
     1984 , Appendix F.                                    Fisk, Pity the Nation, p. 505; Friedman,
6    New York Times, 10/1/82. Also see                     From Beirut to Jerusalem , p. 210.                                                 I
     Cooley, Payback, p. 71; Green, Living by           29 Friedman, From Beirut to Jerusalem, pp.
     the Sword, pp. 175-77                                 200-01. Also see Green, Living by the
7    The text is in New York Times, 9/30/82.               Sword, pp. 190-92.



                                                                                                        I
     Also      see     Pe c k , The     Reagan          30 New York Times, 9/29/83.                         n 1963, three World War II Victory hull freighters were refitted as techni-
     Administration and the Palestinian                 31 New York Times, 9/25/83; David Koff,             cal research ships. Their function, formally, was “to conduct technical
     Question, p. 76.                                      "Chronology of the War in Lebanon,
8    Schiff & Ya'ari, Israel's Lebanon War, p.             Sept.-November, 1983," Journal of                research operations in support of U.S. Navy electronic research projects,
     225.                                                  Palestine Studies, Winter 1984, pp. 133-
                                                                                                        which include electromagnetic propagation studies and advanced communi-
9    "Chronology of the Israeli Invasion of                35.
     Lebanon," Journal of Palestine Studies,            32 Philip Taubman and Joel Brinkley, New        cations systems.” Jane’s Fighting Ships called these vessels “mobile bases for
     Summer/Fall 1982, p. 189.                             York Times, 12/11/83. Also see Cooley,
10   Green, Living by the Sword, pp. 178-80.               Payback, pp. 80-91; Fisk, Pity the Nation,   research in communications and electromagnetic radiation.... [They are] con-
11   Frank, U.S Marines in Lebanon: 1982-                  pp. 511-22; Friedman, From Beirut to         sidered electronic intelligence ships.” They were designed to intercept for-
     1984, pp. 45-46.                                      Jerusalem, pp. 201-4; Woodward, Veil, pp.
12   Ibid.                                                 285-87.                                      eign electronic messages, and they were popularly called “spy ships.” One of
13   Green, Living by the Sword, p. 182.                33 New York Times , 1/4/84; C o o l ey,         these ships was re-christened the “USS Liberty.”
14   Frank, U.S Marines in Lebanon: 1982-                  Payback, pp. 95-97.
     1984, p. 56.                                       34 New York Times, 12/4/83.                         In late May 1967, tension between Egypt and Israel had become serious,
15   New York Times, 2/9/83; "Final Report of           35 New York Times, 1/19/84. Also see New
                                                                                                        and the Navy Department decided that it needed a “spy ship” in the region.
     the Israeli Commission of Inquiry,"                   York Times, 1/29/84, and Cooley,
     Journal of Palestine Studies, Spring 1983,            Payback, p. 75. For a chronology of          As the Liberty was in Abidjan at the time and could get to the Mediterranean
     pp. 89-116.                                           attacks against Americans in this period,
16   Frank, U.S Marines in Lebanon: 1982-                  see the Atlanta Journal, 1/31/85.
                                                                                                        in two weeks, it was dispatched. On June 5, when Israel attacked Egypt and
     1984, p. 56.                                       36 Fisk, Pity the Nation, p. 533.               destroyed most of its air force, the Liberty was already in the eastern
17   New York Times, 4/22/83 and 4/26/83.               37 New York Times, 4/16/84. Also see
     For more detail on CIA victims, see                   Cooley, Payback , p. 111; Fisk, Pity the     Mediterranean. Captain William L. McGonagle of the Liberty immediately
     Charles R Babcock, Washington Post,                   Nation, p. 565.                              asked Vice Admiral William I. Martin at the Sixth Fleet headquarters to send
     8/5/86, and Woodward,Veil, pp. 244-45.             38 Cooley, Payback, p. 102; Fisk, Pity the
18   Ostrovsky, By Way of Deception, p. 321.               Nation, p. 533; Friedman, From Beirut to     a destroyer to accompany the Liberty and serve as its armed escort and an
19   Cooley, Payback, p. 76.                               Jerusalem, p. 220.                           auxiliary communications center.
                                                                                                            The following day, June 6, Admiral Martin replied: “Liberty is a clearly


                                                   28                                                                                         1
The Attack on the USS Liberty and its Cover-up                                                                                                                  Donald Neff

marked United States ship in international waters, not a participant in the        supporters today oppose sending U.S. peacekeepers to the Golan Heights as
conflict and not a reasonable subject for attack by any nation. Request            part of a possible Israeli-Syrian peace treaty. A repeat of the 1982-84 experi-
denied.” He promised, however, that, in the unlikely event of an inadvertent       ence would certainly not be in Israel's interests at a time when its supporters
attack, jet fighters from the Sixth Fleet could be overhead in ten minutes.        are seeking to have a budget-conscious Congress continue unprecedented
     By the evening of June 7, the Liberty was 13 miles off the coast of Gaza,     amounts of aid to Israel.
in international waters. At about that time, the Pentagon decided that the
ship might be too exposed and sent a message to the Sixth Fleet headquar-                                    RECOMMENDED READING:
ters, copied to the Liberty, ordering the ship to withdraw to 20 miles from the
                                                                                         For a list of additional informational booklets on Israel-Palestine
coast. The message was misdirected to the Philippines, and the Liberty never               available from If Americans Knew, please contact us or visit
got its copy. The Pentagon then decided that 20 miles was insufficient and                                   www.IfAmericansKnew.org.
ordered the ship to withdraw to 100 miles from the coast. That message, too,
                                                                                   Ball, George, Error and Betrayal in                     Report of the International
was misdirected to the Philippines and was never received by the Liberty.
                                                                                          Lebanon,Washington, DC,                          Commission to enquire into
     As the ship had not acknowledged receipt of the earlier messages, a                  Foundation for Middle East Peace,                reported violations of interna-
direct message was sent to the Liberty. Unfortunately, it was classified “top             1984.                                            tional law by Israel during its
                                                                                   *Cockburn, Andrew and Leslie                            invasion of Lebanon , London,
secret,” and the ship was unable to receive it. So the Liberty proceeded on               Cockburn, Dangerous Liaison:The                  Ithaca Press, 1983.
course to the waters off Gaza.                                                            Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli           Ostrovsky,Victor and Claire Hoy, By
                                                                                          Covert Relationship, New York,                   Way of Deception, New York, St.
     Notwithstanding the incompetent Navy communicators, the crucial fact
                                                                                          Harper Collins, 1991.                            Martin's Press, 1990.
was that the ship remained, at all times, in international waters.                 Cooley, John K., Payback: America's               Peck, Juliana S.,The Reagan
     At about 09:00 on June 8, a plane approached the ship, but its markings              Long War in the Middle East ,                    Administration and the
                                                                                          New York, Brassey's U.S., Inc.,                  Palestinian Question:The First
could not be identified; the plane broke off, and then turned toward the Gaza             1991.                                            Thousand Days ,Washington, DC,
coast. At 10:00, two delta-winged jets flew close enough to the ship to enable     *Findley, Paul, Deliberate Deceptions:                  Institute for Palestine Studies,
                                                                                          Facing the Facts About the U.S.-                 1984.
officers with binoculars to count the rockets they were carrying and even to
                                                                                          Israeli Relationship, Brooklyn, NY,        *Randal, Jonathan, Going all the Way,
see the pilots. But no identifying marks on the planes could be seen.                     Lawrence Hill Books, 1993.                       New York,The Viking Press, 1983.
     Still, there was no great concern, as the planes, which circled the ship      Fisk, Robert, Pity the Nation:The                 Schechla, Joseph,The Iron Fist: Israel's
                                                                                          Abduction of Lebanon, New York,                  Occupation of South Lebanon,
three times, could easily see its markings and its large American flag. At                Atheneum, 1990.                                  1982-1985 ,Washington, D.C.:
10:30, a flying boxcar circled the ship at about 200 feet, slowly giving further   Frank, Benis M., U.S. Marines in                        ADC Research Institute, Issue
assurance that the ship had been identified as American. This time, the                   Lebanon: 1982-1984, History and                  Paper No. 17, 1985.
                                                                                          Museums Division, Headquarters,            *Schiff, Ze'ev and Ehud Ya'ari, Israel's
plane’s Israeli markings were clearly visible. The boxcar repeated this at                U.S. Marine Corps,Washington,                    Lebanon War, New York, Simon
about 11:00 and again at 11:30.                                                           DC, 1987.                                        and Schuster, 1984.
                                                                                   *Friedman,Thomas L., From Beirut to               Timerman, Jacobo,The Longest War:
     The ship continued its patrol at very slow speed when, at 14:00, two
                                                                                          Jerusalem, New York, Farrar,                     Israel in Lebanon, New York,
Mirage aircraft were seen rapidly approaching the ship. Although they were                Strauss, Giroux, 1989.                           Vantage Books, 1982.
unmarked, they were assumed to be Israeli planes – the Arabs did not have          *Green, Stephen, Living by the Sword,             Woodward, Bob,Veil:The Secret Wars
                                                                                          Amana, 1988.                                     of the CIA 1981-1987, New York,
Mirages – and no defensive action was taken (not that it would have done           *Jansen, Michael,The Battle of Beirut:                  Simon and Schuster, 1987.
much good, as the ship was only very lightly armed). Both Mirage aircraft                 Why Israel Invaded Lebanon ,
                                                                                          London, Zed Press, 1982.                      * Available through the American
attacked the ship. The crew was totally unprepared, and the damage was
                                                                                   MacBride, Sean, Israel in Lebanon:The               Educational Trust (AET) Book Club.


                                          2                                                                                     27
Israel Charged With Systematic Harassment of U.S. Marines                                                                                   Ambassador James Akins

men around the Beirut airport.34                                                    great.
     By the start of 1984, an all-out Shi'i Muslim campaign to rid Lebanon of           Captain McGonagle immediately informed the Chief of Naval
all Americans was underway. The highly respected president of the                   Operations: “Under attack by unidentified jet aircraft, require immediate
American University of Beirut, Dr. Malcolm Kerr, a distinguished scholar of         assistance.” According to James M. Ennes, Jr., who was badly wounded in
the Arab world, was gunned down on Jan. 18 outside his office by Islamic            this first attack, a U.S. submarine that had been following the ship sent up its
militants aligned with Iran. On Feb. 5, Reagan made one of his stand-tall
                               35
                                                                                    periscope and filmed the attack. He was told of this by one of the subma-
speeches by saying that "the situation in Lebanon is difficult, frustrating and     rine’s crew, and, according to Ennes, he subsequently got confirmation from
dangerous. But this is no reason to turn our backs on friends and to cut and        three other persons in position to know the truth. They have never spoken
run."36
                                                                                    publicly about the matter.
     The next day Professor Frank Regier, a U.S. citizen teaching at AUB, was           The first attack lasted about five minutes. A few minutes later, three
kidnapped by Muslim radicals.37 Regier's kidnapping was the beginning of a          unmarked Super-Mysteres attacked with napalm and dozens of rockets.
series of kidnappings of Americans in Beirut that would hound the Reagan            There was then a short respite, and two more Mirages, also unmarked,
and later the Bush administrations for years and lead to the eventual expul-        attacked. The entire two-part engagement lasted about 22 minutes.
sion of nearly all Americans from Lebanon where they had prospered for                  Throughout the attack, the ship tried to contact Sixth Fleet headquarters,
more than a century. Even today Americans still are prohibited from travel-         but the Israeli planes knew the frequencies of the transmission and were able
ing to Lebanon.                                                                     to block the messages, except when the attacks were underway. During those
     The day after Regier's kidnapping, on Feb. 7, 1984, Reagan suddenly            few seconds, the radio operator, one of the many on board the Liberty who
reversed himself and announced that all U.S. Marines would shortly be               performed heroically, was able to make contact with the Sixth Fleet. The first
"redeployed." The next day the battleship USS New Jersey fired 290 rounds           ship to receive and acknowledge the distress signal was the carrier Saratoga,
of one-ton shells from its 16-inch guns into Lebanon as a final act of U.S. frus-   which almost immediately dispatched 12 F-4 Phantom jets and four tanker
tration. Reagan's "redeployment" was completed by Feb. 26, when the last
          38
                                                                                    planes to defend the Liberty. The Sixth Fleet flagship, the Little Rock, which
of the Marines retreated from Lebanon.                                              had received the messages at almost the same time, was informed, and the
     The mission of the Marines had been a humiliating failure—not because          Liberty was told that help was on the way.
they failed in their duty but because the political backbone in Washington              It never arrived. Very shortly after Washington got word of the attack
was lacking. The Marines had arrived in 1982 with all sides welcoming them.         and of the 12 planes that had been dispatched to support it, Secretary of
They left in 1984 despised by many and the object of attacks by Muslims.            Defense Robert MacNamara personally got on the radio circuit and said,
Even relations with Israel were strained, if not in Washington where a sym-         “Tell [the] Sixth Fleet to get those aircraft back immediately.” That message
pathetic Congress granted increased aid to the Jewish state to compensate it        did get through, and the planes were recalled. In subsequent discussion of
for the costs of its bungled invasion, then between the Marines and Israeli         the affair, the White House directed the Pentagon to say that the Israelis had
troops who had confronted each other in a realpolitik battlefield that was          acknowledged their “mistake,” that the attack had been called off, and that
beyond their competence or understanding. The Marine experience in                  the Israelis would give assistance to the ship.
Lebanon did not contribute toward a favorable impression of Israel among                Nine men had been killed and about 60 wounded. But, in spite of what
many Americans, especially since the Marines would not have been in                 the White House said, that was not the end of the Israeli action. While most
Lebanon except for Israel's unprovoked invasion.                                    of the lifeboats had been destroyed in the first attack, the ship managed to
     This negative result is perhaps one reason a number of Israelis and their      launch three, but they were immediately attacked by Israeli motor torpedo


                                         26                                                                                3
The Attack on the USS Liberty and its Cover-up                                                                                                         Donald Neff

boats. The Israelis destroyed two of the lifeboats – a war crime in itself – and   self-defense for the Marines, including air and naval strikes.27 Five days later
captured the third. The torpedo boats also fired their cannons into the ship in    the United States essentially joined the war against the Muslims when four
an apparent last attempt to sink it. The carnage continued until 171 American      U.S. warships unleashed the heaviest naval bombardment since Vietnam into
sailors were wounded, many severely, and 34 were killed.                           Syrian and Druze positions in eastern Lebanon in support of the Lebanese
     When the Israelis saw that they were unable to sink the ship after more       Christians.28 The bombardment lasted for three days and was personally
than two hours of intense attack, they offered support to the survivors.           ordered by National Security Council director Robert McFarlane, a Marine
Captain McGonagle, who had been badly wounded himself, refused, and his            Corps officer detailed to the White House who was in Lebanon at the time
ship limped into Malta, where 821 rocket and missile holes and more than           and was also a strong supporter of Israel and its Lebanese Maronite Christian
3,000 holes from armor piercing bullets were counted. In subsequent “expla-        allies. McFarlane issued the order despite the fact that the Marine command-
nations,” the Israelis said they had mistaken the ship for the Egyptian “al-       er at the airport, Colonel Timothy Geraghty, strenuously argued against it
Qusair,” although the ships’ profiles had nothing in common: the Egyptian          because, in the words of correspondent Thomas L. Friedman, "he knew that
ship displaced 2,000 tons, while the American ship displaced 10,000 tons. The      it would make his soldiers party to what was now clearly an intra-Lebanese
Liberty was clearly marked, and it flew a standard American flag that mea-         fight, and that the Lebanese Muslims would not retaliate against the Navy's
sured five-by-eight feet. The flag was destroyed during the first attack, but it   ships at sea but against the Marines on shore."29
was replaced immediately by a nine-by-15 foot “holiday flag,” which                    By now, the Marines were under daily attack and Muslims were charg-
remained aloft throughout the subsequent attacks. The Israelis never               ing they were no longer neutral.30 At the same time the battleship USS New
attempted to explain how they had acquired the frequencies on which the            Jersey, with 16-inch guns, arrived off Lebanon, increasing the number of U.S.
ship transmitted, and why they had blocked them (the Egyptian frequencies          warships offshore to 14. Similarly, the Marine contingent at Beirut airport
would have been quite different). Nor have they explained why their aircraft       was increased from 1,200 to 1,600.31
were unmarked, or why the American flag was ignored. While in Malta,
most of the surviving officers and men were interviewed in several groups                                         A Tragic Climax
by Rear Admiral Isaac Kidd, who ostentatiously took off the stars on his uni-
form in each case and said, “Now tell me, man-to-man, everything that hap-
pened.” They all did. Then, equally ostentatiously, Kidd put the stars back on
and said: “Now I’m talking officially; you are never, repeat never, to discuss
                                                                                   T   he fight now was truly joined between the Shi'i Muslims and the
                                                                                       Marines, who were essentially pinned down in their airport bunkers
                                                                                   and under orders not to take offensive actions. The tragic climax of their
this with anyone, not even your wives. If you do, you will be court-martialed      predicament came on Oct. 23, when a Muslim guerrilla drove a truck past
and will end your lives in prison or worse.” The threats were effective, and,      guards at the Marine airport compound and detonated an explosive with the
for several years, almost no one spoke out. Ennes was the first to break the       force of 12,000 pounds of dynamite under a building housing Marines and
wall of silence in his extraordinary book, Assault on the Liberty, which was not   other U.S. personnel. Almost simultaneously, a car-bomb exploded at the
published until 1979, however, and was generally ignored by the reviewers.         French compound in Beirut. Casualties were 241 Americans and 58 French
Now almost all the survivors who can be contacted speak freely and bitterly.       troops killed. The bombings were the work of Hezbollah, made up of Shi'i
And no one listens.                                                                Muslim guerrillas supported by Iran.32
                                                                                       America's agony increased on Dec. 3, when two carrier planes were
                                                                                   downed by Syrian missiles during heavy U.S. air raids on eastern Lebanon.33
                                                                                   On the same day, eight Marines were killed in fighting with Muslim militia-


                                          4                                                                               25
Israel Charged With Systematic Harassment of U.S. Marines                                                                                  Ambassador James Akins

under direct fire by rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons at                                                  II
International Airport. They returned fire with M-16 rifles and M-60 machine
guns. The firefight resumed the next day with Marines firing 155mm
artillery, 81mm mortars and rockets from Cobra helicopter gunships against
Shi'i Muslim positions. Two Marines were killed and 14 wounded in the
                                                                                   G    eorge Ball was the most honorable undersecretary of state under
                                                                                        Kennedy and Johnson. It is now widely known that he saw clearly
                                                                                   what mistakes we made in Vietnam and that he recommended an early with-
exchange, the first casualties in actual combat since the Marines had landed       drawal. What is less well known is that he also believed our policy of under-
the previous year.20                                                               writing all of Israel’s actions in the Middle East to be harmful to America’s
     From this time on, the combat involvement of the Marines grew. Their          interests and its foreign policy objectives. This did not endear Ball to the
actions were generally seen as siding with Israel against Muslims, slowly          Israeli lobby, and Ball firmly believed, until he died, that he would have been
changing the status of the Marines as neutral peacekeepers to opponents of         selected secretary of state by Jimmy Carter if his appointment had not been
the Muslims.21 Israel could hardly have wished for more. The polarization          vetoed by the Israelis.
meant that increasingly the conflict was being perceived in terms of the U.S.,         In 1992, Ball wrote his last book, The Passionate Attachment: America’s
Israel and Lebanon's Christians against Iran, Islam and Lebanon's Shi'i            Involvement with Israel, 1947 to the Present. The title is a phrase from George
Muslims.                                                                           Washington’s farewell address in 1796. Washington counseled the new
                                                                                   nation that, in “shaping its international relations, it should abjure any pas-
                            Accelerating the Conflict                              sionate attachment to, or inveterate hatred of, any other nation. Instead, it
                                                                                   should cultivate peace and harmony with all.”        Washington was clearly


I srael accelerated the building conflict on Sept. 3, 1993 by unilaterally with-
  drawing its troops southward, leaving the Marines exposed behind their
thin lines at the airport. The United States had asked the Israeli government
                                                                                   referring to the attachment of some of his fellow Americans to France. Ball
                                                                                   believed the “passionate attachment” of some Americans to Israel was, and
                                                                                   is, equally dangerous. Although Ball was very well-known, and his previous
to delay its withdrawal until the Marines could be replaced by units of the        books were widely and favorably reviewed, this book was ignored. The
Lebanese army, but Israel refused.22 The result was as feared. Heavy fighting      Washington Post and the New York Times carried reviews by defenders of
immediately broke out between the Christian Lebanese Forces and the pro-           Israel who used the occasion, not to review the book, but to launch ad
Syrian Druze units, both seeking to occupy positions evacuated by Israel,          hominem attacks against Ball. The book was not reviewed elsewhere, and
while the Marines were left in the crossfire.23 On Sept. 5, two Marines were       there were no interviews on the daytime talk shows.
killed and three wounded as fighting escalated between Christian and                   In his book, Ball, who was a top State Department official in 1967, wrote:
Muslim militias.24
                                                                                        “The Liberty’s presence and function were known to Israel’s lead-
     In an ill-considered effort to subdue the combat, the Sixth Fleet frigate          ers. They presumably thought it vital that the Liberty be prevent-
Bowen fired several five-inch naval guns, hitting Druze artillery positions in          ed from informing Washington of their intention to violate any
the Chouf Mountains that were firing into the Marine compound at Beirut                 cease-fire before they had completed their occupation of the
                                                                                        Golan. Their solution was brutal and direct. . . . Apprised of
airport.25 It was the first time U.S. ships had fired into Lebanon, dramatically
                                                                                        Israel’s plans from various sources, the U.S. Navy Department
raising the level of combat. But the Marines' exposed location on the flat ter-         faced a delicate problem. Due regard for the lives of America’s
rain of the airport left them in an impossible position. On Sept. 12, three more        naval personnel should have impelled the Navy to urge the State
Marines were wounded.26                                                                 Department to warn off Israel in no uncertain terms; meanwhile,
                                                                                        the Navy should have alerted the Liberty to its danger and dis-
     On Sept. 13, President Reagan authorized what was called aggressive
                                                                                        patched ships or planes for its protection. But none of these

                                         24                                                                              5
The Attack on the USS Liberty and its Cover-up                                                                                                         Donald Neff

      actions was taken in time.”                                                   Commandant Barrow.12 It was a losing battle for the Israelis and Landsberg
                                                                                    soon dropped from sight.
     Ball describes the attack and the slaughter of American seamen, and
                                                                                         But the incidents did not stop. These now included "helicopter harass-
then goes on:
                                                                                    ment," by which U.S.-made helicopters with glaring spotlights were flown by
      “The sequel was unedifying. The administration tried vigorously
                                                                                    the Israelis over Marine positions at night, illuminating Marine outposts and
      to downplay the whole matter. Although it silenced the crew,
      casualties to the sailors and damage to the ship could not possibly           exposing them to potential attack. As reports of these incidents piled up,
      be concealed. Thus, an elaborate charade was performed. The                   Gen. Barrow received a letter on March 12 from a U.S. Army major stationed
      ship, they rejoined, had not been clearly marked but looked like              in Lebanon with the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organization
      an Arab ship – which was definitely untrue. ... In the end, the
                                                                                    (UNTSO). The letter described a systematic pattern of Israeli attacks and
      Israelis tendered a reluctant and graceless apology. . . . The sordid
      affair has still not been erased from the history books; an organi-           provocations against UNTSO troops, including instances in which U.S. offi-
      zation of devoted survivors has kept the cause alive over the years           cers were singled out for "near-miss" shootings, abuse and detention.13 That
      by publishing a newsletter and holding well-advertised meet-                  same day two Marine patrols were challenged and cursed by Israeli sol-
      ings.”
                                                                                    diers.14
     Is there any possibility that the U.S. government did not know what the             Two days later Barrow wrote his letter to Secretary of Defense Caspar W.
Israelis were doing to the Liberty or that it thought that there was, in fact, an   Weinberger, who endorsed it and sent it along to the State Department. High-
honest mistake? Senator Jacob Javits of New York said at the time: “Thank           level meetings were arranged and the incidents abated, perhaps largely
heavens the ship was attacked by the Israelis because we know it was a mis-         because by this time Ariel Sharon had been fired as defense minister. He had
take.” The unstated implication was that an attack by an Arab government            been found by an Israeli commission to have had "personal responsibility"
would have been deliberate. Pace Senator Javits, there was no one at the top        for the Sabra and Shatila massacres.15
of the U.S. government who did not know the facts.                                       Despite the bad taste left from the clashes with the Israelis, in fact no
     Dwight Porter, who was U.S. ambassador to Lebanon at the time of the           Marines had been killed in the incidents and their lines had been secure up
Israeli attack on the Golan, told columnist Roland Evans in late 1991 that the      to the end of winter in 1983. Then Islamic guerrillas, backed by Iran, became
CIA station chief showed him, during or immediately after the attack, the           active. On the night of April 17, 1983, an unknown sniper fired a shot that
transcript of intercepted Israeli messages. Israeli planes had been given the       went through the trousers of a Marine sentry but did not harm him. For the
order by the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) to attack the Liberty, but a pilot         first time, the Marines returned fire.16
replied that it was an American ship. The order was repeated, but the pilot              The next day, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut was blown up by a massive
still insisted that he could see the American flag. He was then told harshly        bomb, with the loss of 63 lives. Among the 17 Americans killed were CIA
that he had his orders: “Attack it.” And, as we sadly know, he did. These facts     Mideast specialists, including Robert C. Ames, the agency's top Middle East
were published in the Evans and Novak column of 6 November 1991.                    expert.17 Disaffected former Israeli Mossad case officer Victor Ostrovsky later
     The columnists got further confirmation from an American-born Israeli          claimed that Israel had advance information about the bombing plan but had
major, Seth Mintz, who was in the war room in Tel Aviv at the time of the           decided not to inform the United States, a claim denied by Israel.18 The
attack. He is quoted as saying: “... everyone felt it was an American ship and      Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. Veteran correspondent
that it was the Liberty ... there were comments about the markings, about the       John Cooley considered the attack "the day [Iranian leader Ayatollah]
flag. Everyone in that room was convinced that it was an American ship.”            Khomeini's offensive against America in Lebanon began in earnest."19
Mintz, on the television program Evans & Novak, said that “[t]he Israelis                Still, it was not until four months later, on Aug. 28, that Marines came


                                          6                                                                                23
Israel Charged With Systematic Harassment of U.S. Marines                                                                                     Ambassador James Akins

     It was at the airport that the Marines would suffer their Calvary over the       were guilty of an outrage.” The American suppression of the truth is surely
next year. Starting in January 1983, small Israeli units began probing the            an equal outrage. There have also been reports, never confirmed on the
Marine lines. At first the effort appeared aimed at discovering the extent of         record, that at least one of the attacking pilots was an American citizen.
Marine determination to resist penetration. The lines proved solid and the                Major Mintz was apparently a dual citizen; at least he was living in
Marines' determination strong. Israeli troops were politely but firmly turned         Maine at the time he was interviewed on Evans & Novak. It is too bad that he
away. Soon the incidents escalated, with both sides pointing loaded weapons           did not make his statements earlier, that he had not renounced his Israeli cit-
at each other but no firing taking place. Tensions were high enough by late           izenship at the time, and that he had not gone public immediately. But that
January that a special meeting between U.S. and Israeli officers was held in          would be asking a lot – too much, in view of the American government’s
Beirut to try to agree on precise boundaries beyond which the IDF would not           own efforts to suppress the truth.
penetrate. 10
                                                                                          Ball is certainly right that the Israelis wanted no interference in their
                                                                                      plans to occupy Syria’s Golan Heights. The essentials of the Golan problem
                            No Stranger to the Marines                                are well known; they can be described as follows:

                                                                                           “From 1948 until 1967, the Syrians sat on the Golan Heights and


H     owever, on Feb. 2 a unit of three Israeli tanks, led by Israeli Lt. Col. Rafi
      Landsberg, tried to pass through Marine/Lebanese Army lines at
Rayan University Library in south Lebanon. By this time, Landsberg was no
                                                                                           shelled the defenseless and peaceful Israeli farmers below. This
                                                                                           was done out of maliciousness or a desire to be provocative or
                                                                                           perhaps just because the Syrians were evil. Clearly, this situation
                                                                                           had become intolerable to the Israelis, and they had not only the
stranger to the Marines. Since the beginning of January he had been leading                right but the duty to change it. And they did; the occupation of the
small Israeli units in probes against the Marine lines, although such units                Heights – although there may not have been any specific provoca-
would normally have a commander no higher than a sergeant or lieutenant.                   tion during the Israeli attacks on Egypt and Jordan – was perfect-
                                                                                           ly understandable and justifiable.”
The suspicion grew that Sharon's troops were deliberately provoking the
Marines and Landsberg was there to see that things did not get out of hand.               These “facts” were widely, if not universally, understood in the United
The Israeli tactics were aimed more at forcing a joint U.S.-Israeli strategy than     States. Brent Scowcroft, subsequently head of the National Security Council,
merely probing lines.                                                                 responded archly when I suggested that the story was not exactly right:
     In the Feb. 2 incident, the checkpoint was commanded by Marine Capt.             “Everyone knows the facts,” he said. “I was just in Israel and I saw for
Charles Johnson, who firmly refused permission for Landsberg to advance.              myself what had happened.” The problem was – and is – that this Israeli his-
When two of the Israeli tanks ignored his warning to halt, Johnson leaped on          tory of the Golan is pure fiction. Every one of the 1,000-odd clashes between
Landsberg's tank with pistol drawn and demanded Landsberg and his tanks               Syria and Israel between 1948 and 1967 was examined by the UN superviso-
withdraw. They did.    11
                                                                                      ry commission, which found that only a very few had clearly been caused by
     Landsberg and the Israeli embassy in Washington tried to laugh off the           the Syrians. A few dozen were ambiguous, and all the rest were caused by
incident, implying that Johnson was a trigger-happy John Wayne type and               Israel. But, many Israelis insist, the UN was notoriously anti-Israel, so how
that the media were exaggerating a routine event. Landsberg even went so              could its reports be believed? Well, there were many officers of many nations,
far as to claim that he smelled alcohol on Johnson's breath and that drunken-         and they all reported the same things. Could they all have been lying? We no
ness must have clouded his reason. Marines were infuriated because Johnson            longer have to rely only on UN documentation to confirm the verity of their
was well known as a teetotaler. Americans flocked to Johnson's side. He               accounts.
received hundreds of letters from school children, former Marines and from                General Moshe Dayan, who commanded the Israeli forces in 1967 and


                                         22                                                                                 7
The Attack on the USS Liberty and its Cover-up                                                                                                        Donald Neff

gave the order to occupy the Golan, gave an interview to an Israeli journal-       turned out to be only partly true. They did withdraw on Sept. 10, but a rein-
ist, Rami Tal, in 1976. The interview was kept secret until April 1997, when it    forced unit of 1,200 was rushed back 15 days later after the massacres at the
was published in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharanot. It has been authenti-      Palestinian refugee camps at Sabra and Shatila that accompanied the Israeli
cated by Israeli historians, and General Dayan’s daughter, Yael, a member of       seizure of West Beirut. The U.S. forces remained until Feb. 26, 1984.4
the Knesset, insisted that it be published.                                            During their year-and-a-half posting in Lebanon, the Marines suffered 268
     In the interview, Tal interjected, “But they were sitting on the Golan        killed.5 The casualties started within a week of the return of the Marines in
Heights….”                                                                         September 1982. On the 30th, a U.S.-made cluster bomb left behind by the
     “Never mind that,” said Dayan. “I know how at least 80 percent of the         Israelis exploded, killing Corporal David Reagan and wounding three other
clashes there started…. It went this way: We would send a tractor to plow          Marines.6
some area where it wasn’t possible to do anything – (it was) in the demilita-          Corporal Reagan's death represented the dangers of the new mission of
rized zone – and [we] would know in advance that the Syrians would start           the Marines in Lebanon. While their first brief stay had been to separate
to shoot. If they didn’t shoot, we would tell the tractor to advance further,      Israeli forces from Palestinian fighters evacuating West Beirut, their new mis-
until, in the end, the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot. And then we            sion was as part of a multinational force sent to prevent Israeli troops from
would use artillery and later the air force…. And that’s how it was.”              attacking the Palestinian civilians left defenseless there after the withdrawal
     Dayan thought that the Golan would have to be given back to Syria if          of PLO forces. As President Reagan said: "For this multinational force to suc-
there were ever to be peace in the region and that keeping it would result in      ceed, it is essential that Israel withdraw from Beirut."7
the loss of many Israeli soldiers.
     Then why did he give the order to invade? Essentially, it was because                             "Incidents are timed, orchestrated, and
of pressure from the would-be settlers, who convinced Levi Eshkol, the                                 executed for Israeli political purposes."
Israeli prime minister, to occupy the Heights and the fertile lands beyond.
When asked if that was all there was to it, Dayan replied:

      “I can tell you with absolute confidence that (they) were not think-
      ing about (security); they were thinking about the Heights’
                                                                                   I srael's siege of Beirut during the summer of 1982 had been brutal and
                                                                                     bloody, reaching a peak of horror on Aug. 12, quickly known as Black
                                                                                   Thursday. On that day, Sharon's forces launched at dawn a massive artillery
      land…. I saw them; I spoke with them. They didn’t even try to                barrage that lasted for 11 straight hours and was accompanied by saturation
      hide their greed for that land.”
                                                                                   air bombardment.8 As many as 500 persons, mainly Lebanese and Palestinian
     During the peace talks between Syria and Israel that took place while         civilians, were killed.9
Yitzhak Rabin was prime minister of Israel, there was almost full agreement.           On top of the bombardment came the massacres the next month at Sabra
Israel would withdraw from all of the Heights; there would be demilitarized        and Shatila, where Sharon's troops allowed Lebanese Maronite killers to
zones on both sides of the border – more in Syria than in Israel. Perhaps the      enter the camps filled with defenseless civilians. The massacres sickened the
only significant unresolved issue was where the final border would be: the         international community and pressure from Western capitals finally forced
international pre-1947 border (the Israeli position) or the 1948 truce line (the   Israel to withdraw from Beirut in late September. Troops from Britain,
Syrian position). A total of less than 15 square miles was at issue.               France, Italy and the United States were interposed between the Israeli army
     This encouraging development ended with the murder of Rabin and the           and Beirut, with U.S. Marines deployed in the most sensitive area south of
subsequent election of Binyamin Netanyahu as prime minister. Netanyahu             Beirut at the International Airport, directly between Israeli troops and West
agreed to talks with Syria, but they had to begin all over again. The Syrians      Beirut.


                                          8                                                                               21
Israel Charged With Systematic Harassment of U.S. Marines                                                                                       Ambassador James Akins

                                                                                     said that they wanted the talks to resume, but they would have to proceed
                                                                                     from positions already agreed upon.
                     ISRAEL CHARGED WITH SYSTEMATIC                                       Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak resumed talks with the Syrians, but
                        HARASSMENT OF U.S. MARINES                                   he was apparently not ready to let them proceed from the point reached with
                                                                                     Yitzhak Rabin. Nonetheless, Syria, other Arab countries, and all those who
                                                                                     are interested in peace in the Middle East have not yet given up hope that
    Donald Neff was Time Magazine’s Bureau Chief in Israel.                          Barak will follow internationally accepted forms and traditions and will
                                                                                     resume negotiations at the point which the earlier government had reached:




I
    t was 12 years ago, on March 14, 1983, that the commandant of the                full withdrawal from the Golan and demilitarized zones on both sides of the
    Marine Corps sent a highly unusual letter to the secretary of defense            border. The Syrians maintain that Rabin agreed to the 1967 cease-fire line as
    expressing frustration and anger at Israel. General R.H. Barrow charged          the final Israeli-Syrian border; Barak maintains that this was only a “draft”
that Israeli troops were deliberately threatening the lives of Marines serving       proposal, not a firm Israeli commitment. I believe that either side could
as peacekeepers in Lebanon. There was, he wrote, a systematic pattern of             accept the position of the other without doing damage to its security or pres-
harassment by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) that was resulting in "life-threat-        tige, and that a logical compromise would be, more or less, to split the differ-
ening situations, replete with verbal degradation of the officers, their uni-        ence.
form and country."                                                                        In his comments on the Liberty, Ball concludes:
     Barrow's letter added: "It is inconceivable to me why Americans serving                 “Yet the ultimate lesson of the Liberty attack had far more effect on
in peacekeeping roles must be harassed, endangered by an ally...It is evident                policy in Israel than in America. Israel’s leaders concluded that
                                                                                             nothing they might do would offend the Americans to the point of
to me, and the opinion of the U.S. commanders afloat and ashore, that the
                                                                                             reprisal. If America’s leaders did not have the courage to punish
incidents between the Marines and the IDF are timed, orchestrated, and exe-                  Israel for the blatant murder of American citizens, it seemed clear
cuted for obtuse Israeli political purposes."1                                               that their American friends would let them get away with almost
     Israel's motives were less obtuse than the diplomatic general pretended.                anything.”
It was widely believed then, and now, that Israeli Defense Minister Ariel                 This is hard to gainsay. In fact, the Israelis tried to press their advantage
Sharon, one of Israel's most Machiavellian politician-generals, was creating         almost immediately. During the 1967 war, Israel occupied the entire Sinai
the incidents deliberately in an effort to convince Washington that the two          Peninsula, and among the prizes of its victory were the Egyptian oil fields
forces had to coordinate their actions in order to avoid such tensions. This, of     that they proceeded to exploit to capacity until the Sinai was returned. But
course, would have been taken by the Arabs as proof that the Marines were            the main Egyptian oil fields were off-shore in the Gulf of Suez. The Israelis
not really in Lebanon as neutral peacekeepers but as allies of the Israelis, a       maintained that the new Israeli-Egyptian border was the median line in the
perception that would have obvious advantages for Israel.2                           Gulf and that the oil fields were to the east of the line, and therefore under
     Barrow's extraordinary letter was indicative of the frustrations and mis-       Israeli control.
eries the Marines suffered during their posting to Lebanon starting on Aug.               Then-General Rabin came to Washington very shortly after the war to
25, 1982, as a result of Israel's invasion 11 weeks earlier. Initially a U.S. unit   press the claim. He said that Israel had occupied the drilling platforms dur-
of 800 men was sent to Beirut harbor as part of a multinational force to mon-        ing the war (which might have changed the legality of the matter), but, in
itor the evacuation of PLO guerrillas from Beirut. The Marines, President            fact, the general was lying, and we knew it. That did not deter Rabin. He had
Reagan announced, "in no case... would stay longer than 30 days."3 This              not come to negotiate; he had come to dictate, and he proceeded to tell

                                         20                                                                                   9
The Attack on the USS Liberty and its Cover-up                                                                                              Captain Ward Boston

Secretary of State Dean Rusk what “the United States had to do.” He even        with him. Finally, I suggested that he contact Admiral Kidd and ask him
gave a schedule: this must be done today, this tomorrow, and this by the end    about the Court of Inquiry.
of the week. Rusk was a mild Georgian, a gentleman who never lost his tem-           Shortly after my conversation with Cristol, I received a telephone call
per, never raised his voice. As Rabin ranted, Rusk’s neck turned red, and the   from Admiral Kidd, inquiring about Cristol and what he was up to. The
red kept rising like a thermometer. When he was completely red, he said,        Admiral spoke of Cristol in disparaging terms and even opined that “Cristol
quite coolly:                                                                   must be an Israeli agent.” I don’t know if he meant that literally or it was his

      “General, we have all heard the Soviet propaganda, repeated by            way of expressing his disgust for Cristol’s highly partisan, pro-Israeli
      [Egyptian] President [Gamai Abdel] Nasser and others, that Israel         approach to questions involving USS Liberty.
      is an American colony imposed on the Middle East to enable the                 At no time did I ever hear Admiral Kidd speak of Cristol other than in
      U.S. to dominate it. We all know that is nonsense. But I would like
                                                                                highly disparaging terms. I find Cristol’s claims of a “close friendship” with
      to remind you that the United States is not a colony of Israel.”
                                                                                Admiral Kidd to be utterly incredible. I also find it impossible to believe the

     Rabin did not get what he wanted – at least not regarding the Suez oil     statements he attributes to Admiral Kidd, concerning the attack on USS

fields – a minor and a rare defeat.                                             Liberty.
                                                                                     Several years later, I received a letter from Cristol that contained what he
     An even more flagrant example of Israeli certainty that it could do any-
                                                                                purported to be his notes of our prior conversation. These “notes” were
thing against the United States and get away with it was the case of Jonathan
                                                                                grossly incorrect and bore no resemblance in reality to that discussion. I find
Pollard, the spy who did the most damage to America in our entire history,
                                                                                it hard to believe that these “notes” were the product of a mistake, rather
according to Caspar Weinberger, who was secretary of defense at the time of
                                                                                than an attempt to deceive. I informed Cristol that I disagreed with his recol-
Pollard’s actions. Pollard was a relatively minor official of the Navy
                                                                                lection of our conversation and that he was wrong. Cristol made several
Department with a very high security clearance. He was given names and
                                                                                attempts to arrange for the two of us to meet in person and talk but I always
numbers of documents by one or more other Israeli agents in the Defense
                                                                                found ways to avoid doing this. I did not wish to meet with Cristol as we had
Department; he then withdrew these documents from the files, took them to
                                                                                nothing in common and I did not trust him.
an Israeli safe-house where they were copied, and returned them to the files
                                                                                     Contrary to the misinformation presented by Cristol and others, it is
the next day. Literally thousands of documents were taken, most of which
                                                                                important for the American people to know that it is clear that Israel is
had little, if anything, to do with the Middle East.
                                                                                responsible for deliberately attacking an American ship and murdering
     Israel initially claimed that Pollard’s was a “rogue operation” and that   American sailors, whose bereaved shipmates have lived with this egregious
the Israeli government knew nothing about it. Not one member of the             conclusion for many years.
American intelligence community believed this, but the U.S. government
                                                                                                   Dated: January 9, 2004
decided not to make an issue of it. Although this Israeli charade has subse-
                                                                                                   at Coronado, California.
quently been abandoned, no action has ever been taken against Israel; the aid
                                                                                                   Ward Boston, Jr., Captain, JAGC, USN (Ret.)
programs have remained intact and relations have remained very friendly.
                                                                                                   Senior Counsel to the USS Liberty Court of Inquiry
Ball was right; the attack on the Liberty proved that the United States would
never “draw the line” on Israeli actions.




                                         10                                                                            19
Captain Ward Boston Affidavit                                                                                                             Ambassador James Akins

    I know from personal conversations I had with Admiral Kidd that                                                     III
President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara
ordered him to conclude that the attack was a case of “mistaken identity”
despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
    Admiral Kidd told me, after returning from Washington, D.C. that he
                                                                                   F   inally, let us face the crucial questions we would all like answered about
                                                                                       the Liberty incident.
                                                                                        (1) Who knew about the attack on the Liberty and when did they know
had been ordered to sit down with two civilians from either the White House        it? The attack was reported by the ship immediately, and the word was cer-
or the Defense Department, and rewrite portions of the court’s findings.           tainly on the president’s desk within 15 minutes – probably much less. So he
    Admiral Kidd also told me that he had been ordered to “put the lid” on         knew. So did Walt Rostow and MacGeorge Bundy in the White House. So did
everything having to do with the attack on USS Liberty. We were never to           Robert MacNamara, the secretary of defense. So did a number of senior mil-
speak of it and we were to caution everyone else involved that they could          itary men. Admiral Thomas Moorer, who was not immediately involved,
never speak of it again.                                                           knows men who were, and he has spoken strongly about the scandal of the
    I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of that statement as I know that        Israeli action and the greater scandal of the American non-response.
the Court of Inquiry transcript that has been released to the public is not the         (2) Planes were dispatched from the mid-Mediterranean to the Liberty
same one that I certified and sent off to Washington.                              almost immediately after the attack. Why were they ordered to stop and turn
    I know this because it was necessary, due to the exigencies of time, to        around while the ship was under ferocious attack, and who issued the order?
hand correct and initial a substantial number of pages. I have examined the        If the planes had continued, they almost certainly could have saved the 25
released version of the transcript and I did not see any pages that bore my        who were killed and the 110 who were wounded in the second and third
hand corrections and initials. Also, the original did not have any deliberate-     Israeli attacks.
ly blank pages, as the released version does. Finally, the testimony of Lt.             (3) Why did Admiral Isaac Kidd threaten Liberty crew members with
Painter concerning the deliberate machine gunning of the life rafts by the         “court martial, prison, or worse” if they talked about the Israeli attack? Did
Israeli torpedo boat crews, which I distinctly recall being given at the Court     he do this on his own? Or was he ordered to do so and, if so, by whom?
of Inquiry and included in the original transcript, is now missing and has              (4) Why has there never been a full Congressional investigation of this
been excised.                                                                      whole affair, one of the most shameful in American history? The short
    Following the conclusion of the Court of Inquiry, Admiral Kidd and I           answer is simple: All those who know the facts or could find them out are
remained in contact. Though we never spoke of the attack in public, we did         afraid to speak about the matter or to order the investigation. This includes
discuss it between ourselves, on occasion. Every time we discussed the             both the Congress and the White House.        In Washington, when anyone
attack, Admiral Kidd was adamant that it was a deliberate, planned attack on       refers to “The Lobby,” there is no doubt which one is meant: it is AIPAC, the
an American ship.                                                                  American-Israel Public Affairs Committee. The National Rifle Association
    In 1990, I received a telephone call from Jay Cristol, who wanted to inter-    (NRA), the powerful gun lobby, is not even comparable.
view me concerning the functioning of the Court of Inquiry. I told him that I           The American people know so little about the Liberty that there has
would not speak to him on that subject and prepared to hang up the tele-           never been a strong demand for answers and for punishment, or at least
phone. Cristol then began asking me about my personal background and               exposure of those who are responsible. New efforts are being made to reopen
other, non-Court of Inquiry related matters. I endeavored to answer these          the shameful case of the Liberty, to try to raise popular consciousness enough
questions and politely extricate myself from the conversation. Cristol contin-     to demand a Congressional investigation of the whole matter while there is
ued to return to the subject of the Court of Inquiry, which I refused to discuss   still some chance that those responsible for the action and the cover-up can


                                      18                                                                                11
The Attack on the USS Liberty and its Cover-up                                                                                                  Captain Ward Boston

be held accountable. It is late; many of those involved are dead. Those on the      amount of evidence, including hours of heartbreaking testimony from the
ship, who had been frightened into silence, are now speaking out. Even if           young survivors.
they are successful – and I fear they will not be – Israel and its supporters in        The evidence was clear. Both Admiral Kidd and I believed with certain-
Congress can be expected to try to ignore anything that comes out, any state-       ty that this attack, which killed 34 American sailors and injured 172 others,
ments that are made, any pleas for justice. This approach has been remark-          was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew.
ably successful since 1967.                                                         Each evening, after hearing testimony all day, we often spoke our private
     A major American tragedy has been distorted, and there has been a              thoughts concerning what we had seen and heard. I recall Admiral Kidd
major cover-up. All the guilty parties have to do is to hold on just a little       repeatedly referring to the Israeli forces responsible for the attack as “mur-
longer; in a few years, those who remember and who demand justice will all          derous bastards.” It was our shared belief, based on the documentary evi-
be dead. We can take some small, cold comfort in the certainty that histori-        dence and testimony we received first hand, that the Israeli attack was
ans will describe the events completely and accurately. They will know              planned and deliberate, and could not possibly have been an accident.
whether it was President Lyndon B. Johnson himself or one of his assistants             I am certain that the Israeli pilots that undertook the attack, as well as
who gave the shameful order to the war planes to abort their rescue efforts.        their superiors, who had ordered the attack, were well aware that the ship
They will know why the Israelis took the action. Was it because they wanted         was American.
the ship to be sunk before it could monitor the Israeli advance into the Golan          I saw the flag, which had visibly identified the ship as American, riddled
Heights? Or was it because the Israelis had ordered us to stay out of the east-     with bullet holes, and heard testimony that made it clear that the Israelis
ern Mediterranean, and the Liberty had disobeyed this order – knowingly or          intended there be no survivors. 10. Not only did the Israelis attack the ship
not – and therefore had to be destroyed?                                            with napalm, gunfire, and missiles, Israeli torpedo boats machine-gunned
     Historians will learn the roles of Walt Rostow and Robert MacNamara in         three lifeboats that had been launched in an attempt by the crew to save the
the cover-up. They will learn whether Admiral Kidd was acting on his own            most seriously wounded – a war crime.
or on orders to silence, forever, the Liberty survivors. They will find out how         Admiral Kidd and I both felt it necessary to travel to Israel to interview
many American citizens inside Israel knew of or participated in this action         the Israelis who took part in the attack. Admiral Kidd telephoned Admiral
against America. They will even learn if any of the pilots who attacked the         McCain to discuss making arrangements. Admiral Kidd later told me that
American ship were carrying American passports.                                     Admiral McCain was adamant that we were not to travel to Israel or contact
     Yes, the truth will be known and widely accepted someday, and that will        the Israelis concerning this matter.
be good. How much better it would be if Congress would launch a deter-                  Regrettably, we did not receive into evidence and the Court did not con-
mined effort to reveal the truth now, if it would call to account those in Israel   sider any of the more than sixty witness declarations from men who had
and the United States who were involved in spreading the lies about the             been hospitalized and were unable to testify in person.
tragedy. The heroes who demand justice have a right to see it done in their             I am outraged at the efforts of the apologists for Israel in this country to
lifetimes. And is it too much to ask that those who participated in the attack      claim that this attack was a case of “mistaken identity.”
and its cover-up be exposed, if not punished, while they are still alive?               In particular, the recent publication of Jay Cristol’s book, The Liberty
                                                                                    Incident, twists the facts and misrepresents the views of those of us who
                                                                                    investigated the attack.
                                                                                        It is Cristol’s insidious attempt to whitewash the facts that has pushed
                                                                                    me to speak out.


                                         12                                                                                17
Captain Ward Boston Affidavit                                                                                                            Ambassador James Akins




                  DECLARATION OF WARD BOSTON, JR.,                                         A FAIR PROBE WOULD ATTACK LIBERTY MISINFORMATION
                         Captain, JAGC, USN (Ret.)


                Counsel to the U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry’s                         Admiral Moorer was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1970
           investigation into the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty                 to 1974 and once was 7th Fleet commander. He was joined in the
                                                                                    Independent Commission of Inquiry by Rear Adm. Merlin Staring,
I, Ward Boston, Jr. do declare that the following statement is true and com-        former judge advocate general of the Navy; and Ambassador James
plete:                                                                              Akins, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Gen. Ray Davis,
    For more than 30 years, I have remained silent on the topic of USS              former assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, was a member of
Liberty. I am a military man and when orders come in from the Secretary of          the commission at the time of his death in September. This article was
Defense and President of the United States, I follow them.                          published in the Stars and Stripes on January 15, 2004. He passed
    However, recent attempts to rewrite history compel me to share the              away only a few weeks later on the 5th of February.
truth.
    In June of 1967, while serving as a Captain in the Judge Advocate




                                                                                 B
General Corps, Department of the Navy, I was assigned as senior legal coun-                ETHESDA, Md.—While state department officials and historians
sel for the Navy’s Court of Inquiry into the brutal attack on USS Liberty,                 converge on Washington this week to discuss the 1967 war in the
which had occurred on June 8th.                                                            Middle East, I am compelled to speak out about one of U.S. history’s
    The late Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, president of the Court, and I were given     most shocking cover-ups.
only one week to gather evidence for the Navy’s official investigation into          On June 8, 1967, Israel attacked our proud naval ship – the USS Liberty –
the attack, despite the fact that we both had estimated that a proper Court of   killing 34 American servicemen and wounding 172. Those men were then
Inquiry into an attack of this magnitude would take at least six months to       betrayed and left to die by our own government.
conduct.                                                                             U.S. military rescue aircraft were recalled – not once, but twice – through
    Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., then Commander-in-chief, Naval Forces           direct intervention by the Johnson administration. Secretary of Defense
Europe (CINCUSNAVEUR), at his headquarters in London, had charged                Robert McNamara’s cancellation of the Navy’s attempt to rescue the Liberty,
Admiral Kidd (in a letter dated June 10, 1967) to “inquire into all the perti-   which I confirmed from the commanders of the aircraft carriers America and
nent facts and circumstances leading to and connected with the armed             Saratoga, was the most disgraceful act I witnessed in my entire military
attack; damage resulting therefrom; and deaths of and injuries to Naval per-     career.
sonnel.”                                                                             To add insult to injury, Congress, to this day, has failed to hold formal
    Despite the short amount of time we were given, we gathered a vast           hearings on Israel’s attack on this American ship. No official investigation of


                                     16                                                                                 13
A Fair Probe Would Attack Liberty Misinformation                                                                                             Ambassador James Akins

the attack has ever permitted the testimony of the surviving crewmembers.                  In attacking the USS Liberty, Israel committed acts of murder
     A 1967 investigation by the Navy, upon which all other reports are                    against U.S. servicemen and an act of war against the United
                                                                                           States.
based, has now been fully discredited as a cover-up by its senior attorney.
Capt. Ward Boston, in a sworn affidavit, recently revealed that the court was              The White House knowingly covered up the facts of this attack
ordered by the White House to cover up the incident and find that Israel’s                 from the American people.
attack was “a case of mistaken identity.”
                                                                                           The truth continues to be concealed to the present day in what can
     Some distinguished colleagues and I formed an independent commis-                     only be termed a national disgrace.
sion to investigate the attack on the USS Liberty. After an exhaustive review
of previous reports, naval and other military records, including eyewitness               What was Israel’s motive in launching this attack? Congress must
testimony from survivors, we recently presented our findings on Capitol               address this question with full cooperation from the National Security
Hill. They include:                                                                   Agency, the CIA and the military intelligence services.
                                                                                          The men of the USS Liberty represented the United States. They were
      Israeli reconnaissance aircraft closely studied
                                                                                                                attacked for two hours, causing 70 perc e n t
      the Liberty during an eight-hour period prior
                                                                                                                American casualties and the eventual loss of our
      to the attack, one flying within 200 feet of the      A major American tragedy has been
      ship. Weather reports confirm the day was                                                                 best intelligence ship.
      clear with unlimited visibility. The Liberty was      distorted, and there has been a major                   These sailors and Marines were entitled to our
      a clearly marked American ship in interna-
                                                            cover-up. All the guilty parties have to            best defense. We gave them no defense. Did our
      tional waters, flying an American flag and car-
      rying large U.S. Navy hull letters and num-           do is to hold on just a little longer; in           government put Israel’s interests ahead of our
      bers on its bow.                                                                                          own? If so, why? Does our government continue to
                                                            a few years, those who remember and
                                                                                                                subordinate American interests to Israeli interests?
      Despite claims by Israeli intelligence that they      who demand justice will all be dead.                These are important questions that should be
      confused the Liberty with a small Egyptian
      transport, the Liberty was conspicuously dif-                                                             investigated by an independent, fully empowered
      ferent from any vessel in the Egyptian navy. It was the most                    commission of the American government.
      sophisticated intelligence ship in the world in 1967. With its mas-                 The American people deserve to know the truth about this attack. We
      sive radio antennae, including a large satellite dish, it looked like
                                                                                      must finally shed some light on one of the blackest pages in American naval
      a large lobster and was one of the most easily identifiable ships
      afloat.                                                                         history. It is a duty we owe not only to the brave men of the USS Liberty, but
                                                                                      to every man and woman who is asked to wear the uniform of the United
      Israel attempted to prevent the Liberty’s radio operators from
                                                                                      States.
      sending a call for help by jamming American emergency radio
      channels.

      Israeli torpedo boats machine-gunned lifeboats at close range that
      had been lowered to rescue the most-seriously wounded. As a
      result, our commission concluded that:

      There is compelling evidence that Israel’s attack was a deliberate
      attempt to destroy an American ship and kill her entire crew.



                                         14                                                                                 15
                American Media Miss the Boat
                                                                                               American Media Miss the Boat
“Alison Weir presents a powerful, well documented view                                                 For USA Today, Freedom of the Press
of the Middle East today. She is intelligent, careful, and
                                                                                                        Means the Right to Report It Wrong
 critical. American policy makers would benefit greatly
from hearing her first-hand observations and attempting
               to answer the questions she poses.”

                                   -    Thomas Campbell
                                        Former US Congressman (R-CA)
                                        Dean of Haas School of Business,
                                        University of California

    “When the speech ended, Ms. Weir was met with
     thunderous applause, and across the room there
         was a widespread sense of satisfaction that
      someone was saying what needed to be said.”                                                                       Alison Weir
                                                                                                              Founder of If Americans Knew
                                   -    New York Times
                                                                                              CounterPunch, June 23/24, 2007:


                            About Alison Weir                                                 C    apitol Hill, October 2003. It is a historic occasion. An independent, blue-
                                                                                                   ribbon commission is to release its findings from an investigation into
                                                                                              an internationally significant 36-year-old attack on a US Navy ship that left
   In winter 2001, freelance journalist Alison Weir spent a month trav-                       more than 200 American sailors killed or wounded.
   eling alone throughout the West Bank and Gaza to see for herself
                                                                                                  The commission consists of:
   what was going on. Upon her return she founded If Americans
   Knew, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing Americans                                  • A former ambassador to one of the US’s most important allies
   with accurate information on this critical region. She has spoken on                             • A US Navy rear admiral and former head of the Navy’s legal divi-
   Capitol Hill, at the Center for Policy Analysis, and at numerous uni-                               sion
   versities and other venues throughout the U.S.
                                                                                                    • A Marine general, America’s highest ranking recipient of the
                                                                                                       Congressional Medal of Honor and the former Assistant
                                                                                                       Commandant of Marines
                             www.IfAmericansKnew.org
                                                                                                    • A US Navy four-star admiral, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
 6312 SW Capitol Hwy, #163, Portland, OR 97239 • contact@IfAmericansKnew.org • 202-631-4060


                                                                                                                      Published by If Americans Knew
American Media Miss the Boat                                                                                                                                    Alison Weir

         of Staff (the highest military position in the country), former Chief   facts of the powerless, or simply that they don’t like to admit mistakes. I don’t
         of Naval Operations, a World War II hero, and the only Naval            know if it’s all of the above, or whether they’re just too busy to bother and too
         admiral to have commanded both the Pacific and the Atlantic fleets      jaded to care.
    The panel is moderated by a former ambassador who served as Chief of               Whatever the reason, until American news media start being conscien-
Mission in Iraq and Deputy Director of Ronald Reagan's White House Task          tious enough to get their reports on Israel right, Americans are going to con-
Force on Terrorism.                                                              tinue being disastrously misinformed about one of the globe’s most destabi-
    The commission announces explosive findings:                                 lizing, tragic, and potentially calamitous areas of conflict. When the media
      • That the attack, by a US ally, was a “deliberate attempt to destroy      refuse to report on findings by a four-star US Navy admiral and the highest
         an American ship and kill her entire crew”                              ranking Medal of Honor recipient in the United States, and ignore an affidavit
      • That the ally committed “acts of murder against American service-        of historic proportions, perhaps it’s not surprising that they also ignore the
         men and an act of war against the United States”                        18-month truce conducted by Hamas despite continuing Israeli violence, the
      • That the attack involved the machine-gunning of stretcher-bearers        role in the current Palestinian strife played by Israeli-orchestrated policies of
         and life rafts                                                          divide-and-conquer, and that they perpetually, just as in the USS Liberty
      • That “the White House deliberately prevented the U.S. Navy from          attack, report the context dead wrong.
         coming to the defense of the [ship]... never before in American               If you think it’s worth a few minutes of your time to contact USA Today’s
         naval history has a rescue mission been cancelled when an               corrections department, you’ll find their email address reassuring:
         American ship was under attack”                                               “Commitment to Accuracy” accuracy@usatoday.com (800-872-7073)
      • That surviving crewmembers were later threatened with “court-
         martial, imprisonment or worse” if they talked to anyone about                                                     Notes
         what had happened to them; and were “abandoned by their own             1.   Congressional Record, October 11, 2004; Vol. 150, No. 130; pages E1886 to E1889
                                                                                      http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?r108:2:./temp/ ~r108uInpOX::
         government”
                                                                                 2.   http://www.ussliberty.org/supporters.htm
      • That due to the influence of the ally’s “powerful supporters in the      3.   http://ifamericansknew.org/us_ints/ul-boston.html
         United States, the White House deliberately covered up the facts of     4.   A number of excellent articles in the military’s professional journals are excep-
         this attack from the American people”                                        tions to this general media blackout; for example, “In Awesome Peril: Heroism in
                                                                                      Defense of the USS Liberty,” VFW Magazine, Richard K. Kolb, June/July 2007, pp.
      • That due to continuing pressure by this lobby, this attack remains
                                                                                      32-35. http://www.ifamericansknew.org/ us_ints/ul-kolb.html. Inexplicably,
         “the only serious naval incident that has never been thoroughly              however, to date this article has not been posted on the VFW website. This failure
         investigated by Congress”                                                    to post a significant article on Israel is reminiscent of an article published in
      • That “there has been an official cover-up without precedent in                Foreign Service Journal on June 1, 2002 about the Israeli government’s torture of
                                                                                      American citizens. This report also was not placed on the publication’s website. It
         American naval history”
                                                                                      can be read at: http://www. parnersforpeace.org/inmedia/db200206010/
      • That “the truth about Israel's attack and subsequent White House         5.   http://www.ifamericansknew.org/us_ints/ul-staring.html
         cover-up continues to be officially concealed from the American         6.   http://www.ifamericansknew.org/us_ints/ul-peck.html
         people to the present day and is a national disgrace”                   7.   http://ifamericansknew.org/us_ints/ul-moorer.html
                                                                                 8.   http://www.michaeloren.com/bio.htm
      • That “a danger to the national security exists whenever our elected
                                                                                 9.   http://ussliberty.org/
         officials are willing to subordinate American interests to those of     10. http://ussliberty.com/thebiglie.htm
         any foreign nation...” and that this policy “endangers the safety of    11. http://www.wrmea.com/archives/December_2003/0312014.html
                                                                                 12. http://www.asne.org/kiosk/archive/principl.htm

                                      2                                                                                       11
American Media Miss the Boat                                                                                                                             Alison Weir

counsel had subsequently disavowed the inquiry. Nevertheless, given the fact                  Americans and the security of the United States”
that newspapers rarely correct omissions, and given the power dynamics of
the situation (a national newspaper has a great deal, a reader next to none; the                                     Newsworthy?
Israel lobby has a massive amount, the Liberty survivors barely any) I didn’t            Not when Israel is the attacking nation. Not when Israel is the “ally” to
expect USA Today to run a correction on this omission.                               whose interests American needs are said to be subverted.
    However, an outright, irrefutable error, I thought, was a different matter.          This extraordinarily high-ranking commission was reporting on the 1967
When a statement is shown to be erroneous, papers usually run a simple,              Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. Many analysts believe that the Liberty attack
short correction in a corrections box. Since the paper’s claim that there have       could be Israel’s undoing – at least as far as US support is concerned – if
been 11 US investigations finding “mistaken identity” is without any substan-        Americans knew the facts about it.
tiation whatsoever, I felt it would be impossible for USA Today editors to deny          But they don’t. Here’s why:
the need to correct it.                                                                  A search of hundreds of the largest news media in this country indexed
    I was right. It was impossible for them to deny this. So, instead, they (1)      by Lexis-Nexis does not turn up a single US newspaper that mentioned this
created a new definition for a word they couldn’t justify (investigation), (2)       commission, a single US television station, a single US radio station, a single
defended a different statement, one from the middle of the article (which was        US magazine. While it was mentioned in an Associated Press report focusing
also incorrect; I am now asking that they correct this one as well) and (3) stat-    on one of the commission’s most dramatic revelations, Lexis reveals only a
ed that what they had meant to convey was not wrong, and therefore they did-         sprinkling of news media printed information from this AP report, and those
n’t need to correct the statement that they still had not denied was incorrect.      few that that did failed to mention this commission itself, its extremely star-
    It has been one of my more bizarre exchanges with US editors.                    studded composition, and the entirety of its findings.
    It is now more than two weeks since I first contacted USA Today about its            Apart from a few members of the alternative press and the excellent
need to run a correction. In that time they’ve run over 25 corrections. For          Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (not indexed by Lexis), this commis-
example, on June 19th they were careful to inform readers: “A daily feature          sion might as well not have existed as far as most of the US media is con-
Friday tracking Barry Bonds' progress toward Hank Aaron's career home run            cerned – and therefore, the American public.
record misidentified the home city of the Braves when they signed Aaron in               While the results of its investigation can be read in the Congressional
1952. It was Boston.” On June 15th they took the time to tell the public: “A         Record, “Findings of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Israeli
story Wednesday on the FX series Rescue Me misstated a family relationship.          Attack on the USS Liberty, the Recall of Military Rescue Support Aircraft
Sheila is the widow of Tommy's cousin.” Nothing, however, on their erro-             while the Ship was Under Attack, and the Subsequent Cover-up by the
neous reporting on an incident of profound geopolitical importance.                  United States Government,”1 only an infinitesimal fraction of the American
    I am not privy to the internal workings of USA Today and the individual          citizenry has any idea that a commission made up of some of the nation’s
predilections of its writers, editors and owners, so I have no idea what is          most respected military leaders stated publicly and forcefully – on Capitol
going on. I don’t know if reporter Oren Dorell and/or his editors uncon-             Hill – that a US president chose to sacrifice US interests and US servicemen
sciously or consciously tilt toward Israel, or whether they were simply slop-        (specifically, the 25 of the 34 dead who were killed after US rescue missions
py. I don’t know if their refusal to correct an obvious mistake is caused by         were recalled) to Israeli interests, and then ordered a cover-up of his actions.
defensiveness or arrogance, partiality toward Israel or unwillingness to trig-           Almost no one knows that the US’s purported “special” ally tried to sink
ger the displeasure of pro-Israel superiors or Israeli-centric readers/advertis-     a Navy ship, and then quibbled for years over what it would pay in compen-
ers. I don’t know if it’s that they prefer the explanations of the powerful to the   sation to the widows, children, and parents of those it killed and to the United


                                       10                                                                                   3
American Media Miss the Boat                                                                                                                             Alison Weir

States for the ship it destroyed. (Thirteen years later it grudgingly paid $6 mil-           8.   House      Armed      Services     Committee     Review      of
lion for a ship valued at $40 million.)                                                 Communications, May 1971: Liberty communications were discussed
    The one piece of this story that did make it into the mainstream media              along with other communications failures. The committee reported no
has also remained astonishingly buried: testimony that provided the final nail          conclusions concerning the attack.
in the coffin of claims that the Israeli attack – which lasted two hours; consist-           9. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 1979/1981: [Miami
ed of rockets, napalm, and torpedoes; and killed 34 Americans total and                 bankruptcy judge A. Jay Cristol, author of a book exonerating Israel]
injured over 170 – was somehow accidental.                                              claims that the committee investigated the attack and exonerated
    This testimony, which was read at the Capitol Hill event, was by Captain            Israel, yet he has been unable to provide minutes, a report or other evi-
Ward Boston, the chief counsel to the one US government investigation ever              dence of such an investigation. Rules of the select committee require
undertaken of this attack, the Naval Court of Inquiry. This quickie investiga-          that any committee investigation be followed by a report. There is no
tion, overseen by Admiral John S. McCain (the current Presidential con-                 report of such an investigation; ergo, there was no such investigation.
tender’s father), who gave subordinates one week to conduct an investigation                 10. National Security Agency Report, 1981: Upon the publication
that normally would have been allotted a minimum of six months, found the               in 1980 of “Assault on the Liberty” by James Ennes, the National
attack to be a case of “mistaken identity.” The report, which focused on the            Security Agency completed a detailed account of the attack. The
performance of the crew and the adequacy of communications, and which                   report drew no conclusions, although its authors did note that the
excluded critical testimony from crew members, is the keystone in Israel par-           deputy director dismissed the Israeli excuse (the Yerushalmi report) as
tisans’ claims that the attack was accidental. All other US reviews of the attack       “a nice whitewash.” The report did not exonerate Israel.
that state it was accidental cite this investigation as their source.                        11. House Armed Services Committee meeting of 1991/1992:
    For decades, Liberty crewmembers and authors such as James Ennes,                   Though cited by Mr. Cristol as an investigation which exonerates
Stephen Green, Paul Findley, John Borne, and James Bamford had provided                 Israel, the U.S. government reports no record of such an investigation.
substantial evidence that this conclusion was false. Numerous American offi-            Cristol claims that the investigation resulted from a letter to Rep.
cials of cabinet-level positions and the equivalent have stated publicly that           Nicholas Mavroules from Joe Meadors, then-president of the USS
they believed the attack to be intentional. Senior military, diplomatic and             Liberty Veterans Association, seeking Mavroules’ support. Instead of
intelligence officials had long held that the magnitude and duration of the             responding to Liberty veterans, however, Congressman Mavroules
attack on the easily recognizable ship precluded any possibility that it was a          referred the matter to Mr. Cristol for advice. Survivors heard nothing
mistake.2                                                                               further. Meadors’ letter was never answered. The U.S. government
    Captain Boston’s testimony was a dramatic confirmation that they were               reports that there has been no such investigation.
correct.
    In his testimony, Boston stated that he had decided to end his 30-year                                     Ethics the USA Today Way
silence and was going to expose the truth: the Court of Inquiry conclusions              Armed with this information, I contacted USA Today about their story.
had been a sham. President Lyndon Johnson and his secretary of defense,              They had committed two significant errors: one of omission and one of com-
Robert McNamara, had ordered the court to cover up the fact that all the evi-        mission. According to the American Society of Newspaper Editors Statement
dence had indicated clearly that the attack had been intentional.       3
                                                                                     of Principles, both types require a correction.12
    Somehow the major media missed this, even though AP, uncharacteristi-                Specifically, it was unconscionable for USA Today to include the finding
cally, had an excellent news report on it. There was no report in USA Today,         of the Naval Court of Inquiry, as it had, while omitting the fact that its chief


                                          4                                                                                  9
American Media Miss the Boat                                                                                                                           Alison Weir

   deliberate, but reported falsely that it was not, because they were            the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times... you name it, and
   directed by the president of the United States and the secretary of            they probably missed it. Despite the significance of this new evidence, only a
   defense to report falsely. So the findings are fraudulent. Yet these           handful of newspapers printed it, mostly small, regional ones; a Lexis search
   fraudulent findings were the basis for several other reports that fol-         a few days later revealed nine.
   lowed.                                                                             A major tree had fallen in the forest, and almost no one heard it, because
          2. The Joint Chiefs of Staff Report of June 1967: This was an           the US media chose not to report it.
   inquiry into the mishandling of several messages intended for the                  This mainstream media blind spot has continued, and with it an
   ship. It was not an investigation into the attack. It did not exonerate        American cover-up of astounding proportions.4
   Israel, because it did not in any way consider the question of culpabil-           June 8th, was the 40th anniversary of this attack. There were moving cer-
   ity.                                                                           emonies in commemoration of the fallen at Arlington National Cemetery, the
          3. CIA report of June 13, 1967: This interim report, completed five     Naval Academy, and the Naval War Memorial in Washington DC. Survivors
   days after the attack, reported “our best judgment [is] that the               placed wreaths for their shipmates, sisters remembered their brothers; moth-
   attack...was a mistake.” No investigation was conducted, and no first-         ers wept yet again for their sons.
   hand evidence was collected. Then-CIA Director Richard Helms con-                  Somehow CNN missed this; ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening
   cluded and later reported in his autobiography that the attack was             News, NBC Nightly news missed it. Despite the fact that the USS Liberty was
   planned and deliberate.                                                        the most decorated ship in American history; despite the fact that its com-
          4. Clark Clifford report of July 18, 1967: Clark Clifford was direct-   mander received the Congressional Medal of Honor; despite the fact that a
   ed by Lyndon Johnson to review the Court of Inquiry report and the             War Crimes Report on the unprovoked attack has been filed by the crew, and
   interim CIA report and “not to make an independent inquiry.” His               that members of the military elite are calling for a sustained, public investiga-
   was merely a summary of other fallacious reports, not an “investiga-           tion; despite the fact that a Naval rear admiral stated that the Liberty hon-
   tion”... The report reached no conclusions and did not exonerate               orees had suffered “an unprecedented injustice... at the hands of our very
   Israel... On the contrary, Clifford wrote later that he regarded the           own Navy and government;”5 the national media almost entirely ignored the
   attack as deliberate.                                                          Liberty, its crew, and its significance. The Washington Post, in whose back-
          5. and 6. Two Senate meetings: The Committee on Foreign                 yard this all occurred, printed nary a word on any of it. Not a single main-
   Relations meeting of 1967 and Senate Armed Services Committee                  stream news outlet reported the statement by former high-ranking career
   meeting of 1968 were hearings on unrelated matters which clearly               diplomat and Reagan appointee Ambassador Edward Peck comparing the
   skeptical members used to castigate representatives of the administra-         treatment of Pat Tillman’s death to the treatment of Liberty casualties:
   tion under oath before them. Typical questions were, “Why can’t we                    The US has just gone through a long, painful, costly and embarrassing
   get the truth about this?” They were not “investigations” at all, but          effort to unravel the cover-up of the death by friendly fire of Pat Tillman in
   budget hearings, and reported no conclusions concerning the attack.            Afghanistan. American servicemen will be punished for attempting to con-
   They did not exonerate Israel.                                                 ceal the circumstances of the accidental killing of a single American soldier by
          7. House Appropriations Committee meeting of April and May              his own comrades. It is totally unacceptable that even though Israeli service-
   1968: This was a budget committee meeting which explored the issue             men would not receive punishment for carrying out orders...that resulted in
   of lost messages intended for the ship. It was not an investigation and        the killing and wounding of more than 200 of the Liberty’s crew, our govern-
   reported no conclusions concerning the attack.                                 ment has steadfastly refused to permit the survivors of the heaviest attack on


                                         8                                                                               5
American Media Miss the Boat                                                                                                                               Alison Weir

a Navy ship since WWII to tell properly constituted official investigators            publication produced by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee
what happened on that fateful day.                                                    (AIPAC), Israel’s lobby in the United States. (None of this information was in
          This is obsequious, unctuous subservience to the peripheral interests       Dorell’s article). Despite the fact that the Liberty survivors have created an
of a foreign nation at the cost of the lives and morale of our own service mem-       award-winning website9 containing first-hand testimonies and exhaustive
bers and their families. It should no longer be condoned.    6
                                                                                      documentation on the attack, and that there are additional websites with
    While AP did have a story on the Liberty on June 8th, the report, oddly,          valuable information, Dorell’s article mentioned only one website – Bard’s.
was filed from Israel and was sent out only internationally; US editors never             While Dorell did interview crewmembers, his failure to include any of
saw it. Where the US media did produce stories, almost all (like the above AP         the massive evidence supporting their contention that the attack was inten-
story) gave the Israeli invention – that “investigations” showed it was acci-         tional conveyed the impression that these survivors were simply traumatized
dental.                                                                               conspiracy theorists. Worse yet, he preceded their statements with a sentence
                                                                                      that contained an outright falsehood: “Israel has always insisted the attack
                     USA Today: Covering-up the Cover-up                              was a case of mistaken identity, and 11 U.S. investigations over the years have
    USA Today is a case in point. According to its website, USA Today is the          reached the same conclusion."
nation's top selling newspaper. Its average daily circulation is 2.3 million and          While it is true that Israel proclaims its innocence, the second half of this
it is available worldwide.                                                            statement is, quite simply, a fabrication.
    USA Today has a history of missing stories on the Liberty. It neglected to
report on Ward Boston’s historic revelations; it missed the independent com-                              The Myth of the “11 Investigations”
mission’s Capitol Hill announcement; it refused to print an op-ed by commis-              If USA Today had investigated this claim, continually put forward by
sion chairman and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral               Israel partisans, its editors would have discovered that in 2006 the reference
Thomas Moorer (later published by the military newspaper Stars and                    librarian at the Library of Congress had investigated this allegation and
Stripes. ). In fact, in its 25-year history, it appears that USA Today had never
          7
                                                                                      found it to be false:
carried a single news report on the USS Liberty.                                             After checking numerous resources, including the CIS (Congressional
    On the June 8th anniversary, USA Today finally published a news story             Information Service) Indexes to Congressional Hearings (both published and
about the Liberty: "Coverup theory alive at USS Liberty reunion." The good            unpublished), and the Public Documents Masterfile, I could find no evidence
news was that USA Today had finally discovered the Liberty; the bad news              that the Congress ever held hearings or launched an investigation into the
was that it relied on Israel partisans for the story’s context and that it omitted    June 8, 1967 incident with the USS Liberty.10
major facts. Most troubling, it published a fraudulent statement that then                Even earlier, in 2003, a writer for the Washington Report on Middle East
framed the entire story.                                                              Affairs, Terence O’Keefe, investigated this claim and similarly found it to be
    While there are numerous objective US experts on this attack, USA                 hokum. In his subsequent article, also clearly missed by USA Today, O’Keefe
Today’s reporter Oren Dorell chose to use only analysts with ties to Israel:          discussed each of these alleged “investigations,” as well as their alleged con-
Michael Oren, who was born and grew up in the United States where he was              clusions. Following are excerpts from his report:11
active in Zionist youth movements, emigrated to Israel where he took Israeli
                                                                                              1. The U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry: The court concluded that
citizenship, served in the Israeli army, participated in Israel’s first invasion of
                                                                                         “available evidence combines to indicate...[that the attack was] a case
Lebanon, and, most recently, served as a Major in the Reserve during Israel’s
                                                                                         of mistaken identity.” ...According to Captain Ward Boston, chief legal
2006 invasion8; and Mitchell Bard, a former editor of the Near East Report, the
                                                                                         counsel to the Court of Inquiry, the court found that the attack was

                                        6                                                                                    7
     THE USS LIBERTY




 This is #34 in AMEU’s Public Affairs Series.




Americans for Middle East Understanding
     Room 245, 475 Riverside Drive
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              December 2002
       June    8,     1967,   Israeli

    forces attack the USS Lib-

    erty. They kill 34 American

    servicemen, wounding 171

    others. It will be the highest

    casualty rate ever inflicted

    on a U.S. naval vessel, with

    7 out of every 10 crew mem-

    bers killed or injured. It will

    also be the only peacetime

    attack on a U.S. naval ves-

    sel that, to this day, the

    Congress     of    the    United

    States of America formally

    refuses to investigate. The

    facts, as known, are as fol-

    low:




1
24 May 1967. U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS)
orders USS Liberty, an intelligence-gathering
vessel, to depart Abidjan for eastern Medi-
terranean, via Rota, Spain.

1 June 1967. Commanded by Capt. William
McGonagle, Liberty arrives at Rota to load
technical support material and supplies.

2 June 1967. Liberty departs Rota at top
speed of 18 knots en route to a point 13
miles off the Gaza Strip, well within inter-
national waters.

5 June 1967, 7:45 (all times cited are local
Liberty time). Israel attacks Egypt, simulta-
neously putting out false reports that Egypt
had attacked first. Captain McGonagle asks
Vice Admiral William Martin at Sixth Fleet
headquarters to send a destroyer as an
armed escort and auxiliary communication
center, noting that Liberty’s “self defense
capability limited to four .50 caliber ma-
chine guns and small arms.”

6 June 1967. Admiral Martin replies “Liberty
is clearly marked United States ship in in-
ternational waters, not a participant in the
conflict and not a reasonable subject for at-
tack by any nation . . . Request for escort
denied.”
7 June 1967, shortly before midnight. Of-
fice of the U.S. Defense Attaché in Tel Aviv
sends coded message to U.S. National Secu-
rity Agency (NSA) that Israel intends to at-
tack the Liberty if her course is not changed.
8 June 1967:
     0030: U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Joint


                                              2
    Reconnaissance Center (JRC) or-
    ders Liberty to go from 12½ to 20
    nautical miles off coast. An error
    by the U.S. Army Communications
    Center at the Pentagon results in
    message never reaching the ship.
    0130: JRC orders Liberty to ap-
    proach no closer than 100 miles to
    the coasts of Egypt and Israel. Due
    to misrouting it will take 16½
    hours for message to reach Liberty.
    0600: Israeli Nord 2501 Noratlas
    (flying boxcar) reconnoiters Liberty.
    0603: Reconnaissance aircraft re-
    ports to Israeli naval headquarters
    that “GTR-5” is written on the
    ship, identifying it as an NSA intel-
    ligence vessel.
    0720: Fresh American flag is raised.
    0900: Jet aircraft approaches Lib-
    erty, then veers off towards Gaza.
    Liberty crewmen unable to identify
    markings.
    1000: Two unmarked, rocket-
    armed, delta-winged jets circle Lib-
    erty three times. Liberty officers
    can count rockets and see the pi-
    lots, but see no identifying marks
    on the plane. The jets radio Israeli
    headquarters that the ship is flying
    an American flag.
    1030: Israeli “flying boxcar” with
    Israeli markings circles Liberty at
    about 200 feet. Crew member Larry
    Weaver says, “I was actually able
    to wave to the co-pilot, a fellow on


3
the right-hand side of the plane.
He waved back, and actually
smiled at me.”
1055: Pinchas Pinchasy, naval liai-
son officer at Israeli air force head-
quarters, reports to Naval Head-
quarters that the ship cruising
slowly off El Arish is “an electro-
magnetic audio-surveillance ship
of the U.S. Navy, named Liberty,
whose marking was GTR-5.”
1100 & 1130: Israeli reconnaissance
aircraft again circle Liberty.
1205: Three Israeli motor torpedo
boats leave Ashdod at high speed
headed toward Liberty. They are
followed by Israeli air force fight-
ers, loaded with 30mm cannon am-
munition, rockets, and napalm.
1215 & 1245: Israeli reconnaissance
aircraft again circle Liberty.
1341: Israeli torpedo boats spot Lib-
erty and call for an immediate air
strike.
1358: Two unmarked delta-winged
Mirage jets attack Liberty. After
taking out gun mounts, they target
ship’s antennae and bridge with
heat-seeking missiles.
1405: Three unmarked Dassault
Mystère IIIC jets attack with
napalm and rockets. Ship tries to
contact Sixth Fleet headquarters,
but five of Liberty’s six shore
circuits are jammed. Radio
operator manages to send distress


                                         4
    signal from Captain McGonagle:
    “Under attack by unidentified jet
    aircraft, require immediate
    assistance.” Attack lasts approxi-
    mately 22 minutes, involving 30 to
    35 sorties, killing nine men and
    wounding around 60. Israeli pilot
    reports to base: “Great, wonderful,
    she’s burning, she’s burning.”
    1409: Captain Joe Tully of the USS
    Saratoga acknowledges call for
    help, dispatches four F-4 Phantom
    jets, and informs Liberty that help is
    on the way. Within minutes U.S.
    Secretary of Defense Robert
    MacNamara orders rescue jets to
    return: “Tell Sixth Fleet to get those
    aircraft back immediately.” Rear
    Admiral Geis relays message and
    tells them to re-launch jets in 90
    minutes.
    1424: Three French-built 62-ton Is-
    raeli motor torpedo boats approach
    Liberty in attack formation. Because
    the Israeli fighters had destroyed
    the American flag, Captain McGo-
    nagle orders the signalman to hoist
    the “holiday ensign,” the largest
    flag the ship has.
    1435: Torpedo boats launch five
    German-made 19-inch torpedoes at
    Liberty. One torpedo strikes star-
    board directly into NSA area, ac-
    counting for 25 of the 34 men who
    would be killed. Torpedo boats
    then circle, machine-gunning the
    ship with armor-piercing projec-
    tiles for another 40 minutes.


5
1450: Commander of Sixth Fleet
orders carriers USS America and
USS Saratoga to send aircraft to de-
fend Liberty.
1500: NSA Sigint Command Center
receives first notice of the attack
from either the America or Saratoga:
“USS Liberty has been reportedly
torpedoed by unknown source in
Med near 32N 33E. Request exam-
ine all communications for possible
reaction/reflections and report ac-
cordingly.”
1505: Message sent to Liberty from
Sixth Fleet: “Sending aircraft to
cover you. Surface units on the
way.” Liberty is off the air and does
not receive the message.
1511: First “official” notice that Lib-
erty is under attack reaches Na-
tional Military Command Center in
Washington.
1515: After the order to “prepare to
abandon ship” comes over the
loudspeaker system, the lifeboats
are lowered into the water. Israeli
torpedo boats move in closer and
fire on them, as well as those still
on deck, making them all unus-
able. “I watched with horror as the
floating life rafts were riddled with
holes,” recalled Lieutenant Lloyd
Painter, in charge of the evacua-
tion. Said Petty Officer Rowley,
who also witnessed the event:
“They didn’t want anyone to live.”
After destroying the life rafts, the



                                          6
    Israeli boats departed. Next, two
    Israeli SA-321 Super Frelon Hornet
    assault helicopters carrying sol-
    diers in battle dress circle ship sev-
    eral times, then depart.
    1520: Commander of Sixth Fleet
    announces that 12 aircraft will be
    launched at 1545 to arrive near Lib-
    erty at 1715.
    1532: Walt Rostow, President John-
    son’s Special Assistant for National
    Security Affairs, notifies the presi-
    dent of the attack.
    1536: Israeli torpedo boats return,
    then leave.
    1545: USS Saragota and America
    launch second rescue flights.
    1555: Liberty regains its transmitter;
    still has no receiver.
    1600: Liberty transmits: “Flash,
    flash, flash. I pass in the blind. We
    are under attack by aircraft and
    high-speed surface craft.” Deputy
    Director Louis Tordella is informed
    by Deputy Director of Joint Recon-
    naissance Center, Captain Vine-
    yard, that “consideration was then
    being given by some unnamed
    Washington authorities to sink the
    Liberty in order that newspaper
    men would be unable to photo-
    graph her and thus inflame public
    opinion against the Israelis.” Tor-
    della makes an “impolite” com-
    ment about the idea, writes a
    memo of the conversation for the



7
record, and stores it away.
1605: Liberty transmits: “Request
immediate assistance. Torpedo hit
starboard side.”
1614: American embassy relays Is-
raeli apology to White House, De-
partment of State, and Sixth Fleet
that an unidentified “maybe
Navy” ship has been erroneously
attacked.
1615: Two unidentified jets ap-
proach Liberty, then veer off.
1630: Israeli jets and three torpedo
boats return, offer assistance. Cap-
tain McGonagle refuses their help.
Boats leave after 12 minutes.
1639: Secretary of Defense McNa-
mara again orders rescue planes
recalled; order is confirmed by
President Johnson because “we are
not going to embarrass an ally.”
Naval Air Attaché at U.S. embassy
in Tel Aviv, Commander Ernest
Castle, is summoned to Israeli De-
fense Forces headquarters.
1717: Deputy Secretary of Defense
orders that all news releases on
attack are to be made in Washing-
ton. Soon after, Israeli helicopter
approaches Liberty and requests
permission to land. McGonagle
refuses. Helicopter departs.
1729: Rear Admiral Lawrence Geis,
commander of the Sixth Fleet in
the Mediterranean, protests deci-
sion to recall rescue planes to Sec-


                                       8
    retary of Defense McNamara. At
    that point President Johnson comes
    on the phone and says he didn’t
    care if the ship sunk, he would not
    embarrass his allies. Admiral Geis
    tells Lt. Commander David Lewis,
    head of the Liberty’s NSA group, of
    the remark, but asks him not to re-
    peat it until after he dies. It is a
    promise Lewis will honor.
    1915:     Captain McGonagle,
    wounded and exhausted, dictates
    first report on estimated casualties:
    10 dead; 15 severely wounded; 75
    total wounded; undetermined
    missing.      His estimates would
    prove low.
9 June 1967:
    After midnight: Soviet guided
    missile destroyer sends flashing-
    light message in English: “Do you
    need help?” Liberty responds: “No
    thank you.” Soviets answer: “I will
    stand by in case you need me.”
    0600: USS Navy destroyers Davis
    and Massey arrive.
    Mid-morning: Dead and wounded
    are evacuated by helicopter.
    1450: Israeli Lt. Col. Michael Bloch
    telephones Commander Castle that
    Liberty, because it was not flying a
    flag, had been mistaken for the
    Egyptian supply ship El Queseir.
    State Department assures Congress
    that attack was accidental.
10 June 1967: Vice Admiral McCain orders


9
Rear Admiral Isaac Kidd to convene Navy
Court of Inquiry.
11 June 1967: Admiral Kidd boards Liberty
with small staff to head Navy Court of In-
quiry.
14 June 1967: Liberty arrives in Malta. Total
news blackout imposed. Rear Admiral Kidd
warns crew: “You are never, repeat never,
to discuss this with anyone, not even your
wives. If you do, you will be court-
martialed and will end your lives in prison
or worse.” Secretary of Defense McNamara
informs media that, “Department of De-
fense will have no further comment.”
15 June 1967: Secretary of State Dean Rusk
tells NATO ambassadors in Luxembourg
that Israel’s attack was deliberate. His re-
mark is reported in European, but not U.S.
papers.
18 June 1967: Israeli Court of Inquiry exon-
erates Israeli government and all those in-
volved, saying that its torpedo boats errone-
ously reported the Liberty’s speed at 30
knots instead of 5, and that the Liberty flew
no flag and had no identifying markings.
Later, Israel will honor Motor Torpedo Boat
203, the one that fired the deadly torpedo at
the Liberty, by putting its wheel and bell on
display in its naval museum, among those
maritime items of which it is most proud.
July 1967: Shortly after the burial of six Lib-
erty crewmen in Arlington National Ceme-
tery, a monument is erected describing the
six as having “Died in the Eastern Mediter-
ranean.” Liberty survivors complain that the
marking is evasive and improper.



                                            10
September 1967: State Department legal
adviser Carl Salans finds many discrepan-
cies with the Israeli report. His report is
classified Top Secret.
11 June 1968: Captain McGonagle is
awarded the Congressional Medal of
Honor. The Medal, usually presented by the
President of the United States at the White
House, is presented by the Secretary of the
Navy during a hastily arranged ceremony
at the Washington D.C. Navy Yard. Admi-
ral Thomas H. Moorer, the Chief of Naval
Operations, calls the way the Medal is pre-
sented a back-handed slap. “Everyone else
received their medal at the White House,”
Moorer will later observe. “President John-
son must have been concerned about the
reaction of the Israeli lobby.”
1980: National Security Agency Director
Marshall Carter tells investigative author
James Bamford that, regarding the attack on
the Liberty, “There was no other answer
than that it was deliberate.”
1981: National Security Agency review,
“Attack on a Sigint Collector, the USS Lib-
erty Incident,” rejects the Israeli Court of
Inquiry’s “mistake” theory and accuses Is-
raeli fighter pilots and torpedo boat crew-
men and commanders of perjury.
1982: Israeli senior lead pilot approaches
former Congressman Pete McCloskey and
admits that he recognized the Liberty as
American immediately, so informed his
headquarters, and was told to ignore the
American flag and continue his attack. He
said he refused to do so and returned to
base, where he was arrested.



11
6 October 1982: A new headstone for the six
Liberty crew members at Arlington National
Cemetery is unveiled. This one reads:
“Killed USS Liberty June 8, 1967.”
1986: Lt. Commander Walter H. Jacobsen
writes in Naval Law Review: “To speculate
on the motives of an attack group that uses
unmarked planes and deprives helpless sur-
vivors of life rafts raises disturbing possi-
bilities, including the one that the Liberty
crew was not meant to survive the attack…”
6 November 1991: Columnists Evans and
Novak publish interview with Dwight Por-
ter, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon in 1967, in
which Porter says that during or immedi-
ately after the attack on the Liberty the CIA
station chief showed him transcripts of in-
tercepted Israeli messages. One has Israel
ordering the attack on the Liberty, another
has an Israeli pilot replying it’s an American
ship. When the order to attack is repeated,
the pilot insists he can see the American
flag. The pilot is told again: “Attack it.”
8 June 1997: Adm. Thomas H. Moorer, ap-
pointed Chief of Naval Operations shortly
after the attack on the Liberty, tells a reunion
of survivors: “I have to conclude that it was
Israel’s intent to sink the Liberty and leave
as few survivors as possible. Israel knew
perfectly well that the ship was American.”
November 1998: Captain McGonagle breaks
his long silence: “After many years I finally
believe that the attack was deliberate. I
don’t think there has been an adequate in-
vestigation of the incident . . . The flag was
flying prior to the attack...” McGonagle will
die four months later, on March 3, 1999.



                                             12
                     References

Two 12-page articles have appeared in AMEU’s bi-
monthly publication The Link:

•    “The USS Liberty Affair,” by James E. Ennes, Jr.
     This issue is available in PDF download from the
     AMEU website. Search by author or year (1984).

•    “Remember the Maine Liberty,” by John Borne,
     with an introductory memorandum by Admiral
     Thomas H. Moorer, former chairman of the Joint
     Chiefs of Staff. This issue is available in PDF
     download from the AMEU website. Search by
     author or year (1997).

Ennes, James, Assault on the Liberty, 2002 edition.
Available from AMEU, $25.00 Ennes was the lieuten-
ant on watch at the time the Israelis first attacked the
Liberty. A full chapter is devoted to Israel’s motives
for knowingly attacking the ship.

Bamford, James, Body of Secrets, 2001 edition. Avail-
able from AMEU, $19.95. Bamford offers several im-
portant pieces of information previous classified. On
page 226, e.g., he tells of President Johnson’s reaction:
      At 11:29 A.M. (5:29 P.M.), Johnson took the un-
     usual step of ordering the JCS to recall the
     fighters while the Liberty still lay smoldering,
     sinking, fearful of another attack, without aid,
     and with its decks covered with the dead, the
     dying, and the wounded. Onboard the flag-
     ship of the Sixth Fleet, Rear Admiral Lawrence
     R. Geis, who commanded the carrier force in
     the Mediterranean, was angry and puzzled at
     the recall and protested it to Secretary of De-
     fense Robert S. McNamara.
     Admiral Geis was shocked by what he heard
     next. According to information obtained for
     Body of Secrets, “President Lyndon Johnson
     came on with a comment that he didn’t care if
     the ship sank, he would not embarrass his
     allies.” Admiral Geis told Lieutenant Com-
     mander David Lewis, the head of the NSA
     group on the Liberty, about the comment but
     asked him to keep it secret until after Geis
     died. It was a promise that Lewis kept.


13
Tito, Howard. The Loss of Liberty. This is a 50-
minute video made in 2001, and includes graphic
footage of the attack, and interviews with high rank-
ing naval personnel. The video is also available
through AMEU for $22.50.

Triplett, William, “Death on the USS Liberty,” in
“VVA Veteran,” Sept-Oct. 2002. Offers chilling inter-
views with survivors. Larry Weaver, a 21-year-old
bosun’s mate on the LIBERTY, who was not expected
to live, was airlifted to the USS AMERICA, where he
immediately underwent the first of 26 major surger-
ies. He was subsequently flown to American hospi-
tals in Crete, Italy and Germany, and then sent to the
Philadelphia Naval Hospital for recovery. He recalls:
     “I was four days in intensive care in a
     wheelchair in Philadelphia, and I was told
     an admiral wanted to talk to me,” Weaver
     recalls. “I went to meet him in a room and
     he closed the door and deadbolted it,
     which kind of scared me. He then took his
     stars off, saying, “I’m not an admiral now.
     Tell me what you know.” Weaver told him,
     emphasizing, among other points, that
     throughout most of the attack, because of
     his position on the ship, he had had a clear
     view of the Stars and Stripes flying off the
     ship’s bow, clearly identifying the LIB-
     ERTY as American. The Israelis claim the
     spy ship was flying no flag. “The admiral
     then said, ‘Okay,’ and put his stars back on
     and he pointed at me. And he said, ‘Larry,
     if you repeat this or talk to anyone about
     this you’ll be put into prison and we’ll
     throw away the key.’”

Green, Stephen. Taking Sides: America’s Secret Re-
lations with a Militant Israel. Published in 1984 by
William Morrow and Company, Inc., this work re-
mains a primary source on the attack and cover-up.

Borne, John. The USS Liberty: Dissenting History
Versus Official History. Published in 1995, this book
focuses on the contradictions in the various official
explanations that have been given for Israel’s attack
on the Liberty.

The official web site for the USS Liberty is:
www.ussliberty.org.


                                                    14
              AMEU Board of Directors

Jane Adas                      Lachlan Reed
                               President, Lachlan
Hugh D. Auchincloss, Jr.       International
Atwater, Bradley & Partners,
Inc.                           Talcott W. Seelye
                               Former U.S. Ambassador to
Henry G. Fischer (Vice         Syria
President)
Curator Emeritus, Dept. of     Donald L. Snook
Egyptian Art,
 Metropolitan Museum of Art    Jack B. Sunderland
                               (President)
Bonnie Gehweiler               President, American
Coordinator, Bethlehem 2000    Independent Oil Co.
Project
                               L. Humphrey Walz
John Goelet                    Associate Executive, H.R.
                               Presbyterian Synod of the
Richard Hobson, Jr.            Northeast
Vice President, Olayan
America Corp.                  James M. Wall

Robert L. Norberg (Vice        Miriam Ward, RSM
President)                     Professor, Religious Studies

Hon. Edward L. Peck            Mark R. Wellman (Treasurer)
Former U.S. Ambassador         Financial Consultant

         Executive Director: John F. Mahoney




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Special report

New revelations in attack on
American spy ship
Veterans, documents suggest U.S., Israel didn’t tell full story of
deadly ’67 incident
By John Crewdson | Tribune senior correspondent
October 2, 2007

Bryce Lockwood, Marine staff sergeant, Russian-language expert, recipient of the
Silver Star for heroism, ordained Baptist minister, is shouting into the phone.
“I’m angry! I’m seething with anger! Forty years, and I’m seething with anger!”
Lockwood was aboard the USS Liberty, a super-secret spy ship on station in the
eastern Mediterranean, when four Israeli fighter jets flew out of the afternoon sun to
strafe and bomb the virtually defenseless vessel on June 8, 1967, the fourth day of
what would become known as the Six-Day War.
For Lockwood and many other survivors, the anger is mixed with incredulity: that
Israel would attack an important ally, then attribute the attack to a case of mistaken
identity by Israeli pilots who had confused the U.S. Navy’s most distinctive ship with
an Egyptian horse-cavalry transport that was half its size and had a dissimilar profile.
And they’re also incredulous that, for years, their own government would reject their
calls for a thorough investigation.
“They tried to lie their way out of it!” Lockwood shouts. “I don’t believe that for a
minute! You just don’t shoot at a ship at sea without identifying it, making sure of
your target!”
Four decades later, many of the more than two dozen Liberty survivors located and
interviewed by the Tribune cannot talk about the attack without shouting or weeping.
Their anger has been stoked by the declassification of government documents and
the recollections of former military personnel, including some quoted in this article
for the first time, which strengthen doubts about the U.S. National Security Agency’s
position that it never intercepted the communications of the attacking Israeli pilots –
communications, according to those who remember seeing them, that showed the
Israelis knew they were attacking an American naval vessel.
The documents also suggest that the U.S. government, anxious to spare Israel’s
reputation and preserve its alliance with the U.S., closed the case with what even
some of its participants now say was a hasty and seriously flawed investigation.
In declassifying the most recent and largest batch of materials last June 8, the 40th
anniversary of the attack, the NSA, this country’s chief U.S. electronic-intelligence-
gatherer and code-breaker, acknowledged that the attack had “become the center of
considerable controversy and debate.” It was not the agency’s intention, it said,

http://www.ussliberty.com                  1                Chicago Tribune, October 2, 2007
“to prove or disprove any one set of conclusions, many of which can be drawn from a
thorough review of this material,” available at http://www.nsa.gov/liberty .
An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mark Regev, called the attack on the Liberty “a
tragic and terrible accident, a case of mistaken identity, for which Israel has officially
apologized.” Israel also paid reparations of $6.7 million to the injured survivors and
the families of those killed in the attack, and another $6 million for the loss of the
Liberty itself.
But for those who lost their sons and husbands, neither the Israelis’ apology nor the
passing of time has lessened their grief.
One is Pat Blue, who still remembers having her lunch in Washington’s Farragut
Square park on “a beautiful June afternoon” when she was a 22-year-old secretary for
a law firm.
Blue heard somebody’s portable radio saying a U.S. Navy ship had been torpedoed in
the eastern Mediterranean. A few weeks before, Blue’s husband of two years, an
Arab-language expert with the NSA, had been hurriedly dispatched overseas.
As she listened to the news report, “it just all came together.” Soon afterward, the
NSA confirmed that Allen Blue was among the missing.
“I never felt young again,” she said.

Aircraft on the horizon
Beginning before dawn on June 8, Israeli aircraft regularly appeared on the horizon
and circled the Liberty.
The Israeli Air Force had gained control of the skies on the first day of the war by
destroying the Egyptian air force on the ground. America was Israel’s ally, and the
Israelis knew the Americans were there. The ship’s mission was to monitor the
communications of Israel’s Arab enemies and their Soviet advisers, but not Israeli
communications. The Liberty felt safe.
Then the jets started shooting at the officers and enlisted men stretched out on the
deck for a lunch-hour sun bath. Theodore Arfsten, a quartermaster, remembered
watching a Jewish officer cry when he saw the blue Star of David on the planes’
fuselages. At first, crew members below decks had no idea whose planes were
shooting at their ship.
Thirty-four died that day, including Blue, the only civilian casualty. An additional 171
were wounded in the air and sea assault by Israel, which was about to celebrate an
overwhelming victory over the combined armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and several
other Arab states.
For most of those who survived the attack, the Six-Day War has become the defining
moment of their lives.
Some mustered out of the Navy as soon as their enlistments were up. Others stayed in
long enough to retire. Several went on to successful business careers. One became a
Secret Service agent, another a Baltimore policeman.
Several are being treated with therapy and drugs for what has since been recognized
as post-traumatic stress disorder. One has undergone more than 30 major operations.
Another suffers seizures caused by a piece of shrapnel still lodged in his brain.
After Bryce Lockwood left the Marines, he worked construction, then tried selling
insurance. “I’d get a job and get fired,” he said. “I had a hell of a time getting my feet
on the ground.”
Chicago Tribune, October 2, 2007            2                   http://www.ussliberty.com
With his linguistic background, Lockwood could have had a career with the NSA, the
CIA, or the FBI. But he was too angry at the U.S. government to work for it. “Don’t talk
to me about government!” he shouts.

U.S. Navy jets were called back
An Israeli military court of inquiry later acknowledged that their naval headquarters
knew at least three hours before the attack that the odd-looking ship 13 miles off the
Sinai Peninsula, sprouting more than 40 antennas capable of receiving every kind of
radio transmission, was “an electromagnetic audio--surveillance ship of the U.S.
Navy,” a floating electronic vacuum cleaner.
The Israeli inquiry later concluded that that information had simply gotten lost, never
passed along to the ground controllers who directed the air attack nor to the crews of
the three Israeli torpedo boats who picked up where the air force left off, strafing the
Liberty’s decks with their machine guns and launching a torpedo that blew a 39-foot
hole in its starboard side.
To a man, the survivors interviewed by the Tribune rejected Israel’s explanation.
Nor, the survivors said, did they understand why the American 6th Fleet, which
included the aircraft carriers America and Saratoga, patrolling 400 miles west of the
Liberty, launched and then recalled at least two squadrons of Navy fighter-bombers
that might have arrived in time to prevent the torpedo attack –and save 26 American
lives.
J.Q. “Tony” Hart, then a chief petty officer assigned to a U.S. Navy relay station in
Morocco that handled communications between Washington and the 6th Fleet,
remembered listening as Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, in Washington,
ordered Rear Adm. Lawrence Geis, commander of the America’s carrier battle group,
to bring the jets home.
When Geis protested that the Liberty was under attack and needed help, Hart said,
McNamara retorted that “President [Lyndon] Johnson is not going to go to war or
embarrass an American ally over a few sailors.”
McNamara, who is now 91, told the Tribune he has “absolutely no recollection of what
I did that day,” except that “I have a memory that I didn’t know at the time what was
going on.”
The Johnson administration did not publicly dispute Israel’s claim that the attack had
been nothing more than a disastrous mistake. But internal White House documents
obtained from the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library show that the Israelis’
explanation of how the mistake had occurred was not believed.
Except for McNamara, most senior administration officials from Secretary of State
Dean Rusk on down privately agreed with Johnson’s intelligence adviser, Clark
Clifford, who was quoted in minutes of a National Security Council staff meeting as
saying it was “inconceivable” that the attack had been a case of mistaken identity.
The attack “couldn’t be anything else but deliberate,” the NSA’s director, Lt. Gen.
Marshall Carter, later told Congress.
“I don’t think you’ll find many people at NSA who believe it was accidental,” Benson
Buffham, a former deputy NSA director, said in an interview.
“I just always assumed that the Israeli pilots knew what they were doing,” said Harold
Saunders, then a member of the National Security Council staff and later assistant
secretary of state for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs.

http://www.ussliberty.com                  3                Chicago Tribune, October 2, 2007
“So for me, the question really is who issued the order to do that and why? That’s the
really interesting thing.”
The answer, if there is one, will probably never be known. Gen. Moshe Dayan, then
the country’s minister of defense; Levi Eshkol, the Israeli prime minister; and Golda
Meir, his successor, are all dead.
Many of those who believe the Liberty was purposely attacked have suggested that
the Israelis feared the ship might intercept communications revealing its plans to
widen the war, which the U.S. opposed. But no one has ever produced any solid
evidence to support that theory, and the Israelis dismiss it. The NSA’s deputy director,
Louis Tordella, speculated in a recently declassified memo that the attack “might have
been ordered by some senior commander on the Sinai Peninsula who wrongly
suspected that the LIBERTY was monitoring his activities.”

Was the U.S. flag visible?
Though the attack on the Liberty has faded from public memory, Michael Oren, a
historian and senior fellow at The Shalem Center in Jerusalem, conceded that “the
case of the assault on the Liberty has never been closed.”
If anything, Oren said, “the accusations leveled against Israel have grown sharper
with time.” Oren said in an interview that he believed a formal investigation by the
U.S., even 40 years later, would be useful if only because it would finally establish
Israel’s innocence.
Questions about what happened to the Liberty have been kept alive by survivors’
groups and their Web sites, a half-dozen books, magazine articles and television
documentaries, scholarly papers published in academic journals, and Internet chat
groups where amateur sleuths debate arcane points of photo interpretation and
torpedo running depth.
Meantime, the Liberty’s survivors and their supporters, including a distinguished
constellation of retired admirals and generals, have persisted in asking Congress for a
full-scale formal investigation.
“We deserve to have the truth,” Pat Blue said.
For all its apparent complexity, the attack on the Liberty can be reduced to a single
question: Was the ship flying the American flag at the time of the attack, and was that
flag visible from the air?
The survivors interviewed by the Tribune uniformly agree that the Liberty was flying
the Stars and Stripes before, during and after the attack, except for a brief period in
which one flag that had been shot down was replaced with another, larger flag – the
ship’s “holiday colors” – that measured 13 feet long.
Concludes one of the declassified NSA documents: “Every official interview of
numerous Liberty crewmen gave consistent evidence that indeed the Liberty was
flying an American flag – and, further, the weather conditions were ideal to ensure its
easy observance and identification.”
The Israeli court of inquiry that examined the attack, and absolved the Israeli military
of criminal culpability, came to precisely the opposite conclusion.
“Throughout the contact,” it declared, “no American or any other flag appeared on the
ship.”
The attack, the court said, had been prompted by a report, which later proved
erroneous, that a ship was shelling Israeli-held positions in the Sinai Peninsula.

Chicago Tribune, October 2, 2007           4                  http://www.ussliberty.com
The Liberty had no guns capable of shelling the shore, but the court concluded that
the U.S. ship had been mistakenly identified as the source of the shelling.
Yiftah Spector, the first Israeli pilot to attack the ship, told the Jerusalem Post in 2003
that when he first spotted the Liberty, “I circled it twice and it did not fire on me. My
assumption was that it was likely to open fire at me and nevertheless I slowed down
and I looked and there was positively no flag.”
But the Liberty crewmen interviewed by the Tribune said the Israeli jets simply
appeared and began shooting. They also said the Liberty did not open fire on the
planes because it was armed only with four .50-caliber machine guns intended to
repel boarders.
“I can’t identify it, but in any case it’s a military ship,” Spector radioed his ground
controller, according to a transcript of the Israeli air-to-ground communications
published by the Jerusalem Post in 2004.
That transcript, made by a Post reporter who was allowed to listen to what the Israeli
Air Force said were tapes of the attacking pilots’ communications, contained only two
references to “American” or “Americans,” one at the beginning and the other at the
end of the attack.
The first reference occurred at 1:54 p.m. local time, two minutes before the Israeli jets
began their first strafing run.
In the Post transcript, a weapons system officer on the ground suddenly blurted out,
“What is this? Americans?”
“Where are Americans?” replied one of the air controllers.
The question went unanswered, and it was not asked again.
Twenty minutes later, after the Liberty had been hit repeatedly by machine guns, 30
mm cannon and napalm from the Israelis’ French-built Mirage and Mystere fighter-
bombers, the controller directing the attack asked his chief in Tel Aviv to which
country the target vessel belonged.
“Apparently American,” the chief controller replied.
Fourteen minutes later the Liberty was struck amidships by a torpedo from an Israeli
boat, killing 26 of the 100 or so NSA technicians and specialists in Russian and Arabic
who were working in restricted compartments below the ship’s waterline.

Analyst: Israelis wanted it sunk
The transcript published by the Jerusalem Post bore scant resemblance to the one
that in 1967 rolled off the teletype machine behind the sealed vault door at Offutt Air
Force Base in Omaha, where Steve Forslund worked as an intelligence analyst for the
544th Air Reconnaissance Technical Wing, then the highest-level strategic planning
office in the Air Force.
“The ground control station stated that the target was American and for the aircraft to
confirm it,” Forslund recalled. “The aircraft did confirm the identity of the target as
American, by the American flag.
“The ground control station ordered the aircraft to attack and sink the target and
ensure they left no survivors.”
Forslund said he clearly recalled “the obvious frustration of the controller over the
inability of the pilots to sink the target quickly and completely.”


http://www.ussliberty.com                    5                Chicago Tribune, October 2, 2007
“He kept insisting the mission had to sink the target, and was frustrated with the
pilots’ responses that it didn’t sink.”
Nor, Forslund said, was he the only member of his unit to have read the transcripts.
“Everybody saw these,” said Forslund, now retired after 26 years in the military.
Forslund’s recollections are supported by those of two other Air Force intelligence
specialists, working in widely separate locations, who say they also saw the
transcripts of the attacking Israeli pilots’ communications.
One is James Gotcher, now an attorney in California, who was then serving with the Air
Force Security Service’s 6924th Security Squadron, an adjunct of the NSA, at Son Tra,
Vietnam.
“It was clear that the Israeli aircraft were being vectored directly at USS Liberty,”
Gotcher recalled in an e-mail. “Later, around the time Liberty got off a distress call,
the controllers seemed to panic and urged the aircraft to ‘complete the job’ and get
out of there.”
Six thousand miles from Omaha, on the Mediterranean island of Crete, Air Force Capt.
Richard Block was commanding an intelligence wing of more than 100 analysts and
cryptologists monitoring Middle Eastern communications.
The transcripts Block remembered seeing “were teletypes, way beyond Top Secret.
Some of the pilots did not want to attack,” Block said. “The pilots said, ‘This is an
American ship. Do you still want us to attack?’
“And ground control came back and said, ’Yes, follow orders.’”
Gotcher and Forslund agreed with Block that the Jerusalem Post transcript was not at
all like what they remember reading.
“There is simply no way that [the Post transcript is] the same as what I saw,” Gotcher
said. “More to the point, for anyone familiar with air-to-ground [communications]
procedures, that simply isn’t the way pilots and controllers communicate.”
Block, now a child protection caseworker in Florida, observed that “the fact that the
Israeli pilots clearly identified the ship as American and asked for further instructions
from ground control appears to be a missing part of that Jerusalem Post article.”
Arieh O’Sullivan, the Post reporter who made the newspaper’s transcript, said the
Israeli Air Force tapes he listened to contained blank spaces. He said he assumed
those blank spaces occurred while Israeli pilots were conducting their strafing runs
and had nothing to communicate.

‘But sir, it's an American ship!’
Forslund, Gotcher and Block are not alone in claiming to have read transcripts of the
attack that they said left no doubt the Israelis knew they were attempting to sink a
U.S. Navy ship.
Many ears were tuned to the battles being fought in and around the Sinai during the
Six-Day War, including those belonging to other Arab nations with a keen interest in
the outcome.
“I had a Libyan naval captain who was listening in that day,” said a retired CIA officer,
who spoke on condition that he not be named discussing a clandestine informant.
“He thought history would change its course,” the CIA officer recalled. “Israel
attacking the U.S. He was certain, listening in to the Israeli and American comms
[communications], that it was deliberate.”

Chicago Tribune, October 2, 2007            6                  http://www.ussliberty.com
The late Dwight Porter, the American ambassador to Lebanon during the Six-Day War,
told friends and family members that he had been shown English-language
transcripts of Israeli pilots talking to their controllers.
A close friend, William Chandler, the former head of the Trans-Arabian Pipe Line Co.,
said Porter recalled one of the pilots protesting, “‘But sir, it’s an American ship – I
can see the flag!’ To which the ground control responded, ‘Never mind; hit it!’”
Porter, who asked that his recollections not be made public while he was alive
because they involved classified information, also discussed the transcripts during a
lunch in 2000 at the Cosmos Club in Washington with another retired American
diplomat, Andrew Kilgore, the former U.S. ambassador to Qatar.
Kilgore recalled Porter saying that he “saw the telex, read it, and passed it right back”
to the embassy official who had shown it to him. He quoted Porter as recalling that the
transcript showed “Israel was attacking, and they know it’s an American ship.”
Haviland Smith, a young CIA officer stationed in Beirut during the Six-Day War, said
that although he never saw the transcript, he had “heard on a number of occasions
exactly the story that you just told me about what that transcript contained.”
He had later been told, Smith recalled, “that ultimately all of the transcripts were
deep-sixed. I was told that they were deep-sixed because the administration did not
wish to embarrass the Israelis.”
Perhaps the most persuasive suggestion that such transcripts existed comes from the
Israelis themselves, in a pair of diplomatic cables sent by the Israeli ambassador in
Washington, Avraham Harman, to Foreign Minister Abba Eban in Tel Aviv.
Five days after the Liberty attack, Harman cabled Eban that a source the Israelis code-
named “Hamlet” was reporting that the Americans had “clear proof that from a
certain stage the pilot discovered the identity of the ship and continued the attack
anyway.”
Harman repeated the warning three days later, advising Eban, who is now dead, that
the White House was “very angry,” and that “the reason for this is that the Americans
probably have findings showing that our pilots indeed knew that the ship was
American.”
According to a memoir by then-CIA director Richard Helms, President Johnson’s
personal anger was manifest when he discovered the story of the Liberty attack on an
inside page of the next day’s New York Times. Johnson barked that “it should have
been on the front page!”
Israeli historian Tom Segev, who mentioned the cables in his recent book “1967,” said
other cables showed that Harman’s source for the second cable was Arthur Goldberg,
then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
The cables, which have been declassified by the Israelis, were obtained from the
Israeli State Archive and translated from Hebrew by the Tribune.
Oliver Kirby, the NSA’s deputy director for operations at the time of the Liberty attack,
confirmed the existence of NSA transcripts.
Asked whether he had personally read such transcripts, Kirby replied, “I sure did. I
certainly did.”
“They said, ‘We’ve got him in the zero,’” Kirby recalled, “whatever that meant – I
guess the sights or something. And then one of them said, ‘Can you see the flag?’
They said ‘Yes, it’s U.S, it’s U.S.’ They said it several times, so there wasn’t any doubt
in anybody’s mind that they knew it.”

http://www.ussliberty.com                   7                Chicago Tribune, October 2, 2007
Kirby, now 86 and retired in Texas, said the transcripts were “something that’s
bothered me all my life. I’m willing to swear on a stack of Bibles that we knew they
knew.”
One set of transcripts apparently survived in the archives of the U.S. Army’s
intelligence school, then located at Ft. Holabird in Maryland.
W. Patrick Lang, a retired Army colonel who spent eight years as chief of Middle East
intelligence for the Defense Intelligence Agency, said the transcripts were used as
“course material” in an advanced class for intelligence officers on the clandestine
interception of voice transmissions.
“The flight leader spoke to his base to report that he had the ship in view, that it was
the same ship that he had been briefed on and that it was clearly marked with the
U.S. flag,” Lang recalled in an e-mail.
“The flight commander was reluctant,” Lang said in a subsequent interview. “That
was very clear. He didn’t want to do this. He asked them a couple of times, ‘Do you
really want me to do this?’ I’ve remembered it ever since. It was very striking. I’ve
been harboring this memory for all these years.”

Key NSA tapes said missing
Asked whether the NSA had in fact intercepted the communications of the Israeli
pilots who were attacking the Liberty, Kirby, the retired senior NSA official, replied,
“We sure did.”
On its Web site, the NSA has posted three recordings of Israeli communications made
on June 8, 1967. But none of the recordings is of the attack itself.
Indeed, the declassified documents state that no recordings of the “actual attack”
exist, raising questions about the source of the transcripts recalled by Forslund,
Gotcher, Block, Porter, Lang and Kirby.
The three recordings reflect what the NSA describes as “the aftermath” of the attack –
Israeli communications with two Israeli helicopters dispatched to rescue any survivors
who may have jumped into the water.
Two of the recordings were made by Michael Prostinak, a Hebrew linguist aboard a
U.S. Navy EC-121, a lumbering propeller-driven aircraft specially equipped to gather
electronic intelligence.
But Prostinak said he was certain that more than three recordings were made that
day.
“I can tell you there were more tapes than just the three on the Internet,” he said. “No
doubt in my mind, more than three tapes.”
At least one of the missing tapes, Prostinak said, captured Israeli communications “in
which people were not just tranquil or taking care of business as normal. We knew
that something was being attacked,” Prostinak said. “Everyone we were listening to
was excited. You know, it was an actual attack. And during the attack was when
mention of the American flag was made.”
Prostinak acknowledged that his Hebrew was not good enough to understand every
word being said, but that after the mention of the American flag “the attack did
continue. We copied [recorded] it until we got completely out of range. We got a great
deal of it.”



Chicago Tribune, October 2, 2007           8                   http://www.ussliberty.com
Charles Tiffany, the plane’s navigator, remembers hearing Prostinak on the plane’s
intercom system, shouting, “I got something crazy on UHF,” the radio frequency band
used by the Israeli Air Force.
“I’ll never forget it to this day,” said Tiffany, now a retired Florida lawyer. He also
remembers hearing the plane’s pilot ordering the NSA linguists to “start taping
everything.”
Prostinak said he and the others aboard the plane had been unaware of the Liberty’s
presence 15,000 feet below, but had concluded that the Israelis’ target must be an
American ship. “We knew that something was being attacked,” Prostinak said.
After listening to the three recordings released by the NSA, Prostinak said it was clear
from the sequence in which they were numbered that at least two tapes that had once
existed were not there.
One tape, designated A1104/A-02, begins at 2:29 p.m. local time, just after the Liberty
was hit by the torpedo. Prostinak said there was a preceding tape, A1104/A-01.
That tape likely would have recorded much of the attack, which began with the air
assault at 1:56 p.m. Prostinak said a second tape, which preceded one beginning at
3:07 p.m., made by another linguist aboard the same plane, also appeared to be
missing.
As soon as the EC-121 landed at its base in Athens, Prostinak said, all the tapes were
rushed to an NSA facility at the Athens airport where Hebrew translators were
standing by.
“We told them what we had, and they immediately took the tapes and went to work,”
recalled Prostinak, who after leaving the Navy became chief of police and then town
administrator for the village of Lake Waccamaw, N.C.
Another linguist aboard the EC-121, who spoke on condition that he not be named,
said he believed there had been as many as “five or six” tapes recording the attack on
the Liberty or its aftermath.
Andrea Martino, the NSA’s senior media adviser, did not respond to a question about
the apparent conflict between the agency’s assertion that there were no recordings of
the Israeli attack and the recollections of those interviewed for this article.

U.S. inquiry widely criticized
Rather than investigating how and why a U.S. Navy vessel had been attacked by an
ally, the Navy seemed interested in asking as few questions as possible and
answering them in record time.
Even while the Liberty was still limping toward a dry dock in Malta, the Navy convened
a formal Court of Inquiry. Adm. John McCain Jr., the commander of U.S. naval forces in
Europe and father of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chose Adm. Isaac Kidd Jr. to preside.
The court’s charge was narrow: to determine whether any shortcomings on the part of
the Liberty’s crew had contributed to the injuries and deaths that resulted from the
attack. McCain gave Kidd’s investigators a week to complete the job.
“That was a shock,” recalled retired Navy Capt. Ward Boston, the inquiry’s counsel,
who said he and Kidd had estimated that a thorough inquiry would take six months.
“Everyone was kind of stunned that it was handled so quickly and without much
hullabaloo,” said G. Patrick March, then a member of McCain’s staff in London.


http://www.ussliberty.com                  9                Chicago Tribune, October 2, 2007
Largely because of time constraints, Boston said, the investigators were unable to
question many of the survivors, or to visit Israel and interview any Israelis involved in
the attack.
Rear Adm. Merlin Staring, the Navy’s former judge advocate general, was asked to
assess the American inquiry’s report before it was sent to Washington. But Staring
said it was taken from him when he began to question some aspects of the report. He
describes it now as “a hasty, superficial, incomplete and totally inadequate inquiry.”
Staring, who is among those calling for a full congressional investigation on behalf of
the Liberty’s survivors, observed in an interview that the inquiry report contained
several “findings of fact” unsupported by testimony or evidence.
One such finding ignored the testimony of several inquiry witnesses that the
American flag was flying during the attack, and held that the “available evidence
combines to indicate the attack on LIBERTY on 8 June was in fact a case of mistaken
identity.”
There are also apparent omissions in the inquiry’s report. It does not include, for
example, the testimony of a young lieutenant, Lloyd Painter, who was serving as
officer of the deck when the attack began. Painter said he testified that an Israeli
torpedo boat “methodically machine-gunned one of our life rafts” that had been put
over the side by crewmen preparing to abandon ship.
Painter, who spent 32 years as a Secret Service agent after leaving the Navy, charged
that his testimony about the life rafts was purposely omitted.
Ward Boston recalled that, after McCain’s one-week deadline expired, Kidd took the
record compiled by the inquiry “and flew back to Washington, and I went back to
Naples,” the headquarters of the 6th Fleet.
“Two weeks later, he comes back to Naples and calls me from his office,” Boston
recalled in an interview. “In that deep voice, he said, ‘Ward, they aren’t interested in
the facts. It’s a political issue and we have to put a lid on it. We’ve been ordered to
shut up.’”
“It’s time for the truth to come out,” declared Boston, who is now 84. “There have
been so many cover-ups.”
“Someday the truth of this will come out,” said Dennis Eikleberry, a NSA technician
aboard the Liberty. “Someday it will, but we’ll all be gone.”
James Ennes, now 74, who was officer of the deck just before the attack began, and
later spent two months in a body cast, is one of the more vocal survivors. Like the
others, Ennes is tired of waiting.
“We want both sides to stop lying,” he said.
+++
jcrewdson@tribune.com
Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune




Chicago Tribune, October 2, 2007           10                  http://www.ussliberty.com
Related links: USS Liberty Photos




         Image 1 of 6
         Marine Staff Sgt. Bryce Lockwood on the bridge of the
         USS Liberty the morning after Israeli forces attacked it,
         killing 34 and wounding 171. Lockwood was badly burned
         in the attack.
         (Photo courtesy of Bryce Lockwood / September 12, 2007)




http://www.ussliberty.com                   11                Chicago Tribune, October 2, 2007
           Image 2 of 6
           Bryce Lockwood was awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star.
           His anger at the U.S. government remains strong 40 years
           later.
           (2006 News Leader photo by Jess Heugel / November 8, 2006)




Chicago Tribune, October 2, 2007             12                  http://www.ussliberty.com
         Image 3 of 6
         USS Liberty leaves Valletta Harbor in Malta on July 18, 1967,
         after undergoing dry-dock repairs from the attack.
         (UPI Photo / June 22, 2007)




http://www.ussliberty.com              13              Chicago Tribune, October 2, 2007
           Image 4 of 6
           A U.S. sailor wounded in the attack is helped out of a
           helicopter onto the deck of the USS America, an aircraft carrier
           patrolling 400 miles west of the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967.
           The carrier’s fleet launched – and then recalled – Navy fighter
           jets that might have arrived in time to prevent the torpedo
           attack on the Liberty
           (AP photo / June 22, 2007)




Chicago Tribune, October 2, 2007          14                http://www.ussliberty.com
         Image 5 of 6
         James Ennes, an officer who was badly hurt in the attack,
         is tired of waiting for answers: “We want both sides to
         stop lying.”
         (Photo for the Tribune by Kevin P. Casey / June 22, 2007)




         Image 6 of 6
         James Ennes says this was one of the three flags
         that flew during the attack on the USS Liberty.
         (Photo by James Ennes / January 24, 2005)


http://www.ussliberty.com                     15                     Chicago Tribune, October 2, 2007
Related links: How the Israeli attack unfolded




Chicago Tribune, October 2, 2007   16            http://www.ussliberty.com
http://www.ussliberty.com   17   Chicago Tribune, October 2, 2007
Related links:           Congressional inquiries got nowhere
     In the 40 years since the U.S. Court of Inquiry closed its books on the Liberty
     investigation, members of Congress have asked for information about the
     attack and have received stock replies, like the one provided to the late Sen.
     Alan Cranston (D-Calif.).
     The Navy’s inquiry, the State Department told Cranston in 1980, had “made a
     full investigation of the attack,” and “reached the conclusion that it did not
     have sufficient information to make a judgment about the reasons for the
     Israeli action against the Liberty.”
     Not easily put off was Sen. Adlai Stevenson III (D-Ill.), who suggested that
     same year that a Senate intelligence subcommittee that he chaired take a
     closer look at the attack. But Stevenson said in a recent interview that the only
     other senator who supported the move was Barry Goldwater, the crusty
     Arizona Republican.
     “I didn’t really have much support,” Stevenson recalled. “But I did conduct a
     few of my own inquiries.” Those, he said, had led him to conclude that “there
     can’t be any question” the Israelis intended to sink the American spy ship.
     Stevenson’s inquiry died when he stepped down from the Senate to run a
     losing campaign for governor of Illinois. Meantime, the Navy seemingly has
     tried its best to downplay that piece of history.
     The Medal of Honor, the nation’s most esteemed military decoration, is
     customarily presented by the president in a ceremony at the White House.
     When the Liberty’s captain, Cmdr. William McGonagle, received his medal, it
     was handed to him by the secretary of the Navy in a ceremony at the
     Washington Navy Yard.
     According to McGonagle’s citation, though seriously wounded by shrapnel, he
     displayed “conspicuous gallantry” in maintaining command of his ship for
     several hours following an attack “by jet fighter aircraft and motor torpedo
     boats which inflicted many casualties among the crew and caused extreme
     damage to the ship.”
     The citation does not say to whom the jet fighters and torpedo boats belonged.
     The bodies of six of the Liberty’s crew were never recovered, and a small
     monument at Arlington National Cemetery memorializes their deaths.
     “Died in the Eastern Mediterranean, June 8, 1967,” is all it says.
     On June 8, 1997, the 30th anniversary of the attack, McGonagle, then a Navy
     captain, spoke to some of his former crew during a memorial service at
     Arlington.
     “For many years,” he said, “I have wanted to believe that the attack on the
     Liberty was pure error. It appears to me that it was not a pure case of mistaken
     identity.”
     “I think that it’s about time,” McGonagle said, “that the state of Israel and the
     United States government provide the crew members of the Liberty, and the
     rest of the American people, the facts of what happened, and why it came
     about that the Liberty was attacked. ...”
        ––John Crewdson, Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune


Chicago Tribune, October 2, 2007             18                 http://www.ussliberty.com
A SPECIAL AMERICAN FREE PRESS REPORT ON A HEINOUS CRIME AGAINST AMERICA STILL CENSORED AFTER 36 YEARS




REMEMBER the USS Liberty
36 Years Ago . . .




                                                                                                                                                                                     ILLUSTRATION BY PIERRE MION FOR THE COVER OF THE BOOK ASSAULT ON THE LIBERTY BY JAMES ENNES JR.
the air and naval forces of the state of Israel con-
ducted a brutal three-hour attack on a barely-armed
U.S. intelligence vessel. The date was June 8, 1967.
Israeli jets strafed the ship; torpedo boats launched
their deadly projectiles at the stricken ship. The life
rafts were machine-gunned. “No survivors” was the
order from Israeli military officials. When the attack
was over, 34 U.S. sailors and Marines were dead and
171 gravely wounded.
       “Mistaken identity,” Israel cried, as the U.S.
public was kept completely in the dark about the
incident. But the Liberty was easily identifiable that
clear day. Some of the Israeli pilots, seeing that the
ship was an American “ally” vessel, broke off their
strafing runs. They were ordered to renew their
deadly attacks. But Liberty would not go down. She
limped home listing badly to one side. Once they
returned from the hospital, surviving U.S. sailors
were threatened with court-martial if they talked of
the incident. The American mainstream press was
largely silent. President Lyndon Johnson had him-
self recalled the U.S. fighter jets dispatched to aid
the ship. And that too would need to be kept silent.
       Now, 36 years later, the truth can no longer be
kept hidden. Why were U.S. government officials so
forgiving when all evidence told them the attack was
deliberate? Why no declaration of war? How was the
U.S. public denied access to information on the inci-
dent? How did Israel get away with this blatant war


                                                          Attack Kills 34, Almost Sinks U.S. Ship
crime? Find out.



                                                             Here’s a capsule overview of the                           action, assuming Egypt was responsible. Later, when
       Admiral Burke                                      shocking circumstances surrounding the
                                                                                                                        the president learned the Israelis were responsible, he
                                                                                                                        called off the alert.
       Wonders ‘Why?’                                     murder of 34 Americans by the armed
                                                          forces of Israel in a terrorist attack that
                                                                                                                               Very little about the tragedy was mentioned in the
                                                                                                                        American press. What reports there were indicated it
   Adm. Arleigh Burke was known as “Mr.                                                                                 was a “tragic mistake.” In addition, media accounts
Navy.” He served as chief of naval operations.            few Americans know about. Tito Howard’s                       underestimated the number of the dead.
The high-tech modern U.S. Navy destroyers                 new film, Loss of Liberty, is the must-see                           Then, under the direction of Adm. John S.
were named the Arleigh E. Burke class of                                                                                McCain, commander in chief of the U.S. Naval Forces in
                                                          “last word” documentary that tells all of                     Europe, a court of inquiry was conducted by Rear
destroyers in his honor. Burke has some pro-
vocative comments about the fate of the USS               these details and more.                                       Admiral I.C. Kidd. McCain and Kidd knew better, but
                                                                                                                        they still announced that the attack was “a case of mis-
Liberty:
                                                                        By Michael Collins Piper                        taken identity.”
   “I don’t know yet why we didn’t protect that                                                                                (McCain’s cover-up for Israel’s slaughter of
ship. I don’t know why the Israelis would take                      n June 8, 1967, the USS Liberty, an American        American Navy boys forged a unique tie between the
such terrific chances. It must have been some-
thing that was very important to them, to
decide to attack without considering the prob-
ability of war. Things like this don’t ‘happen.’
Things are ‘caused’ to happen.”
                                                          O         naval vessel sailing in the Mediterranean, was
                                                                    suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval
                                                                    and air forces of the state of Israel. The attack
                                                          took place in the middle of a sunny afternoon. The
                                                          American flag aboard the Liberty flapped clearly in the
                                                                                                                        McCain family and Israel, such that, today, McCain’s
                                                                                                                        son, John, the Republican senator from Arizona, is
                                                                                                                        Israel’s favorite Republican.)
                                                                                                                               The Liberty survivors were told to “shut up.”
                                                                                                                        Anyone who talked was threatened with court-martial.
                                                          breeze. Three unmarked Israeli aircraft, accompanied          “If anyone asks,” the sailors were told, “tell them it was
                                                          by three torpedo boats, conducted the brutal assault.         an accident.” The survivors were dispersed worldwide
                                                                The attack began with rockets and then continued        so that no two men were sent to the same place.
BOOK EXPOSES LIBERTY ATTACK                               with napalm, a burning chemical that clings to human                 The incident was mentioned in passing in a vari-
In the 721-page book Body of Secrets, author              skin with grisly results. Then the torpedo boats raked        ety of media, but the first time that the whole shocking
                                                          the decks of the Liberty with machine-gun fire as the         story was told to the public on a national scale was in
James Bamford, a well known investigative
                                                          American sailors tried to extinguish the fires started by     The Spotlight on April 26, 1976.
journalist, authoritatively describes Israel’s                                                                                 However, as early as within one month after the
                                                          the napalm. The Liberty was then torpedoed not once,
attack on the USS Liberty as well as exposing             but three times, but, miraculously, did not sink. Thirty-     tragedy on July 15, 1967, The Washington Observer
the amazing secrets of the National Security              four Americans died in the incident and 171 others were       newsletter, published by individuals associated with
Agency, the largest, most secretive and most              injured.                                                      Liberty Lobby, the Washington-based populist institu-
powerful intelligence agency in world history.                  When news of the attack reached the White               tion, told readers that the Israeli attack on the
                                                          House, President Lyndon B. Johnson alerted the com-           American vessel was indeed deliberate.
See the coupon on page B-4 to order this book.
                                                          mander of the Sixth Fleet to prepare for retaliatory                                  (See NO WITNESSES, Page B-2)
  B-2           AMERICAN FREE PRESS              June 23, 2003




No Witnesses Wanted                                              Moorer Says ‘No More Cover-Up’
(Continued from Page B-1)
      There is no question the Israelis not only intend-          A distinguished admiral is leading the                   quency? There’s no question about the fact that the
ed to sink the Liberty but also to kill the entire crew so                                                                 jamming of the Liberty’s frequency was deliberate and
that no living witnesses could emerge to point the finger
                                                               charge to set the record straight on the                    was undoubtedly ordered by high authorities.”
at the Israelis. The Israelis hoped to blame the Arabs for     attack on the USS Liberty.                                  MASSACRE COULD HAVE BEEN STOPPED
the crime—a long-standing “false flag” technique used                                                                             Had the U.S. aircraft not been recalled, says
by Israel in its numerous acts of terrorism.                          By the Staff of American Free Press                  Moorer, the large number of casualties caused by the
      Defenders of Israel demand to know why the                                                                           Israeli torpedo boats could have been stopped.
Israelis would desire the total destruction of the Liberty              dm. Thomas Moorer, the longest-serving                    “I have spent a large part of my life flying over
and the mass murder of all aboard. The explanation is
simple: the Liberty was a spy ship—said to be then the
most sophisticated in the world—gathering intelligence
information that would have demonstrated that, con-
trary to Israel’s public propaganda line, Israel was seek-
                                                               A        active four-star admiral in U.S. history, was
                                                                        the only U.S. admiral to have commanded
                                                                        both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. He was
                                                               head of NATO forces and served as chief of Naval
                                                               Operations and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
                                                                                                                           the oceans and identifying ships and this ship was
                                                                                                                           perhaps the easiest ship to identify that was listed in
                                                                                                                           the U.S. Navy, equipped with antennae from bow to
                                                                                                                           stern, pointing in every direction. It reminded one of a
                                                                                                                           large vigorous lobster and had a look that made it
ing to escalate the 1967 Six-Day War then in progress,         for two terms. The Navy’s chief fighter, the F-14           extremely easy to recognize. So I will never, never buy
attempting to expand its territorial gains. It was plan-       Tomcat, was named after “Tom” Moorer.                       the idea that the [Israeli] pilots thought this was some
ning an incursion into Arab territories in the West Bank             Today, despite advancing age, Moorer remains          other ship.
and the Gaza Strip and intended to invade Syria. Israel,       in the forefront of the call for an inquiry into the               “In the case of the Liberty, this is the first time,
not the Arab states, was the real aggressor in the war.        attack on the Liberty. He is a hero to the Liberty’s sur-   to my knowledge, where a U.S. warship has been
      A Spotlight report of Nov. 21, 1977 implicated the       vivors and, in truth, to an entire generation of            attacked without warning and no action whatever was
CIA’s counterintelligence chief, James J. Angleton, in         American sailors who recall his leadership. About the       taken to investigate this situation on the part of the
having conspired with Israel in orchestrating the attack       Liberty, Moorer has said: “If the Israelis thought the      Congress. I have urged this over and over again and I
on the Liberty. An Israeli loyalist who headed the CIA’s       frequencies they jammed were broadcast by an                still think that the attack on the Liberty warrants a
liaison with Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, and     Egyptian ship, why did they jam the American fre-           full-fledged investigation by Congress.”                 5
who also played a key role in helping Israel develop its
nuclear arsenal (in defiance of President John F.
Kennedy), Angleton believed the destruction of the                 • The Israelis claimed that the Liberty was trav-             • The Israelis claimed that the Liberty did not fly
Liberty could be used as a “Pearl Harbor” or “Remember       eling at a high (and therefore “suspicious”) speed of 28 to   an American flag or carry identifying insignia. In fact,
the Maine”-type incident to inflame American passions        30 knots. In fact, the ship was drifting along at only five   not only did the Liberty have a U.S. flag flying in the
against the Arabs.                                           knots.                                                        wind, but also after that flag was shot to pieces, anoth-
      In 1983 a top secret report prepared in 1967 by the          • The Israelis claimed that the Liberty refused to      er and much larger flag was hoisted by the American
legal advisor to the U.S. secretary of state, was released   identify itself. In fact, the only signals from the Israeli   sailors when they realized they were under attack by
(without fanfare) for the first time. The report assessed    torpedo boats came after the torpedo attack was               ostensibly “friendly” forces from “our ally, Israel.” In
claims by Israel that the attack was a mistake. The          launched, with the result that 25 sailors had already         addition, the Liberty’s name and identification numbers
report demonstrated Israel’s claims to be lies:              died when the Liberty was hit by an Israeli torpedo.          were clearly displayed on the hull, which had just
                                                                                                                           recently been painted.
Medal of Honor Winners Want Inquiry                                                                                              According to Liberty survivors, the Israeli aircraft
                                                                                                                           had actually circled the ship no less than 13 times for
                                                                                                                           several hours before the attack commenced. Some of the
Into Massacre of Liberty’s Crewmen                                                                                         Liberty sailors even waved to the “friendly” Israelis from
                                                                                                                           the decks of the ship, not knowing they were being tar-
   Among those who have lent their support                         It was clear that this was an American ship. The
                                                                                                                           geted for annihilation.                                  5
                                                               Israelis did this with their army, navy and air
to the call of USS Liberty survivors for a full-               force. They [the Israelis] were getting our money to
fledged public inquiry into Israel’s attack on                 buy those French airplanes and they turned
                                                               around and attacked our ship when they could see              Survivors Speak Out
the Liberty are some of America’s most dis-                    that it was our ship.
                                                                                                                                  • Ernie Gallo: “The day before [the June 8
                                                                   It’s absolutely uncalled for. This is something I’d
tinguished Medal of Honor winners. They                        like to see totally investigated and a closure of this       attack] I was topside when Israeli planes came by,
                                                               issue because I think President Johnson was the              and very close where we could wave to the pilots, and
agree that it is absolutely clear the Israelis                 villain on it. I think he recalled the people [who]          they were that close where we could wave back.”
knew that their attack was aimed at an                         were [sent] to defend the ship.
                                                                                                                                  • Rick Aimetti: “It was a very clear day. It was
American vessel.                                                  • Army Col. Lou Millett, who led the last bayonet
                                                                                                                            a warm day, the sun was shining brightly, a nice
                                                                                                                            breeze blowing, and I distinctly remember hearing
                                                             charge against Red Chinese forces in Korea, says:
        By the Staff of American Free Press                                                                                 the [American] flag flapping in the wind.”
                                                                  I was in World War II. I studied all the different              • Phil Tourney: “There were approximately 13
      • Col. Mitchell Paige, the last Marine standing          types of aircraft; and when I shot at a plane, I made        sorties of our ship from six o’clock until 12 o’clock in
after repulsing a Japanese regiment on Guadalcanal,            sure I was shooting at the enemy and not ours.               the afternoon. We had a general quarters drill that
says:                                                          They knew what those ships looked like; and if               lasted 45 minutes or so.”
                                                               they don’t, I can’t conceive that they don’t know. I               • Stan White: “I stepped out on deck, and a
     We all know that this was in international                do know this: It was a criminal act. It was an act of
                                                               war.                                                         plane came by, and I looked right in the cockpit. He
  waters. It was an unprovoked and intentional
  attack on a U.S. vessel, with one objective: to sink            There should be a congressional committee—                waved. I waved. That’s how close they were. They
  it and kill all aboard. An unprovoked attack. I              both Senate and House—to examine all of the data             knew who we were.”
  think it was dastardly. I think it was a betrayal of         available; and it’s getting late to do this since, for             • George Golden: “Of all the recon flights that
  any friendship that we had with that nation.                 example, Capt. McGonagle, God bless his soul, is             they had that morning, overlooking our ship for six
     And I think it should be exposed to the entire            gone.
                                                                                                                            to seven hours, they had a good idea of what they
  world and all brought out so that the whole world
  would know the actual truth about that particular               • H.C. “Barney” Barnum, president of the                  were doing, and they hit us hard and fast with every-
  day in 1967. I know that Capt. McGonagle was on            Congressional Medal of Honor Society, says:                    thing they had.”
  board the USS Liberty and the ship was off the                                                                                  • James Smith: “I was topside fighting fires
  coast at Gaza, and yet our government put it in                                                                           and doing other damage control work throughout the
  writing, in a U.S. Senate book of Congressional                 As a Marine, I’m proud to say that three mem-
  Medal of Honor recipients, that he received his              bers of the Liberty crew were Marines. Two of them           duration of the attack. At the same time I was able to
  medal for action in Vietnam. To me that is one of            died that day. Bryce Lockwood was decorated for              observe the jets flying overhead, and I also observed
  the worst cover-ups in American history. How low             saving sailors’ lives. Bill McGonagle was skipper of         the American flag flying from the mast. At no time
  can our government go?                                       the Liberty, and he was awarded the Medal of
                                                               Honor for action above and beyond the call of duty.          did that flag hang limp from the mast.”
                                                                  I firmly believe after review of the documenta-                 • Joe Meadors: “My only job during the attack
     • Former Navy Master Chief Bob Bush, though
                                                               tion of this film [Loss of Liberty] that an in-depth,        was to make sure that the flag was flying; so every
badly wounded in World War II, held off a Japanese             honest investigation and inquiry into what really            few minutes I would walk out to the signal bridge up
advance while saving his commanding officer’s life.            happened that day is owed to the members of the              at the mast.”                                         5
Bush says:                                                     crew, their families and all Americans.           5
                                                                                                                           June 23, 2003      AMERICAN FREE PRESS                B-3

Sailors Told to Forget Slaughter                                                                                                  Talking about Loss of Liberty, the film by
                                                                                                                                 Tito Howard, Richard Kiepfer, who was the
   Survivors of Israel’s attack on the USS                            Rear Adm. Merlin Staring—who later became                      ship’s doctor aboard the Liberty, said:
                                                                judge advocate general of the Navy—was given less                “This film should shock decent Americans
Liberty were told—under threat of court-                        than 24 hours to review the 60-page report of the board              —above all, men and women who’ve
martial—not to tell the truth about the attack.                 of inquiry that was instituted to review the circum-              served in the armed forces. It will shock,
                                                                stances surrounding the attack on the Liberty.
        By the Staff of American Free Press                                                                                      particularly, as it was an attack not by ter-
                                                                      Staring later told Tito Howard, producer of Attack
                                                                on Liberty:                                                         rorists implacably opposed to the U.S.,
                                                                                                                                        as is the case of the USS Cole.”


“I
            f you go ashore, remove your ship’s name from
                                                                      In the course of my career as a Navy lawyer, I
            your jersey.” That’s what Adm. Isaac Kidd told         have been called upon to review and take action
            the survivors of the Liberty when he met with
            them after the attack. He told the men to go
ashore in civilian clothes that they weren’t even allowed
                                                                   upon hundreds of investigations of various
                                                                   degrees of importance and priority.
                                                                      This is the only instance in which a record of
                                                                                                                                 Ambassador Says
                                                                   such an investigation has been withdrawn after I
to possess: “Don’t talk about it among yourselves, don’t
write your friends. When you get back home, don’t even
discuss it with your wife and family.”
                                                                   had been asked to review it and had not been given
                                                                   an opportunity to complete my advice . . . It’s a
                                                                   voluminous document. One of the things that I ini-
                                                                                                                                 USS Liberty Crew
       Violation of these orders, they were told, could re-
sult in court-martial, imprisonment for violating na-
                                                                   tially had difficulty with, and still do, is the fact
                                                                   that the very first statement of fact that the court
                                                                   arrived at and presented was this: “Available evi-
                                                                                                                                  Was Abandoned
tional security—”or worse.”                                        dence combines to indicate the attack on Liberty                A former U.S. ambassador has de-
       Survivor Phil Tourney recalls that, after the               on June 8 was, in fact, a case of mistaken identity.”
attack, “When Adm. Kidd came aboard our ship to inter-                                                                          nounced the U.S. government’s failure to
view the survivors, he got us in small groups of three,               Journalist James Bamford notes that the official          rescue Americans aboard the Liberty.
four or five sailors and he would ask us questions. The         U.S. inquiry was described by the highest professional
first thing he did was take off his stars and lay them on       at the National Security Agency as “a nice whitewash.”                  By the Staff of American Free Press
the table and say, ‘Listen. Open up to me. Talk to me                 Marshall Carter, who was NSA director, said that
just like I’m just one of you.’ So we did.                      he thought the attack on the Liberty was “deliberate”                  ames Akins, a career U.S. Foreign Service officer
       “We trusted him. We opened up with our hearts
and told him how we felt, what happened, what we saw.
When that was done, he put his stars back on his lapel
and he ordered us not to say anything to anybody: our
families, our friends, our shipmates, anyone. If we did,
                                                                and that President Johnson wanted the ship to sink so
                                                                that Israel wouldn’t be embarrassed.

                                                                   Strong Words from Rusk
                                                                                                                    5
                                                                                                                                J      who served as U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia,
                                                                                                                                       among other top posts, has been one of the most
                                                                                                                                       outspoken critics of the USS Liberty cover-up.
                                                                                                                                      In Tito Howard’s landmark documentary, Loss of
                                                                                                                                Liberty, Akins said:
we faced the possibility of a court-martial, the peniten-            Dean Rusk, who was serving as secretary of
tiary, or worse. And everyone knew what ‘worse’ meant.            state in the LBJ administration at the time of                       George Ball, the brilliant and courageous
Actually, he scared the death out of me. I didn’t talk            Israel’s attack on the Liberty, is among those who               undersecretary of state at the time of the 1967 war,
about the attack with anyone for almost 20 years.”                have strong words for Israel:                                    wrote about the attack on the Liberty, subsequent-
                                                                     “I never, myself, accepted the Israeli explana-               ly. He said: “The ultimate lesson of the Liberty
       On the day of the attack, at 2:35 p.m., Defense                                                                             attack was that it had far more effect on policy in
Secretary Robert McNamara recalled the 12 Navy fight-             tion. Accidents don’t occur through repeated
                                                                                                                                   Israel than in America. Israel’s leaders concluded
ers that had been sent to the Liberty’s defense by the            attacks by surface vessels and by aircraft. It obvi-             that nothing they might do would offend the
carrier Saratoga.                                                 ously was a decision taken pretty high up on the                 Americans to the point of reprisal. If America’s
       Josey Toth Linen, the sister of Stephen Toth who           Israeli side, because it involved combined forces.               leaders did not have the courage to punish Israel
                                                                  The ship was flying an American flag.                            for the blatant murder of American citizens, it
died on the Liberty, notes:                                                                                                        seemed clear that their American friends would let
       “Worst of all is what our government is doing to              “Even if it had been unidentified from an Israeli             them get away with almost anything.”
cover this whole thing up. When I heard that President            point of view, it was a reckless thing for them to do.               The subsequent cover-up the Israelis main-
Johnson, in the heat of the battle, was telling Adm. Geis         Suppose it had been a Soviet ship. That would have               tained was that they thought [the ship was] the
                                                                  caused very large problems indeed.                               small Egyptian freighter, the El Quseir, [but this] is
of the Sixth Fleet that he didn’t give a damn if every                                                                             not credible. Not only was the Liberty flying a large
man drowned and the ship sinks. He said, ‘I don’t give a             “I have never accepted the Israeli explanation,
                                                                                                                                   American flag, but the Liberty was five times the
damn if every man drowns and the ship sinks. I don’t              and, so far as I am concerned, the affair of the USS             size of the El Quseir. Its profile was unique. It bore
want to embarrass our allies’—it makes you sort of won-           Liberty remains a scar on the relations between                  no resemblance whatsoever to the Egyptian ship.
der, since they were unmarked planes, how he knew it              Israel and the United States.”                      5                In late 1991, Dwight Porter, who was ambassa-
                                                                                                                                   dor to Lebanon during the 1967 war, told colum-
was our allies.”                                                                                                                   nists [Rowland] Evans and [Robert] Novak that
                                                                                                                                   immediately after the attack on the Liberty, the

Sailors: Israel Committed War Crimes                                                                                               CIA station chief handed him intercepted mes-
                                                                                                                                   sages between the Israeli war room and their
                                                                                                                                   planes. The pilots were given orders to attack the
   The American survivors of Israel’s bru-                             Therefore, Israel did indeed commit war crimes in           ship, and they replied immediately that it was an
                                                                                                                                   American ship. The Israeli headquarters respond-
                                                                the course of its unwarranted attack on the friendly
tal terrorist attack on the USS Liberty                         American vessel.
                                                                                                                                   ed: “You have your orders. Attack the ship.” The
                                                                                                                                   pilots tried once again: “But it’s an American ship.
have charged that the nature of the                                    Survivor David Lewis adds: “Had [the ship] sunk,            We can see its flag.” But headquarters insisted:
                                                                I assume that when debris washed ashore the next day,              “You have your orders. Attack it.” And attack it
assault definitely constituted a war crime.                                                                                        they did, and the consequences are well known.
                                                                it would have been blamed on Egypt . . .Helicopter gun-
                                                                                                                                       Evans and Novak got further confirmation of
                                                                ships, I’m sure, would have picked off survivors if we             the Israeli attack from an American-born Israeli
         urvivor Lloyd Painter recalls: “I personally wit-      had abandoned ship. They were sent there to finish us


S
                                                                                                                                   major, Seth Mintz, who was in the Israeli war room
         nessed the machine-gunning of life rafts as they       off. The aircraft were sent to make us incommunicado               at the time of the attack. He told reporters,
         floated by. The Israeli torpedo boat crew mem-         so we couldn’t send an SOS out. The torpedo boats were             “Everyone felt that it was an American ship and
                                                                                                                                   that it was the Liberty. There were comments
         bers raked the life rafts thoroughly with              sent to sink us.                                                   about the marking and about the flag. Everybody
machine gun fire, making sure that if there had been                   “And the helicopters were sent to pick off sur-             in the room was convinced it was an American
anyone in the liferafts that they would have not sur-           vivors. It was a perfectly executed military operation. If         ship.” Mintz told Evans and Novak that the Israelis
vived.”                                                         you look at the photographs of the Liberty after the               were guilty of an outrage. True. But the American
       Another survivor, Don Bocher, has pointed out            attack, on the first strafing run they used heat-seeking           suppression of the truth was an equal outrage.
                                                                                                                                       If the planes dispatched by the Saratoga had
that plans to abandon the ship were called off because          missiles that took out the tuning section of every trans-          continued to the rescue, the Israelis would have
the life rafts had been shot up. In fact, shooting life rafts   mitter on the ship. In less than two seconds they had              been driven off. But Washington took the Israelis
on a ship in distress is a war crime.                           taken out all our communication capability.”                       at their word. They said they had recognized their
       Josey Toth Linen, whose brother Stephen died on                 The ship’s captain, W. L. McGonagle echoed the              error and they apologized and that the attack had
                                                                                                                                   already stopped—they said. But they were lying.
the Liberty, also points out: “My brother was sent to the       concerns of the other survivors: “It appeared from the             The attack continued for another hour and 20 min-
bridge of the ship to find out who the planes were and          ferocity of the attack that the intent of the attackers            utes, during which 25 more American sailors died
where they came from. They had no markings. That’s              was to sink the ship. Maybe they hoped to have no sur-             and 110 more were wounded. All would have been
against the Geneva Rules of War right there . . . He was        vivors so that they would not be held accountable for the          spared if the American planes sent to help them
cut down by the planes.”                                        attack after it occurred.”                             5           had not been recalled by Washington.                5
   B-4           AMERICAN FREE PRESS                   June 23, 2003


 REPRINTED FROM THE FIRST ISSUE EVER PUBLISHED OF AMERICAN FREE PRESS, AUGUST 20, 2001, PAGE 1. FEEL FREE TO PHOTOCOPY THIS
    PAGE AND MAKE IT INTO A GREAT HANDOUT. GIVE TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE! ORDER MORE COPIES OF THIS REPORT TOO.


  Survivors of Brutal, Unprovoked Attack Vindicated!
     The suppressed story of a brutal attack                         ed to prevent the U.S. government from knowing about           recognized the Liberty as an American vessel and
                                                                     the imminent Israeli move to conquer the Golan                 radioed that information to his headquarters, but was
on a U.S. surveillance ship by Israeli jetfight-                     Heights of Syria, or the massacre of more than 1,000           told to ignore the American flag and continue his attack.
ers and torpedo boats aired on the History                           captured Egyptian soldiers in El Arish, within eyesight        He refused to do so and returned to base, where he was
                                                                     of sailors on the Liberty.                                     arrested.
Channel to the applause of survivors.                                    According to eyewitnesses and film footage, the ini-          Later, a dual-national American-Israeli major told
                                                                     tial air attack lasted about 30 minutes, during which          the survivors that he was in an Israeli war room where
               EXCLUSIVE TO AMERICAN FREE PRESS
                                                                     time the vessel was clearly flying an oversized                he heard Even-Tov’s radio report. The attacking pilots
                 By Christopher Bollyn                               American flag. According to survivors, the ship had            (two of whom are reportedly dual-national Americans)
                                                                     been overflown by 13 Israeli reconnaissance sorties            and everyone in the Israeli war room knew that they
          he horrific details of the assault on the


T
                                                                     during the morning.                                            were attacking an American ship, the major said. He
          American surveillance ship, USS Liberty, in                    The air assault was followed by an attack by three         later recanted the statement after receiving threaten-
          which 34 sailors were killed and 171 injured,              Israeli torpedo boats that fired five torpedoes. Any one       ing phone calls from Israeli officials.
          were the subject of a recent History Channel               of the torpedoes would have sent Liberty to the bottom            “The Israelis definitely identified the ship as
program, Cover Up: Attack on the USS Liberty.                        had it not been for the action of Petty Officer Francis        American and friendly,” Tourney said. “Our radios
   The program presented an unflinching account of                   Brown, from Troy, N.Y., who took the helm, and under           picked that up.”
the “sneak attack” by unmarked Israeli jets and torpe-               the command of the badly wounded captain, maneu-                  Radio monitors as far away as Spain, Germany, and
do boats on the Liberty during the 1967 Israeli-Arab                 vered the ship to avoid four of the five torpedoes. One        the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon picked up this transmis-
war.                                                                 torpedo hit the ship leaving a 40-foot hole, but fortu-        sion, which then-U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dwight
   The History Channel program, which was ap-                        nately struck an I-beam, which prevented it from sink-         Porter has confirmed. Unfortunately, the U.S. govern-
plauded by survivors of the attack as “excellent,” was               ing the ship.                                                  ment has shown no interest in hearing these first-per-
jointly produced with CBS News as part of History                        Tourney said that Brown “deserves the Congres-             son accounts.
Channel’s “History Undercover” series.                               sional Medal of Honor” for his heroic action that saved           The pilot’s protests about the vessel being an Amer-
   The year of the attack, the now-defunct Liberty Lob-              hundreds of lives.                                             ican ship were also picked up by a National Security
by was the only national voice of consequence to report                  “Francis didn’t flinch,” Tourney said. “The bridge was     Agency (NSA) surveillance plane flying high overhead
on this attack by “our strategic ally.”                              full of blood; it was pure hell up there—I was fighting        during the attack, according to James Bamford, author
   The assault on Liberty began in broad daylight,                   the napalm fire. A 50-caliber round went right through         of a recent book on the NSA, Body of Secrets.
shortly after lunch on June 8, with an air assault by “at            the back of his neck. He died with his hands on the               A new film, Loss of Liberty, produced by Tito Howard,
least 12 jets” that dropped napalm and left 870 rocket               wheel.                                                         focuses on the undisclosed, dirty—and almost unknown
and cannon holes in the intelligence vessel.                             “They tried to murder us all,” Tourney said, “and          —details of the attack on the Liberty.                 5
   Petty Officer Phil Tourney, who was on the ship at                send the ship to the bottom.”
the time, told American Free Press that the initial                      Israel has always maintained that the attack was an
attack was meant to “soften us up” and “prepare the
ship to be sunk” by an imminent torpedo boat attack.
                                                                     accident despite a great deal of evidence to the contrary,
                                                                     including testimony from two of the Israeli pilots
                                                                                                                                      Final Notes . . .
   During the attack, the Israeli jets jammed the ship’s             involved in the air assault, that the attack was inten-             American Free Press newspaper (and before it
radar and knocked out the communications antennae.                   tional.                                                          The Spotlight) were the only newspapers in America
The pilots targeted the lifeboats and watertight doors                   The spokesman for the Israeli Embassy, Mark Regev,           we know of to expose the facts about this brutal and
so as to ensure that the torpedo attack sank the vessel,             told American Free Press that there is “no evidence” that        wanton attack before the truth was aired on the
with “all hands lost,” according to Tourney.                         the attack was intentional.                                      Discovery Channel more than 30 years after the
   Only one SOS message reached the 6th Fleet’s                          Fifteen years after the incident, the senior Israeli
Saratoga, which launched aircraft to defend the Liber-
                                                                                                                                      event.
                                                                     lead pilot, named Amon Even-Tov, approached Liberty
ty. However, for some unknown reason these planes                    survivors and former Congressman Paul N. (Pete) Mc-                 For its coverage of this Israeli war crime,
were called back by President Lyndon B. Johnson, and                 Closkey about his role in the attack, according to James         American Free Press was branded “anti-Semitic” for
the defenseless Liberty was left to fend for herself.                M. Ennes Jr., author of Assault on the Liberty.                  pointing out that the attack was perpetrated by
   Experts have speculated that the attack was intend-                   Even-Tov told McCloskey that he had immediately              Israel. To get a sample copy of American Free Press,
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This report of war crimes committed against U.S. military personnel is submitted to the
Honorable Secretary of the Army in his capacity as Executive Agent for the Secretary of
Defense, pursuant to Department of Defense Directive Number 5810.01B (29 March
2004) 1.


1
    CJCSI 5810.01B (29 March 2004) provides in relevant part, attached as Exhibit 1:

           1. Purpose. Pursuant to the authorities delegated in references a and b, this instruction establishes joint pol-
           icy, assigns responsibilities, and provides guidance regarding the law of war obligations of the United States.
           Reference a provides policy guidance and assigns responsibility within the Department of Defense for a
           program to ensure compliance with the law of war. . . . .

           4. Policy

           a. The Armed Forces of the United States will comply with the law of war during all armed conflicts, however
           such conflicts are characterized, and, unless otherwise directed by competent authorities, the US Armed
           Forces will comply with the principles and spirit of the law of war during all other operations. Specifically, ref-
           erence A provides that it is the policy of the Department of Defense to ensure that:

                       (1) The law of war obligations of the US Government are observed and enforced by the US Armed
                       Forces.
                       (2) An effective program designed to prevent violations of the law of war is implemented by the US
                       Armed Forces.
                       (3) All reportable incidents committed by or against members of (or persons serving with or accom-
                       panying) the US Armed Forces are promptly reported, thoroughly investigated and, where appro-
                       priate, remedied by corrective action.
           . . .
           5. Definitions
           . . .
                      b. Reportable Incident. A possible, suspected, or alleged violation of the law of war.
           . . .
           7. Reporting Requirements
           . . .
           c. Investigation. Commanders of combatant commands will establish procedures for receiving initial reports
           of reportable incidents, and will ensure that their subordinate commanders:

                       (1) Submit a report, by the most expeditious means available, . .
                       (2) Initiate an investigation by an appropriate military investigative authority in accordance with sub-
                       paragraphs 3f(2) and 3f(4) of Enclosure A.

           d. The responsible combatant commander will submit a message report, as expeditiously as possible, for all
           reportable incidents to the Joint Staff . . ., The Office of the Secretary of Defense. . . , and the Secretary of
           the Army . . . , in the Secretary’s capacity as Executive Agent under paragraph 5.6 of reference a.

           Enclosure A:
           3. The commanders of combatant commands are responsible for the overall execution of the DOD Law of
           War Program within their respective commands. Specific responsibilities include ensuring:
           . . .
           f. All appropriate policies, directives, and operation and concept plans incorporate the reporting and investi-
           gation requirements established by reference a and this instruction, and by the Secretary of the Army, who
           is designated by reference a as the DOD Executive Agent for the administration of the DOD Law of War
           Program with respect to investigating and reporting reportable incidents.
           . . .
           (2) Ensure, via appropriate command directives, that all reportable incidents committed by or against mem-
           bers of (or persons serving with or accompanying) US Armed Forces are reported promptly to appropriate


                                                                1
           This Report is filed by the USS Liberty Veterans Association, Inc. a California
non-profit corporation, recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a Section
501(c)(3) tax exempt veterans organization, acting on behalf of the surviving crewmem-
bers of USS Liberty.
                                                   BACKGROUND
           On June 8, 1967 while patrolling in international waters 2 in the Eastern Mediter-
ranean Sea, USS Liberty (AGTR-5) was savagely attacked without warning or justifica-
tion by air and naval forces of the state of Israel.3
           Of a crew of 294 officers and men4 (including three civilians) 5, the ship suffered
thirty four (34) killed in action and one hundred seventy three (173) wounded in action. 6
The ship itself, a Forty Million ($40,000,000) Dollar state of the art signals i ntelligence




           authorities, are thoroughly investigated, and the results of such investigations are promptly forwarded to the
           applicable Military Department or other appropriate authorities. Applicable directives will include specific
           guidance on the collection and preservation of evidence of reportable incidents committed by enemy forces
           against US personnel since such evidence may serve as the basis for a possible future trial of accused war
           criminals. . . . . [Emphasis added]
2
 See, IDF History Report, p. 14, (attached as Exhibit 2-14) is a map generated by the Israeli Defense Forces and
show both the limit of territorial waters and the track of USS Liberty
3
 Memo from Presidential Counselor Clark Clifford to President Johnson, dated July 18, 1967, titled The Israeli Attack
on the USS Liberty (the “Clifford Report”), Exhibit 3:

           “a.    At all times prior to, during, and following the attack, the Liberty was in international waters where she
           had every right to be. As a noncombatant neutral vessel she maintained the impartial attitude of neutrality at
           all times prior to the attack.”
4
    Attack on a SIGINT Collector, p.2 (photo caption), Exhibit 4-2:

           “The U.S.S. Liberty was commissioned in May 1945 as a victory ship and later converted into a technical re-
           search ship (December 1964). She had an overall length of 455 feet. a maximum speed of 18 knots with an
           allowable personnel complement of 9 officers and 151 enlisted men along with an additional 6 officers and
           128 enlisted men from the Naval Security Group.”
5
    Attack on a SIGINT Collector, Exhibit 4-17 :

           “Six Arabic linguists [redacted] joined USN-855 for the expected work on U.A.R. and [redacted]
           communications. Three of the Arab linguists, NSA civilians Allen M. Blue, Donald L. Blalock, and Robert L.
           Wilson, were among the specialists who came on board [redacted].”
6
 See, Navy Court of Inquiry Transcript, Exhibits 20 through 22 (attached as Exhibits 5, 6, and 7). While the number
of those killed in action (KIA) remains at 34, the num ber of those wounded in action (WIA) has risen to 173 as the
result of additional crewmembers being awarded Purple Hearts after the conclusion of the NCOI.




                                                              2
(SIGINT) platform, was so badly damaged that it never sailed on an operational mission
again and was sold in 1970 for $101,666.66 as scrap 7.
           Israel acknowledged the following facts without qualification:
                a. USS Liberty was an American ship, hence a neutral vis-à-vis the June
                    1967 war between Israel and its Arab neighbors. 8
                b. USS Liberty remained in international waters at all times on June 8, 1967 9.
                c. The attacking Israeli forces never made a positive identification of the na-
                    tionality of USS Liberty before unleashing deadly force in their attack on
                    the ship.10
        At approximately 0600 hours (all times local) on the morning of June 8, 1967 an Is-
raeli maritime reconnaissance aircraft observer reported seeing “a US Navy cargo type
ship,” just outside the coverage of the Israeli coastal radar defense net, bearing the hull
markings “GTR-5”.11 This report, made to Israeli naval HQ, was also forwarded immedi-
ately to the Israeli navy intelligence directorate.12


7
     Attack on a SIGINT Collector, Exhibit 4-64

           “. . . Liberty was decommissioned on 28 June 1968. In 1970 the ship was turned over to the Maritime Ad-
           ministration and sold for scrap for $101,666.66.”
8
     Ram Ron Report, p. 3, Exhibit 8-3

           “After identifying the ship on Janes’ (The Fleet’s manual – Exhibit 1) and based on detailed investigation by
           the pilot – the identification of the ship was determined to be the US Navy ship “Liberty” (formerly supply
           ship) of an 18 knot speed.”
9
 IDF History Report, Exhibit 2-14. This document is a map, prepared by the IDF, that shows the territorial limits of
Egypt and Israel, as well as USS Liberty’s track (well outside all claimed territorial seas) on the day of June 8, 1967.
Exhibit 2-14
10
 Attack on a SIGINT Collector, quoting the charges filed by the Israeli Chief Military Prosecutor, specifically,
Charges 4 and 5 Exhibit 4-39:

           “4. Charge: That the Naval Department's order not to attack the ship (the Liberty), "for fear of error and out
           of uncertainty with regard to the true identity of the ship," was not delivered to the torpedo boat division.

           5. Charge: That it was negligence to give the order to attack a warship without previously establishing, be-
           yond doubt, its national identity and without taking into account the presence of the American Ship, Liberty,
           in the vicinity of the coast of Israel.”
11
     IDF History Report, Exhibit 2-678:

           “The [Israeli maritime reconnaissance aircraft] patrol’s mission was to detect ship movements before vessels
           could enter coastal radar detection range.


                                                             3
        Throughout the remainder of the day prior to the attack, Israeli reconnaissance air-
craft regularly flew out to USS Liberty’s position and orbited the ship before returning to
their bases in Israel. A total of no fewer than eight (8) such flights were made.13
        At approximately 1050 hours, the naval observer from the early morning reconnais-
sance flight arrived at Israeli air force HQ and sat down with the air-naval liaison officer
there. The two officers consulted Janes’ Fighting Ships and learned that the ship re-
ported earlier in the day was USS Liberty, a United States Navy technical research
ship.14
        From 0900 ho urs on June 8, 1967, until the time of the attack five hours later, USS
Liberty maintained a speed of approximately five knots and a generally westerly-
northwesterly course. 15



            ...
            Meanwhile, the “Nord” plane which had been patrolling the sea had landed and [at 1050 hours local time]
            the observer was debriefed by Lt. Commander Pinchasi, a navy representative at Air Command. The ob-
            server reported spotting the marking GTR-5 on the ship’s side. Lt. Commander Pinchasi checked the mark-
            ing in a “Janes” manual and learned that the reference was to an intelligence ship named “Liberty.”
12
     IDF History Report, Exhibit 2-8:

            “He [Pinchasi] reported the information to Naval Operations Section/3 and since the reference was to an in-
            telligence ship he likewise reported to Naval Operations Section/4 (intelligence).
13
  Memorandum from Carl F. Salans, Department of State Legal Advisor to the Undersecretary of State, dated Sep-
tember 21, 1967 and titled: The Liberty -- Discrepancies Between Israeli Inquiry and U.S. Navy Inquiry (the “Salans
Report”), Exhibit 9:
:

            “II.     Aircraft Surveillance

            The Israeli report indicates that a ship was reported in the area by
            reconnaissance aircraft at 0600 and that another report was received of
            a contact between an Israeli aircraft and a surface vessel about 0900.

            The Navy Court finding of facts, plus testimony of various members of
            the crew indicate reconnaissance overflights of the Liberty at 0515,
            0850, 1030, 1056, 1126, 1145, 1220, and 1245.” [all times local]
14
     IDF History Report, Exhibit 2-8:

            “Lt. Commander Pinchasi checked the marking in a “Janes” manual and learned that the reference was to
            an intelligence ship named “Liberty.”
15
     IDF History Report, (map), Exhibit 2-14:




                                                            4
        At 1400 hours, while approximately 17 miles off the Gaza coast, USS Liberty’s crew
observed three surface radar contacts closing with their position at high speed. A few
moments later, the bridge radar crew observed high speed aircraft passing over the sur-
face returns on the same heading.16
        Within a few short moments, and without any warning, Israeli fighter aircraft
launched a rocket attack on USS Liberty. The aircraft made repeated firing passes, at-
tacking USS Liberty with rockets and their internal cannons. After the first flight of fighter
aircraft had exhausted their ordnance, subsequent flights of Israeli fighter aircraft con-
tinued to prosecute the attack with rockets, cannon fire, and napalm. 17
        During the air attack, USS Liberty’s crew had difficulty contacting Sixth Fleet to re-
quest assistance due to intense communications jamming 18
        The initial targets on the ship were the command bridge, communications antennas,
and the four .50 caliber machine guns, placed on the ship to repel boarders.19


16
     Attack on a SIGINT Collector, Exhibit 4-26:

           “The relative bearing of this plane was about 135°, its position angle was about 45°-50°, its elevation ap-
           proximately 7,000 feet, and it was approximately five to six miles from the ship.”
           . . .

           “At about 1424 hours, look-outs sighted three high-speed boats approaching the Liberty from he northeast
           on a relative bearing of approximately 135" at a distance of about 15 miles.”
17
     Attack on a SIGINT Collector, Exhibit 4-28:

           “The coordinated strafing, rocket, and incendiary air attacks created three major fires topside that covered
           large areas of the Liberty with flames and heavy smoke.”
18
     Attack on a SIGINT Collector, Exhibit 4-26:

           “At the same time, he ordered Lieutenant Maurice H. Bennett to report to the Chief of Naval Operations
           (CNO) via the high-command radio circuit (hicom) that the Liberty was under attack by unidentified jet air-
           craft and required immediate assistance This Flash message, giving the Lib erty's position as 33-25E, 31-
           23N, was received by the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Saratoga (CVA-60) and relayed to Commander, U.S. Naval
           Forces Europe; Commander, Sixth Fleet; and Commander, Task Force 60 (CTF 60). Liberty's transmission
           was not made without difficulty. During the attack and intermittently thereafter, the hicom voice circuit was
           subjected to loud jamming regardless of frequency. This electronic interference was described as a steady
           carrier without modulation.”
19
     Attack on a SIGINT Collector, Exhibit 4-28:

           “Eight men were killed or died of injuries received during the air attack: two killed or mortally wounded on the
           bridge, two killed at machine gun 51, one killed at machine gun 52, one died from wounds received on the
           main deck starboard side, and two died of wounds received on the 01 level portside. Throughout the topside
           area, 75 men had been wounded by shrapnel and shock of exploding rockets.”


                                                             5
        After the Israeli fighter aircraft completed their attacks, three Israeli torpedo boats
arrived and began a surface attack about 35 minutes after the start of the air attack. The
torpedo boats launched a total of five torpedoes, one of which struck the side of USS
Liberty, opposite the ship’s research spaces. 20 Twenty-six Americans, in addition to the
eight who had been killed in the earlier air attacks, were killed as a result of this e xplo-
sion.
        Following their torpedo attack, the torpedo boats moved up and down the length of
the ship (both the port and starboard sides), continuing their attack, raking the ship with
cannon and machine gun fire.21 In Malta, crewmen were later assigned the task of
counting all of the holes in the ship that were the size of a man’s hand or larger. They
found a total of 861 such holes, in addition to “thousands” of .50 caliber machine gun
holes.
        Survivors report that the torpedo boat crews swept the decks of USS Liberty with
continuous machine gun fire, targeting communications equipment and any crewmem-
bers who ventured above decks. 22




20
     Attack on a SIGINT Collector, Exhibit 4-28:

            “At this time, the motor torpedo boats opened fire with their gun mounts, killing the Liberty's helmsman. In a
           matter of seconds one torpedo crossed astern of the ship at about 25 yards. The time was then 1434 hours.
           A minute later, a second torpedo struck the ship on the starboard side, just forward of the bridge and a few
           feet below the water line.”

21
     See statement of Lloyd Painter, Exhibit 10, and statement of Glenn Oliphant Exhibit 11.


22
     See statement of Lloyd Painter, Exhibit 10, and statement of Glenn Oliphant Exhibit 11.

Statement of survivor Glenn Oliphant, Exhibit 11.

           “Shortly after the torpedo hit, the order was received to abandon ship. I proceeded to the outside hatch in
           the radio transmitter room and undogged the door. . . .

           When I got on deck I looked forward and discovered that the rack that held my life raft and all the life rafts
           had been consumed by fire. I then went to the starboard side of the ship and found injured men coming up
           from the messdecks to the main deck. I assisted several of them and within minutes shells and shrapnel
           were flying everywhere coming from the torpedo boats. The order was given to return to the mess decks.”




                                                             6
        Damage control firefighters, who had already risked their lives merely by appearing
on deck, had to abandon their efforts because their fire hoses had been shredded by
machine gun fire.23
        Survivors also report that the torpedo boat crews fired on the inflated life boats
launched by the crew after the captain gave the order “prepare to abandon ship.” 24 This
order had to be rescinded because the crew was unable to stand on the main deck
without being fired upon and the life rafts were destroyed as they were launched.25
        The defenseless crew, initially unable to report their plight or summon assistance
and with only themselves to rely upon, fought heroically to save themselves and their
ship. In recognition of their effort in this single action, they were ultimately awarded, col-
lectively, one Medal of Ho nor, two Navy Crosses, eleven Silver Stars, twenty Bronze
Stars (with “V” device), nine Navy Commendation Medals, and two hundred and four
Purple Hearts. In addition, the ship was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.
        By patching together different systems, the ship’s radio operators had ultimately
been able to send a brief distress message that was received and acknowledged by
United States Sixth Fleet forces present in the Mediterranean. 26 Upon receipt of that


23
     Statement of survivor James M. Ennes, Jr., Exhibit 12.


           “Almost every man on that ship recalls -- as I personally recall very clearly from my position outside the
           wardroom -- that the torpedo boats then circled the ship for a long time firing at close range at anything that
           moved. Men trying to aid their wounded shipmates on deck were fired upon. Men fighting fires were fired
           upon and recall seeing their fire hoses punctured by machinegun fire. This went on for several minutes. At
           one point the boatmen concentrated their fire near the waterline amidships, presumably hoping to blow up
           the boilers to hasten our demise. Finally they pulled a distance back from the ship.”
24
     Statement of survivor Glenn Oliphant: Exhibit 11.

           “Shortly after the torpedo hit, the order was received to abandon ship.”
25
  See statement of Lloyd Painter, Exhibit 10 and statement of Glenn Oliphant, Exhibit 11.
Statement of survivor James M. Ennes, Jr., Exhibit 12.
26
     Exhibit 13:

           081235Z
           FM NJRS
           TO CINCNAEUR
           INFO BGOC




                                                              7
message the aircraft carriers USS Saratoga and USS America each launched aircraft to
come to the aid of USS Liberty. 27 The reported attacking aircraft were declared hostile
and the rescue aircraft were authorized to destroy them upon arrival.28 The rules of e n-
gagement, authorizing destruction of the attackers, were transmitted to the rescue air-
craft “in the clear” (i.e ., they were not e ncrypted).
        Shortly after the Sixth Fleet transmission of the rules of engagement to its dis-
patched rescue aircraft, the Israeli torpedo boats suddenly broke off their attack and
transmitted messages asking if USS Liberty required assistance.29 At the same time, an

            FOLLOWING RECEIVED FROM ROCKSTAR AM UNDER ATTACK MY POSIT 31-23N 33-25E HAVE
            BEEN HIT REQUEST IMMED ASSISTANCE
27
     Exhibit 14:

           081250Z JUN 67
           FM COMSIXTHFLT
           TO USS SARATOGA
           USS AMERICA
           INFO CTF SIX ZERO
           CTG SIX ZERO PT TWO
           BT
           CON FIDENTIAL
           1. AMERICA LAUNCH FOUR ARMED A4’S TO PROCEED TO 31-23N 33-25E TO
           DEFEND USS LIBERTY WHO IS NOW UNDER ATTACK BY GUN BOATS. PROVIDE
           FIGHTER COVER AND TANKERS. RELIEVE ON STATION. SARATOGA LAUNCH
           FOUR ARMED A-1’S ASAP SAME MISSION.
           GP-4
          BT
28
     Exhibit 15:

            081339Z. USS Liberty Incident.

            1. IAW CINCUSNAVEUR inst P03611#SB forces attacking Liberty are declared hostile.

            2. You are authorized to use force including destruction as necessary to control the situation. Do not use
            more force than required, do not pursue any unit towards land for reprisal purposes. Purpose of counterat-
            tack is to protect Liberty only.

            3. Brief all pilots contents this msg.

            4. In addition brief pilots that Egyptian territorial limit only 12 miles and Liberty right on edge. Do not fly be-
            tween Liberty and shoreline except as required to carry out provisions para 2 above. Brief fighter cover that
            any attacks on attack aircraft, Liberty or they themselves is hostile act and para two above applies.


29
     Attack on a SIGINT Collector, Exhibit 4-30

            “One of the boats signaled by flashing light, in English, "Do you require assistance?" Not being able to signal
            by light, Commander McGonagle ordered a signalman to hoist the international flag signal for "not under
            command," meaning that the ship was maneuvering with difficulty and that they should keep clear.”



                                                                8
Israeli naval officer notified the US Naval Attaché at the American Embassy in Tel Aviv
that Israeli forces had mistakenly attacked a United States Navy ship and apologized.
The Naval Attaché notified the United States Sixth Fleet30 and the rescue aircraft were
recalled before they arrived at the scene of the attack.31
        At about the same time as the cessation of the torpedo boat attack, Israeli attack
helicopters arrived over the ship.32 Survivors report that the helicopters were packed
with men in combat battle dress. The Captain of USS Liberty gave the order to “prepare
to repel boarders” 33 but the helicopters departed without attempting to land their
troops. 34



30
     Exhibit 16

           Tel Aviv, June 8, 1967, 1414Z.
           “0825. ALUSNA called to FLO to receive report. Israeli aircraft and MTB's erroneously attacked U.S. ship at
           081200Z position 3125Z 33-33E. May be navy ship. IDF helicopters in rescue operations. No other info. Is-
           raelis send abject apologies and request info of other US ships near war zone coasts.”
31
     Exhibit 17

           081440Z JUN 67
           FM COMSIXTHFLT
           TO AMERICA/SARATOGA /CTF60/CTG60.2
           CONFIDENTIAL
           1. RECALL ALL STRIKES REPEAT RECALL ALL STRIKES
32
     Statement of survivor Richard Carlson, Exhibit 18

           “An officer comes in from outside. We can’t go out there. They are shooting at anyone on deck and have
           shot up the life rafts. I hear the whirl of a helicopter. It passes by the porthole. Did I just see armed troops?
           Word is passed. “Prepare to repel boarders!’”
33
     Statement of survivor James Kavanagh, Exhibit 19

           “13.    A few minutes later we were told to stand by to repel boarders. We received a few guns and
           waited patiently for the battle.”

Statement of survivor Richard Carlson, Exhibit 18

           “An officer comes in from outside. We can’t go out there. They are shooting at anyone on deck and have
           shot up the life rafts. I hear the whirl of a helicopter. It passes by the porthole. Did I just see armed troops?
           Word is passed. “Prepare to repel boarders!”
34
     Attack on a SIGINT Collector, Exhibit 4-30

           “At about 1515 hours, two helicopters approached the Liberty and circled around the ship at a distance of
           about 100 yards. The Star of David insignia was clearly visible. One of the helicopters was numbered 04 or
           D4, the other 08 or DB. The helicopters departed, returned, and departed again.”




                                                               9
     The official position of the United States of America concerning these events, as
contained in a diplomatic note 35 by Secretary of State Rusk addressed to the Israeli
Ambassador is set forth, in relevant part, below:
        “Washington, June 10, 1967.

        The Secretary of State presents his compliments to His Excellency the Ambassador of
        Israel and has the honor to refer to the Ambassador's Note of June 10, 1967 concerning
        the attack by Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats on the United States naval vessel U.S.S.
        Liberty,
        . . .




35
  Diplomatic Note From Secretary of State Rusk to the Israeli Ambassador, National Archives and Records Admini-
stration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR., Exhibit 20

        “Washington, June 10, 1967.

        The Secretary of State presents his compliments to His Excellency the Ambassador of Israel and has the
        honor to refer to the Ambassadors Note of June 10, 1967 concerning the attack by Israeli aircraft and tor-
        pedo boats on the United States naval vessel U.S.S. Liberty, which was carried out at 1605 and 1625 hours
        local time. Respectively, on June 8, 1967 while the U.S.S. Liberty was engaged in peaceful activities in in-
        ternational waters.

        At the time of the attack, the U.S.S Liberty was flying the American flag and its identification was clearly indi-
        cated in large white letters and numerals on its hull. It was broad daylight and the weather conditions were
        excellent. Experience demonstrates that both the flag and the identification number of the vessel were read-
        ily visible from the air. At 1450 hours local time on June 8, 1967, two Israeli aircraft circled the U.S.S. Liberty
        three times, with the evident purpose of identifying the vessel. Accordingly there is every reason to believe
        that the U.S.S Liberty was identified, or at least her nationality determined, by Israeli aircraft approximately
        one hour before the attack. In these circumstances, the later military attack by Israeli aircraft on the U.S.S.
        Liberty is quite literally incomprehensible. As a minimum, the attack must be condemned as an act of military
        recklessness reflecting wanton disregard for human life.

        The subsequent attack by Israeli torpedo boats, substantially after the vessel was or should have been iden-
        tified by Israeli military forces, manifests the same reckless disregard for human life. The silhouette and con-
        duct of the U.S.S Liberty readily distinguished it from any vessel that could have been considered as hostile.
        The U.S.S. Lib erty was peacefully engaged, posed no threat whatsoever to the torpedo boats, and obviously
        carried no armament affording it a combat capability. It could and should have been scrutinized visually at
        close range before torpedoes were fired.

        While the Ambassador of Israel has informed Secretary of State that "the Government of Israel is prepared
        to make amends for the tragic loss of life and material damage," the Secretary of State wishes to make clear
        that the United States Government expects the Government of Israel also to take the disciplinary measures
        which international law requires in the event of wrongful conduct by the military personnel of a State. He
        wishes also to make clear that the United States Government expects the Government of Israel to issue in-
        structions necessary to ensure that United States personnel and property will not again be endangered by
        the wrongful actions of Israeli military personnel.

        The United States Government expects that the Government of Israel will provide compensation in accor-
        dance with international law to the extent that it is possible to compensate for the losses sustained in this
        tragic event. The Department of State will, in the near future, present to the Government of Israel a full
        monetary statement of its claim.”




                                                           10
           In these circumstances, the later military attack by Israeli aircraft on the U.S.S. Liberty is
           quite literally incomprehensible. As a minimum, the attack must be condemned as an act
           of military recklessness reflecting wanton disregard for human life.

           The subsequent attack by Israeli torpedo boats, substantially after the vessel was or
           should have been identified by Israeli military forces, manifests the same reckless disre-
           gard for human life. . . . The U.S.S. Liberty was peacefully engaged, posed no threat
           whatsoever to the torpedo boats, and obviously carried no armament affording it a com-
           bat capability. It could and should have been scrutinized visually at close range before
           torpedoes were fired.

           . . . the Secretary of State wishes to make clear that the United States Government
           expects the Government of Israel also to take the disciplinary measures which interna-
           tional law requires in the event of wrongful conduct by the military personnel of a State.”
        There has been no statement in the last thirty-eight years by the United States gov-
ernment reversing or amending this formal position.
        The Israeli Defense Forces Chief Military Prosecutor, immediately following the a t-
tack, filed formal charges recommending court martial proceedings against a number of
Israeli military personnel. 36 Prior to the start of court martial proceedings, the IDF turned

36
     Attack on a SIGINT Collector, Exhibit 4-3839:

“Given below are the charges brought by the Chief Military Prosecutor together with the examining judge's findings.

           1. Charge: The first charge related to the failure of the Acting Chief of Naval Operations to report to the
           Head of the Naval Department that the American ship, Liberty, was seen in the morning hours of the day of
           the incident sailing in the vicinity of the Israeli coast.

           Finding: Though the Head of the Naval Department testified that he did not know of the Liberty's presence
           in the area on the day of the incident, the Officer of the Watch at Navy Headquarters testified that the Head
           of the Naval Department was on the Navy Command Bridge when the Commanding Officer of the Navy or-
           dered the marking (on the combat information center plot table) of the American supply ship changed to
           green (indicating a neutral vessel). Since the Acting Chief of Naval Operations was an eyewitness to the
           event, he concluded that the Head of the Naval Department did know about the presence of an American
           supply ship in the area. In view of this, the examining judge found no negligence on the part of the accused.

           2. Charge: That the Acting Chief of Naval Operations failed to report to the Head of the Naval Department
           that the hull markings on the ship .observed by one of the attacking aircraft were similar to those on the Lib-
           erty.

           Finding: Witnesses testified that when the Naval Liaison Officer at the Air Force Headquarters telephoned
           the Naval Command Bridge about the hull markings and their sim ilarity to those of the Liberty. the officer to
           whom he spoke repeated the message in a loud voice so that it was heard by all present on the Command
           Bridge including the Head of the Naval Department. The examining judge stated, therefore, that there was
           thus no reason to repeat to the Head of the Naval Department a fact that had been audibly announced to
           those present. The charge was dismissed.

           3. Charge: That the Naval Liaison Officer at the Air Force Headquarters was negligent by not reporting to
           the Air Force the information about the presence of the Liberty in the area.

           Finding: The examining judge considered this charge unfounded. The responsibility for the defense of Israel
           against enemy naval actions rests solely with the Navy. Even though Air Force Headquarters ordered the


                                                            11
the matter over to an examining judge to confirm that the prosecution should go fo r-
ward. The examining judge disagreed with United States position that the attack was
“an act of military recklessness reflecting wanton disregard for human life” and an-
nounced his finding that:


      aircraft to attack, it was really an order issued by the Navy, passed on through Air Force Headquarters. The
      Naval Liaison Officer at the Air Force Headquarters was entitled to assume that the decision to attack was
      made after considering this report about the Liberty. There was no reason to feed the Air Force with informa-
      tion and considerations that did not concern it.

      4. Charge: That the Naval Department's order not to attack the ship (the Liberty), "for fear of error and out of
      uncertainty with regard to the true identity of the ship," was not delivered to the torpedo boat division.

      Finding: Though the torpedo boat division commander claimed he never received the message not to at-
      tack, the deputy commander of the boat testified that he had received the message and passed it on to the
      division commander. The examining judge believed that, in the heat of battle, it was possible that the mes-
      sage escaped the awareness of the division commander and, in any event, there was insufficient evidence
      to commit any accused person to trial.

      5. Charge: That it was negligence to give the order to attack a warship without previously establishing, be-
      yond doubt, its national identity and without taking into account the presence of the American Ship, Liberty,
      in the vicinity of the coast of Israel.

      Finding: To the examining judge, there was no doubt that the dominant factors in the initial attack decision
      were the speed and course of the target. Those in command were entitled to assume that the reported
      speed (28 knots) of the ship was correct, within the usual limits of reasonable error of 10-15 percent, relying
      upon the existing means of determining the speed of the target. It was, therefore, concluded that this was a
      military vessel, and since the Liberty was classed as a cargo ship, there was no reason for surmising, in
      view of the speed, that the target could probably be the ship, Liberty. If one adds to this other factors such
      as the report of the shelling of the AI .Arish coast for hours on end, the ship's course toward Port Said, the
      aircraft report that the target was a warship and carried no naval or other identification marks, and the ship's
      location close to shore in a battle zone, the cumulative effect negates any presumption whatsoever of a
      connection between the American supply ship and the target discovered by the torpedo boats. Thus, the ex-
      amining judge concluded that the assumption it was an enemy ship was reasonable and that the order given
      to the aircraft to attack was justified.

      6. Charge: That it was negligent to order the torpedo boat to attack the ship upon an unfounded presum p-
      tion that it was an Egyptian warship, and this as a consequence of not taking reasonable steps to make
      proper identification.

      Finding: The examining judge considered it noteworthy that the identification of the target as the El- Kasir
      was made both by the division commander and the commander of a second torpedo boat. Upon examining
      photos of the two ships, he was satisfied that a likeness existed between them, and that an error of identifi-
      cation was possible, especially when the identification was made while the ship was clouded in smoke. The
      Chief Military Prosecutor argued that this identification was unreasonable because it was inconceivable to
      think that this auxiliary ship El- Kasir could shell the AI .Arish coast or that she could move at a speed of 28
      knots. In reply, the examining judge said that it seemed reasonable to him that the El- Kasir might have been
      part of the vessels that shelled the coast and failed to get away from the area or that the ship had come to
      assist in the evacuation of Egyptian soldiers struggling away from areas occupied by Israeli forces. Further,
      the judge said that there was no doubt that the Liberty's refusal to identify herself to the torpedo boats con-
      tributed largely to the error of identification.

      In summation, the judge concluded that in all the circumstances of the case the conduct of the naval officers
      concerned in the Liberty incident could not be considered unreasonable to an extent which would justify
      committal for trial.”




                                                        12
            “Yet I have not discovered any deviation from the standard of reasonable con-
            duct which would justify the committal [sic] of anyone for trial.”37
        As a result of this blanket absolution, no one in the Israeli government or military
has received so much as a reprimand for their involvement in the attack, 38 much less

37
     Israel Defense Forces, Preliminary Inquiry File 1/67, Preliminary Inquiry (July 21, 1967), Exhibit 21:

            DECISION

            “For all my regret that our forces were involved in an incident with a vessel of a friendly state, and its sad
            outcome, I ought to put the behavior of each of the officers, who had any connection with the incident, to the
            test of the conduct of reasonable officers during wartime operations, when the naval arm of the Israel De-
            fense Forces was confronted with maritime forces superior in numbers, and when all involved were con-
            scious of the task before them --to protect the safety of Israel, to identify every enemy threatening from the
            sea, to attack it speedily and to destroy it. The criterion for reasonable conduct under these conditions may
            possibly differ from that in times of relative quiet. Indeed, whoever peruses the ample evidence presented to
            me, may conceivably draw some lesson regarding the relations between the two arms of the Israel Defense
            Forces, which were involved in the incident, and the operational procedures in times of war, particularly be-
            tween the different branches of the Navy--but all this is certainly not within the scope of my inquiry. Yet I
            have not discovered any deviation from the standard of reasonable conduct which would justify the commital
            [sic] of anyone for trial. In view of what has been said above, I hold, that there is no sufficient amount of
            prima facie evidence, justifying committing anyone for trial.”

38
     Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel Exhibit 22

(Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret;
Exdis. Drafted by Lambrakis on August 30; cleared by Bahti, Wehmeyer, and Davies; and approved by Katzenbach.)

            Washington, August 31, 1967, 2107Z.

            30382. Subj: U.S.S. Liberty.

            1. Under Secretary called in Charge Evron August 30 to comment on Israeli examining judge's report. Ex-
            plained it has already been given on confidential basis to a few Congressional committees. Also, quite a few
            people in the USG had handled it, as it was received through more than one channel from GOI. At least its
            existence, and perhaps some of its substance, can be expected to leak out. It may then become necessary
            for US to publish the exchange of notes. We shall inform GOI in advance if that eventuality arises and will do
            any publishing in low-key. We have no desire to exacerbate the issue. If this procedure causes major prob-
            lems for GOI now is the time to speak out. Some leakage has occurred already in this week's Newsweek
            magazine.

            2. Evron said he would refer matter back to his government. He speculated it might be possible for his gov-
            ernment to acquiesce in such publication of the notes, in which case it could be done jointly. He wished to
            express GOI's deep appreciation of restrained manner in which entire affair was handled by USG.

            3. On substance of report, Under Secretary said he personally had been very surprised with the ending. Re-
            port was obviously candid since any such confusion could not possibly have been invented. Examining
            judge laid out point after point confirming negligence on part of various Israeli officials in affair, yet ended up
            finding no deviation from normal conduct. Surely, Under Secretary said, one cannot believe such conduct
            was consistent with normal Israeli practice and did not involve culpable negligence on part of officials in-
            volved.

            4. Evron was subdued in manner and said there was little he could add. He had raised matter with GOI
            when in Israel in July and had spoken personally with COS Rabin. Rabin had stressed that investigation be-


                                                               13
the punishment demanded by the United States (“the United States Government e x-
pects the Government of Israel also to take the disciplinary measures which interna-
tional law requires in the event of wrongful conduct by the military personnel of a
State”).
    Within 24 hours of the attack, the United States Navy convened a formal Court of
Inquiry into that attack – a standard investigati ve procedure reserved for such serious
events or circumstances. This procedure was unusual in only one respect – the Presi-
dent and members appointed to the Court of Inquiry by the Commander in Chief, U.S.
Naval Forces, Europe (CINCUSNAVEUR), headquartered in London, were directed
orally by the appointing authority to conduct and complete their investigative proceed-
ings within one week – a most unusual requirement in light of the nature and magnitude
of the eve nts they were ordered to investigate.
    Convening initially in London, the Court proceeded immediately to the Mediterra-
nean and conducted its inquiry both aboard USS Liberty as she limped under escort to
Malta, and in succeeding days as she lay in dry-dock there. Concluding their inquiries
there, the President of the Court, with the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps officer
who had been appointed as Counsel to the Court, and with a Navy court reporter who
had been assigned from the London headquarters to assist, returned to London on June
16, 1967 (eight days after the attack), with their results.




       ing entrusted to impartial military judge, and COS would have to abide by judge's findings. Affair had obvi-
       ously been very damaging for GOI, Evron continued, and everything will be done to avoid repetition of such
       incident if ever similar circumstances arose, which he devoutly hoped they would not.

       5. Under Secretary reiterated his surprise at judge's findings though he assured Evron he did not intend pub-
       licly to express these personal conclusions. If GOI should ever decide to publish the report, he added, we
       would appreciate identification of Liberty as US communications ship, in keeping with manner in which it
       identified in our own public utterances.

       6. Evron agreed this manner of identification should present no problem but thought GOI would not publish
       report at all.

       Rusk”




                                                       14
    At London, the Navy court reporter supervised the final production of a written re-
cord of the Court’s proceedings and findings – a document over 600 typewritten pages
in length. On the afternoon of June 17, 1967, that record of the Court’s proceedings was
delivered to the senior Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps officer on the CINCUS-
NAVEUR staff fo r his review and recommendation to the appointing authority concern-
ing his required endorsement and action upon the Court’s proceedings and record. The
CINCUSNAVEUR Staff Judge Advocate thus charged with that review – in full compli-
ance and accord with standard Navy requirements and practice – turned immediately to
his detailed examination and consideration of the record. He continued that process
steadily into the early morning hours of June 18, 1967, then after a four-hour rest break
resumed his review at 6:00 AM on June 18th.
    In the midforenoon of June 18th an emissary from his Commander, the appointing
authority, appeared and inquired of the Staff Judge Advocate concerning the status of
his review and when it might be expected to be completed. The Staff Judge Advocate
advised that he had by then read only about a third of the record – that there were many
clerical and typographical flaws in the record that should be remedied before it was fo r-
mally forwarded to the high governmental authorities who undoubtedly awaited it – that,
more importantly, the reviewer had not yet been able to find, in the parts of the record
he had so far reviewed, testimony or other evidence to support some of the Court’s
stated conclusions – and that he could not yet estimate when he could complete his re-
view and recommendations but was continuing to devote himself solely to that task.
    The emissary from the appointing authority departed with that information, then re-
turned about 20 minutes later with the message that CINCUSNAVEUR, the appointing
authority, had directed him to come and get the Court’s record from the Staff Judge Ad-
vocate and bring it back to the appointing authority. The Staff Judge Advocate accord-
ingly surrendered the record to the emissary exactly as he had received it; he was nei-




                                            15
ther then nor later asked for any of his work or opinions so far; and he had no further
contact with the Court of Inquiry or its results at any time in his active Navy career.39
       The records of the Navy Department reveal that the written record of proceedings of
the U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry into the Israeli attack upon USS Liberty was formally
submitted by the President of the Court of Inquiry to CINCUSNAVEUR, the appointing
authority, by a written letter dated 18 June 1967, the very day that the record had been
withdrawn by the appointing authority from his Staff Judge Advocate. The written record
also reveals that the appointing authority, on that same day, placed upon that record of
the Court’s proceedings, a five -page First Endorsement, transmitting that Record to the
Judge Advocate General of the Navy i n Washington as required by the Navy’s investi-
gative procedures.40
       Mr. Secretary, it is respectfully submitted that, even based solely upon the facts and
circumstances outlined above, the Navy Court of Inquiry into the Israeli attack on USS
Liberty – the sole official investigation by the United States Government into that attack
– was deficient and prejudiced, even at its outset, by the unreasonable haste imposed
informally by the appointing authority. In addition, the processing of that Court’s hasty
result was further compromised by its peremptory withdrawal from its initial and pre-
scribed legal review in the field, and its hurried transmission to the seat of the U.S.
Government under cover of a purported official endorsement that could not conceivably
have been based upon even a cursory complete review of even the hasty work of the
Navy Court of Inquiry. Inexplicably, the Court record was classified Top Secret41 and
withheld from public scrutiny for many years.



39
   He was a few months later ordered back to Navy headquarters in Washington where he was first as-
signed as Special Counsel to the Secretary of the Navy, serving two successive Secretaries in that post –
then to flag rank as the Deputy Judge Advocate General of the Navy – and ultimately retiring in 1975 after
his final active-duty assignment as the Judge Advocate General of the Navy.

40
     Declaration of Merlin Staring, Rear Admiral, JAGC, USN (Ret), Exhibit 23
41
     Exhibit 24



                                                      16
        In addition to all of that, however, the Judge Advocate General’s Corps officer who
was appointed to serve as Counsel to the Navy Court of Inquiry – the officer charged
with certifying the authenticity of the Court’s record – has examined a copy of the record
of that Court of Inquiry that has since been released by the Government under the
Freedom of Information Act and has pronounced it a fraud, and not the record that he
had certified and submitted 42. Furthermore, the President of the Court of Inquiry, follo w-
ing his departure from London with the record on 18 June 1967, his personal delivery of
the record to officials in Washington, and his return to his regular duty post in Italy, i n-
formed the officer who had served as Counsel to the Court of Inquiry that the Court’s
record of its proceedings had been altered, in his presence, by civilian Government at-
torneys fo llowing its submission. 43
        The Central Intelligence Agency issued an “interim” report on the attack, dated June
13, 1967 (five days after the attack and five days before the apparent completion of the
Navy’s abbreviated Court of Inquiry). The heavily redacted copy of the CIA’s report that
has been released to the public does not state a conclusion, but suggests that, based
on the information available as of the date of the report, the Israeli forces may not have
known that they were attacking an American ship.44


42
     Declaration of Ward Boston, Jr., Captain, JAGC, USN (Ret.), Exhibit 25

           “18.     Admiral Kidd also told me that he had been ordered to “put the lid” on everything having to do with
           the attack on USS Liberty. We were never to speak of it and we were to caution everyone else involved that
           they could never speak of it again.

           19.       I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of that statement as I know that the Court of Inquiry tran-
           script that has been released to the public is not the same one that I certified and sent off to Washington.”
           [Emphasis added]
43
     Declaration of Ward Boston, Jr., Captain, JAGC, USN (Ret.), Exhibit 25

           “16.      I know from personal conversations I had with Admiral Kidd that President Lyndon Johnson and
           Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered him to conclude that the attack was a case of “mistaken
           identity” despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

           17.       Admiral Kidd told me, after returning from Washington, D.C. that he had been ordered to sit down
           with two civilians from either the White House or the Defense Department, and rewrite portions of the court’s
           findings.”
44
     CIA Memorandum dated June 13, 1967 and attached as Exhibit 26.




                                                             17
        Writing in his memoirs, Richard Helms, the Director of Central Intelligence at the
time of the attack, explained that the Central Intelligence Agency undertook a “final” i n-
vestigation after more evidence became available, and he offered the following informa-
tion concerning the CIA’s final finding : 45

           "Israeli authorities subsequently apologized for the incident, but few in Washington could
           believe that the ship had not been identified as an Am erican naval vessel. Later, an in-
           terim intelligence memorandum concluded the attack was a mistake and not made in
           malice against the U.S. . . .I had no role in the board of inquiry that followed, or the
           board's finding that there could be no doubt that the Israelis knew exactly what
           they were doing in attacking the Liberty. I have yet to understand why it was felt nec-
           essary to attack this ship or who ordered the attack." [Emphasis added]


           Director Helms was not the only administration official who remained convinced
that the attack was deliberate. In 1990, in his memoirs, Secretary of State Rusk ob-
served:46

           "But I was never satisfied with the Israeli explanation. Their sustained attack to disable
           and sink Liberty precluded an assault by accident or some trigger-happy local com-
           mander. 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."

           Similarly, Clark M. Clifford, Counsel to the President at the time of the attack, re-
called:47

           “I do not know to this day at what level the attack on the Liberty was authorized and I
           think it is unlikely that the full truth will ever come out. Having been for so long a staunch
           supporter of Israel, I was particularly troubled by this incident; I could not bring myself to
           believe that such an action could have been authorized by Levi Eshkol. Yet somewhere
           inside the Israeli government, somewhere along the chain of command, something had
           gone terribly wrong--and then had been covered up. I never felt the Israelis made ade-
           quate restitution or explanation for their actions...."




45
 Helms, Richard and William Hood, A Look over My Shoulder : A Life in the Central Intelligence Agency, Random
House, New York, 2003, p. 301
46
     Rusk, Dean, Daniel S. Papp (Ed.), As I Saw It, W.W.Norton, New York,1990 p. 388
47
     Clifford, Clark, Richard Holbrooke Counsel to the President: A Memoir, Random House, New York, 1991, p. 224




                                                         18
            The then-General Counsel for the Department of Defense, attorney Paul C.
Warnke, opined:48

            "I found it hard to believe that it was, in fact, an honest mistake on the part of the Israeli
            air force units. I still find it impossible to believe that it was. I suspect that in the heat of
            battle they figured that the presence of this American ship was inimical to their interests,
            and that somebody without authorization attacked it."
        The Executive Branch of the United States Government undertook no further review
of the attack. Similarly, the United States Congress has never i nvestigated the attack,
making it the only attack on a United States Navy ship, involving significant loss of life,
that has not been so investigated.49
        Compounding the harm done to survivors was the task given to them to bring all
human remains and classified materials out of the research spaces that had been de-
stroyed by the torpedo explosion. The survivors assigned to this task were further trau-
matized by having to secure the remains of their shipmates, men they knew and had
lived and worked with. 50
        In the years that followed the attack, almost all of the evidence pertaining to the at-
tack remained, inexplicably, highly classified. Starting in the late 1970s, heavily re-
dacted documents began to be released as a result of FOIA requests. To this day,
many USS Liberty related documents, including the CIA report referenced by Director
Helms, remain classified.
        A number of individuals and groups, some directly in the employ of the Israeli gov-
ernment, others self-appointed, have attempted to convince the public that the attack on
USS Liberty was but an “innocent mistake.” 51 In furtherance of this goal they have fabri-

48
   Who Says the Liberty Attack was Deliberate? Quoting Paul C. Warnke, USS Liberty Memorial Site, May 14, 2005
http://www.ussliberty.org/supporters.htm
49
     Moorer Commission, Formal Findings , Exhibit 27:

            “9. That due to continuing pressure by the pro-Israel lobby in the United States, this attack remains the only
            serious naval incident that has never been thoroughly investigated by Congress; to this day, no surviving
            crewmember has been permitted to officially and publicly testify about the attack;”
50
     Attack on a SIGINT Collector, Exhibits 4-5152 and 4-64
51
     IDF History Report, Exhibit 2-1


                                                             19
cated and repeated demonstrably false allegations – the most notable fabrication being
that there have been “thirteen official investigations (including five Congressional inves-
tigations)” – all of which concluded that the attack was a “tragic error.” These allegations
are wholly and demonstrably false.52 Worse, in some instances, deliberately falsified
evidence has been proffered in support of this argument. 53
     As a result of the public relations campaign undertaken on behalf of Israel, the USS
Liberty survivors have been vilified for their assertions that the attack was deliberate
and for their ongoing quest for justice. They are characte rized as “neo-Nazis”, “anti-
Semites”, and “conspiracy theorists” for wanting nothing more than an honest, open i n-
vestigation of the attack on their ship and themselves.54



         “The tragic attack on the “Liberty” was an innocent mistake . . .”
52
  AJ Cristol is the principal agent of the Israeli defense in the case of the attack on USS Lib erty. He is the author of
The Liberty Incident, a work written and published for the purpose of persuading the public that the Israeli attack on
USS Liberty was just “an innocent mistake.” The demonstrable falsity of Cristol’s claims of official investigations hav-
ing been undertaken, much less exonerating Israeli, is the subject of Terrence O’Keefe’s article attached as Exhibit
28.
53
   Please see Exhibit 36, a reply by the Israeli Defense Forces to an inquiry concerning what appear to be deliber-
ately altered photos displayed in A. Jay Cristol’s The Liberty Incident, and represented as Israeli gun camera photos
taken during the attack. This reply unequivocally states that other than a photo of Moshe Dayan, none of the remain-
ing photos in The Liberty Incident were taken or provided by Israeli sources.
54
   Rather than attempt to refute the facts and arguments put forward by the Liberty survivors, Israel and its surrogates
in the United States have resorted to baseless ad hominem attacks that are unworthy of inclusion in reasonable dis-
course. Typical of the vilification of the survivors of the attack and their supporters are the following representative
comments:

         “Most conspiracies hang together by a belabored psycho-social paranoid analysis. The conspiracy theory
         that Israel's attack on the USS Liberty in 1967 was "intentional" is a slanderous fabrication. [Emphasis
         added]

         . ..

         “It was an accident; the attack was a case of friendly fire not unlike other such incidents; those who say oth-
         erwise do so only because they wish to hurt Israel and to demean Jews and the Jewish people; they associ-
         ate with crackpots and known anti-Semites; those who tell this story are in league with holocaust deniers
         and other crackpots; . . . Liberty flew no flag and refused to identify herself when asked; Liberty attempted
         to flee when spotted; . . . ; Israel apologized and paid millions in damages ; the story told by Liberty survivors
         ‘has been discredited by the facts; Israel paid damages; the matter is closed.’” [Emphasis added]
         . . .
         This slander has a life given to it by anti-Israel conspiracy theorists who like the JFK assassination will never
         accept the facts in this case. Each new revelation from the State Department or NSA is denied by
         conspiracists [sic]. In that respect it isn't much different than the blood libels or ZOG conspiracies. In point of
         fact it is just another variation on the "Jews killed Christ" theme. When haven't the Jews been the world's
         favorite scapegoat? If they can't get these things, they'll invent something else. And you can read about it on
         the interNUT, in both left and right wing mailing lists and newsgroups.


                                                            20
     In 2003, an independent commission of highly regarded experts was created to look
into the matter. The Commission consisted of Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, United States
Navy (Ret.), Former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; General Raymond G. Davis, United
States Marine Corps, (MOH), Former Assistant Commandant of The Marine Corps;
Rear Admiral Merlin Staring, United States Na vy (Ret.), Former Judge Advocate Gen-



                                                USS Liberty Slanders, http://pnews.org/art/ussliberty.shtml

         ''He says ''virulently anti-Semitic organizations'' like the Liberty Lobby continue to ''fan the fires'' about the
         Liberty to smear Israel, when similar friendly-fire disasters have been all but forgotten, including the 1968
         Pueblo, 1975 Mayagüez and 1987 Stark incidents. [Emphasis added]

                                      Interview with A. J. Cristol, reported in the Miami Herald, July 15, 2002

         AJC: The victims of the tragedy are typical of victims of friendly fire. They find it difficult to believe that they
         were wounded or their buddies were killed by mistake. In this case the victims have been imposed upon,
         used and abused by groups with their own agendas. First, are those who are on the Arab side of the
         Arab/Israeli conflict and who try to use the tragedy to drive a wedge into the otherwise excellent relationship
         between the United States and Israel. Next are those persons who are anti-Semitic or anti-Israel. And finally
         there are the conspiracy buffs. For the reasons indicated these three groups have continued to probe the
         wounds of the victims for their own purposes and are not concerned with healing or closure. [Emphasis
         added]

                                      Interview with A.J. Cristol in the Jerusalem Post, July 10, 2003

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) included the following comment in their July 29, 2002 review
(http://aipac.org/result.cfm?id=1358) of the principal Israeli apologia, The Liberty Incident.

         “There are two groups of people making this argument, Cristol explains. The first is some of the Liberty sur-
         vivors. Victims are seldom good judges in their own cases, he said. They find it hard to believe, which is al-
         ways the case with friendly fire.

         Members of the other group have less honorable motives. Cristol says virulently anti-Semitic organizations
         and pro-Arab groups continue to fan the fires about the Liberty to smear Israel, when similar friendly-fire in-
         cidents have been all but forgotten.” [Emphasis added]

This vilification extends even to Internet newsgroups. Typical of such commentary is the following attack on USS Lib-
erty survivor James M. Ennes, Jr., LCDR, USN Ret:

         “Date: Mon, 05 May 2003 09:13:44 -0700
         From: Victor Galindo <vandagg@earthlink.net>
         User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.0.1)
         Gecko/20020823 Netscape/7.0 (nscd2)
         X-Accept-Language: en-us, en
         MIME-Version: 1.0
         To: James Ennes <jim@ussliberty.org> [Officer aboard USS Liberty during the attack and author of Assault
         on the Liberty]
         Subject: Yes

         Yes, you are an anit-Semitic no good bastard. I was aboard American ships off Sicily during WWII and got
         the hell blasted by bombers -- USA bombers. This kind of thing occurs in every war. Israel had no motive.
         The fault lies with the U.S.A. for planting a ship in an area of war. Again, you are a anti-Semitic Nazi bastard.
         Drop dead.” [Emphasis added]




                                                             21
eral Of The Navy; and Ambassador James Akins (Ret.), Former United States Ambas-
sador to Saudi Arabia.
   The “Moorer Commission” (Chaired by Adm. Moorer) investigated the attack and
made the following findings:

      “We, the undersigned, having undertaken an independent investigation of Israel's attack
      on USS Liberty, including eyewitness testimony from surviving crewmembers, a review
      of naval and other official records, an examination of official statements by the Israeli
      and American governments, a study of the conclusions of all previous official inquiries,
      and a consideration of important new evidence and recent statements from individuals
      having direct knowledge of the attack or the cover up, hereby find the following:

      1. That on June 8, 1967, after eight hours of aerial surveillance, Israel launched a two-
      hour air and naval attack against USS Liberty, the world's most sophisticated intelligence
      ship, inflicting 34 dead and 173 wounded American servicemen (a casualty rate of sev-
      enty percent, in a crew of 294);

      2. That the Israeli air attack lasted approximately 25 minutes, during which time un-
      marked Israeli aircraft dropped napalm canisters on USS Liberty's bridge, and fired
      30mm cannons and rockets into our ship, causing 821 holes, more than 100 of which
      were rocket-size; survivors estimate 30 or more sorties were flown over the ship by a
      minimum of 12 attacking Israeli planes which were jamming all five American emergency
      radio channels;

      3. That the torpedo boat attack involved not only the firing of torpedoes, but the ma-
      chine-gunning of Liberty's firefighters and stretcher-bearers as they struggled to save
      their ship and crew; the Israeli torpedo boats later returned to machine-gun at close
      range three of the Liberty's life rafts that had been lowered into the water by survivors to
      rescue the most seriously wounded;

      4. That there is compelling evidence that Israel's attack was a deliberate attempt to de-
      stroy an American ship and kill her entire crew; evidence of such intent is supported by
      statements from Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Undersecretary of State George Ball,
      former CIA director Richard Helms, former NSA directors Lieutenant General William
      Odom, USA (Ret.), Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, USN (Ret.), and Marshal Carter; former
      NSA deputy directors Oliver Kirby and Major General John Morrison, USAF (Ret.); and
      former Ambassador Dwight Porter, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon in 1967;

      5. That in attacking USS Liberty, Israel committed acts of murder against American ser-
      vicemen and an act of war against the United States;

      6. That fearing conflict with Israel, the White House deliberately prevented the U.S. Navy
      from coming to the defense of USS Liberty by recalling Sixth Fleet military rescue sup-
      port while the ship was under attack; evidence of the recall of rescue aircraft is sup-
      ported by statements of Captain Joe Tully, Commanding Officer of the aircraft carrier
      USS Saratoga, and Rear Admiral Lawrence Geis, the Sixth Fleet carrier division com-




                                               22
mander, at the time of the attack; never before in American naval history has a rescue
mission been cancelled when an American ship was under attack;

7. That although Liberty was saved from almost certain destruction through the heroic ef-
forts of the ship's Captain, William L. McGonagle (MOH), and his brave crew, surviving
crewmembers were later threatened with "court-martial, imprisonment or worse" if they
exposed the truth; and were abandoned by their own government;

8. That due to the influence of Israel's powerful supporters in the United States, the
White House deliberately covered up the facts of this attack from the American people;

9. That due to continuing pressure by the pro-Israel lobby in the United States, this at-
tack remains the only serious naval incident that has never been thoroughly investigated
by Congress; to this day, no surviving crewmember has been permitted to officially and
publicly testify about the attack;

10. That there has been an official cover-up without precedent in American naval history;
the existence of such a cover-up is now supported by statements of Rear Admiral Merlin
Staring, USN (Ret.), former Judge Advocate General of the Navy; and Captain Ward
Boston, USN, (Ret.), the chief counsel to the Navy's 1967 Court of Inquiry of Liberty at-
tack;

11. That the truth about Israel's attack and subsequent White House cover-up continues
to be officially concealed from the American people to the present day and is a national
disgrace;

12. That a danger to our national security exists whenever our elected officials are willing
to subordinate American interests to those of any foreign nation, and specifically are un-
willing to challenge Israel's interests when they conflict with American interests; this pol-
icy, evidenced by the failure to defend USS Liberty and the subsequent official cover-up
of the Israeli attack, endangers the safety of Americans and the security of the United
States.

WHEREUPON, we, the undersigned, in order to fulfill our duty to the brave crew of USS
Liberty and to all Americans who are asked to serve in our Armed Forces, hereby call
upon the Department of the Navy, the Congress of the United States and the American
people to immediately take the following actions:

FIRST: That a new Court of Inquiry be convened by the Department of the Navy, operat-
ing with Congressional oversight, to take public testimony from surviving crewmembers;
and to thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the attack on the USS Liberty, with
full cooperation from the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency and
the military intelligence services, and to determine Israel's possible motive in launching
said attack on a U.S. naval vessel;

SECOND: That every appropriate committee of the Congress of the United States inves-
tigate the actions of the White House and Defense Department that prevented the res-
cue of the USS Liberty, thereafter threatened her surviving officers and men if they ex-
posed the truth, and covered up the true circumstances of the attack from the American
people; and



                                         23
      THIRD: That the eighth day of June of every year be proclaimed to be hereafter known
      as

      USS LIBERTY REMEMBRANCE DAY, in order to commemorate USS Liberty's heroic
      crew; and to educate the American people of the danger to our national security inherent
      in any passionate attachment of our elected officials for any foreign nation.

      We, the undersigned, hereby affix our hands and seals, this 22nd day of October, 2003.

      Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, USN, Ret.
      Former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

      General of Marines Raymond G. Davis, USMC, MOH
      Former Commandant of the United States Marine Corps

      Merlin Staring
      Rear Admiral Merlin Staring, USN, Ret.,
      Former Judge Advocate General of the Navy,

      James Akins
      Ambassador James Akins, Ret.,
      Former United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia”

      The federal criminal code makes special provision for the prosecution of war
crimes whether inside or outside the United States, committed against United States
armed forces personnel:

      “18 United States Code, Sec. 2441. - War crimes

      (a) Offense. -
              Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in
              any of the circumstances described in subsection (b), shall be fined under this ti-
              tle or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the
              victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.

      (b) Circumstances. -
              The circumstances referred to in subsection (a) are that the person committing
              such war crime or the victim of such war crime is a member of the Armed Forces
              of the United States or a national of the United States (as defined in section 101
              of the Immigration and Nationality Act).

      (c) Definition. -
              As used in this section the term ''war crime'' means any conduct -
                        (1) defined as a grave breach in any of the international conventions
                        signed at Geneva 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to
                        which the United States is a party;

                     (2) prohibited by Article 23, 25, 27, or 28 of the Annex to the Hague Con-
                     vention IV, Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, signed 18




                                               24
                      October 1907;

                      (3) which constitutes a violation of common Article 3 of the international
                      conventions signed at Geneva, 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such
                      convention to which the United States is a party and which deals with
                      non-international armed conflict; or

                      (4) of a person who, in relation to an armed conflict and contrary to the
                      provisions of the Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of
                      Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices as amended at Geneva on 3 May
                      1996 (Protocol II as amended on 3 May 1996), when the United States is
                      a party to such Protocol, willfully kills or causes serious injury to civilians.”

       The Geneva Convention (1949) defines the term “grave breach” as fo llows:

                      “Article 51
                      Grave breaches to which the preceding Article relates shall be those in-
                      volving any of the following acts, if committed against persons or property
                      protected by the Convention: willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment,
                      including biological experiments, willfully causing great suffering or seri-
                      ous injury to body or health, and extensive destruction and appropriation
                      of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully
                      and wantonly.”


       Even if there were no special provision authorizing the prosecution of war crimes,
the provisions of 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1114 compel the prosecution of those who kill or a t-
tempt to kill United States armed forces personnel in the performance of their d uties.
   “Sec. 1114. Protection of officers and employees of the United States
       Whoever kills or attempts to kill any officer or employee of the United States or of any
       agency in any branch of the United States Government (including any member of the
       uniformed services) while such officer or employee is engaged in or on account of the
       performance of official duties, or any person assisting such an officer or employee in the
       performance of such duties or on account of that assistance, shall be punished -

              (1) in the case of murder, as provided under section 1111;
              (2) in the case of manslaughter, as provided under section 1112; or
              (3) in the case of attempted murder or manslaughter, as provided in section
                   1113.”
    The prohibition against attacking neutrals on the high seas is unconditional. It does
not allow for mistake. The belligerent force, when on the high seas, must verify that their
proposed target is not a neutral and is, in fact, a co-belligerent. This provision very sen-




                                                 25
sibly attempts to prevent the use of deadly force by mistake.55 The United States of
American has long and vigorously asserted the right of its warships to transit the high
seas, free from molestation by belligerents of wars to which the United States is not a
party. 56

55
  United States Navy, Commander’s Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations, (NWP 1-14M,) Chapter 5 Principles
and Sources of the Law of Armed Conflict, Exhibit 29:

        “5.2 General Principles of the Law of Armed Conflict

                 The law of armed conflict seeks to prevent unnecessary suffering and destruction by controlling
        and mitigating the harmful effects of hostilities through minimum standards of protection to be accorded to
        “combatants” and “noncombatants” and their property. . . . To that end, the law of armed conflict provides
        that:

                 1.   Only that degree and kind of force, not otherwise prohibited by the law of armed conflict, re-
                      quired for the partial or complete submission of the enemy with a minimum expenditure of
                      time, life, and physical resources may be applied.
                 2.   The employment of any kind or degree of force not required for the purpose of the partial or
                      complete submission of the enemy with a minimum expenditure of time, life, and physical re-
                      sources, is prohibited.”
56
  In a radio address to the nation on the evening of September 11, 1941, following an unprovoked attack
by a German U-boat on USS Greer while in international waters, President Roosevelt explained (Exhibit
38):

        “The United States destroyer, when attacked, was proceeding on a legitimate mission.

        If the destroyer was visible to the submarine when the torpedo was fired, then the attack was a deliberate at-
        tempt by the Nazis to sink a clearly identified American warship. On the other hand, if the submarine was
        beneath the surface and, with the aid of its listening devices, fired in the direction of the sound of the Ameri-
        can destroyer without even taking the trouble to learn its identity-as the official German communiqué would
        indicate-then the attack was even more outrageous. For it indicates a policy of indiscriminate violence
        against any vessel sailing the seas, belligerent or non-belligerent.

        This was piracy-legally and morally. It was not the first nor the last act of piracy which the Nazi government
        has committed against the American flag in this war. Attack has followed attack.
        . . .

        The Hitler government, in defiance of the laws of the sea and of the recognized rights of all other nations,
        has presumed to declare, on paper, that great areas of the seas -even including a vast expanse lying in the
        Western Hemisphere-are to be closed, and that no ships may enter them for any purpose, except at peril of
        being sunk. Actually they are sinking ships at will and without warning in widely separated areas both within
        and far outside of these far-flung pretended zones.
        . . .

        Generation after generation America has battled for the general policy of the freedom of the seas.
        That policy is a very simple one, but a basic, fundamental one. It means that no nation has the
        right to make the broad oceans of the world at great distances from the actual theater of land war
        unsafe for the commerce of others.

        That has been our policy, proved time and time again, in all our history.”




                                                          26
        Of particular relevance to this matter, the Geneva Convention (1949) provides:
           “REPRESSION OF ABUSES AND INFRACTIONS

           Article 51
           Grave breaches to which the preceding Article relates shall be those involving any of the
           following acts, if committed against persons or property protected by the Convention:
           willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, willfully
           causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, and extensive destruction and
           appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully
           and wantonly.

           Article 52
           No High Contracting Party shall be allowed to absolve itself or any other High Contract-
           ing Party of any liability incurred by itself or by another High Contracting Party in respect
           of breaches referred to in the preceding Article.”
        In the instant matter, Israel freely acknowledged that USS Liberty was a neutral ship
in international waters. 57 Israel also admitted that the attack was deliberate and made
with the intent to sink the ship and crew.58 Israel has thus explicitly admitted the essen-
tial elements of a violation of Article 1 of the Hague Convention on Naval Warfare. Israel
has further admitted the essential elements required to establish a “grave breach” as
that term is defined in the Geneva Convention (1949).
        The Nürnberg War Crimes Tribunal established certain principles that were later
adopted by all members of the United Nations. 59 Of particular relevance is Principal VI:


57
     Ram Ron Report, Exhibit 8-3

           “After identifying the ship on Janes’ (The Fleet’s manual – Exhibit 1) and based on detailed investigation by
           the pilot – the identification of the ship was determined to be the US Navy ship “Liberty” (formerly supply
           ship) of an 18 knot speed.”

See also, IDF History Report, p. 14 (map) Exhibit 2-14. This document is a map, prepared by the IDF, that shows the
territorial limits of Egypt and Israel, as well as USS Liberty’s track (well outside all claimed territorial seas) on the day
of June 8, 1967.
58
     Ram Ron Report, Exhibit 8-5:

           “Lieut. Col. Shmuel testifies that the Air Force was ordered to attack the ship after it had been identified as a
           warship by the Naval Force. From the evidence submitted by the Naval Force, this point lacks clarity and it
           seems that the order given was to attack the ship after its identification as a warship and it is not clear
           whether the intention was that the absolute identification as a warship was to be made by an additional iden-
           tification by the pilots, or that the identification as a warship by the Naval Force based on the ship’s speed
           was to suffice.”
59
  Exhibit 37: Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nürnberg Tribunal and in
the Judgment of the Tribunal


                                                             27
             “Principle VI
             The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international
             law:
             . . .

             (b) War crimes:
             Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to,
             murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labour or for any other purpose of
             civilian population of or in occupied territory; murder or ill-treatment of prison-
             ers of war, of persons on the Seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or
             private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devasta-
             tion not justified by military necessity. ”

     It is well settled that homicides resulting from the accused committing an act inher-
ently dangerous to others and showing a wanton disregard of human life may be
charged as murder:

             “Homicides prosecuted under Article 118(3) are those unlawful killings which
             result from an accused's committing "an act inherently dangerous to others
             and" showing "a wanton disregard of human life." The accused must also
             know that death or great bodily harm was a "probable consequence" of his
             conduct. Not surprisingly, intentional homicides under Article 118(2) also
             generally involve death as a "probable consequence"; and they are most of-
             ten committed by acts which are "inherently dangerous," particularly to the
             deceased, and show "a wanton disregard" for the victim (i.e., killing by gun-
             fire or other dangerous weapon).

             We stated previously that, for unpremeditated murder under Article 118(3),
             Congress enacted the rule that murder by an act inherently dangerous to
             others requires ‘a wanton disregard of human life" in general, without the ac-
             tions of the accused "being aimed at anyone in particular.’”

             U.S. v. Berg, 31 M.J. 38, 39, 40 (CMA,1990).

     This is not a case of first impression. Precedent exists 60 for the finding that this type
of attack represents a grave breach of the Laws of War. 61


60
 The following argument was made by the Allied prosecutor at the Nuremburg war crimes trial of German Admiral
Raeder, Exhibit 30:

        “I shall submit evidence to the Tribunal to establish that, in fact, the Athenia was sunk by the
        German U-boat U-30. So unjustifiable was the torpedoing of the Athenia, however, that the


                                                      28
           German Navy embarked upon a course of falsification of their records and on other dishonest
           measures, in the hope of hiding this guilty secret. And for their part, as the Tribunal has seen,
           the Nazi propagandists indulged in their favorite falsehood of seeking to shift the responsibility
           to the British.

           The captain of the U-30, Oberleutnant Lemp, was later killed in action; but s ome of the origi-
           nal crew of the U-30 have survived to tell the tale, and they are now prisoners of war. And so
           that the truth of this episode may be placed beyond a peradventure, I submit to the Tribunal
           an affidavit by a member of the crew of the U- 30, as to the sinking of the Athenia and as to
           one aspect of the attempt to conceal the true facts.

           ...

           Doenitz' part in the Athenia episode is described in an affidavit which he has sworn, which is
           Document D-638, Exhibit GB-220, at Page 102 of the docume nt book. The affidavit was sworn
           in English, and I invite the Tribunal to look at it and observe the addition in Doenitz' handwrit-
           ing of four words at the end of the affidavit, the significance of which will be seen in a mo-
           ment. me Defendant Doenitz states:

           "U-30 returned to harbor about mid- September. I met the captain, Oberleutnant Lemp, on
           the lockside at Wilhelmshaven, as the boat was entering harbor, and he asked permission to
           speak to me in private. I noticed immediately that he was looking very unhappy and he told
           me at once that he thought he was responsible for the sinking of the Athenia in the North
           Channel area. In accordance with my previous instructions he had been keeping a sharp look-
           out for possible armed merchant cruisers in the approaches to the British Isles, and had tor-
           pedoed a ship he afterwards identified as the Athenia from wireless broadcasts, under the im-
           pression that she was an armed merchant cruiser on patrol. I had never specified in my in-
           structions any particular type of ship as armed merchant cruiser nor mentioned any names of
           ships. I dispatched Lemp at once by air to report to the SKL at Berlin; in the meantime, I or-
           dered complete secrecy as a provisional measure. Later in the same day or early on the fol-
           lowing day, I received a verbal order from Kapitan zur See Fricke" - who was head of the op-
           erations division of the naval war staff "that:

           "Firstly, the affair was to be kept a total secret.

           "Secondly, the OKM considered that a court-martial was not necessary as they were satisfied
           that the captain had acted in good faith.

           "Thirdly, political explanations would be handled by the OKM.

           "I had had no part whatsoever in the political events in which the Fuehrer claimed that no U-
           boat had sunk the Athenia.

                                                                267
           15 Jan. 46

           "After Lemp returned to Wilhelmshaven from Berlin, I interrogated him thoroughly on the
           sinking and formed the impression that, although he had taken reasonable care, he had still
           not taken sufficient precaution to establish fully the identity of the ship before attacking. I had
           previously given very strict orders that all merchant vessels and neutrals were to be treated
           according to naval prize law before the occurrence of this incident. I accordingly placed him
           under cabin arrest, as I felt certain that a court-martial would only acquit him and would entail
           unnecessary publicity" and then Doenitz had added the words "and loss o f time." [Emphasis
           added]
61
     The International War Crimes Tribunal rendered the following verdict against Admiral Raeder:




                                                           29
     Accordingly it is established, prima facie, that Israel was guilty of the commission of
the war crime of attacking a neutral vessel in neutral waters as a consequence of its at-
tack on USS Liberty.
     USS Liberty survivors, through sworn statements, have established that the Israeli
torpedo boats shot at rescuers and firefighters on the deck of the ship. They have fur-
ther established that the same torpedo boats shot at USS Liberty’s life rafts, after the
rafts had been put over the side of the ship into the sea for use by shipwrecked survi-
vors. 62
     There also exists prima facie evidence that Israeli forces committed additional sepa-
rate war crimes by firing on the wounded and their rescuers, as well as subsequently
firing into the life rafts.



           War Crimes, Exhibit 31

           Raeder is charged with war crimes on the high seas. The Athenia, an unarmed British passen-
           ger liner, was sunk on 3 September 1939, while outward bound to America. The Germans 2
           months later charged that Mr. Churchill deliberately sank the Athenia to encourage American
           hostility to Germany. In fact, it was sunk by the German U-Boat U-30. Raeder claims that an
           inexperienced

           [p. 562 1 Oct. 46]

           U-Boat commander sank it in mistake for an armed merchant cruiser, . . .

           The most serious charge against Raeder is that he carried out unrestricted submarine warfare,
           including sinking of unarmed merchant ships, of neutrals, non-rescue and machine-gunning of
           survivors, contrary to the London Protocol of 1936. The Tribunal makes the same finding on
           Raeder on this charge as it did as to Doenitz, which has already been announced, up until 30
           January 1943 when Raeder retired.

           . . .

           Conclusion

           The Tribunal finds that Raeder is guilty on Counts One[Crimes against Peace], Two and Three
           [War Crimes]. [Emphasis added]
62
   Please see attached Exhibit 11, Declaration of Lloyd Painter and Exhibit 10, Declaration of Glenn Oliphant. Also,
see attached Exhibit 32, National Security Agency, NSA Archives, Accession No. 45981, U.S.S. Liberty Correspon-
dence and Messages , 1965-1968. Secret; Savin. SIGINT Readiness Bravo "Crayon" Report Nr. 2149. Aftermath of
Israeli Attack on USS Liberty, 8 June 1967 which contains indirect confirm ation of the destruction of Liberty’s inflated
life rafts as shown in the following intercepted transmission, Exhibit 32:

           [Time 1310Z] “From behind it (Liberty) several uninflated boats were seen.”




                                                           30
     The concerns of an Israeli whitewash first articulated by Secretary of State Rusk 63
and later echoed by Undersecretary of State Battle 64 turned out to be prophetic. In direct
violation of Article 52 of the Geneva Convention65, the Israeli Defense Forces absolved


63
  Diplomatic Note From Secretary of State Rusk to the Israeli Ambassador National Archives and Records Admini-
stration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR, Exhibit 20:

         “While the Ambassador of Israel has informed Secretary of State that "the Government of Israel is prepared
         to make amends for the tragic loss of life and material damage," the Secretary of State wishes to make clear
         that the United States Government expects the Government of Israel also to take the disciplinary measures
         which international law requires in the event of wrongful conduct by the military personnel of a State. [Em-
         phasis added]

64
 Draft Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Battle) to the
Under Secretary of State (Katzenbach), Exhibit 33:

(Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330 72 A 2468, Middle East, 385.3. Confidential.
Drafted by Wehmeyer; cleared by Macomber, Deputy Legal Adviser Murray J. Belman, Assistant Secretary for Public
Affairs Dixon Donnelley, and Eugene Rostow. The draft, which is a copy sent to the Department of Defense for clear-
ance, is filed with an August 22 letter from Nitze to Representative George H. Mahon of Texas, sending him on a
confidential basis a copy of the report of the judge who presided over the preliminary Israeli inquiry into the attack on
the Liberty. Also attached are a note to Nitze stating that Defense clearance on Battle's memorandum was requested,
an August 21 memorandum from Nitze's military assistant, Commander C.A.H. Trost, USN, to Warnke saying that
Nitze had no objection to the proposal but wanted Warnke to look at it, and an August 21 memorandum from Warnke
to Nitze questioning recommendation (6) but otherwise approving the proposal. A handwritten comment by Hoopes
on Warnke's memorandum suggested deleting recommendation (7) but otherwise concurred.)

Washington, August 18, 1967.

SUBJECT
The "Liberty"--Handling of Israeli Inquiry
Report and Release of Diplomatic Correspondence

         “We cannot, therefore, accept the report as exonerating the Israeli Government from our expectation that Is-
         rael will take the disciplinary measures which international law requires in the event of wrongful conduct by
         the military personnel of a state. Neither had the U.S. received any assurance that Israel has issued instruc-
         tions to ensure that U.S. personnel will not again be endangered by the wrongful actions of Israeli military
         personnel.” [Emphasis added]
65
  Convention (II) for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces
at Sea, August 12, 1949 (“Geneva Convention (II)”)

         Article 52

         No High Contracting Party shall be allowed to absolve itself or any other High Contracting Party of any liabil-
         ity incurred by itself or by another High Contracting Party in respect of breaches referred to in the preceding
         Article.

ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES, Preliminary Inquiry File 1/67, PRELIMINARY INQUIRY
Before: Sgan-Aluf I. Yerushalmi, Examining Judge, Exhibit 21

July 21, 1967

         DECISION




                                                           31
themselves of any wrongdoing, including criminal negligence, involving their attack on
USS Liberty. When provided with a copy of the Israeli report, NSA Deputy Director
Louis Tordella wrote “A nice whitewash for a group of ignorant, stupid and inept [epithet
redacted]” on the cover of his copy. 66 In that Israel has abdicated its responsibility under
international law to investigate and bring the wrongdoers to justice, the task falls to the
government of the aggrieved parties to act on their behalf.
                                                       Conclusion
        The USS Liberty Veteran’s Association has established, prima facie, the commis-
sion of war crimes by the state of Israel against US military personnel and civilians.
These Americans volunteered to serve their country. They followed all orders given to
them. In the course of following those orders, they were suddenly and deliberately a t-
tacked by naval and air forces of the state of Israel and their country did absolutely
nothing to protect them or seek justice on their behalf..
        The failure of the United States government to undertake a complete investigation
of the Israeli attack on USS Liberty has resulted in grievous harm to the surviving vic-
tims, as well as to the families of all crewmembers. Equally serious, this failure has re-
sulted in an i ndelible stain upon the honor of the United States of America. It has sent a
signal to America’s serving men and women that their welfare is always subordinate to
the interests of a foreign state. The only conceivable reason for this failure is the politi-
cal decision to put the interests of Israel ahead of those of American servicemen, em-
ployees, and veterans. 67



            “ . . . Yet I have not discovered any deviation from the standard of reasonable conduct which would justify
            the committal [sic] of anyone for trial. In view of what has been said above, I hold, that there is no sufficient
            amount of prima facie evidence, justifying committing anyone for trial.”
66
  Assistant Secretary Hughes sent a copy of the decision to NSA Director Carter on August 22. In a handwritten note
of August 26, NSA Deputy Director Louis W. Tordella commented, "A nice whitewash for a group of ignorant, stupid
and inept [epithet redacted].” (National Security Agency, Center for Cryptologic History Historical Collection, Series
VII, Crisis Files, Box 16)
67
     Letter to editor by survivor Harold "Gene" Six, Riverside, California, Press-Enterprise, March 1, 1996, Exhibit 34:

            “President Clifton and other elected officials have come out and condemned Castro and Cuba for shooting
            down two aircraft flown by Cuban revolutionaries that may or may not have violated Cuban airspace. Yet on


                                                               32
     Finally, the fact that the Israeli government and its surrogates in the United States
have worked so long and hard to prevent an inquiry itself speaks volumes as to what
such an inquiry would find.
     The USS Liberty Veterans Association, Inc. respectfully insists that the Secretary of
the Army convene an investigatory body to undertake the complete investigation that
should have been carried out thirty-eight years ago.




        June 8, 1967, When the Israeli defense forces attacked an American naval vessel --USS Liberty AGTR-5 --
        that was and always had been in international waters, nothing was said or done by the US government.

        This attack resulted in the deaths of 34 American sailors and the wounding of 171 others. Yet even today
        the survivors of the attack cannot get their elected officials to investigate the attack. An attack that was de-
        liberate. An attack that violated international law. An attack that violated provisions of the Geneva Conven-
        tion, in other words war crimes. An attack where provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice were vio-
        lated when American naval aircraft sent to the aid of the USS Liberty were called back not once but twice by
        someone at the White House.

        Do American lives mean so little to our elected officials that they will use the dead bodies of 18-year old
        American sailors as stepping stones on their way to office?”

Statement by survivor Ken Ecker, Exhibit 35

        “Immediately following the attack I was threatened with court-martial if I discussed the incident with the press
        or anyone else. One of the warnings was also not to discuss the attack even with my immediate family or
        friends. In my case these warnings were repeated upon my transfer from each duty station I left along with
        the standard security clearance de-briefing. I was also periodically taken aside and reminded of the original
        threat even when not being transferred. Though never told the reason for these one on one "advisory" ses-
        sions, I personally believe they were the result of some action that raised the possibility of further publicity
        that our government wanted to suppress.

        I want no personal recognition, but I will not rest until the 34 brave men that sacrificed their lives are finally
        given the long overdue honor they so justly deserve. Hopefully with the help of all concerned this long de-
        nied justice will be forthcoming in the not so distant future.”


Statement of survivor James M. Ennes, Jr., Exhibit 12

        “Yet despite these things a few Americans seem to accept the preposterous claim that the attack was a mis-
        take and that firing stopped with the torpedo explosion. One can accept and understand this attitude from an
        Israeli, as he would have a natural tendency to believe his country's version of events and to disbelieve con-
        trary versions -- especially since he has no personal experience to draw upon. But how can an American
        disbelieve the virtually identical eyewitness reports of scores of surviving fellow Americans and accept in-
        stead the undocumented claims of the foreign power that tried to kill them? That is very difficult to under-
        stand or to accept.

        The typical Israeli reaction is that we are liars or antiSemites, which of course we are not. We are American
        sailors honestly reporting an act of treachery at sea. At the very least we deserve your courtesy and under-
        standing”




                                                            33
     Respectfully submitted on behalf of the USS Liberty Veterans Association, Inc., on
this, the thirty-eighth anniversary of the Israeli attack on their ship.
June 8, 2005


BY




 Gary W. Brummett, President and                              Stan W. White
 Member of the Board of Directors                     Member of the Board of Directors




        Maurice Shafer                                       Glenn Oliphant
 Member of the Board of Directors                     Member of the Board of Directors




        Ernest A. Gallo                                      James R. Gotcher
 Member of the Board of Directors                           General Legal Counsel




                                               34
           TO COMMAND...

       In each ship there is one man who,
    in the hour of emergency or peril at sea,
            can turn to no other man.

There is one who alone is ultimately responsible
for the safe navigation, engineering performance,
     accurate gunfire and morale of his ship.

      He is the Commanding Officer.

              He is the ship!




  Captain, William Loren McGonagle
       USS LIBERTY (AGTR-5)
In June 1982, fifteen-years after the attack, the survivors who could be located reunited for their
first time in Washington, D.C. During that emotional, soul wrenching, and at times traumatic
weekend, time and again what was discussed with incredulity was how our government, without
challenge or dispute, was allowing the State of Israel to present their version of the attack to the
American people as fact.

        One result of that weekend was that the USS LIBERTY VETERANS ASSOCIATION
came into being so the remaining survivors and former crewmen could be located, to pay tribute
to our Commanding Officer, Captain McGonagle and to our ship, USS LIBERTY. But more
importantly, we gather to sustain the memory of our 34 friends and shipmates who gave their
lives in the service of their country.

        Disgracefully, before awarding the Congressional Medal of Honor to our Commanding
Officer for his heroic deeds our government first asked the government of the State of Israel
if they had any objections.

       The Medal of Honor was then presented in a Washington, D.C. Naval Shipyard by the
Secretary of the Navy. Hours later, then-President Lyndon Johnson awarded similar Medals of
Honor at the White House with all the pomp and circumstance accorded the recipient of our
country's highest award for Valor. Furthermore, Captain McGonagle, is the only recipient of the
Congressional Medal of Honor in United States history who has not been accorded White House
recognition.

        So not to embarrass the State of Israel for their attacking the USS Liberty, there is no
mention in Captain McGonagle's Medal of Honor Citation or in any Citation awarded the USS
Liberty and her crew as to the identity of our attackers. A practice unheard of in American
military awards.
My "CLAIMS, FACT and COMMENTS" concerns the 2pm, 8 June 1967 attack by Air and
Naval elements of the Defense Forces of the State of Israel on our United States Navy
intelligence-gathering ship, USS LIBERTY (AGTR-5) , 4th day of the Arab-Israeli Six-day-war.

By Survivor and former Radioman, 2nd Class (E-5), Watch Supervisor, Section III:

                             Richard Samuel 'Rocky' Sturman
                                    28-50 45th Street.
                                Astoria, New York 11103
                                  Home: (718) 728-5241
                                  Cell: (917) 572-5209
                                Email: rocky376@aol.com
                               www.myspace.com/rocky376
                             USS Liberty Memorial homepage:
                                 www.ussliberty.com



       I can not emphasize strongly enough that there is not one shred of evidence or
documentation which our government has released, or admitted to, which would show that
the attack was indeed accidental or a case of mistaken identity.

       "After checking numerous resources, including the CIS (Congressional Information
Service) Indexes to Congressional Hearings (both published and unpublished), and the
Public Documents Masterfile, I could find no evidence that the Congress ever held hearings
or launched an investigation into the June 8, 1967 incident with the USS Liberty." ECH,
Reference Librarian, Library of Congress”

       To this day our governments response to query's concerning the attack is that
"Israel apologized and paid compensation claiming the attack was accidental and a case of
mistaken identity."
ISRAEL CLAIMED: The USS LIBERTY had no identification markings or distinguishing
features whatsoever!




FACT: The above two photos of the USS LIBERTY were taken less than twenty-four hours
after the attack during rescue operations and the evacuation of our dead and wounded. They
show our 10 foot high hull number and ships designation on our bow (the front) plus
smaller hull and ships designation on the aft end (the back) to be quite clear and distinct.
COMMENT: One photo gives the reader a perspective as would be seen by the Israeli pilots
flying over the Liberty. The other, as would be seen by the torpedo boat crews during their run in
and and attack. After examining the photos, could the USS LIBERTY have been mistaken for
anything but other than what she was:"an extremely elaborate state-of-the-art intelligence
gathering platform?"

FACT: On the USS Liberty's main-deck aft (the back end) was an 20 foot wide, 35 foot high,
10,000 Watt, TRSSCOMM (Technical Research Ship Special Communications) Microwave
antenna. An antenna futuristic and odd in 1967 but today seen in backyards and roof-tops
around the world was an antenna we call today a SATELLITE DISH. A satellite dish antenna
which only the USS LIBERTY (AGTR-5) and sister ship, USS BELMONT (AGTR-4) had in
1967.




        I ask you, could that 20 foot wide, 35 foot high mass of steel and hydraulics
TRSSCOMM microwave antenna have possibly been mistaken for a cargo boom to those highly
trained Israeli Air and Naval Forces? Personally, I find that extremely improbable!

        And, as you can see, our Satellite dish was a tad-bit larger than what you have on your
roof.
ISRAEL CLAIMED: They requested information from the American Embassy in Tel Aviv on
U.S. ships operating off the Sinai - prior to attacking the USS LIBERTY. Also, former Head
of Israeli Air Force Intelligence, General Yeshayeah Bareket, during a Thames Television
production concerning the attack stated: "I personally called the American Embassy."

FACT: This State Department document totally refuting those claims was declassified and
released 09\22\1982, states:

FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
STATE GRNC
BT
C O N F I D E N T I A L TEL AVIV 4178
REF: STATE 211695
"NO REQUEST FOR INFO ON U.S. SHIPS OPERATING OFF SINAI WAS MADE UNTIL
AFTER LIBERTY INCIDENT. HAD ISRAELIS MADE SUCH AN INQUIRY IT WOULD
HAVE BEEN FORWARDED IMMEDIATELY TO THE CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS
AND OTHER HIGH NAVAL COMMANDS AND REPEATED TO DEPT.
BARBOUR."
GP-3

FACT: The document which generated that "CONFIDENTIAL TEL AVIV 4178" was
declassified and released 10\26\82, states:

ACTION: Amembassy TEL AVIV IMMEDIATE.
STATE 211695.
1. Washington Post JUNE 16 CARRIED FOLLOWING STORY FROM CORRESPONDENT
BASED IN WASHINGTON: ISRAELI SOURCES SAID THAT WHEN FIGHTING BROKE
OUT IN MIDDLE EAST JUNE 5, ISRAELI GOVT QUERIED US NAVAL ATTACHÉ IN
TEL AVIV AS TO WHETHER THERE WERE ANY AMERICAN SHIPS OPERATING IN
MEDITERRANEAN OFF SINAI PENINSULA. ACCORDING STORY ISRAELIS QTE GOT
NO RESPONSE UNQTE.
2. AS FAR WE AWARE, FIRST ISRAELI QUERY ALONG THESE LINES MADE TO
AMERICAN OFFICIAL WAS THAT REPORTED IN DAO 0825 JUNE 8 WHICH WAS
AFTER ATTACK ON USS LIBERTY.
3. REQUEST URGENT CONFIRMATION ABOVE AND ANY OTHER COMMENTS.
GP-3.
FACT: A June 1967 letter from then-President Lyndon Johnson to Congressman Joseph M.
McDade (R-Penn), declassified and released 27 Jan 1982, stated: "We saw no need to inform
Israel or any other party to the hostilities of the Liberty's location since the ship was on a
peaceful mission and was in international waters. I have seen a report alleging that the
Israeli Government had asked us about the presence of the ship prior to the attack, but
that report is not true."

COMMENT: Why didn't our Government immediately admonish the Government of Israel for
issuing such a blatantly false statement (Washington Post) and demand a retraction if they
knew it to be false?

FACT: Then-American Ambassador to Israel, W. Barbour, was, if nothing else, a staunch
Israeli supporter who spent much of the war in the Israeli war room and, a declassified cable on
file in the LBJ Library shows that "hours after the incident he (Barbour) reported that Israel
did not intend to admit to the incident."

FACT: A TOP SECRET National Military Command Center document, declassified May
1979 states in paragraph 4: "At 081045 EDT, a message from the United States Defense Attaché
Office in Tel Aviv stating that Israeli aircraft and motor torpedo boats had erroneously attacked a
vessel in the Mediterranean sea at 080800 EDT, which was thought to be U.S. Navy ship."

COMMENT: The above declassified NMCC document not only lends credence and support to
the declassified cable on file in the LBJ Library, it dispels any notion and claim Israel
immediately notified our government. Time wise, Israel is 7 hours ahead of Washington,
D.C. time. The government of Israel did not notify our government until 5:45 PM their
time - 3 hours and 45 minutes after the attack.

Our government then demanded through diplomatic channels that Israel assume responsibility
for the attack, pay compensation to the families of the dead, the survivors and for the loss of the
USS Liberty.

FACT: The Government of Israel then for over 13 years nickel, dimed and procrastinated in the
payment of that compensation. The final payment was made on terms and conditions stipulated
by the government of Israel - not the United States.

ISRAEL CLAIMED: That the town of El-Arish was being shelled from the sea for
hours-on-end as another reason for the attack.
FACT: On the morning of 8 June, the airfield at El-Arish was already functioning as an
advanced Israeli air base. Israel's hold on El-Arish was so complete a flight of Egyptian
fighter aircraft landed at its airfield, deplaned, then walked right into Israeli Defense
Forces arms and were captured without a shot or struggle.

COMMENT: Israel recanted the claim of bombardment after the USS Liberty Veterans
Association proved it to be false. As all Israeli claims have been proven to be false.

FACT: A 14 Nov.1986 letter from Congressman Gary Ackerman (NY), to a constituent
states in part: "However, submarine photography taken during the incident indicates that the
Liberty may have been under siege for approximately two hours. Further, it was later discovered
that the Israelis had warned the U.S. to keep all intelligence ships away from their coast
during the war. In fact, after the arrival of the Liberty, the Israelis warned Washington to
order the ship to leave the area."

COMMENT: The admission by Congressman Ackerman of a submarine following the USS
Liberty and photographing the attack through its periscope is not the only such report. James
Ennes, Jr., author of "Assault on the Liberty" and survivor, documents that fact in his book. And
survivor, Joseph Lentini, while in the hospital recovering from his wounds was approached by a
crew member of that submarine, who stated to him "we took pictures of the attack through our
periscope." Who was that submarine? What was it doing there? I’m assuming that the
Commanding Officer of that submarine turned those photos over to our government. If he did in
fact do so, why does our government refuse to acknowledge the presence of that submarine and
photos? We do know that the submarine was equipped for the insertion and recovery of
frogmen. Interesting! WHY frogman? What purpose would an American submarine serve,
along with its frogmen, following the USS Liberty and, off the Gaza strip? (see included
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs article for more information pertaining to the
submarine).

FACT: Information provided by the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) during a TOP SECRET
closed door investigations committee hearing disclosed that the government of Israel informed
the United States 24 hours prior to the attack , "get that ship out of there - or we will attack
it." (Steven Green, "Taking Sides")
ISRAEL CLAIMED: They "mistook" the USS LIBERTY for the Egyptian horse transport -
El Quseir.

FACT: The El Quseir was 275 feet, 180 feet shorter than the Liberty's 455 foot length. The El
Quseir was 2,640 gross tons, 8,040 tons less than the Liberty's 10,680 gross tonnage. And the El
Quseir was 20 feet narrower than the Liberty's 62 foot beam (width).




FACT: Our research into the El Quseir "mistake" claim has shown that the El Quseir - was
unable to move due to the fact her boilers were inoperable. The El Quseir was chained to a
pier in Alexandria, Egypt, the entire Six-day-war.
      This was confirmed in late 1976 in a response to our query by Major General, Mohamed
A. Abou Ghazald, of Egypt. It has also been shown that our CIA (Central Intelligence Agency)
knew the El-Quseir was in Alexandria, Egypt at the time of the attack (The USS LIBERTY:
DISSENTING HISTORY VS OFFICIAL HISTORY: Doctor John E. Borne, PhD,
Reconsideration Press, 1995).

       Though we have shown the El-Quseir was in Egypt at the time of the attack, (photo of the
El-Quseir is from the July 7, 1967 issue of Time Magazine, pg.15 - with no photo accreditation,
which surprised the research assistant), I believe you’ll be able to discern that the only similarity
between the El Quseir and the USS Liberty, is that - we are both in the water.

FACT: Israeli Intelligence having done their homework prior to the outbreak of hostilities
admitted knowing: "the exact locations of all opposition forces and equipment - military and
civilian."

ISRAEL CLAIMED: "The USS LIBERTY was moving at 28 knots," and their battle
doctrine dictated "any vessel moving over 20 knots was a legitimate target."

COMMENT: A legitimate target even though in International waters? How absurd! There is
no precedent in International law which would condone or justify such a statement, or action.

FACT: The USS Liberty could not move at 28 knots, having a maximum speed of 18 knots
and cruising at the time of the attack at 5 knots. The El Quseir could not move at 28 knots either,
having a maximum speed of 14 knots - 4 knots slower than the USS Liberty.

      If the USS Liberty could not move at 28 knots and, the El Quseir was tied to a pier in
Alexandria, Egypt at the time of the attack - I let you draw your own conclusion!
PRELUDE TO THE ATTACK: In all, there were 13 over-flights of the USS LIBERTY on 8
June 1967. 8 of those over-fights were low-level reconnaissance with Israeli jets and
reconnaissance planes - passing as low as 200 feet above the USS Liberty's main-mast. Our
personnel were not only able to distinguish the features of the pilots, they waved at them - which
they returned.

        The USS LIBERTY was positively identified by the Israeli pilots who reported that fact
to their headquarters in Tel Aviv, where we was designated and marked on the Israeli war-room
plot-board as a "Neutral American Vessel."

ISRAEL CLAIMED: They removed the USS Liberty's marker "because the data was old."

FACT: The last reconnaissance over-flight was one-hour prior to the attack!

FACT: Two Israeli pilots, completing a strafing-run, reported to their headquarters that the USS
LIBERTY was an American ship. They were ordered to continue the attack nonetheless!

      Those two pilots, refusing to attack, returned to their base, were arrested and court
marshaled.

FACT: An American intelligence intercept station in Germany over-heard the Israeli pilots
conversations with their Head Quarters. Additionally in 1991, then-American Ambassador to
Lebanon, Dwight Porter came forward and stated "U.S. Embassy monitors in Lebanon
over-heard the radio conversations between the Israeli pilots and their headquarters."

       Not a Member of Congress was interested!
THE ATTACK: The attack lasted slightly over 2 hours, not the 5 minutes as reported by our
government. Additionally, our government reported only 1 torpedo being launched and striking
the USS LIBERTY.

FACT: In all, there were 5 torpedoes launched, 1 torpedo struck and blasted a 40 X 42 foot
tear-drop shaped hole in the research and intercept compartments below the water-line, killing 25
of our 34 total dead. 172 of the Liberty's 294 man complement were wounded (almost 70% of
our complement - dead or wounded).

       There were over 821 rocket, cannon and machine-gun hits inflicted. Napalm was used.
All above deck water-tight hatches (doors), destroyed or damaged. All our antennas,
destroyed.

        The Captain's-gig (boat), rendered totally inoperable. The crew's motor-launch (boat),
totally destroyed. All the Liberty's rubber life-rafts, except 3 - destroyed.

        Those 3 remaining life-rafts were put in the water in response to "prepare to abandon
ship," were intentionally machine-gunned at close range by an Israeli torpedo boat crew. An
action on their part which was, and still is, a violation of the Geneva Convention II for the
Amelioration of the Conditions of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked members of the Armed
Forces at Sea of 1949 (1991 edition, volume 64, INTERNATIONAL LAW STUDIES, THE
LAW OF NAVAL OPERATIONS. published by the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island,
article titled "NAVAL TARGETING: LAWFUL OBJECTS FOR ATTACK" By Sally V. and
William T. Mallison).

        One of the torpedo boats then took aboard their craft our now useless life-rafts depriving
us of any means or chance of survival had the USS Liberty sank to the bottom of the
international Mediterranean waters we were lawfully operating in. As to the attack on the USS
Liberty itself, it has been shown that under international law - Israel had absolutely no right in
attacking a non-belligerent vessel in international waters (Naval Law Review, Winter 1986, Vol.
36. "A JURIDICAL EXAMINATION OF THE ISRAELI ATTACK ON THE U.S.S. LIBERTY"
LT.CMD. Walter L. Jacobsen, JAGC, USN).

COMMENT: Could the infliction of the amount of damage and destruction done to the USS
LIBERTY have been just pure luck? Or, putting those reconnaissance over-flights to good use
as to what and where to hit so as to insure the Israeli Air and Naval forces could inflict the most
possible damage, and hopefully, sink the USS LIBERTY?
FACT: The USS Liberty's OPERATIONAL RADIO FREQUENCIES along with the
INTERNATIONAL DISTRESS FREQUENCY were radio-jammed to prevent our Radiomen
and Communications Technicians from sending a distress call for help.

COMMENT: How would the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) know what range of frequencies to
initiate their radio-jamming on if they had not been using, prior to their attack, sophisticated
RDF (Radio-Direction-Finding) equipment to scan for and locate our encrypted and unencrypted
radio transmissions. A procedure, considering the equipment of that era, took considerable time.

FACT: Israeli supplied gun-camera footage of the strafing on the USS LIBERTY for a Thames
Television Production, subsequently shown on 20/20's "Story behind the Story" and "Now it can
be told" has their pilots saying: "YOU HIT HER - YOU HIT HER GOOD" and "THERE'S
OIL COMING OUT OF HER"

FACT: The only way those Israeli pilots could have seen oil coming from the USS LIBERTY
would have been AFTER the torpedo was put into our starboard (right) side, rupturing our fuel
oil tanks.

FACT: The Government of Israel in their account of the attack, stated: "their pilots departed
the area before the torpedo boats arrived to commence their run-in and attack."

COMMENT: In my opinion, that Israeli supplied gun-camera footage appears to have been
reversed from a POSITIVE to a NEGATIVE image, almost totally devoid of detail. And, an
image digitally manipulated by the placing of a rectangular mask over the USS Liberty's 10 foot
high hull number and designation on the bow in order to give the impression and coincide with
Israel's claim that there were no identification markings whatsoever.

COMMENT: It is interesting to note that in the beginning of the Thames documentary the
gun-camera footage of Israeli jets strafing opposition air bases are clear, distinct and of a
positive image. It should also be noted that the commentary by the pilots during the strafing at
the beginning of the gun-camera segment, states: "...a recreation of the pilots words..."

To say the least, very self -serving.

FACT: Mr. Michael Shiloh, Deputy Ambassador to Israel, Washington, D.C., in an attempt to
placate insinuated that the attack was a result of "FRIENDLY FIRE".
COMMENT: Even we could understand and forgive a friendly fire attack had it occurred
during the dead-of-night or in a jungle or desert scenario where men and equipment are
camouflaged for protection. But the attack occurred at 2pm., after 13 over-flights, on a day totally
devoid of cloud and while we were 13 1/2 miles out in international waters. Moreover, as was
brought forth during the Naval Board of Inquiry investigation: "the USS LIBERTY was the only
non-Israeli ship in the area."

"Friendly Fire" - I THINK NOT!

FACT: General Yeshayuah Bareket, former head of Israeli Air Force Intelligence, along with
his aforementioned statement during the Thames documentary, stated: "...the ship is an obstacle
to or is disturbing our operations in the area."

COMMENT: I need not really comment. The above statement by General Bareket says it all.

FACT:    Why has the Government of Israel been allowed to cast the aspersion that our
government was at fault for, and responsible for, the attack on the USS LIBERTY?

FACT: An aspersion which has NEVER been addressed, answered to, or challenged by our
government! And why are the some 6000 odd-pages of documents concerning the attack being
suppressed by our Government, and the media? Suppressed, while documents and photos of
investigations Congress sees fit to convene and the media deem appropriate to air are plastered
across our tabloid headlines and shown for hours on end at top-of-the-hour news programs.

FACT: Israel's claims were so outrageous and unbelievable they requested our
government classify them and not released to the American people or our media. They also
stipulated that, "if need be, their account of the attack could be released only to select
members of Congress."

COMMENT: And who would those select member of Congress be - their supporters?
FACT: Article 1, Section 8 (10th paragraph in) of the Constitution of the United States of
America, states: "to define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas,
and Offenses against the Law of Nations."

COMMENT: Why, then, does the CONGRESS of the United States continue to violate our
Constitution by refusing to comprehensively and impartially investigating the attack ?
While Israel and Israel's supporters in the United States consistently make reference to and claim
"the attack was accidental," "It was a case of mistaken identity," "Israel claimed responsibility
and paid compensation," plus then-Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara's, comment "It was
the conclusion of the investigatory body, headed by an Admiral of the Navy in whom we have
great confidence, that the attack was not intentional."


Those statements and claims do not accurately reflect the
statements made at the time by other members of our Government.

FACT: The Navy Board of Inquiry: "the Navy inquiry confirms testimony of five member of
the crew that they had personally observed the (American Flag) was hoisted. Hull markings were
clear and freshly painted." The Judge Advocate General of the Navy concluded that: "The
record discloses beyond any doubt that USS Liberty was, at the time of the attack, engaged in
peaceful operations in international waters, and that the attack of Israeli aircraft and motor
torpedo boats was entirely unprovoked and unexpected." The attack took place on a clear day,
and the Liberty was the only non-Israeli vessel in sight. PLUS: Then Secretary of State Dean
Rusk: "There is every reason to believe that the USS LIBERTY was identified, or at least her
nationality determined by Israeli aircraft one hour before the attack," "I was never satisfied with
the Israeli explanations. Their sustained attack to disable and sink Liberty precluded an assault
by accident..." as do Rusk's legal advisor Carl Salans and his assistant secretary Lucius Battle.
Clark Clifford, chairman of the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board is on record having told
then President Lyndon Johnson in a closed National Security Council meeting that "the attack
was deliberate..." Gen. Marshall Carter, Director of the National Security Agency and his
deputy Louis Tordella, agree that "the attack was deliberate," so does their senior aide Walter
G. Deeley. Richard Helms, Chief of the Central Intelligence Agency and his former deputy
George Carver are also on record as saying "the attack was intentional," as are Admiral Bobby
Inmann, who headed both intelligence agencies; Dr. James Johnson, former undersecretary of
the Navy, Gen. George Keegan, former Air Force Chief of Intelligence, Paul Warnke, then
senior National Security Advisor to the Secretary of Defense. Former Joint Chiefs of Staff
Chairman Adm. Thomas Moorer "insists that the attack could not possibly have been a
mistake." And even Ronald Reagan once cited the Liberty to his staff as an example of Israeli
untrustworthiness.

FACT: Mr. George Christian, special assistant to then-President Johnson, in a letter to Mr.
James Ennes, Jr., (author, "Assault on the Liberty" and Survivor): "Frankly, there was
considerable skepticism in the White House that the attack was accidental..."
Plus, "....I became convinced that an accident of this magnitude was too much to swallow." And,
"It was imperative that the United States maintain enough leverage with Israel to bring
about a cease-fire."

COMMENT: Is the attack on the USS LIBERTY still being used today as a lever by our
Government, as Mr. Christian stated above? If that is in fact so, then we are surly being used as a
pawn in the game of international politics.



FACT: "If the 30 knot ship 'couldn't have been LIBERTY,' it follows that it could not have
been EL QUSEIR [whose top speed is 14 knots]." -- CDR Ernest Castle, US Naval Attache,
Message 181830Z JUN 67

FACT: Richard Deacon: The presence of the LIBERTY close inshore was a threat to Israel's war
plan....From the Israeli point of view the ship had to be put out of action...[after the attack] the
Israeli plea that the attack was an accident was accepted [for the sake of overall U.S. policy in the
Middle East]...

FACT: "A nice whitewash" -- National Security Agency Deputy Director Dr. Louis J. Tordella
describing the Israeli excuse.

FACT: John Ranlegh: Subsequent accumulation of intelligence suggests that the attack
was at the instigation of Israeli intelligence...frightened that the Americans might use
information collected by THE LIBERTY to force Israel into an unsatisfactory peace.

FACT: A letter from Captain J.K. Henriksen, JAGC, U.S. Navy Deputy Assistant Judge
Advocate General (International Law) to Senator Alan Cranston, dated September 1, 1989, states
in part: "Dear Senator Cranston: This responds to your letter concerning a request for a
Congressional investigation into the circumstances of the attack on USS LIBERTY. A Navy
Court of Inquiry investigated the facts and circumstances surrounding the attack in 1967. As a
result of the incident, the Department of State insisted that Israel take responsibility. .The
Navy Court of Inquiry's investigation focused on the U.S. military communication problems prior
to the attack and the heroic efforts of Liberty’s crew in controlling damage during the aftermath.
Sensitive international issues were best left for diplomatic and political consideration.
FACT: Philip Geyelin: "President Johnson reflexively and unquestioningly accepted Israel's
apologies of an 'innocent error' and muzzled by direct order any testimony to the contrary before
a naval court of inquiry by eyewitnesses."

FACT: George Ball: [What followed the attack] was an elaborate charade. The United States
complained pro forma to Israel...which reacted by blaming the victims. [Israel made a] reluctant
and graceless apology.... American leaders did not have the courage to punish Israel for the
blatant murder of its citizens.

FACT: Former-Senator Adlai Stevenson III in 1980, his last year as a United States Senator
from Illinois, invited Jim Ennes to his Senate office for a private, two hour meeting to discuss the
USS Liberty attack and cover-up. Following the private meeting, Ennes was invited back the
next day to discuss the attack with members of Stevenson's staff, along with members of the staff
of Senator Barry Goldwater and members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
In that meeting, staff members told Ennes that they found his story convincing, but that they
would recommend to both senators that they not pursue an investigation because an investigation
would only antagonize Israeli interests while "nothing good could come of it." Goldwater
accepted that staff recommendation. Stevenson did not. Instead, Stevenson called a news
conference in which he announced that he was convinced that the attack was deliberate and that
the survivors deserved an investigation. He would, he said, spend the remaining few weeks of
his Senate term attempting to arrange for an inquiry. Almost immediately, the government of
Israel contacted the White House and offered to settle the outstanding $40-million damage claims
for $6-million...

Then Vice President Walter Mondale quickly agreed to that offer just before Christmas while
Congress and President Carter were on vacation. The Department of State followed immediately
with a press release, reported on the front page of the New York Times, which announced, "The
book is now closed on the USS Liberty." Indeed, from that point on, it was impossible to
generate any congressional interest in the Liberty at all. Senator Stevenson's staff told me later
that they felt the settlement was directly related to Senator Stevenson's announced plan to hold an
inquiry, and was engineered to block forever any inquiry plans. Israel did subsequently pay
$6-million in three annual installments of $2-million each. Secretary of State Dean Rusk said
later that he considered the payments meaningless, as Congress merely increased the annual
Israeli allotment by that amount.

Adlai Stevenson later ran for Governor of Illinois. He was strongly opposed by Israeli and
Jewish interests. He lost. Many feel it was his support for the Liberty that cost him the election.
Many also feel it was Stevenson's experience with the Liberty that has intimidated other
Members of Congress who might otherwise support the survivors.

FACT: The following was transcribed from NBC's Liberty Story, aired on national television
on 1/27/92.

The film depicts Lieutenant Commander David E. Lewis, the officer in charge of Liberty's
Research Department, relating a meeting he had with Rear Admiral Lawrence R. Geis shortly
after the Liberty attack. Admiral Geis was the officer in charge of the embarked aircraft in both
the USS America and USS Saratoga. It was Admiral Geis who was responsible for sending
aircraft to help the Liberty when she came under attack.

Liberty was under fire for 75 minutes and was confronted by armed and hostile Israeli forces for
152 minutes. During the very long period, no help came from the US Sixth Fleet less than 300
miles away, despite the fact that the ship was promised air support within ten minutes if she
needed help.

The first American forces to reach the Liberty arrived early the next morning, more than sixteen
hours after the first shots were fired.

ANNOUNCER: It had been 16 long hours since the attack began. The Liberty's wounded were
evacuated by helicopter to the USS America. There, Liberty Intelligence Officer David Lewis
says he met privately with Sixth Fleet Rear Admiral Lawrence Geis. Geis died in 1980 and
Lewis's account of the meeting is un-corroborated.

LEWIS: He said that he wanted somebody to know that we weren't forgotten... attempts HAD
been made to come to our assistance. He said that he had launched a flight of aircraft to come to
our assistance, and he had then called Washington. Secretary McNamara came on the line and
ordered the recall of the aircraft, which he did. Concurrently, he said that since he suspected that
they were afraid that there might have been nuclear weapons on board he reconfigured another
flight of aircraft... strictly conventional weaponry... and re-launched it. After the second launch,
he again called Washington to let them know what was going on. Again, Secretary McNamara
ordered the aircraft recalled. Not understanding why, he requested confirmation of the order, and
the next higher in command came on to confirm that...President Johnson... with the instructions
that the aircraft were to be returned, that he would not have his allies embarrassed, he didn't care
who was killed or what was done to the ship...words to that effect. With that, Admiral Geis
swore me to secrecy for his lifetime. I had been silent up until I found out from Admiral Moorer
that Admiral Geis had passed away.
FACT: James Bamford: Nearly as bizarre as the attack itself was the reaction of the American
government to the incident. A foreign nation had butchered American servicemen, sending
thirty-four to their graves... A virtually unarmed American naval ship in international waters was
shot at, strafed with rockets, torpedoed, set on fire...then left to sink as crazed gunners shot up the
life rafts. The foreign nation then says, sorry about that, and offers an explanation so outrageous
that it is insulting, and the American government accepts it, sweeps the whole affair under a rug,
then classifies as top secret nearly all details concerning it.
Before closing my ‘ CLAIMS, FACT and COMMENTS,’ I would like to add that American’s
who support the State of Israel (wether of the Jewish faith or Gentile) have denounced the USS
LIBERTY VETERANS ASSOCIATION, the survivors, the families of our dead and our
supporters of being transmogrified into an Anti-Israel, Anti-Semitic cult.

       Those same supporters have voiced, that: "any memorial to the USS Liberty or her
dead is a slap in the face and an insult to the State of Israel."

       "...[A] slap in the face and an insult to the State of Israel."

         A memorial to American dead, in America, a slap in the face and an insult to the State of
Israel, a foreign country and government. How detestable!

        We, the Liberty's survivors, are Honorably Discharged Naval Combat Veterans. We are
American's who served our country proudly and with honor. That we came under attack by the
defense forces of the State of Israel, who's religion was Judaism, is a moot point and should have
no bearing in a comprehensive and impartial investigation. An investigation should only concern
itself with documented fact. And the documents gathered over the years show the attack was
anything but "accidental" or "a case of mistaken identity."

       For those that are ill or misinformed, we had friends and shipmates killed in the attack
who were of the Jewish faith. And many of us, the survivors, the families of our dead and our
supporters are of the Jewish faith. Moreover, we have never uttered a derogatory word or
statement against the State of Israel, Israelis and especially those of the Jewish faith. Please keep
in mind, there are those of us who are of the Jewish faith.

        What we have stated is that "the attack was intentional and the 1967 Government of Israel
lied from the very beginning, our government covered up the circumstances of the attack and that
we want to see a comprehensive and impartial Congressional investigation impaneled."

       An investigation into the attack is warranted because of the years of research and the
content of declassified TOP SECRET, SECRET and CONFIDENTIAL documents that have
been obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Documents which not only call
into question Israel's explanations of an "accidental" and "mistaken identity" attack altogether
they go on to take them apart, piece-by-piece. And an investigation is necessary not only because
of the many discrepancies and versions in Israel's own accounting of that attack, but the
statements made and actions taken by the then-Johnson administration. Actions such as recalling
rescue aircraft; knowing who our attackers were before our attackers admitted doing so;
then-Secretary of Defense McNamara's duplicity in informing members of Congress the attack
was accidental, before an investigation was undertaken and the results known.

        But unlike the Main, the Mayagues, Pearl Harbor, Tonkin Gulf, The Scorpion, The
Thresher, The 1968 attack and seizure of the USS Pueblo by North Korea (seven months after the
USS LIBERTY was attacked), The 1987 cruise missile attack on the USS Stark by Iraq
(members of Congress went to and stayed in Iraq to complete their 8 month investigation of that
incident), The USS Iowa gun-turret explosion, The shooting-down by the USS Vincennes of a
Iranian civilian passenger jet The accidental launching of 2 missiles by the USS Saratoga into a
Turkish ship killing 5 of their crew during a joint NATO exercises, Watergate, Iran Contra,
Iraq-gate, Tail Hook, White Water, the nuclear experiments on Americans in the early 1950's,
The USS Mason, the Tuskgee medical experiments and along with the myriad of incidents
Congress did and does see fit to investigate - the attack on the USS LIBERTY (AGTR-5) by
the Israeli Defense Forces stands to this day as the only major Maritime Naval disaster in
United States history which has not been accorded a COMPREHENSIVE and
IMPARTIAL investigation by Congress.

       Are we to be forever denied an investigation and a full accounting?

Let me rephrase that.

        Are we to be forever denied the rights guaranteed us under our Constitution and Laws to a
comprehensive and impartial Congressional investigation because it was the Defense Forces of
the State of Israel that attacked us?

That is for you to decide!



       Personally, I'd like our dead to be able to rest in peace without this continuing cloud of
controversy obscuring their memory. And I would have liked to see our Commanding Officer,
Captain William L. McGonagle, represented his Medal of Honor where it should have been
presented in the first place. In the White House by the President of the United States.



Thank you.

Richard Samuel 'Rocky' Sturman
               Sadly, Captain McGonagle, passed away on March 3, 1999.

        He is interned at Arlington National Cemetery and accorded the full Military Honors
befitting a Medal Of Honor recipient.
                                      ADDENDUM

        Prior to our 28th anniversary and reunion, what came to light was what we were tasked by
the National Security Agency to determine while off the Gaza Strip. What was also revealed was
the fact that we did not have any "Special Arabic" (Hebrew) linguists onboard the USS Liberty
(but that is not to say our friends and shipmates of the Jewish faith who were killed in the attack
did not understand Hebrew).

       Because of the concerns by our government of a possible confrontation between the
United States and Russia during the Six-day-war our linguistic complement was comprised of
Arabic and Russian speaking specialists who we picked up in Rota, Spain.

        Our mission, was to determine if Russian nationals (pilots) were flying Egyptian planes
during the Six-Day-War (it should be noted that our government is on record as being opposed to
that conflict). From what was imparted, just prior to being struck by 1 of the 5 Israeli torpedoes
launched at us, our intercept operators intercepted the airborne conversations of Russian
nationals (pilots) flying Egyptian war planes.

        An interesting aspect to the above was in a conversation I had with a coworker. He asked
me about the USS Liberty ball-cap I wear and I explained our story. After I had told him of the
Russian pilot story, he said to me: "Yes, your correct! Russians were flying Egyptian planes
during the Six-day-war and, Igor Shalegov, was one of those pilots." To say I was shocked
would be an understatement. That coworker served as a Lieutenant in the Russian Army and, as
all military men and woman around the world do, during an evening of relaxed comradery (they
were in a bar) Igor told everyone “don’t say anything, but I was flying the Egyptian planes.”

        We accomplished our mission, but at great cost. The death to 34 of our friends and
shipmates. The wounding of 172 of our crew and the loss of the USS LIBERTY as an
intelligence-gathering platform for our government.

       But more tragically and unbelievably so, the denunciation by fellow Americans because
we want to take the government of our attackers to task. And because of that denouncement, we
have been shunned and all but abandoned by our own government, in our own country.

       If you believe otherwise, ask a standing member of Congress to comprehensively and
impartially investigate the attack.

       Better yet, ask that member of Congress to attend a USS Liberty function.
This incident has been a matter of controversy for more than 38 years. The Israel government
insists the attack was a tragic accident while survivors and many top US officials say it was
planned and deliberate. Officially, the United States says only that Israel's motive for attack could
not be determined. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, in office at the time, called the attack
deliberate.



The official excuse, provided here, is still withheld from the American public at the request of
the Government of Israel.

Following this file is a report to US Secretary of State Dean Rusk by the Legal Advisor to the
Secretary of State who was asked to evaluate the Israeli excuse. As readers will see, the legal
advisor finds the excuse wanting in nearly every detail. For political reasons, this report was
withheld from the public until the government was forced to release it under the Freedom of
Information Act.
===================================================================
 ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES
Preliminary Inquiry File 1/67
PRELIMINARY INQUIRY
Before: Sgan-Aluf I. Yerushalmi

DECISION

On Thursday 8th June, 1967, at approximately 1400 hours, aircraft of the Israel Air Force
attacked a vessel situated about 20 miles north-west of El-Arish, and some 14 miles off the shore
of Bardawil. About half an hour later torpedo boats of the Israel Navy attacked the same vessel
and hit it with a torpedo. Soon, during the attack by the torpedo boats, it became clear that the
vessel thought to be an enemy ship, was a vessel named "Liberty", of the United States Navy.
The attack was immediately broken-off, but most regrettably, only after, as transpired, loss of life
and material damage had been caused.

In order to understand the chain of circumstances which lead to this unfortunate incident, a
number of events which preceded it must be reviewed.

The incident occurred on the fourth day of the war. On that day the towns of Gaza and El-Arish,
as well as the area extending to the Suez Canal were already in the hands of our forces. Although
our command of the air was absolute, our forces were still conducting battles in Sinai and Naval
operations were being carried out on the day of the incident. In the hours before noon, naval
engagements were taking place along the coast of Israel and an enemy submarine was believed
to be sunk by the Naval Forces (note: there is no confirmation for this from intelligence sources).
Before noon, between 1100 and 1200 hours, Navy H.Q. received reports from two separate
sources, according to which El-Arish was being shelled from the sea. The Naval representative
at Air Force H.Q. was ordered to check the credibility of the report. This officer got in touch
with Air Force Operations Branch, and was told that the source of the report was the
Air-Ground-Support Officer. Immediately           thereafter he was informed by the Naval
representative at G.H.Q. that the information about the shelling received by them originated
from Southern Command. It is to be noted that the reports from Southern Command were also
accompanied by information that two vessels had been observed approaching the coast.

At 1205 hours an order was given to three torpedo boats of the division at Ashdod to proceed in
the direction of El-Arish. Reports about the shelling continued to reach G.H.Q./Operations, and
pressure was exerted on the Naval representative, on the lines that "the coast has been shelled for
hours, and you--the Navy--are not reacting." The Naval representative contacted Navy H.Q. and
proposed an immediate action. He was informed that torpedo boats had been sent to the spot to
locate the target, and it had also been agreed with the Naval representative at Air Force H.Q.,
that as soon as the torpedo boats located the target, aircraft would be dispatched. In the
meantime, the commander of the torpedo boat division, who had already been proceeding in the
direction ordered, was informed about the shelling of the El-Arish coast and he was ordered to
establish radio contact with the aircraft as soon as they appeared over the target.

According to the division log-book, a target was located at 13.41 hours situated at a distance of
about 20 miles north of El-Arish. The division was ordered "to close in and identify the target,"
and reported that the unidentified target was moving at a speed of 30 knots westwards--that is, in
the direction of Port Said.

A few minutes later, the Division Commander reported that the target, now 17 miles from him,
was moving at a speed of 28 knots, and since he could not overtake it, he requested the dispatch
of aircraft towards it. The Division Commander also reported that the target had changed its
navigational direction. A few minutes later, the Division Commander reported that the target,
now 17 miles from him, was moving at a speed of 28 knots, and since he could not overtake it,
he requested the dispatch of aircraft towards it. The Division Commander also reported that the
target had changed its navigational direction.

As a result of the request of the Navy H.Q. through its representative with the Air Force, aircraft
was dispatched to the target. The aircraft carried out a run over the ship in an attempt to identify
it. According to their statements, they were looking for a flag, but found none; likewise no other
identification mark was observed. As against this, it was established that the painting of the ship
was grey (the color of a warship), and two guns were situated in the bow. This was reported to
H.Q.

On the assumption that they were facing an enemy target an order was given to the aircraft to
attack. During the first stage of the attack the aircraft strafed the ship with cannon and machine
guns, and during the second stage dropped bombs on it, which caused fires, and smoke was seen
to rise from the ship.

The aircraft was ordered to leave the target, to allow the torpedo boats, which meanwhile had
drawn near, to engage in attack, but during the last run a low flying aircraft observed the marking
"CPR-5" on the hull of the ship.

Upon receipt of the information about the marking, so observed by the pilot, an order was
transmitted to the torpedo boat division not to attack the ship, since its identification might not
be correct.

The Division Commander was ordered to approach the ship in order to establish visual contact
and to identify it. The order was carried out, and the Commander reported that the ship appeared
to be a merchant or supply vessel. The Division Commander also signaled the ship and
requested its identification, but the latter replied with a signal meaning "identify yourself first".
Meanwhile the Division Commander was consulting and perusing a book on the identification of
Arab Navies and making comparison with the target seen by him, he came to the conclusion that
he was confronting an Egyptian Supply ship by the name of "El-Kasir". At the same time the
commander of another torpedo boat of the division informed him that he also had identified the
ship as the Egyptian "El-Kasir", and then at 14.36 hours the Division Commander authorized the
division to attack with torpedoes. And in fact a torpedo was fired at the ship and hit it. Only at a
later stage, when one of the torpedo boats approached the ship from the other side were the
markings "CTR-5" noticed on the hull, and then the final order was given to break off the attack.

It is to be noted that throughout the contact no American or any other flag appeared on the ship,
and it was only a helicopter, sent after the attack in order to render assistance--if
necessary--which noticed a small American Flag flying over the target. At that stage the vessel
was finally identified as an audio-surveillance ship of the U.S. Navy.

Although at no stage of the inquiry was any evidence brought on the results of the attack, it is
reasonable to assume, in view of the testimony as to the nature of the hits, that loss of life, as
well as material damage to the ship, was caused. Nevertheless, according to the evidence
presented to me, the ship succeeded in leaving the area of the incident under its own power,
without requiring the assistance offered.

I have briefly described the incident, in consequence of which a plaint has been submitted to me
by the Chief Military Prosecutor, in accordance with the instructions of the Military Advocate
General, to hold a preliminary inquiry, since in his view offences had been committed which a
military court is competent to try. But before I deal with the seven counts of the plaint, I must
briefly describe a number of facts which help to explain the background of the plaint, and
without which it cannot be understood.

On the day of the incident, at 04.10 hours, an aircraft with a naval observer on board, set out on
an air reconnaissance mission, and reported, at approximately 06.00 hours, the location of a ship
-- miles westward of Tel Aviv. The ship was later identified as a supply vessel of the American
Navy. At about 09.00 hours an Israel aircraft flying over the sea, reported that some 20 miles
north of El-Arish it had observed a warship which had opened fire on him when he tried to
identify it. During the debriefing of the pilot at 09.40 hours, it appeared that the report about the
firing was unfounded, and that the ship was "coloured grey, very bulky and the bridge
amidships".

At 10.55 hours the Naval Liaison Officer at Air Force H.Q. reported to the Navy H.Q. that the
ship about which he had reported earlier in the morning was an electromagnetic
audio-surveillance ship of the U.S. Navy, named Liberty, whose marking was G.T.R.-5. At the
same time the Acting Chief of Naval Operations was present at Navy H.Q.

Upon receiving the information from the reconnaissance aircraft about the location of the ship, as
mentioned above, it was marked on the Combat Information Centre Table at Navy H.Q. At first
the object was marked in red, meaning an unidentified target; afterwards, when the ship was
identified as a supply vessel of the American Navy, it was marked in green, i.e. a neutral ship. At
about 11.00 hours, after the Acting Chief of Naval Operations had received the report, as above
stated, from the Liaison Officer at Air Force H.Q., and had understood, as he testified, that it
referred to the target, the location of which was correct at 06.00 in the morning, he ordered its
erasure from the table, since he had no information as to its location at the time of the report.

Accordingly, it is clear that from the moment when reports about the shelling of the coast of
El-Arish were received, and of the commencement of activity at Navy H.Q. in order to confront
a presumed enemy, and until the said incident with the ship "Liberty", the latter was not to be
found on the Combat Information Centre Table at Navy H.Q.
Upon receipt of the reports about the shelling of the El-Arish coast the Acting Chief of Naval
Operations called the Head of the Naval Department to the Command Bridge, and the latter took
over the command on the bridge, ordered the dispatch of the torpedo boats and aircraft and their
attack on the target.

At 14.20 hours O.C. Navy arrived at the Command Bridge and it was he who authorized the
commander of the torpedo boat division to attack. At the first stage of activity, with the
appearance of the Head of the Naval Department, there was present on the bridge the Acting
Chief of Naval Operations (a duty which he took over at approximately 10.30 hours). At a later
stage the Chief of Naval Operations returned to the Command Bridge.

The subject matter of the first two counts of the plaint is the failure to report the fact that the
American ship "Liberty" was seen in the morning hours of the day of the incident, sailing in the
vicinity of the Israel coast, under the first count--to the Head of the Naval Department, and under
the second count--to the Air Force H.Q.

According to the third count of the plaint "the extent of the veracity and reliability of the reports
on the shelling of El-Arish from the sea, which reached the Air Force, the Senior Naval
representative at the Air Force and the Naval mission at G.H.Q., was not properly investigated."
The fourth and fifth counts are alternative, and allege negligence, in that an order to attack a
target thought to be an enemy target, was given without checking its national identity and without
taking into account that the ship "Liberty" was observed in the morning hours of that day sailing
in the vicinity of the Israel coast.
In the sixth count, the Chief Military Prosecutor charges that the order of the Naval Department
not to attack the ship, suspected by the division of being an enemy ship, "for fear of error and out
of uncertainty with regard to the true identity of that ship", was not delivered to the division.

Finally, in the seventh count, the Chief Military Prosecutor charges that "aircraft of the Air Force
and torpedo boats attacked the American ship `Liberty' on an unfounded assumption--resulting
from failure to take reasonable steps properly to establish her identity--that she was an Egyptian
warship".

To establish the plaint, the Chief Military Prosecutor called 34 witnesses and also produced to
me 14 various exhibits. In his final submission the Chief Military Prosecutor argued that on the
evidence, the commission of each of the offences, that appear in the plaint, can be attributed to
various military personnel, whom he indicated by name, although the plaint itself does not
mention the accused (see section 294(a) (2) of the Military Justice Law, 1955).
In an interim decision dated 5th July, 1967, I held that "it appears to me, prima facie, that
offences of negligence may have been committed by the Acting Chief of Naval Operations,
because he did not report to the Head of the Naval Department, that on the day of the incident
the American ship `Liberty' was observed proceeding in the vicinity of and along the Israel
coast"; and "that he may have been negligent in that after being informed that the target, which
was reported to be allegedly shelling the El-Arish coast was marked CTR-5, he did not inform
the Head of the Naval Department and/or the O.C. Navy that a vessel with identical or similar
marking had earlier been identified."

As a result of this decision of mine, the Acting Chief of Naval Operations appeared as accused
and was represented by the Chief Military Defence Counsel. He called 3 witnesses, made a
statement under oath and produced 5 exhibits.

Before dealing with each count of the plaint, I must observe that it is clear to me that it is not my
function to determine, in any manner whatsoever, whether the ship "Liberty" acted properly at
any stage prior to the incident or during the incident itself. My task is to decide whether any
offence has been committed by any military personnel involved in this incident, i.e. as is stated
in section 297 of the Military Justice Law, 1955, "to decide whether or not there is sufficient
amount of prima facie evidence to justify the commital of the accused for trial". At the same
time, since the subject matter of the plaint before me are offences of negligence, I will be unable
to determine the reasonableness of the conduct of all those concerned in the matter without
examining the conduct of the ship, against the background of the general situation, as was
described to me.

As stated the incident occurred in the midst of war, very close to the coast where battles were still
raging, and on the day of the incident--in the hours of the morning--an enemy submarine was
even sunk by the Israel Navy. It was proved to me, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the ship
was hit in an area described as "the naval battles arena" in the event of a clash between the
navies of Israel and Egypt. Although, when hit, the ship was outside territorial waters, it was
testified to me that the area was declared by the Egyptian authorities as one dangerous to
shipping, a declaration which presumably reached all vessels to be found in the vicinity.
Moreover, the place of the incident does not serve as a recognized shipping lane. It was
explained to me, likewise, that it is customary for warships to announce their approach to the
shores of a foreign state, particularly in sensitive zones, which was not done in this case.

I shall now deal with the counts of the plaint.
The first complaint by the Chief Military Prosecutor is against the Acting Chief of Naval
Operations, for not having drawn the attention of the Head of the Naval Department to the fact
that in the hours of the morning, the ship "Liberty" was sailing in the vicinity of the Israel coast.
This omission occurred in two stages: the first--prior to the attack of the aircraft, the
second--after the aircraft reported the identification of the marking on the hull of the ship.

In view of the evidence of the Head of the Naval Department before me, that he did not know on
the same day of the presence of the "Liberty" in the area, I thought at first that the Acting Chief
of Naval Operations had not acted as a responsible officer should have acted. But during the
evidence for the defence, the Officer of the Watch at Navy H.Q. testified that in the course of the
fight with the submarine the Head of Naval Department was present on the Command Bridge.
At the same time an American supply ship was marked in red on the Combat Information Centre
Table, and during a momentary lull in the fight, the O.C. Navy, who was directing the fight,
inquired into the import of the marking, and ordered it to be changed to green.

The Acting Chief of Naval Operations testified that he was an eye-witness of the said event, and
concluded therefrom that the Head of the Naval Department knew about the presence of an
American supply ship in the area, as had already been reported in the hours of the morning. This
assumption seems to me to be reasonable under circumstances, and therefore I take the view that
no negligence on his part has been proved, even prima facie. As regards the second stage--that
is, the failure to draw the attention of the Head of the Naval Department to the fact that the
marking, which the pilot had reported as being on the hull of the ship, was similar to the
markings of the "Liberty"--it is my considered opinion, there was no reason for him to repeat this
information to the Head of the Naval Department.

Witnesses related that the Naval Liaison Officer at the Air Force passed on to the Naval
Command Bridge the report on the marking and its similarity to that of the "Liberty", and the
officer with whom he spoke, repeated his words in a loud voice, so as they were heard by all
present on the bridge, including the Head of the Naval Department and the Chief of Naval
Operations. What reason, therefore, was there to draw the attention of the Head of the Naval
Department to a fact which had been audibly announced by the said officer? Moreover, as I have
already pointed out, the Acting Chief of Naval Operations had reasonably assumed that the facts
of the presence of the "Liberty" in the area, was known to all concerned.

No one present, indeed, had connected this report with the target attacked, but I shall consider
this question, when I deal with the reasonableness of the attack on the target, under the given
circumstances.
As to the second count the Chief Military Prosecutor argued that it was the duty of the Naval
Liaison Officer at the Air Force to report to the Air Force, where he represented his service, the
information about the presence of the "Liberty" in the area, and not having done so, was
negligent in the discharge of his duty.

This argument is unfounded. The responsibility for the Defence of Israel against enemy Naval
actions rests solely with the Navy. It was made clear to me in this instance that the Air Force
fulfilled merely an auxiliary function, while the responsibility for identification and attack lay
upon the Navy. Even though Air Force H.Q. issued the order to the pilot to attack, it was really
an order issued by the Navy, passed on through Air Force H.Q., and the responsibility for its
issue falls upon whoever issued it at Naval H.Q.

The Naval Liaison Officer at the Air Force well knew, that the report on the "Liberty" was
transmitted by him to Navy H.Q.; and he was entitled to assume, that whoever decided upon the
attack, had done so after taking the above fact into consideration. What reason was there in
feeding the Air Force with information and considerations which did not concern it?

It appears to me that it would be proper at this stage to deal with the sixth count, in which the
Chief Military Prosecutor alleges that the Torpedo Boat Division Commander was not provided
with the order of the Naval Department not to attack a ship, suspected by the former to be an
enemy vessel, for fear of error and uncertainty as to its true identity.

In the operations log-book of the flag boat, carrying the Division Commander on board, it was
recorded that at approximately 14.20 hours an order in the following terms was received from
Naval Operations Branch: "Do not attack. It is possible that the aircraft have not identified
correctly". A similar entry, made at the same time, is to be found in the war-diary of Naval
Operations Branch, as an instruction transmitted to the Division.

When the entry was produced to the Division Commander, he claimed that no such message ever
reached him. The deputy commander of the boat, through whom contact between Division
Commander and Naval Operations Branch was maintained, testified that he received the message
and passed it on to the Division Commander.

Although considerations of the credibility of witnesses should not be part of my functions, it
appears to me that in the normal course of events as described, the message was passed on in the
normal course of reporting to the bridge of the Division Commander. It is possible that the
message escaped the awareness of the Division Commander in the heat of battle.
In any event, be the matter as it may, there is insufficient evidence before me, justifying the
committal for trial of any accused person on these grounds, and accordingly I so decide.

The third count concerns, as had been said, the insufficient investigation of the veracity of the
report on the shelling of El-Arish by the Naval Liaison Officer at the Air Force, who was ordered
to do so by the Head of the Naval Department.

It is not disputed that the Liaison Officer clarified with Air Force H.Q. the source of the report
concerning the shelling, and was told that the source of the information was the
Air-Ground-Support Officer. Immediately thereafter he was informed by G.H.Q., that reports of
the shelling were being received from Southern Command. The Chief Military Prosecutor argued
that as soon as the Head of the Naval Department had cast doubts upon the correctness of the
report, it was the duty of the Naval Liaison Officer at Air Force H.Q. to establish its correctness
by contacting the original source of the report.

This argument does not recommend itself to me at all. We are concerned with reports in time of
war coming through the usual report-channel, and it appears to me that a commander may
assume that every such report received by him is correct, and treat it with utmost seriousness as
long as the information is within the limits of reasonableness. Since otherwise, if one wishes to
say that he is duty-bound to inquire into the correctness at the original source, one cannot rely
upon reports at all, and it would be impossible in such circumstances to conduct any military
operations whatsoever. The information itself was credible, and if the Head of the Naval
Department cast doubt upon it, that was only because of previous reports which had been found
incorrect, but not by reason of the improbability of the information.

As soon as the Naval Liaison Officer at Air Force H.Q. had established the source of the report
reaching the Air Force, and had immediately confirmed its content from another source, i.e.
Southern Command through G.H.Q., the correctness of the information was, in my opinion
ascertained sufficiently, and in a reasonable manner.

Three counts remain to be dealt with--the fourth, the fifth and the seventh, of the plaint--which,
so it seems to me, form one whole.

The Chief Military Prosecutor argued that it was negligence to give the order to attack a warship
without previously establishing, beyond doubt, its national identity and without taking into
account the presence of the American ship "Liberty" in the hours of the morning in the vicinity of
the coast of Israel.
In summing-up the seventh count of the plaint, the Chief Military Prosecutor saw negligence in
the giving of the order to the aircraft and torpedo boats to attack the ship upon an unfounded
presumption that it was an Egyptian warship, and this as a consequence of not having taken
reasonable steps to ascertain properly its identity. As parties to the negligence, the Chief Military
Prosecutor joined the Head of Naval Operations (who fulfilled his functions during a certain
period on that day), the Torpedo Boat Division Commander, and finally, although indirectly, the
Naval Liaison Officer at Air Force H.Q.

It appears to me that the activity of our forces in the said incident, may be divided into three
stages: the first stage, in which the order was given to Air Force planes to attack the target, and
their attack; an intermediate stage, after the report of the aircraft about the marking of the
attacked ship with the symbol "GTR-5"; the identification of the target as the ship "El-Kasir" and
the attack of it with torpedoes.

In my opinion, on the evidence I have heard, there are five factors, as a result of which the
assumption arose that the target was an enemy ship and should be attacked: the report on the
shelling of the El-Arish coast for hours on end; the speed of the target, assessed by the torpedo
boats as 28 to 30 knots; the course of the target towards Port Said; the report from the aircraft
that the target was a warship and carried no naval or other identification marks; the location of
the ship--close to a battle zone.

There is no doubt that the dominant factors were the speed and the course of the target. Most
remarkably, it were two torpedo boats of the Division, which determined the speed, although it
was proved to me beyond a shadow of a doubt, that no ship of the class of the "Liberty" is
capable of developing a speed above 15 knots, this being the theoretical maximum speed limit.

The Chief Military Prosecutor in summing up his argument with respect to this stage of the
incident, reiterated with emphasis that the root of the negligence of all parties lay in their
disregard of the presence of the ship "Liberty" in the vicinity, and not connecting the target
discovered by the torpedo boats with this ship.

It seems to me that those concerned were entitled to assume, that they had before them a correct
report as to the speed of the target, within the usual limits of reasonable error of 10% to 15%,
relying upon the existing means of determining the speed of the target.

The initial speed of the target, determined by the torpedo boats at 30 knots, and received with
doubts, was verified within minutes and finally confirmed as a speed of 28 knots, as is customary
at sea.
It was therefore the speed of the target, which led to the final and definite conclusion, that this
was a military vessel, and thus there was no reason for surmising, in view of this datumn that the
target could possibly be the ship "Liberty". If we add to this the other factors mentioned above,
their cumulative effect was to negate any presumption whatsoever as to a connection between the
American supply ship, reported on that morning in another location, and the target discovered by
the torpedo boats.

The Acting Chief of Naval Operations testified, that upon assuming his duties, he was not
informed of the reports received at 09.40 hours at Navy H.Q. about the presence of a ship at a
distance of 20 miles north of El-Arish, while the report of 10.55 hours related to the presence of
the "Liberty" 70 miles west of Tel-Aviv in the early hours of the morning. I shall go further and
say, that after hearing all the witnesses, it appears to me that even on the assumption that the
presence of the "Liberty" as such, 20 miles north of El-Arish, was known to be concerned, that
would not have altered the conclusion as to the nature of the target discovered by the torpedo
boats, that it was an enemy warship, according to all the said data.

Since I am of the opinion that the assumption as to an enemy ship was reasonable, I have come to
the conclusion, that the order given to the aircraft to attack was in the said circumstances,
justified.

At the second stage of the activity of our forces, upon the receipt of the report of the pilot with
regard to the marking discovered on the hull of the attacked ship, the order was given to cease the
attack, and at a later stage the Division was ordered to draw near to the target and make a visual
identification. During this stage the suspicion of the Acting Chief of Naval Operations was
indeed aroused, that possibly the target attacked was not an enemy target, but at that moment it
was the Head of the Naval Department who was directing the activity, at whose side was the
Chief of Naval Operations, who had meanwhile returned to the Command Bridge. In the course
of deliberations and attempts at identification at Navy H.Q., the O.C. Navy arrived at the
Command Bridge, and he took over the command from the Head of the Naval Department.

The visual identification by the Division Commander on the spot was awaited at Navy H.Q.,
following, apparently, misgiving and the awareness of a possible camouflage of markings by an
Egyptian ship. This identification was not delayed, and the Division Commander reported the
certain identification of the vessel as an Egyptian transport ship named "El-Kasir". It is
noteworthy that the identification of the target as the "El-Kasir" was made both by the Division
Commander and the Commander of another torpedo boat, and on examining photographs of the
two ships I am satisfied that a likeness exists between them, and that an error of identification is
possible especially having regard to the fact, that identification was made while the ship was
clouded in smoke.

The Chief Military Prosecutor attacked this identification as unreasonable in view of the fact that
it was clear to all those involved in the incident, that it was inconceivable for this auxiliary ship
to shell the El-Arish coast, or for her ever to move at a speed of 30 or 28 knots. He also argued
that its presence at the scene of the incident was without logic. The answer to this submission, as
explained to me, was that those concerned were entitled, on the assumption that the coast was
indeed shelled, to surmise that she formed, perhaps, part of the vessels engaged in the shelling of
the shores which succeeded to get away from the area, which she lagged behind them. Or, as one
of the witnesses contended, she had come to assist in the evacuation of Egyptian soldiers,
straggling in the areas occupied by our forces.

There is no doubt to the fact, that the refusal of the "Liberty" to identify herself to the torpedo
boats, largely contributed to the error of identification. The Division Commander testified that he
signalled the "Liberty" after the aircraft attack and requested its identification, and was answered
"identify yourself first". If the conduct of the captain of the "Liberty" can still be explained by the
custom existing, as I have heard in maritime tradition, that a vessel belonging to a power does not
identify itself first to a smaller vessel, then such conduct cannot be comprehended when the
request for identification follows an aircraft attack. Such an event should have, in my opinion,
made the captain realise, that he had been attacked because he was regarded as an enemy target.

In addition, I must add that the Division Commander gave evidence from the experience of the
Navy in the Sinai War, that when the destroyer "Ibrahim El-Awal" was requested to identify
itself by our vessels, she gave the same reply "identify yourself first". Likewise, the Division
Commander and one of the torpedo boat commanders testified, that the target was reported to
have opened fire upon one of the torpedo boats. Under those circumstances it seems, that the
identification, in the third stage of the activity of our forces, as the "El-Kasir", was well within
reason.

To sum up these last counts, my conclusion is that in all the circumstances of the case, the
conduct of anyone of the naval officers concerned in this incident cannot be considered
unreasonable, to an extent which justified commital for trial.

For all my regret that our forces were involved in an incident with a vessel of a friendly state, and
its sad outcome, I ought to put the behavior of each of the officers, who had any connection with
the incident, to the test of the conduct of reasonable officers during wartime operations, when the
naval arm of the Israel Defense Forces was confronted with maritime forces superior in numbers,
and when all involved were conscious of the task before them--to protect the safety of Israel, to
identify every enemy threatening from the sea, to attack it speedily and to destroy it. The criterion
for reasonable conduct under these conditions may possibly differ from that in times of relative
quiet. Indeed, whoever peruses the ample evidence presented to me, may conceivably draw some
lesson regarding the relations between the two arms of the Israel Defense Forces, which were
involved in the incident, and the operational procedures in times of war, particularly between the
different branches of the Navy--but all this is certainly not within the scope of my inquiry. Yet I
have not discovered any deviation from the standard of reasonable conduct which would justify
the commital of anyone for trial. In view of what has been said above, I hold, that there is no
sufficient amount of prima facie evidence, justifying committing anyone for trial.

Given the 13th day of Tamuz, 5727 (21.7.67) and read in the presence of the Chief Military
Prosecutor--Rav-Saren Kedmi, the Chief Military Defence Counsel--Sgan-Aluf Tein, and the
Acting Chief of Naval Operations.
Y. YERUSHALMI, Sgan-Aluf Examining Judge

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From The 1982 Israeli Defense Forces History Department Report

"Such an incident must be thoroughly investigated, that all the causes of the tragic encounter
must be examined, conclusions drawn, and proper instructions issued which will prevent the
occurrence of such an incident in the future."




                                SC No. 07445/67
                            THE WHITE HOUSE
                             - WASHINGTON -
              PRESIDENT'S FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE ADVISORY BOARD
                                 July 18,1967
                      The Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty

The Attack:

On the afternoon of June 8 (2:05 p.m., Israeli time), the USS Liberty while in international waters
in the Eastern Mediterranean suffered an attack by Israeli aircraft and motor torpedo boats. When
attacked the Liberty was approximately 15.5 nautical miles north of Sinai and was traveling in a
westerly direction at a speed of five knots.

The initial attack consisted of five or six straffing runs by jet aircraft and was followed
twenty-four minutes later with an attack by three motor torpedo boats.

The attack was executed with complete surprise, remarkable efficiency, devastating accuracy and
deeply tragic results.

Israel's explanation of the attack is summarized as follows:

a.   The attack was an "innocent mistake--no criminal negligence was involved."

b.      Israel's Navy and Air Force had received a number of reports that El Arish was being
shelled from the sea. These reports were later determined to be erroneous but, at the time they
were received, they were accepted at face value by Israeli Naval and Air Force headquarters.

c.      Israeli officers who knew the Liberty had been identified earlier the same day did not
connect her with the unidentified ships said to be shelling El Arish (and apparently the fact that a
U. S. flag vessel was in the area was not communicated to subordinate elements of the Israeli
Defense Forces (IDF)).

d.    A second "mistaken report" -- that the Liberty was steaming at thirty knots--was received
by the IDF. When the Liberty was identified on the morning of June 8, the IDF determined from
Janes Fighting Ships that the Liberty's maximum speed was eighteen knots. The second
"mistaken report" led to the conclusion that the earlier identification of the Liberty was erroneous
and that the vessel allegedly traveling at thirty knots was an enemy ship.

e.    IDF standing orders provided that any ships in the area cruising at speeds above twenty
knots may be brought under attack without further identification. Thus the air attack was
launched.

f.    A third mistake" resulted in the execution of the second (motor torpedo boat) stage of the
attack. This third error of the IDF was its mistaken identification of the Liberty as the Egyptian
supply ship El Quseir.
g.      Immediately following the air attack, serious doubts began to arise concerning the true
identity of the ship, but these doubts were not communicated to the commanding officer of the
motor torpedo boats before he launched the second stage of the attack.

h.    Prior to launching the torpedo attack one of the Israeli boats sent an "A-A" signal (meaning
"what is your identity?") to the Liberty. The Liberty, instead of identifying herself, responded
with an "A-A" signal. Officers on the Israeli boats interpreted the return signal as an evasion and
concluded that the vessel in question was Egyptian, whereupon the torpedos were launched.

i.     The Liberty acted with lack of care by approaching excessively close to shore in an area
which was a scene of war, without advising the Israeli authorities of its presence and without
identifying itself elaborately. The Liberty tried to hide its presence and its identity both before it
was discovered and after having been attacked.



Our Findings of Fact:

Based upon a thorough review of all information on the incident which has become available
thus far, I wish to submit the following findings of fact:

a.     At all times prior to, during, and following the attack, the Liberty was in international
waters where she had every right to be. As a noncombatant neutral vessel she maintained the
impartial attitude of neutrality at all times prior to the attack.

b.    Prior to the attack no inquiry was made by the Israeli Government as to whether there were
U.S. flag vessels in the general area of the Eastern Mediterranean adjoining Israel and the United
Arab Republic.

c.     The weather was clear and calm in the area at the time of attack and throughout the
preceding hours of June . Visibility was excellent.

d.     At all times prior to the attack the Liberty was flying her normal size American flag (five
feet by eight feet) at the masthead. The flag was shot down during the air attack and was replaced
by a second American flag (seven feet by thirteen feet) five minutes prior to the attack by motor
torpedo boats. The Liberty did not endeavor to hide her identity or her presence in international
waters at any time prior to or during the attack.
e.    The Liberty's U.S. Navy distinguishing letters and number were printed clearly on her bow.
The Liberty's number was painted clearly in English on her stern. (Egyptian naval ships such as
the El Quseir, with which the Liberty was allegedly confused, carry their names in Arabic script.)

f. The ship's configuration and her standard markings were clearly sufficient for reconnaissance
aircraft and waterborne vessels to identify her correctly as the noncombatant ship Liberty.

g. At the time she was attacked, the Liberty was making only five knots. Her maximum
capability is eighteen knots, a fact which had been ascertained by IDF personnel when she was
identified on the morning of June 8.

h. Prior to the torpedo attack the Liberty neither received nor dispatched an "A-A" signal. The
Israeli claim that the Liberty transmitted an "A-A'1 signal prior to the torpedo attack is
demonstrably false. The Liberty's signal light capability was totally destroyed in the air attack
which occurred some twenty minutes before the torpedo boats appeared on the scene.
Intermittently prior to the attack Liberty personnel observed a flashing light coming from the
center boat. The first intelligible signal received by the Liberty was an offer of help following
the torpedo attack.

i. The Liberty was reconnoitered by aircraft of unidentified nationality on three separate
occasions prior to the attack--5 hours and 13 minutes before the attack, 3 hours and 7 minutes
before the attack, and 2 hours and 37 minutes before the attack. Personnel on the Liberty, who
observed and in some instances photographed the reconnaissance aircraft, were unable to identify
them fully. Positive evidence concerning their nationality is still lacking, however, there are
several grounds for assuming they were Israeli: (1) when the aircraft orbited the Liberty on three
separate occasions the Arab-Israeli war was in its fourth day, the Egyptian Air Force had been
substantially destroyed, and the Israeli Air Force was in effective control of the air space in the
area; (2) [ ---- excised ----] received information from a reliable and sensitive Israeli source
reporting that he had listened to IDF air-to-ground transmissions on the morning of June 8
indicating Israeli aircraft sighting of a vessel flying the U.S. flag; (3) in the course of advancing
its explanation for the attack, the Israeli Government acknowledged that the Liberty had been
identified by IDF officers early on the morning of June 8. 3. [ --- excised --- ] shortly after the
torpedo attack, the Israelis began to have doubts as to the identity of the vessel and efforts were
intensified to verify its identification. Ten minutes after the torpedo attack an Israeli ground
controller still believed it to be Egyptian. Identification attempts continued, and forty-five
minutes after the torpedo attack, helicopters were checking the masts, flag and bow number of
the Liberty. By this time, there appears to have been no question in Israeli minds as to what had
happened. The weight of the evidence is that the Israeli attacking force originally believed their
target was Egyptian.

Conclusions:

Based upon a thorough review of all information on the incident which has become available
thus far, I wish to submit the following conclusions:

a. The information thus far available does not reflect that the Israeli high command made a
premeditated attack on a ship known to be American.

b. The evidence at hand does not support the theory that the highest echelons of the Israeli
Government were aware of the Liberty's true identity or of the fact that an attack on her was
taking place. To disprove such a theory would necessitate a degree of access to Israeli personnel
and information which in all likelihood can never be achieved.

c. That the Liberty could have been mistaken for the Egyptian supply ship El Quseir is
unbelievable. El Quseir has one-fourth the displacement of the Liberty, roughly half the beam, is
180 feet shorter, and is very differently configured. The Liberty's unusual antenna array and hull
markings should have been visible to low-flying aircraft and torpedo boats. In the heat of battle
the Liberty was able to identify one of the attacking torpedo boats as Israeli and to ascertain its
hull number. In the same circumstances, trained Israeli naval personnel should have been able
easily to see and identify the larger hull markings on the Liberty.

d. The best interpretation from available facts is that there were gross and inexcusable failures in
the command and control of subordinate Israeli naval and air elements. One element of the Israeli
air force knew the location and identification of the Liberty around 9:00 a.m. and did not launch
an attack. Yet, hours later, apparently a different IDF element made the decision to attack the
same vessel that earlier flights had identified and refrained from attacking.

e. There is no justification for the failure of the IDF-With the otherwise outstanding efficiency
which it demonstrated in the course of the war--to ensure prompt alerting of all appropriate
elements of the IDF of the fact that a U.S. ship was in the area. There was ample time to
accomplish such alerting because the Liberty had been identified as a U.S. flag vessel five hours
before the attack took place.
f. The unprovoked attack on the Liberty constitutes a flagrant act of gross negligence for which
the Israeli Government should be held completely responsible, and the Israeli military personnel
involved should be punished.

COPY LBJ LIBRARY
 Following is an official report to US Secretary of State Dean Rusk by the Legal Advisor to the
Secretary of State who was asked to evaluate the Israeli excuse for the attack upon the USS
Liberty.

As readers will see, the legal advisor finds the excuse wanting in nearly every detail. For
political reasons, this report was withheld from the public until our government was forced to
release it under the Freedom of Information Act.
===================================================================
The Salans Report
DEPARTMENT OF STATE
The Legal Adviser

September 21, 1967

TO:      U -- The Under Secretary
THROUGH: S/S
FROM:    L -- Carl F. Salans

SUBJECT: "The Liberty" -- Discrepancies Between Israeli Inquiry and U.S. Navy Inquiry --

INFORMATION MEMORANDUM

As you requested, we have compared the decision of the Israeli Judge, dated July 21, 1967, with
the findings of the U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry, and the Clifford Report, concerning the Liberty
incident.

The following discrepancies are noteworthy:

        I.      Speed and Direction of the "Liberty"
The Israeli report indicates that the torpedo boat Division Commander reported and reconfirmed
the target's (Liberty's) speed at 28 to 30 knots and that it had changed its navigational direction
shortly after 1341 hours.

The U.S. Navy inquiry established that the Liberty had been on a steady course at 5 knots from
1132 hours until the attack.
       II.     Aircraft Surveillance

The Israeli report indicates that a ship was reported in the area by reconnaissance aircraft at 0600
and that another report was received of a contact between an Israeli aircraft and a surface vessel
about 0900.

The Navy Court finding of facts, plus testimony of various members of the crew indicate
reconnaissance overflights of the Liberty at 0515, 0850, 1030, 1056, 1126, 1145, 1220, and 1245.

        III.   Identification by Israeli Aircraft
The Israeli report indicates that the fighter aircraft carried out a run over the ship in an effort to
identify it.

The Navy Inquiry reports no such identification run. Commander McGonagle testified that he
observed one aircraft of similar characteristics to those on earlier reconnaissance flights
approximately five to six miles from the ship at an altitude of 7,000 feet. He did not see it
approach the ship. Within a couple of minutes, a loud explosion was heard from the port side of
the ship, apparently resulting from a rocket, launched by a second aircraft.

        IV.      Identification by Torpedo Boats
The Israeli report indicates that the torpedo boats approached the Liberty in order to establish
visual contact and to identify it, and that in addition, the Commander of the torpedo boats
signalled the Liberty requesting its identification. The Liberty reportedly answered, "Identify
yourself first," and opened fire on the torpedo boats.

Commander McGonagle's testimony indicated that the only signals from the torpedo boats were
those made during the high-speed approach from a distance of approximately 2,000 yards and
that it was not possible for the Liberty to read the signals because of the intermittent blocking of
view by smoke and flames. No reply signal was sent. Immediately after the Liberty was struck by
a torpedo, the torpedo boats stopped at a range of approximately 500 to 800 yards and one
signaled by flashing light in English "Do you require assistance?" Commander McGonagle
testified that he had no means to communicate with the boat by light but hoisted "CODE LIMA
INDIA". ("I am not under command", i.e., not able to control movements of ship.)

       V.      Flag and Identification Markings
The Israeli report indicates that the fighter aircraft which reportedly made an initial pass over the
Liberty was looking for a flag but found none; likewise no other identification mark was
observed. "...Throughout the contact no American or any other flag appeared on the ship...."
(Elsewhere the report had indicated that at 1055 the ship had been identified as the Liberty
"whose marking was GTR-5.")

The Navy inquiry confirms by testimony of five members of the crew that they had personally
observed the Ensign flying during the entire morning and up until the air attack. The Ensign was
subsequently shot away during the air attack. Before the torpedo attack, a second Ensign was
hoisted. The Navy report also found that "hull markings were clear and freshly painted."

The Clifford report noted that "the Liberty's U.S. Navy's distinguishing letters and number were
painted clearly on her bow. The Liberty's name was clearly painted in English on her stern. The
ship's configuration and her standard markings were clearly sufficient for reconnaissance aircraft
and waterborne vessels to identify her correctly...." The report noted that at all times prior to the
air attack the Liberty was flying her normal size American flag (5 ft. by 8 ft.) at the masthead.
Five minutes prior to the attack by the torpedo boats, the Liberty put up a flag measuring 7 ft. by
13 ft. to replace the flag which had been shot down in the air attack.

        VI.     Identification of Ship as "El-Kasir"
The Israeli report indicates that shortly before the torpedo boat attack the torpedo boat Division
Commander reported the certain identification of the vessel as an Egyptian transport ship named
"El Kasir". Identification of the target was made both by the Division Commander and the
commander of another torpedo boat. The Israeli Judge indicated in his decision that "on
examining photographs of the two ships, I am satisfied that a likeness exists between them, and
that an error of identification is possible, especially having regard to the fact, that identification
was made while the ship was clouded in smoke."

The Clifford report noted "That the Liberty could have been mistaken for the Egyptian supply
ship El Quseir is unbelievable. El Quseir has one-fourth the displacement of the Liberty, roughly
one-half the beam, is 180 feet shorter, and is very differently configured. The Liberty's unusual
antenna array and hull markings should have been visible to low-flying aircraft and torpedo
boats. ...Trained Israeli naval personnel should have been able easily to see and identify the larger
hull markings on the Liberty."




Additional Observations Regarding Israeli Report

     I.   Speed of Liberty and "El Kasir" as Identification Factors
The Israeli report states that the initial speed of the target reported by the torpedo boat
commander at 1341 hours as 30 knots was verified within minutes and confirmed as a speed of
28 knots. The report notes that it was the speed of the target which led to the final conclusion that
there was no reason for surmising that the target could possibly be the Liberty.
The reported speed would have ruled out the "El Kasir" as the target, as well as the Liberty since
the top speed of the "Kasir", published in Janes Fighting Ships, is in the range of 14 knots. The
Liberty's top speed is 18 knots.

     II. Failure to Relate "Liberty" to Bombardment Capability
The Israeli report emphasizes that the attack originated with reports that the El Arish area was
being shelled from the sea. The implication of such reports was obviously that a ship capable of
such shelling was present in the immediate offshore area, i.e., within gun range of the shore.

It would be clear to any trained observer that the armament aboard the Liberty was incapable of
shore bombardment. It appears nevertheless that neither the aircraft, torpedo boats, nor the
command headquarters to which they presumably reported evaluated the ship's capability for
shore bombardment.

        III.     Time Sequence of Attacks
The Israeli report indicates that it had been agreed that as soon as the torpedo boats located the
target, aircraft would be dispatched. At 1341 hours the torpedo boat located the target. "A few
minutes later", the dispatch of aircraft was requested. The first air attack occurred at
approximately 1400 hours.
Assuming "a few minutes later" would mean four or five minutes, the request for aircraft must
have occurred about 1345. One may infer from the fact that within a period of approximately 15
minutes, the request was transmitted, received, a command decision made, aircraft dispatched,
and the attack launched, that no significant time was expended in an effort to identify the ship
from the air before the attack was launched.

     IV. Attack by Torpedo Boat After "Do Not Attack" Order
The Israeli report confirms that during the final attack by aircraft the marking "CPR-5" was noted
on the hull and an order was transmitted to the torpedo boat division not to attack. The order was
recorded in the log book of the flag boat at approximately 1420 hours. The torpedo boats
nevertheless began their attack run at approximately 1428. The Division Commander later
"claimed that no such message ever reached him." The Deputy Commander testified that "he
received the message and passed it on to the Division Commander."
In addition to Israel's attack on the USS LIBERTY during the Six-Day-War, Israeli Defense
Forces committed other violations of International law and acts which are considered War
Crimes under the Geneva Convention.

"A Microfiche Discovery" Next to the Partition Plan and the 1947-48 war, the 1967 Arab-Israeli
war was perhaps the most important ever in modern Middle East history, and my desire to learn
everything I could about it led me to Donald Neff's definitive book, Warriors for Jerusalem
(1988). the mountain of information he provides about the war includes a detailed account of the
deliberate attack on the USS LIBERTY by Israeli war planes and torpedo boats on June 8th and a
brief reference to the fact that, on the first day of the war, Israeli forces killed 14 Indian members
of the UNEF and one Brazilian in Gaza. I had never heard about these incidents in Gaza and my
search for information was rewarded when I discovered an article on microfiche from the June
16, 1967 issue of the Toronto Globe and Mail, which I quote as follows:

"Nicosia(CP) - Israeli attacks on the 1st. Sikh Light Infantry [which was part of the UNEF] cost
the battalion more casualties than it suffered in its bloodiest engagement in the 1965
Indian-Pakistan war, Indian officers have charged.

A United Nations spokesman in New York said 14 Indians were killed and 16 were wounded.
On the first day of the Israeli-Egyptian fighting, an Indian convoy was en route from Camp Rafah
to Gaza flying the U.N. flag from each jeep and truck. The convoy met an Israeli tank column on
the road. It pulled over to the side of the road and stopped to let the Israelis pass. The Israeli
tanks went by. The fourth tank stopped, swivelled its turret on the convoy and opened fire from a
range of a few feet. The Israeli tank rammed its gun through the windshield of an Indian jeep
and decapitated the two men inside. When the Indians went to the assistance of their comrades
they were mowed down by machine-gun fire. Another Israeli tank thrust its gun into a U.N.
truck, lifted it up and smashed it down on the ground, killing or wounding the occupants.
Meanwhile, in Gaza, Israeli tanks put six rounds into the U.N. headquarters which was flying the
U.N. flag. One Indian officer said it was deliberate cold-blooded killing of unarmed U.N.
soldiers... "Yesterday Israel offered to pay compensation, at the level customary in India, to
families of Indian soldiers killed or wounded in the Gaza Strip on the first day of the war.
However, an official announcement rejected the Indian charges that the casualties were caused by
a deliberate attack on the Sikhs...In Cyprus there is mounting fury among members of the UNEF
at what happened to the Sikhs, to the point where some officers say Israel should be expelled
from the U.N."
I trust your readers will find this informative. Let us bear in mind that as we pay tribute to those
34 American sailors who were killed and the 171 who were wounded by Israel aboard the USS
LIBERTY on June 8, 1967, we should also remember the innocent and unarmed representatives
of the U.N. who were murdered or wounded by Israel three days earlier in the Gaza Strip on June
5, 1967. Gary D. Keenan, Vancouver, B.C. Canada (reproduced from the Washington Report
on Middle East Affairs - July/August 1995, Pg.94. American Educational Trust, P.O.Box 53062,
Washington, DC 20009 Phone: (202)939-6050 Fax:(202)232-6754 E-mail: wrmea@aol.com)
(From The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs June/Jjul1997                   Reprinted with
permission)



                          Anatomy of a 30-Year Investigation
             USS Liberty: Periscope Photography May Finally Reveal Truth
                          By James M. Ennes, Jr.

The facts are well known. USS Liberty, an American intelligence collection ship operated by the
U.S. Navy with 294 men aboard, was attacked by Israeli aircraft and motor torpedo boats in
international waters in clear weather during the 1967 Six-Day War. Thirty-four men were killed
and 171 wounded. The ship was so badly damaged it had to be sold for scrap.

Israel called the attack a "tragic accident," claiming the ship was mistaken for an ancient
Egyptian horse carrier less than half her size. Survivors and many top U.S. officials dismiss the
Israeli story as contrived, unbelievable and untrue.

Survivors cite numerous falsehoods in the Israeli account. For instance, Israel claims the
attacking jets circled the ship three times looking for a flag and that no flag was flown. They say
a cease-fire order was given even before the ship was hit by a torpedo and that no further shots
were fired. They call it a very brief case of "friendly fire" that ended when they saw our flag.
They say they offered help immediately after the torpedo explosion.

Not true! A large American flag was clearly displayed in a good breeze and the attacking pilots
did not circle looking for it. The torpedomen continued firing for another 40 minutes after the
torpedo explosion, even firing upon life rafts in the water. Their offer of help did not come until
two hours after the torpedo explosion. Many other conflicts exist between the Israeli and
American versions.

In fact, the Israeli assault on the Liberty remains the only major maritime event in American
history that has not been investigated by the Congress. For comparison, the U.S. committed more
than 300 people and seven months to investigating the uncontested single hit by an Iraqi missile
on USS Stark in the Arabian Gulf. Yet, even though 250 survivors of the Liberty say Israel is
lying about the 75-minute attack on their ship, no member of Congress since Adlai Stevenson II
has shown the slightest interest in finding the truth. When pressed, members of Congress
generally tell their constituents -- as they have since 1967 -- that an investigation would be
impossible because too much time has passed, and because Israel could not be compelled to
testify.

Submarine Photography Can Prove What Happened Moments after the attack, several Liberty
crewmen reported seeing a periscope very close to the ship. Then the periscope vanished as
quickly as it had appeared. A few weeks later, Liberty survivor Joe Lentini was approached by
another sailor in the cafeteria of Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Virginia. Lentini was in uniform
and on crutches. His ship's name, "USS LIBERTY," was embroidered on his shoulder. "Were
you there?" the sailor asked, seemingly astonished. When Lentini confirmed that he was, the man
continued. "We were there," he said. "Our submarine. We saw the whole thing. We took pictures.
Then we sent an officer back to the Pentagon to deliver them." Lentini was so stunned by this
news that he neglected to get the man's name or the name of the submarine. When he looked for
the man again later, he was nowhere to be found.

Further Confirmation

I asked my Liberty shipmate, then-Lieutenant Jim O'Connor, what he knew about a submarine
operating near us. Jim's job in the Liberty would have made him among the most likely people to
know such things. Before the attack I had seen him plotting what looked to me like a submarine
track on a chart. Jim looked stunned. "I don't know how you learned about that," he said. "Yes,
there was a submarine near us. If you ever quote me I'll swear you are lying." From then until he
died 25 years later of Lou Gehrig's disease, Jim never mentioned the submarine again. When I
asked him about it, he denied the earlier conversation.

During the next few years three other naval officers in key positions to know about such things
all told me, "Yes, there was a submarine with you. There were three. They spent most of the war
on the bottom, then they got out in a hurry."

Recently one of Liberty's intercept operators, Charles Rowley, told me that just before the attack
he had intercepted a very strange, very short radio signal that he had forwarded to Washington.
Instead of acknowledging his effort, Washington promptly ordered him to destroy any copies of
that signal and to ignore any like it that he heard in the future. He felt he was being scolded for
doing his job.
Rowley concluded that he had picked up a submarine signal and asked some other technicians
about it. These men mentioned "Project Cyanide" but were unable or unwilling to say more. He
concluded that "Cyanide" and the strange track on the chart all were associated with a
compartmented submarine project to which only a very few people were privy. Most of those
men died in the attack.

Frontlet 615: For the next several years, "Cyanide" and the mystery submarine remained elusive.
One Liberty survivor mentioned a submarine to a free-lance reporter who wrote a book about it.
Nearly everything he wrote was based on guesswork and was wrong. The book did nothing to
advance the story.

Then in 1988 the Lyndon Johnson Library declassified and released an intriguing, highly
sensitive document with the rare "Eyes Only" security caveat. This "Memorandum for the
Record" dated 10 April 1967 reported a briefing of the "303 Committee" by General Ralph D.
Steakley. Members present were Walt Rostow, Foy Kohler, Cyrus Vance and Admiral Rufus
Taylor.

According to the memo, General Steakley "briefed the committee on a sensitive DOD project
known as FRONTLET 615," which is identified in a handwritten note on the original
memorandum as "submarine within U.A.R. waters."* After considering alternatives, "the
proposal was approved by the committee principals." This memorandum was filed in the LBJ
Library's USS Liberty archive. Why there? Obviously it has something to do with the Liberty.
Could this have been the submarine we have heard about since 1967?

Survivors filed further Freedom of Information Act requests with the Library, Navy, Department
of Defense, National Security Council, National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency,
Joint Chiefs of Staff and elsewhere seeking more information. We sent copies of the declassified
memo to support our request. In every case we were told that there is no record within the
government of Cyanide or Frontlet 615 or of any submarines operating near the Liberty in 1967.
When we called General Steakley, he told us that his job for nine years with the Joint Chiefs of
Staff was to win approval of such projects from the appropriate authorities. He was rarely
involved in the projects themselves. He could remember nothing about Frontlet 615.

Breakthrough. In February 1997, we were contacted by a man who, like the first visitor in the
cafeteria, told us, "I was there. We watched the attack through the periscope and took pictures."
He added, "News reports said Liberty was under attack for only five minutes, but that attack
lasted more than an hour."
This person identified himself as a relatively senior member of the crew of the submarine, but he
was unwilling to give his name or to talk to us except through a third party, as he feared
punishment for telling the story. He did, however, give us the name of the submarine: USS
Amberjack SS522, a Guppy (snorkel)-equipped diesel boat built in 1945. He also told us that
Amberjack's mission was reconnaissance within U.A.R. waters. Apparently Amberjack was the
Frontlet 615 submarine. This source gained credibility when we obtained Amberjack's official
ship's history from the Department of Defense. Amberjack was indeed in the area during the
Six-Day War, just as he said.

Further searches of Navy-oriented Web sites on the Internet quickly turned up four more
Amberjack crewmen from the "Med Cruise" of June 1967. Some of these were Amberjack's most
senior enlisted men. All four of these men, contacted by telephone, readily told us that they were
very close to USS Liberty when we came under attack. Amberjack was so close, they said, and
the sound of gunfire, missiles and the torpedo explosion so loud, that some of the crew thought
Amberjack was under depth charge attack.

These men, all career submariners and all fairly senior at the time, had not seen or talked to one
another for many years. Yet they all told the same story. They were very close to or "almost
directly under" Liberty when the ship came under attack. Amberjack was specially fitted for
periscope photography and was fully capable of photographing the attack, they said, although
none of these four was certain that pictures were taken.

All four men told us that Amberjack proceeded from the Gaza Strip to a brief stop at Souda Bay,
Crete, where the ship was kept at anchorage and the crew was not allowed ashore. Next,
Amberjack went to Malta, where she tied up near the Liberty. All four men told us that
Amberjack was only one of five submarines in the Gaza Strip area. Others were USS Trutta
SS421, USS Requin SS481, and French and Italian submarines. Any of those might also have
photographed or recorded the attack.

Amberjack Skipper Denies Everything. Next we located Amberjack's 1967 skipper, August
Hubal. By coincidence, Hubal was an Annapolis classmate of Liberty's Executive Officer, Phil
Armstrong, who died in the attack. Hubal's room at the Naval Academy was directly across the
hall from that of Liberty's Research Operations Department Head, David Lewis. Hubal knew
both men well.

Now a retired Navy Captain, Hubal denies everything. Interviewed by telephone, he insists that
his ship was nowhere near Liberty. Amberjack was at least 100 miles away, he says. When we
told Captain Hubal that several senior members of his crew, including a periscope photographer,
have told us they were within sight of the attack, he shrugged that off. "They must be mistaken,"
he says, apparently still muffled by ancient security restrictions.

Why Is This Important? These stories matter because they can resolve at last the differences
between Israeli and American versions of what happened.

For 30 years Israel and its supporters have denounced survivors as liars and anti-Semites for
reporting what happened to their ship. Members of Congress are unwilling even to listen to their
stories. These men seek justice.

Recent White House executive orders (EA12958) call for the declassification of virtually every
record more than 30 years old. Amberjack photography and other such reports fall in that
category. If the submarine photography can be found, it should show that the ship's flag was
clearly visible to the attacking fighters and torpedo boats. Pictures also should show that the
Israelis continued to fire from close range with the flag and other markings in clear view long
after the torpedo explosion that they claim ended the attack. Pictures may reveal the methodical
machine-gunning of Liberty's life rafts in the water. Other Amberjack records, reports and sound
recordings should show the duration of the attack and other details denied by the attackers.

Liberty survivors will continue their quest for these records. We believe they exist and we think
they can be found. With those files and photographs declassified, Israel never again will be able
to pretend that the survivors of the Liberty attack are lying.

*At that time Egypt was formally known as "The United Arab Republic."
              "The USS Liberty: Dissenting History VS Official History"
              By John Borne, Ph.D., doctoral dissertation published June 1995

Excerpts from Introduction:

         On June 8, 1967, the American naval intelligence ship USS LIBERTY was attacked by
Israeli air and naval forces off the coast of Gaza.

       Thirty-four crewmen were killed and 171 wounded. Beyond these two brief statements
almost everything concerning this event is a matter of controversy.

        The controversy arises because the crewmen of the ship believe that the attack was
deliberate, and that the United States Government and the Israeli Government cooperated to hide
this fact, with false and rigged investigations and with untrue official accounts.

        The crewmen were ordered to keep silent on the matter, and as military men they had to
obey. Fourteen years later, retired and no longer silenced, many of them formed the LIBERTY
VETERANS ASSOCIATION to wage a campaign to tell their version of events, a dissenting
history opposed to the official history. The most important of the crewmen in this campaign was
Commander James Ennes, Jr., an officer of the ship. His book Assault on the Liberty presents
the story of the attack as seen by the crewmen, and of the "coverup" which they believed had
been organized to hide the truth about the attack.

   The men have waged a remarkable campaign for attention and have gained the backing of
important public figures and journalists. Their views are largely ignored by officials of the
United States Government. The Israeli Government and its supporters, who at first also ignored
them, have been forced to reply and have denounced the disssenting history presented by the
LIBERTY men as false and untruthful.

  This study will examine the controversy and insofar as possible judge the truth of the matter.
There are six basic questions which will be considered:

       (1) What actually occurred during the attack?

       (2) Does the evidence we possess enable us to decide whether the attack was accidental or
deliberate?

       (3) Why were the Sixth Fleet rescue flights recalled?
        (4) When a government (or in this case, two governments, American and Israeli) attempt
to present as truth the official history of an event, and to deny a dissenting history, what actions
do they take? What are the mechanisms and methods used to maintain the official view and to
prevent the issue from becoming controversial and a part of public debate?

       (5) When a small group of citizens such as the LIBERTY men tries to reopen a "closed"
question, and to force an issue into the realm of public debate, what methods and tactics do they
use?

        (6) What was the role of the press in either promoting or denigrating an official or a
dissenting history, and in setting the terms of the debate?

       SOME PROBLEMS IN DISSENTING HISTORY VERSUS OFFICIAL HISTORY.

   An official history almost always represents, until challenged, a kind of consensus, based in
part on its near-monopoly of the public agenda. The official history of events, if not entirely
believed by all the public, is at least accepted as the probable truth in the absence of any serious
reason to challenge the official view. The dominance of official history will usually last for a
long time, for those who dissent have to organize, find resources, investigate issues, and try to
present their own version of the past. When the dissenters do challenge the official consensus,
this effort will take time, sometimes even several generations.

   In this case, the dissent was crushed in earlier years because the dissenters were military men
who could be forced into silence. In the last dozen years the LIBERTY men have been able to
make their case publicly. Nevertheless we are considering events which have occurred over a
generation. Because this argument extends over such a long period of time, we can best clarify
the matter by giving a brief history of the controversy.

   The account is made more complicated by the fact that there were three parties to the dispute:
the United States government, the Israeli government, and the LIBERTY men. In reality, as we
shall see, the dispute between the two governments was minimal and, despite a few indignant
protests over the attack, the U.S. government largely agreed with the Israeli Government
concerning the event. (There is one important and interesting exception to this general statement,
as will be discussed.)

    The issue, then, was largely between the LIBERTY men and the two governments. The
controversy can best be described as occurring during three periods.
    The first period was June and July 1967. During this time the crewmen were forcibly silenced
and were unable to present their own version of the event. There were only two occasions when
the crewmen managed to claim publicly that the attack was deliberate. Both protests by the
crewmen were brief and barely noticed by the world at large. A few journalists did claim or
suggest that the attack was intentional, but they were not in contact with the crewmen and in any
event did not follow up on the story. In this first period the U.S. and Israeli governments were
successful in establishing their official history, without any serious challenge. There were minor
differences between the official histories as presented by the two governments, but they were of
little importance.

   In the second period, 1968-1980, the official consensus was generally accepted and the matter
was largely forgotten. The very few protests against this consensus were scarcely noticed.
     In the third period, 1980 to the present, the LIBERTY crewmen managed to present a
dissenting history and for the first time force at least some degree of debate on the subject. This
was largely due to Ennes and his book Assault on the Liberty, and to the energetic campaign
which the crewmen waged to make the world hear their story. In these thirteen years the
LIBERTY men have gained the support of important journalists and public figures and have
managed to make their version of history known to at least a part of the American public.

   There are two secondary questions which should be noted for the sake of clarity, since there
are frequent references to these topics in the discussion of the LIBERTY. Neither of the
questions can be answered with certainty, and neither are crucial to the basic questions with
which we are concerned.

        First, there is the unsettled question as to whether or not the Israeli government asked the
American Embassy in Tel Aviv, before the attack on the LIBERTY, if there were any American
ships in the area. This question is much more complicated than might be supposed, and there is
much evidence on both sides of the issue. Interestingly, this is a dispute entirely between the
U.S. government and the Israeli government. The LIBERTY men have no way of knowing the
facts in this matter, and they merely note the argument between their two opponents.

        Secondly, there is the matter of the submarine which had made a rendezvous with the
LIBERTY on June 7, 1967, and which was submerged nearby when the attack began. There are
frequent references in accounts and documents to this (or possibly another) submarine and
much speculation on its mission, but not enough evidence to give any definite answers on the
subject.
        In describing the charges and countercharges we should use the term "controversy" rather
than "debate". Debate implies too neat and civil an argument, with statements and rebuttals. We
are dealing here with a dispute in which the upholders of official history refuse to dignify as
equal opponents those who present a dissenting history. The charges of the LIBERTY men are if
possible ignored, or not seriously considered. The LIBERTY men, however, with everything to
gain from open debate and with the confidence that truth is on their side, have made a point of
dealing with every argument made by their opponents.

       In the first two time periods of this long controversy, 1967 to 1980, the documents and
arguments were provided by the U.S. and Israeli governments, while the crewmen had little
opportunity to make their case. In the period since 1980 the crewmen, assuming the great
burden of promoting their dissenting history against the prevailing consensus, have written and
spoken at length while their opponents have presented their case more briefly. In each instance I
have attempted to give a balanced view of the dispute.

        There is one final point to be considered in taking an overview of this controversy: the
logic and consistency of the positions held by the contending opponents. The crewmen have
been remarkably consistent and assured in presenting their views. The views they hold in 1992
are those they held in 1967, allowing only for the additional information concerning details of
events which they have managed to uncover in that quarter century. Their arguments are
coherent and detailed. The one exception relates to the events in Grafton, Wisconsin, which will
be described in a chapter of this dissertation. Here, I feel, they engage in some rather uneasy
rationalizations to justify the fact that a memorial library in their honor was financed by two
wealthy men of right wing views.

        The U.S. government, as represented by the bureaucracy, has also been consistent in the
sense that it has stood by the Naval Court Summary of 1967 as the final word on the matter, and
has refused to debate the matter further.

        The Israelis and their American supporters have been far less consistent. Their accounts
of the attack vary greatly, and the LIBERTY men have exploited these differing accounts to the
greatest degree possible. Just why the Israeli explanations vary so greatly is itself an interesting
question which I will consider in the concluding chapter.
                       Analysis of ATTACK ON THE LIBERTY

Broadcast by Thames Television
Rex Bloomstein, Producer/Director
by Joseph L. Meadors
Past President USS LIBERTY VETERANS ASSOCIATION

USS LIBERTY survivors interviewed:

1) Lloyd Painter (Officer of the Deck during attack)
2) James M. Ennes, Jr. (Officer of the Deck morning of 8 June 1967)
3) George Golden (Engineering Officer)
4) Phil Tourney (Petty Officer)
5) Dr. Richard Kiepfer (Medical Officer)
6) Stan White (Senior Chief Petty Officer)
7) Joseph Lentini (Petty Officer)
8) John Hrankowski (Petty Officer)
9) Wayne Smith (Chief Petty Officer)
10) John Scott (Damage Control Officer)

Israeli personnel interviewed:

1)   Unidentified Former Flight Engineer (Israeli Air Force)
2)   Pinchas Pincasy (Former Naval Liaison Officer with Israeli Air Force)
3)   Avraham Lunz (Former Duty Officer Naval HQ, Haifa)
4)   Issy Rahav (Former Israeli Chief of Naval Operations)
5)   Moshe Oren (Former Commander of Torpedo Boat Flotilla)
6)   General Yeshayahu Bareket (Former Head of Israeli Air Force Intelligence)
7)   Aharon Yifrach (Former Torpedo Boat Communications Officer)
8)   Colonel Shmuel Kislev (Former Head of Israeli Air Force Operations)
9)   Admiral Shlomo Erel (Former Head of Israeli Navy)

ANALYSIS
The Israelis repeatedly asserted that there was no flag flying on the LIBERTY.

The anonymous "Former Flight Engineer" stated there was "no flag on the ship."
General Yeshayahu Bareket, Former Head of Israeli Air Force Intelligence, stated, "There was no
flag on the ship. The question was asked and repeated and repeated again and again. Are you
sure you can't see any flag are you sure you can't see any kind of identification. And all the
words came back - no."

Chief Petty Officer Melvin Smith was the USS LIBERTY's leading enlisted cryptologist. Chief
Smith, and the radio intercept operators under his command, overheard the Israeli pilots reporting
back to their base that we were flying an American flag.
Narrator: "Here in Tel Aviv the Air Force, which apparently had not been told that the Liberty
had been recognized, was becoming concerned about reports from its own pilots of an
unidentified spy ship."

The Report of the Israeli 1967 Preliminary Inquiry (the Yerushalmi Report 1/67 dated July 21,
1967) states: "At 1055 hours the Naval Liaison Officer at Air Force H.Q. reported to the Navy
H.Q. that the ship about which he had reported earlier in the morning was an electromagnetic
audio-surveillance ship of the U.S. Navy, named Liberty, whose marking was GTR-5. At the
same time the Acting Chief of Naval Operations was present at Navy H.Q."

According to the documentary, the Air Force had not been notified that the Liberty had been
recognized, while the Report of the Israeli inquiry states that it is the Air Force who reported the
identification of the Liberty to the Navy.

General Yeshayahu Bareket was emphatic that he contacted the American Embassy before the
attack to find out if there were any US Navy ships in the area.

At the time this claim was first made (immediately after the attack) it caused great consternation
in the US State Department and was the subject of several messages including AMEB Tel Aviv
serial 4178 JUN 67, USDAO Tel Aviv 161945Z JUN 67, and AMEMB Tel Aviv 162000Z
which said flatly: "No request for info on U.S. ships operating off Sinai was made until after
Liberty incident. Had Israelis made such an inquiry, it would have been forwarded immediately
to the Chief of Naval Operations and other high naval commands and repeated to the Department
(of State)."

Avraham Lunz (Former Duty Officer Naval HQ, Haifa): "I got on duty in the morning about
8:00. The situation was very calm. I had some old information. One of them was about an AGI,
Intelligence Gathering Ship, American Type, in the southern part of the area. The information
was quite old. It was dated 6 hours this morning. At around 11:00, checking the situation and
knowing that no ship would stay on its place, and five hours old information was quite old, we
took it off without knowing where it went."

Admiral Shlomo Erel (Former Head of Israeli Navy): "The description of the Liberty sailing
innocently in broad daylight is all so very picturesque but this wasn't the case. This was the heart
of fighting, with aircraft flying overhead all the time in the heart of a war area."

Admiral Erel would have you believe that aircraft were flying all over the place, yet none of them
reported seeing the Liberty between the hours of 6:00 and 11:00.

Issy Rahav, Former Chief of Naval Operations, ordered the dispatch of three Motor Torpedo
Boats from Ashdod "at about 1200." He ordered them to "sail and see whether they can see
anything in the area."

Moshe Oren, Former Commander of the Motor Torpedo Boat Flotilla, stated that "we were
actually ordered to find this ship that is bombarding the shore, our forces, and destroy it. That
was the order."

The Yerushalmi Report: "At 1205 hours an order was given to three torpedo boats of the division
at Ashdod to proceed in the direction of El-Arish Reports about the shelling continued to reach
G.H.Q./Operations, and pressure was exerted on the Naval representative, on the lines that 'the
coast has been shelled for hours, and you - the Navy - are not reacting.' The Naval representative
contacted Navy H.Q. and proposed an immediate action. He was informed that torpedo boats
had been sent to the spot to locate the target, and it had also been agreed with the Naval
representative at Air Force H.Q. that as soon as the torpedo boats locate the target, aircraft would
be dispatched."

In 1982, The Israel Defense Forces History Department Research and Instruction Branch issued a
report on the USS LIBERTY incident. On page 10 of that report, it states

       "Division 914 ('Pagoda' on the radio code), under the command of Commander Moshe
Oren, consisted at that time of three torpedo boats - T203, T204 and T206; the flagship was
T204, with the Division commander aboard. The Division had left Ashdod Port at 1120 hours,
with the task of patrolling between Ashdod and Ashkelon." (emphasis added) Elsewhere,
"Division 914 continued on her way to El-Arish and after an hour's sailing (at 1317 hours) she
was informed (by Naval Operations/3) of the shelling from the sea, of El-Arish."
Aharon Yifrach, Former Torpedo Boat Communications Officer, located the LIBERTY on radar
at a range of 22 miles "about an hour later" (this would be about 1300 hours) and plotted the
contact travelling at 30 knots. He stated the contact "was running away west at high speed, we
cannot achieve it, our high speed was slower, and we asked for support of aircraft."

The Yerushalmi Report:
"According to the division log-book, a target was located at 1341 hours situated at a distance of
about 20 miles north of El-Arish." Not 1300 hours as stated by Yifrach.

The Israel Defense Forces History Department Report:
"At 1341 hours, the Division detected the target on its radar - 20 miles northwest of El-Arish and
14 miles off the coast of Bardawil. The officer at the CIC on the flagship, Ensign Yifrach Aharon
(sic), reported that the target had been detected at a range of 22 miles, that the target had been
tracked for a few minutes, after which he had determined that the target was moving westward at
a speed of 30 knots."

The torpedo boats were sent from Ashdod at 1200 hours. "About an hour later" they had the
Liberty on radar at a distance of 22 miles traveling at 30 knots "in a westerly direction" which,
according to Yifrach, was faster than the fastest speed the torpedo boats could attain. At this time
the Liberty was 77 miles from Ashdod which means that in order to have the ship on radar from
22 miles away, the torpedo boats (with a maximum speed of less than 30 knots) would have to
travel the 55 miles in one hour. This is impossible.
Radar is line of sight (Radar waves do not follow the curvature of the Earth). As a result, the
maximum range of the Torpedo Boat's radar is 12-15 miles. They did not come close enough to
detect the Liberty on radar until 1400 hours, and by that time the attack was already underway.

o Aharon Yifrach, "I reported to headquarters in Haifa that we found the target, it's running
away west at very high speed, we cannot achieve it, our high speed was slower, and we asked for
support of aircraft."

The Yerushalmi Report:
"(The Naval representative) was informed that torpedo boats had been sent to the spot to locate
the target, and it had also been agreed with the Naval representative at Air Force H.Q. that as
soon as the torpedo boats locate the target, aircraft would be dispatched."
The Israel Defense Forces History Department Report:

"The Division Commander (Moshe Oren) was told to listen to the air-sea-liaison radio channel
(86 and 186) and that IAF planes would be dispatched to the area after the target had been
detected by the Division."

Aharon Yifrach asserts that the aircraft were dispatched because the torpedo boats reported that
the contact was traveling at 30 knots and the boats were not capable of achieving that speed. The
two other reports contradict this.

Colonel Shmuel Kislev states the pilots were told there was only one ship in the area and, if they
determined that the ship was "the warship that had been shelling the shore of El Arish," they
were permitted to attack. During one of the strafing runs one of the pilots reported that there was
no flag flying. After that report, the aircraft were ordered to halt the attack.

The Yerushalmi Report:
"The aircraft carried out a run over the ship in an attempt to identify it. According to their
statements, they were looking for a flag but found none; likewise no other identification mark
was observed. As against this, it was established that the painting of the ship was grey (the color
of a warship), and two guns were situated in the bow. This was reported to H.Q. On the
assumption that they were facing an enemy target an order was given to the aircraft to attack."

Note that the Yerushalmi Report states that the pilots were ordered to attack after they indicated
they saw no flag flying, but the pilots did not report seeing no flag until the last strafing run (with
napalm).

The Israel Defense Forces History Department Report:
"The two 'Mirage' aircraft reached the ship at approximately1400 hours. The formation leader,
Captain Spector, descended to a height of 3,000 feet and circled the vessel twice; his number two
executed one identification run. These runs revealed to the pilots that the ship was not an Israeli
vessel since she did not have the identifying markings (a white cross on a red background). The
ship was colored battleship grey, had a foremast, one smokestack and two guns on her bow. No
flag or other identifying sign was discerned. The formation leader reported this to the torpedo
boats and Control and then the aircraft received permission to attack." Elsewhere, "The lack of
response from the ship raised suspicions in the mind of the formation leader and he decided to
descend for an identification run. In this first run he discerned letters on the ship's bow but did
not succeed in reading them clearly although the marking looked like p-30. In order to be sure
the pilot descended for a second, slower identification run at a height of about 30 meters and then
he was able to discern the letters CTR-5 ('Charley', 'Tango', 'Romeo') and reported this to control.
Although he searched for a flag or other identification marking, he detected nothing."

Note that in the documentary, the pilot reported seeing CTR-5 during the last strafing attack
(even going to the extreme of providing "transcripts" of the pilot's conversation). This is
contradicted by the Israeli Defense Forces History Department Report which states that the pilot
reported seeing CTR-5 when he made two special identification runs over the ship.

The pilot's conversations were "recreated from transcripts."
Why was the conversation of the pilots recreated from the transcripts instead of using the tapes
themselves?

Two Torpedo Boat commanders, simultaneously and independently, identified the Liberty as the
El Quseir.

In a September 21, 1967 memo from Carl F. Salans, The Legal Advisor in the United States
Department of State, to the Undersecretary of State, Mr. Salans writes:

"The Clifford report noted 'That the Liberty could have been mistaken for the Egyptian supply
ship El-Quseir is unbelievable. El-Quseir has one-fourth the displacement of the Liberty, roughly
one-half the beam, is 180 feet shorter, and is very differently configured. The Liberty's unusual
antenna array and hull markings should have been visible to low-flying aircraft and torpedo
boats. ...Trained Israeli naval personnel should have been able easily to see and identify the
larger hull markings on the Liberty.'

"The Israeli report states that the initial speed of the target reported by the torpedo boat
commander at 1341 hours as 30 knots was verified within minutes and confirmed as a speed of
28 knots. The report notes that it was the speed of the target which led to the final conclusion
that there was no reason for surmising that the target could possibly be the Liberty.

"The reported speed would have ruled out the "El Kasir" as the target, as well as the Liberty,
since the top speed of the El Kasir, published in Janes Fighting Ships, is in the range of 14 knots.
The Liberty's top speed is 18 knots."

Commander Ernest Castle, US Military Attache in Tel Aviv at the time of the attack states that if
the Israelis really wanted to sink the Liberty they would have attacked at night and, since they
recently wiped out the Egyptian military with such ease, they would have had no problem sinking
the ship.
Would the Israelis have waited until night to attack the Liberty?   Would the Israelis have waited
until the Liberty had spent the entire afternoon spying on them?

Instead of waiting for night, wouldn't they have jammed her radios?     They did.

Instead of waiting for night, wouldn't they have sent in fast attack jets to destroy her antennas and
wipe out her defensive capabilities? They did.

Instead of waiting for night, wouldn't they have brought in torpedo boats to sink the ship? They
did.

Instead of waiting for night, wouldn't they have those torpedo boats machine gun the Liberty's
life rafts to insure there were no survivors? They did.

SUMMARY

According to the 1982 Israeli Defense Force History Department Report, "such an incident must
be thoroughly investigated, that all the causes of the tragic encounter must be examined,
conclusions drawn, and proper instructions issued which will prevent the occurrence of such an
incident in the future."

The questions raised by the Thames Documentary add support to this argument. A complete
investigation by the US Government is long overdue.
JERUSALEM(AP): A soldier kills a prisoner after forcing him to dig his own grave. Two army
cooks stab to death three captives. A commander orders his men to shoot at close range two
enemy soldiers whose hands are up. Asked who might be capable of such war crimes, just about
everyone in Israel would have pointed to a foreign army - until this month, when accounts
surfaced of the killings of Arab prisoners and civilians by Israeli soldiers in at least three Middle
East wars.

The dimensions of any atrocities remain unclear. But the disclosures so far have shaken this
country of citizen-soldiers who are raised in the belief that they hold the high moral ground on
the battlefield with the Arabs. Painful questions have emerged: Why were the atrocities kept
secret for so long? How much did Israel's leaders know? Why were war criminals not punished?
Should and could they be prosecuted now?

Some warn the soul-searching will undermine national moral; former Defense Minister Ariel
Sharon spoke of an "act of national suicide." Others say the peace process requires Israel to a
more honest look at its past.

Egypt, the first Arab nation to make peace with Israel, has demanded an accounting of Egyptian
POW's killed while in Israeli hands. Israel's army is preparing a report for Cairo to prevent a
further strain in relations. "We always had this rear that we weren't really strong and that we
mustn't talk about our weakness. But now Israel is more sure of itself, more mature," said
historian Benny Morris.

The army itself--which has remained silent in the controversy--set in motion the disclosures
when it opened its archives to researchers some two years ago, Morris said. One outcome was a
book about the 1956 Mideast war, including descriptions of prisoner killings. News of the book
led retired Gen. Arye Biro to admit this month that he killed 49 Egyptian captives in the Sinai
Desert.

Several veterans then said they witnessed killings of prisoners by Israeli solders in 1956 and
1967. Another book by a former colonel and published by the Defense Ministry said soldiers
executed dozens of Palestinian civilians in 1948. One historian said that in 1967 alone, some
1,000 Egyptians were shot dead after surrender. More disclosures are likely. Biro has threatened
to name accomplices if he is made a scapegoat, and others may level charges to settle political
scores. Morris said the stage was set for such killings in the 1948 war, in which no Israeli soldier
was punished for war crimes because then-Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion felt it would
weaken the army's fighting spirit.
Michael Bar-Zohar, a former legislator who served as spokesman for then-Defense Minister
Moshe Dayan after the 1967 war, recalled that his boss only grudgingly addressed the issue.
Israel's military censor also silenced any attempt to report the prisoner killings, said Israeli
journalist Uri Avneri. He said his last unsuccessful attempt to do so was in 1990.

Military historian Meir Pail said the army preferred to deal with the matter internally and that he
knew of three or four solders who went to prison for war crimes. One reason for secrecy was the
fear that reports of Israeli atrocities would provide a pretext for enemy troops to kill Israeli
captives. But some Israeli veterans said the mutual hatred was so great no pretext was needed.
The attorney general has said he would check whether he can prosecute. However, Israel has no
war crimes law and murder charges can only be filed for up to 20 years after a killing. Author
Zeev Hefetz, a former government spokesman, said Israel might open itself up to criticism if it
didn't prosecute. "we have a problem because we have been militantly and correctly demanding
justice for Nazi war criminals. It's a little bit late to argue now that it was 40 years ago, let's
forget it," Hefetz said.




New York Times, Thursday, September 21, 1995 (front page - bottom)
"Egypt Says Israelis Killed P.O.W.'s in '67 War.
By Youssef M. Ibrahim

CAIRO, Sept 20 -- Egypt said today that it had discovered two mass graves in the Sinai
containing the remains of Egyptian prisoners of war and unarmed civilians shot by Israeli
soldiers during the 1967 war.

The discovery, near El Arish, is likely to generate further pressure on President Hosni Mubarak
and feed public opinion against Israel. The Egyptian government has been accused by opposition
groups of not pushing for a serious investigation after initial revelations last month because of
Egypt's eagerness to please Israel and the United States.

The charges first came to prominence when a retired Israeli brigadier general, Arieh Biroh, said
in interviews that in October 1956, he and another officer killed 49 Egyptian prisoners of war in
the Sinai Desert. At the same time, an Israeli historian said that as many as 300 unarmed
Egyptians were killed in both the 1967 war and in the war of 1956. those reports led to other
allegations and revelations. Since last month, opposition parties and newspapers in Egypt have
questioned why the Government did not pursue the charges vigorously until Israelis raised the
issue. The discovery of the two graves, one near a former Egyptian air base about three miles
from El Arish and the other about 18 miles from town, was describes today in the
Government-owned newspaper Al Ahara. The paper said the two shallow graves held the
remains of at least 30 and possibly 60 people. It quoted several Bedouins in the regions as saying
they had witnessed the killing of Egyptian soldiers after their surrender on June 6 and June 7,
1967, and had helped to bury them. The papers said an expedition organized by reporters had
uncovered the two graves with the help of an Egyptian guide who had served as a sergeant during
the 1967 war. The former sergeant, Abdelsalam Moussa, said he had helped to bury some
victims in one grave. The newspaper showed pictures of one grave that it said contained the
remains of 30 people. Mr. Moussa, now 55, said he had been ordered to bury some of his
comrades by Israeli soldiers who took him prisoner.

The 1967 was a major military triumph by Israel over Egypt, Syria and Jordan, during which
Israel occupied the Golan Heights, the West Bank, the Gaza strip and the Sinai Desert. It was not
clear why Mr. Moussa did not come forward earlier, but the Egyptian Government has
discouraged delving into such issues since it recovered Sinai from Israel in the early 1980's. "I
was a line of prisoners, civilians and military, and they opened fire at them all at once," Mr.
Moussa was quoted as saying. "when they were dead, they told us to bury them:" Al Ahram also
quoted a Bedouin, Suleman Moghnem Salemeh, who said he saw Israeli kill about 30 Egyptian
soldiers and officers after they surrendered, leaving them for the Bedouins to bury. Although the
allegations initially led to widespread introspection in Israel, the issue has largely died down
there, and Israel, which has a 20-year statute of limitations, decided not to pursue the charges,
which further inflamed segments of the Egyptian public.

While the killing of unarmed Egyptians could pose serious problems for relations between Egypt
and Israel, the first two countries to sign an Arab-Israeli peace treaty, there have been few
indications of a crisis. But Shimon Peres, the Israeli Foreign Minister, has refused to agree to
Cairo as the site for current talks with Palestinians over self-rule in the West Bank. The talks are
continuing in Taba, Egypt, on the Gulf of Aquaba, because Mr. Peres said going to Cairo would
mean he would have to answer questions about the graves.

President Mubarak has called for an investigation In Israel and punishment of those responsible.
Israel responded by sending Elli Dayan, a Deputy Foreign Minister, to discuss the matter. During
his visit here, he offered compensation to the families of the victims but noted Israel's 20-year
statue of limitations. In the last month, both left-wing and right-wing parties in Egypt have
demanded a suspension of diplomatic ties with Israel until a full investigation is conducted. Rose
el-Youssef, Egypt's most widely read weekly, condemned the Egyptian Ambassador to Israel,
Mohammed Bassiouni, who has served in the post for more than 12 years, for deliberately
overlooking the issue.
Accusing him of unpatriotic behavior and of becoming servile to Israel, the weekly called for his
dismissal. After the revelations last month, Mr. Bassiouni demanded an explanation from Israel,
but he also emphasized that the incident would not affect the peace pact that Egypt signed with
Israel in 1979. The Israeli Ambassador to Cairo, David Sultan, asked to be relieved of his post
after Al Shaab, a daily with strong Muslim fundamentalist views, said he was personally
responsible for the killing of 100 Egyptian prisoners of war in 1967. The Israeli Embassy and
Foreign Ministry have vehemently denied the charge, and Israeli officials have been unclear on
when or whether Mr. Sultan served in the military. The Israeli Foreign Ministry is looking for a
new ambassador, and in the meantime, Egyptian security officials have discreetly but
significantly increased the protection of Israeli diplomats here.

On Tuesday night, even before today's report in Al Ahram the main television channel devoted a
substantial part of a popular program, "The Talk of the City," to the issue. In the program, the
host rides around Cairo in a car, stopping to interview people on the streets. Nearly everyone he
spoke to demanded further investigations into the matter. Some said peace does not mean all is
forgotten. Others went further, insisting that Israelis found guilty of killing unarmed war
prisoners should be put on trial and jailed.




NY Times, Editorial (editorial page), Friday, 22 Sept, 1995
"Graves and Questions in the Sinai"

Israel and Egypt must not try to finesse the discovery of two mass graves in the Sinai. Cairo says
they contain the remains of Egyptians prisoners of war and unarmed civilians executed by Israel
during the 1967 war.

Whatever happened in the desert nearly 30 years ago, even if no longer prosecutable under Israeli
law, should be investigated by Israel and a public accounting should be made. Allegations of
unproved killing first appeared last month when a retired Israeli General, Arieh Biroh, admitted
he had killed Egyptian prisoners in the 1956 conflict with Egypt. Then the current Israeli
Housing Minister, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, was accused of participating in the execution of
civilians and prisoners of war in 1967. Mr. Ben-Eliezer denied the charge and matter was not
pursued by the Government. Cairo, too, initially shrank from looking into the allegations, fearing
it might offend byth Israel and the United States. Now, after discovery of the mass graves,
Egypt's President, Hosni Mubarak, has asked Israel to investigate and punish those responsible.
Some political parties in Egypt have demanded suspension of diplomatic ties with Israel. The
Egyptian Ambassador to Tel Aviv, Mohammed Bassiouni, has been criticized for failing to
pursue the issue. Mr. Bassiouni, who eventually demanded an explanation form Israel, has
wisely said the incident would not affect the peace treaty between the two countries. But Israel
should not take Mr. Bassiouni's restraint as a signal it can let the matter drop. An Israeli offer of
compensation to the families of the victims is laudable, but not sufficient. Both Egyptian and
Israeli deserve a full explanation.

In many countries where military misconduct has occurred, it has become common practice to
appoint commissions to discover the truth of such incidents. Only a full inquiry and public airing
of the facts can hear old wounds like these. In this case, witnesses are prepared to offer their
accounts of what happened and bodies can be recovered from the graves for examination by
forensic experts. Israel should not delay. Its relationship with Cairo, and its own sense of honor,
are too valuable to squander, whether or not the statue of limitations has expired. Describing the
allegations as "Pandora's Box," Mr. Ben-Eliezer said, "The less we talk about this, the better."
He could not be more wrong.

Washington Times, 7 October 1995 by Siona Jenkins (The Washington Times)
CAIRO -- Egyptians, stunned by reports that unarmed Egyptian prisoners were massacred in
Sinai during wars with Israel in 1956 and 1967, are demanding answers from their own
government about why the incidents were never investigated. Despite Cairo's efforts to quiet the
controversy during negotiations leading to the Sept. 28 Israeli-Palestinian agreement in
Washington, the revelations also threaten to place a new chill on the "cold" peace between Israel
and Egypt.

"Egyptians are ... angry at their own government for not having taken action, or pressed for
compensation," said Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a sociology professor at American University in Cairo.

"Only now after a delayed reaction are we seeing statements from the president and foreign
minister." The killings came to light in August when the former colonel of an Israeli parachute
unit, Auschwitz survivor Aryeh Biro, admitted to having killed 49 unarmed Egyptian prisoners of
war in Sinai during the 1956 war.

An Israeli historian then published allegations that an elite commando unit had killed more than
300 Egyptian prisoners in the Six Day War of 1967. Egyptians have reacted angrily. Opposition
papers have called for the severing of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and more
than 200 prominent citizens, including former generals have formed a national committee to seek
justice for the murdered men. Adding to the furor, the press has published harrowing eyewitness
accounts of Israeli atrocities against Egyptians, and last month the semiofficial Al-Ahram
newspaper claimed to have found two mass graves containing the remains of POW's killed by
Israelis in Sinai.

President Hosni Mubarak conceded in an interview with the New York Times that he had not
wanted the issue to jeopardize the recently concluded Israeli-PLO peace negotiations, although
he added that he had asked Israel to conduct an investigation into the allegations as soon as
possible. But public opinion is forcing the government into stronger actions, and a senior
Ministry of Justice official recently announced the government was compiling evidence that may
be used in a lawsuit against the Israeli government.

For its part, the Israeli government has admitted that some Egyptians were killed by its army but
says there is no independent confirmation of the alleged 1967 killings. It also maintains that
those responsible cannot be prosecuted because of a 20-year statute of limitations. This
stance has infuriated Egyptians, who point out that Israel does not recognize a statute of
limitations for Nazi war criminals. "It is very hard for us to understand why Israel, which leads
the world in getting compensation for atrocities against its own people, should behave this way,"
said Salama Ahmed Salama, managing editor of Al-Ahram. Egyptian lawyers also say Israel's
statute of limitations applies only to local criminal law, not to war crimes, which are tried under
international law.

Analysts say the affair has heightened the already strong ambivalence of Egyptians toward Israel.
Although the two countries signed the Camp David Accords back in 1979, many intellectuals and
politicians still oppose then normalization of relations between the two countries.
           A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty
        NAVAL LAW REVIEW                                                                      VOL. 36 WINTER 1986

                                                                                                     * **
                     Lieutenant Commander Walter L. Jacobsen, JA GC, USN

                 Following the Israeli attack on the U.S.S. Liberty, there were conflicting ac-
                 counts of the event. Many questions remain unanswered. In this article, LCDR
                 Jacobsen provides an analysis of the attack in light of existing international
                 precepts as they relate to intelligence gathering, freedom of the seas, aggres-
                 sion, and self-defense. Following this analysis, the author concludes that the
                 attack was not supportable in international law and recommends a thorough,
                 public investigation into the attack by the United States Congress.

                 Prologue

             On June 8, 1967, Israeli jets and torpedo boats attacked the U.S.S. Liberty, in the
             eastern Mediterranean, killing thirty-four Americans and wounding 171 more. The
             attack took place during the Six-Day War, so called because of the spectacular
             success that Israel had in defeating the forces of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria during
             that regional conflict. This is the first legal study of that attack.1 The accepted ex-
             planation for the attack has been that it was a tragic mistake. Using this



             * Lieutenant Commander Walter L. Jacobsen is presently, serving as Staff Judge
             Advocate for Commander, Iceland Defense Force. He received his B.A. degree from
             Northwestern University in 1972, his J.D. degree from Suffolk University in 1975, and
             his LL.M. degree from the National Law Center at George Washington University in
             1985. This article is based on a thesis submitted as part of the author's LL.M. degree
             work at George Washington University.

             **The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the of-
             ficial policy or position of the United States Government, the Department of Defense,
             the Department of the Navy, or the Naval Justice School.




1
    There is a passing reference to the attack on the Liberty in Professor O'Connell's, The Influence of Law on
    Seapower (1975). It reads:
            On 8 June 1967 Israeli torpedo boats and aircraft attacked the U.S.S. Liberty, an electronic surveillance
            ship which was monitoring Israeli transmissions from the high seas during the Six Day's War. (The iden-
            tity of the ship appears to have been mistaken.) The fact that something is done does not make it legal
            and Israel is reported to have paid over $3 million in compensation. The illegality may have lain in the at-
            tack on a neutral ship or it may have been compounded by the fact that the attack occurred on the high
            seas.
    D. O'Connell, The Influence of Law on Seapower 127 (1975).
70                                  A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




           official explanation, there are really no international legal issues to discuss. Since
           the attack, however, several researchers have been at work digging out additional
           facts that shed an entirely different light on the incident. One of the researchers,
           Lieutenant Commander James M. Ennes, Jr., is a survivor of the attack.

                  A unique aspect of this study is its almost total reliance on authoritative unof-
           ficial sources2 for facts. Little reliance has been placed on officially published re-
           cords about the incident.3 It is only with the appearance of exhaustively re-
           searched, unofficial sources that the international legal issues raised by the attack
           have come to light.

         I. FACTUAL SETTING

                 If we agreed that armed attack can properly achieve the purposes of the as-
                 sailant, then I fear we will have turned back the clock of international order. –
                 President Dwight D. Eisenhower

                 There is nothing so powerful as truth and often nothing so strange. –
                 Daniel Webster

                  A. The Six-Day War

                        The Six-Day War, lasting from the 8th to the 10th of June, 1967, may
           have started because of the Soviet Union's efforts to unify the Arabs. The Soviets
           had been encouraging President Nasser of Egypt to show more support for Syria
           in the face of a perceived Israeli attack.4 The Russians intended to unify the Arabs
           under Soviet influence.5 Instead, given the military alliances between Egypt and
           Syria,




     2
         The principal unofficial sources relied upon are: J. Bamford, The Puzzle Palace: A Report on NSA,
         America's Most Secret Agency (1982} J. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty. The True Story of the Israeli
         Attack on an American Intelligence Ship (1979} S. Green, Taking Sides: America's Secret Relations
         With a Militant Israel (1984} D. Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem: The Six Days That Changed the Middle
         East (1984); S. Steven, The Spymasters of Israel: The Definitive Inside Look at the World's Best In-
         telligence Service (1980); Ennes, The U.S.S. Liberty Affair, The Link, May-June 1984, at l; The Offi-
         cial Israeli Excuse, The Link, May-June 1984, at 11.
     3
         The principal sources of the Government of Israel version of the attack may be found in: Goodman &
         Schiff, The Attack on the Liberty, Atlantic, Sept. 1984, at 78; M. Greenberg, The Attack on the "Lib-
         erty" Incident (Israeli Defense Forces History Department Monograph, June 1982} U.S. Navy Court
         of Inquiry to Inquire into the Circumstances Surrounding the Armed Attack on U.S.S. Liberty AGTR-5
         on 8 June 1967 (page 3 of document 45 of exhibit 48 contains the first Israeli justification for the at-
         tack from Lieutenant Colonel Bloch}, Y. Yerishalmi, Preliminary Inquiry (July 21, 1967) (a one-man
         preliminary judicial inquiry into the conduct of members of the Israeli Defense Forces during the at-
         tack on the Liberty).
     4
         D. Neff, supra note 2, at 58-60.
     5
         Id. at 53
71                                  A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




and finally Egypt and Jordan, the Russians probably unintentionally drove the region to
war. 6

        On the 16th of May, Egypt requested that the 3,378 members of the United Nations
Emergency Force, who patrolled the Egyptian-Israeli border on the Egyptian side, be re-
moved. The removal of the United Nations troops from the border also meant their with-
drawal from the lonely outpost at Sharm el-Sheikh, where they had overseen the free tran-
sit of ships bound for Israel through the Gulf of Aqaba and the Straits of Tiran. After with-
drawal of the United Nations troops, one question raised was whether the Egyptians would
try to close these Straits. The Israelis let it be known that closing the Straits would be con-
sidered an act of aggression and a cause for war. 7 During the night of May 22-23, 1967,
President Nasser announced that he was, in fact, closing the Straits of Tiran to Israeli
shipping. It was clear that there would be war, and Israel was ready.

        The Israeli military establishment and the intelligence services were particularly
anxious for a showdown with the Arabs. 8 Israel possessed nearly perfect intelligence ca-
pabilities. 9 One Israeli intelligence officer said, "The Arabs had no surprises for us; we
knew what they had and where they had it. 10

      Israel's actual justification for the use of force against Egypt was its charge that, in
the early hours of the 5th of June, Egyptian land and air forces had moved against Israel. 11

       On the morning of June 5, 1967, waves of Israeli jets flew over the Sinai Peninsula
from the Mediterranean Sea and proceeded to destroy the Egyptian Air Force on the
ground. The jets had traveled so low over the water that they had disappeared for a time
from ground-based radar stations. It was a tactic that had been practiced for the previous
two years. 12 In the first minutes of the attack, precision runs destroyed every first-strike
forward airfield in Egypt. 13 At the same time, Israeli attacks of lesser magnitude were be-
ing made against targets in Jordan and Syria. After the devastating June 5th air attacks
against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, Israel completely dominated the skies over the south-
eastern Mediterranean region. 14

         By the 6th of June, Israeli land forces were more than halfway to the Suez Canal
along the Sinai Mediterranean coast. By the next day, Sharm el-Sheikh and the Egyptian
side of the Straits of Tiran were in Israeli hands. With the capture of


6
  Id. at 60.
7
  Id. at 87.
8
  Id. at 58.
9
  S. Steven, supra note 2, at 28.
10
   L. Velie, Countdown in the Holy Land 125 (1969).
11
   22 U.N. SCOR (1360th mtg.) at 1, U.N. Doe. S/T. V 1347 (1967).
12
   D. Neff, supra note 2, at 32.
13
   S. Steven, supra note 2, at 231.
14
   D. Neff, supra note 2, at 204; J. Bamford, supra note 2, at 221.
72                                   A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




Sharm el-Sheikh, Israel's originally stated war aim had been satisfied; ships could once again
pass through the Straits to the Israeli port of Elath. Israeli troops continued through the Sinai,
however, and reached the Suez Canal on the 8th of June. By this time, Egyptian resistance in
the Sinai was effectively finished, and the airfield at El-Arish was functioning as an advanced
Israeli air base. 15

        Prior to the Six-Day War, Jordan had made a last-minute alliance with Egypt. This was to
be a costly venture. Israel was confident of victory over Jordan and wanted to fight the King-
dom. To avoid having to give back the fruits of conquest, however, Israel knew that she would
have to be able to sustain the argument that she had been the victim of aggression.16 Accord-
ingly, when Israeli intelligence intercepted radio signals from Egypt describing the crushing de-
feat Egypt was suffering, the Israelis broadcast untrue accounts to Jordan of an Israeli defeat
by Egypt. 17 King Hussein then ordered his ground forces into action against Israel.18 In some of
the fiercest fighting of the war, Israeli Defense Forces attacked Jordanian East Jerusalem and
the region known as the West Bank. By the time United Nations- the sponsored cease-fire was
being honored by both sides, at 4:40 a.m. local time on the 8th of June, Israel had conquered
the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The United States became aware of the Israeli signals de-
ception and so informed the Israelis. 19 The Israelis suspected that the United States somehow
knew what they had done. 20

         The Syrian front had been comparatively quiet. Although there had been exchanges of
artillery fire and Israeli plane attacks, the Syrians had made no major moves in the war. 21 As
resistance lessened in the newly conquered Egyptian and Jordanian land, however, Israeli De-
fense Forces were being prepared for an offensive against Syria 22 On the 8th of June, heavy air
and artillery bombardment of Syria began and was reported by United Nations observers. 23 On
the 9th of June, Israel had still not attacked and both Syria and Israel announced acceptance of
Security Council Resolution 235, which called for a cease-fire, with the only exception being
that Israel reserved the right to take defensive measure 24 Later that day Israel attacked, claim-
ing a cease-fire violation by Syria 25 It was clear from




15
   Smith, The Violation of the Liberty, U.S. Naval Inst. Proc., June 1978, at 62-64 (it was off the coast near EI-Arish that
   the U.S.S. Liberty would arrive on the morning of the 8th of June).
16
   S. Steven, supra note 2, at 34.
17
   Id. at 233-34.
18
   Id. at 34.
19
   Id
20
   Id at 234.
21
   D. Neff, supra note 2, at 254.
22
   S. Green, supra note 2, at 222.
23
   Id.
24
   22 U.N. SCOR (1352th mtg.) at 15-16, U.N. Doc. STV 1352 (1967).
25
   S. Green, supra note 2, at 223.
73                                   A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




the start that Defense Minister Dayan ordered the attack on Syria, not because of a cease-fire
violation by Syria, but because of Egypt’s total defeat and the reported collapse of the Syrians. 26
Later, he stated that his purposes had been to put Israeli settlements out of Syrian shelling range
and to teach the Syrians a lesson.27 Before the next cease-fire between Syria and Israel took ef-
fect, Israel had conquered the Golan Heights and the southwest corner of Syria. Only strong dip-
lomatic action by the Soviet Union prevented further Israeli conquest.28
         At the outbreak of the Six-Day War, on June 5th, a spokesman for the United States State
Department declared that America’s policy in that conflict was to maintain neutrality “in thought,
word, and deed.”29 Meanwhile, an intelligence unit of the United States, the U.S.S. Liberty, would
arrive on station off the Gaza Strip on the morning of the 8th of June 1967.

         B. The U.S.S. Liberty

        The U.S.S. Liberty was a commissioned ship of the U.S. Navy, manned by U.S. service-
men who were subject to military discipline. Its “passengers” were military cryptologic technicians
from the U.S. Navy Department who were routinely augmented by a small number of U.S. Gov-
ernment civilian employees. The ship was a World War II Victory class cargo ship that had been
taken from the national reserve fleet and reactivated as a highly sophisticated seagoing intelli-
gence-collection platform that was capable of picking electronic communication emissions from
the earth’s atmosphere for research and analysis.30 Her top speed was seventeen knots.31 The
hull number of the Liberty, AGTR-5, was written in 10-foot high white letters on her gray sides, at
the bow, and in small letters on each side of the stern. This meant that the Liberty , was an auxil-
iary, noncombatant vessel of general or miscellaneous type, assigned to technical research duty
and, in this case, the fifth U.S. naval vessel so classified.32 To carry out her Middle East duty, in
June 1967, she carried a complement of 293 officers and crew.




26
   D. Neff, supra note 2, at 265.
27
   Id. The reason for the Syrian shelling may have been the questionable means that Israel used to obtain Arab farmland
   below the Golan Heights for use by Israel. See D. Hirst, The Gun and The Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the
   Middle East 211-13 (1977); D. Neff, supra note 2, at 5455.
28
   D. Neff, supra note 2, at 278-82.
29
   Id. at 213.
30
   For a discussion of the general background for the Liberty and her work, see J. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty, supranote 2,
   at 7-9; J. Bamford, supra note 2, at 212-35.
31
   J. Bamford, supra note 2, at 218.
32
   Ennes, The U.S.S. Liberty Affair, supra note 2, at 9.
74                                       A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




       The missions that the Liberty and her sister ships performed were conducted primarily for
the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). 33 The mission of NSA is to listen in on communications
around the world from a variety of platforms and to acquire intelligence for the highest level of the
United States Government.34 To enable her to perform her listening work, the Liberty was
equipped with a distinctive antenna array. 35 Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, a retired U.S. Navy Chief
of Naval Operations, has said that the Liberty had clearly identifiable characteristics that made
her the easiest ship in the U.S. Navy to identify. 36 One of the reasons for this ease of identifica-
tion was a piece of equipment, known as TRSSCOM, 37 on the aft of the ship. TRSSCOM stands
for Technical Research Ship Special Communication System and, when the system functioned
properly, the Liberty was able to transmit information from her location directly back to the United
States using the moon as a relay satellite.38 The TRSSCOM consisted of a large, 32-foot antenna
mounted on a special stand. Because of its unique appearance, the TRSSCOM array was fre-
quently an object of curiosity to passing ships and planes.39

         The Liberty's normal listening post was along the west African coast, but, with the poten-
tial of another Middle Eastern war, she was hurriedly ordered, on May 23, 1967, to move to the
eastern Mediterranean. 40 She was eventually ordered to patrol in a rough dog-leg pattern on the
high seas off the Gaza Strip,41 from a point off El-Arish to a point off Port Said.4242 This location
would enable the Liberty to give the United States a clearer picture of what was happening in the
Six-Day War.43 The Liberty was capable of intercepting major Israeli communications, including
Israeli Defense Force brigade and division level communications and movement orders, and the
radar emissions and radio transmissions from aircraft that were flying in the war. 44

       As the Liberty was moving into position, but while she was still fifty miles off Port Said, on
the evening of June 7, 1967, the Israelis began reconnaissance of the ship. 45 The ship's sophisti-
cated electronic gear detected an Israeli aircraft training




33
     J. Bamford, supra note 2, at 212-35.
34
   Id.
35
   Id.
36
   Moorer, USS Liberty: Questions Persist, The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May 27, 1985, at 1.
37
   Pronounced "Triss-Comm," this equipment was used for bouncing radio signals off the moon.
38
   Moorer, supra note 36, at 1.
39
   S. Green, supra note 2, at 28. 40. Id. at 213.
40
   Id. at 213
41
     Id.
42
     J. Bamford, supra note 2, at 220.
43
   Id. at 217.
44
   S. Green, supra note 2, at 224-25.
45
   Id. at 225.
75                                  A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




its missile guidance radar on the ship as though preparing to fire. 46 Instead of being alarmed, however,
the members of the ship's electronic research department played electronic "games" with the aircraft by
distorting the ship's electronic image. 47

         Prior to its arrival, the Liberty's commanding officer, Commander William L. McGonagle, U.S.
Navy, had requested that a destroyer be stationed within five miles of the ship to protect it. Commander
McGonagle was, no doubt, painfully aware that his ship was virtually unarmed, with only four fifty-caliber
machine-guns for protection, two mounted forward and two aft. These were of little use against the mod-
ern weapons that were then in use in the Middle East. On the 6th of June, Commander McGonagle re-
ceived his reply from the U.S. 6th Fleet: "Liberty is a clearly marked United States Ship in International
waters, not a participant in the conflict and not a reasonable subject for attack by any nation. 48 In addi-
tion, the Liberty was told, U.S. jet-fighter protection was ten minutes away. 49

        The Liberty's orders called for her to be at least 12.5 nautical miles away from Egypt, since
Egypt claimed a twelve-mile territorial sea. She was to go no closer than 6.5 nautical miles to Israel,
since Israel claimed a six-mile territorial sea. 50 In fact, the Liberty stayed in international waters and
never entered the claimed territorial seas of either Egypt or Israel. 51

         As the intelligence ship approached its patrol area, a Notice to All Mariners (NOTMAR) was
broadcast on the international distress frequency and was received by the Liberty. It read: "Warning:
The attention of mariners is drawn to the possibility that lights along the Israeli coast may be extin-
guished without prior notice.* This was followed by another broadcast message: "Warning: All vessels
are required to keep away from the coasts of Israel during darkness.* 52 With the exception of an Egyp-
tian broadcast on May 23, 1967, that excluded Israeli ships from Egyptian territorial waters and a later
British international broadcast regard




46
   Id. at 226.
47
   Id.
48
   J. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty, supra note 2, at 38-39
49
   Id.
50
   J. Bamford, supra note 2, at 220.
51
   U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry, supra note 3, at 3-4.
52
   Id. at 31-32,137.
76                                   A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




-ing the closing of the Suez Canal, no other hazard broadcast warnings were made and no announce-
ments of war zones or exclusion zones were transmitted. 53

         C. Private Warnings/Threats

        On the 7th of June, as the Liberty was approaching its Sinai operating track, members of
the staff of the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) made a routine attempt to notify the
Liberty, through its seniors in the chain of




53
          Notices of hazards to mariners or NOTMARS, such as the ones broadcast by the Israelis and picked up by the
     Liberty, may be written or broadcast by radio. There are three kinds: 1) Local warnings broadcast by a state on its
     own and not as part of the international notice system and generally dealing with hazards peculiar to that state; 2)
     coastal warnings which are virtually the same as local warnings, except that they may pertain to a larger area - they,
     too, are issued nationally; and 3) longrange warnings issued under an international system and pertaining to a prob-
     lem affecting a greater amount of the world's navigation. Additionally, the United States issues special warnings.
     These are promulgated after consultation by national government agencies and generally issued in response to ma-
     jor political events. Although other countries may issue information concerning political events, the term "Special
     Warnings" is a category label only in the United States. Because of the quickness of the Six Day War, only radio
     broadcast warnings would have been made. Local and coastal broadcasts are not recorded, except perhaps by the
     broadcasting state. Broadcasts of long-range hazards to mariners are recorded and compiled by the United States
     and bound chronologically. This American record also includes any special warnings then in effect and British re-
     cordings of broadcasts for the Eastern Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Black Sea (NAVEAMS). This information is
     based on an interview with Mr. Stephen Hall, Chief of the Notice to Mariners Branch in the Navigation Division of the
     Hydrography and Navigation Department of the Hydrographic/ Topographic Center (HTC) of the U.S. Department of
     Defense Mapping Agency (June 1985). (The HTC was formerly in the U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office.)
          A diligent search by the author for broadcast warnings in NOTMAR reports for the period from April 29, 1967, to
     July 22, 1967, revealed no special warnings and no long-range warnings that were broadcast by radio concerning
     any events from the Six Day War. Two British NAVEAMS were found announcing: "Cairo Radio reports Suez Canal
     closed to navigation." Both NAVEAMS were designated NAVEAM 8513 Mediterranean, and the broadcasts were
     both dated June 6, 1967. One was recorded in Notice to Mariners for the week of June 24, 1967, and the other in
     Notice to Mariners for the week of July 15, 1967.
          Other than the local broadcasts picked up by the Liberty and the Cairo broadcasts published by the British,
     there was only one other warning published. In a December 1968 article published by the U.S. Naval Institute Pro-
     ceedings, the author mentions that, on May 23, 1967, an Egyptian radio broadcast indicated that, since Egypt and
     Israel were still technically at war, the Egyptian government had banned the passage of Israeli ships through Egyp-
     tian waters (notably the Straits of Tiran). See Salans, Gulf of Aqaba and Straits of Tiran-Troubled Waters, U.S. Na-
     val Inst. Proc., Dec. 1968, at 54, 60.
          The author concludes that, while there were internationally broadcast notices warning mariners of the closure of
     the Suez Canal and locally broadcast warnings about: 1) Israeli ships in Egyptian territorial waters; 2) the possibility
     that lights might be extinguished along the Israeli coast; and 3) a warning to stay away from the coast of Israel at
     night, there were no international, local, or coastal declaration of announcements of a war zone, exclusion zone, or
     any other type of maritime security zone along the coasts of Israel or Egypt before, or during, the Six Day War.
77                                    A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




command, to maintain a distance from the Egyptian coast of twenty nautical miles and from the
Israeli coast of fifteen miles. 54 Within an hour, this distance dramatically increased to 100 miles
from any southeastern Mediterranean coast. 55 To ensure speedy execution of the last position
change, a telephone call was placed from the JCS in Washington, D.C., to a military staff mem-
ber in the Liberty's chain of command to move the ship. 56 Since, by that time, Israel was the only
effective military force left in the region, the only explanation for concern about the Liberty's
safety was concern about the threat of Israeli military action. Despite the obvious urgency of the
situation and the irregular action by the JCS to pass word by telephone, word did not reach the
Liberty before she was attacked at 2 p.m. local time the next day. 57

       What had preceded this urgent direction to get the Liberty away from the Egyptian coast,
then controlled by Israel, was a message from the U.S. Defense Attaché Office (USDAO) in Tel
Aviv, telling U.S. authorities that Israel was planning to attack the Liberty if she was not moved. 58
The report had come from a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) observer at the USDAO, who
advised that Israeli leaders had decided to sink the Liberty if it came near the war zone." 59 For-
mer Representative Robert L. F Sikes of Florida (who had been with the intelligence working
group of the Defense subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ap-
propriations) and other committee sources confirm that the frantic efforts by the JCS (and NSA)
to move the Liberty on the evening of June 7, 1967, were prompted by a report from the USDAO
in Tel Aviv that the Israeli Defense Forces planned to attack the ship if she continued to operate
where she was. Their knowledge came directly from testimony on the subject of the Liberty made
to the committee by a representative of the CIA.60
       There are two other accounts of threats to the Liberty. One was a conversation between a
CIA employee and a Navy Master Chief that took place after a meeting at CIA headquarters.
The CIA employee told the Master Chief:

           Sending the Liberty to Gaza was a calculated risk from the beginning. Israel had told us
           long before the war to keep our intelligence ships away from her




54
     D. Neff, supra note 2, at 242.
55
   W Gerhard, Attack on (deleted) the U.S.S. Liberty, 21 (1981) (a monograph produced by the U.S. National Security
   Agency} J. Bamford, supra note 2, at 220-21; J. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty, supra note 2, at 45.
56
   J. Bamford, supra note 2, at 220-21; J. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty, supra note 2, at 46- 47.
57
   Id.
58
   S. Green, supra note 2, at 215, 226.
59
   Review of Department of Defense Worldwide Communirations, Phase I, Report of the Armed Services Investigat-
   ing Subcommittee of the Committee on Armed Service, House of Representatives, 92d Cong., 1st Sess. 9-
   10(1971) [hereinafter cited as Review of DOD Communications].
60
   Id. at 238-39.
78                                        A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




                     coast. Liberty was sent anyway because we just didn't think they were seri-
                     ous. We thought they might send a note of protest or, at most, harass the
                     ship somehow. We didn't think they would really try to sink her.61

        The other indication of a warning by Israel to the United States came from a former Israeli
government official. He said that there had indeed been a note of protest. He said, "There was
plenty of warning; Israel warned the United States to get that ship out of there. The United States
just didn't react.62 This official said that his government had "protested" the ship's presence just a
few hours before the attack.63

        In his memoirs, the former Israeli Chief of Staff at the time, General Yitzhak Rabin, says
that, on the 5th of June 1967, he informed Commander Castle, the American Naval Attaché in Tel
Aviv, that:

                     Israel intends to defend its shores from attack by the Egyptians. This will be done
                     by combining our Air and Naval forces. If threatened, we will not be able to delay
                     our response. We request therefore that the United States either withdraw all its
                     vessels from our shores, or inform us of the exact location of all vessels close to
                     our shores.64


        The U.S. Defense Attaché in Israel stated shortly after the attack that no request for infor-
mation ever took place and, had the request been made, it would have been forwarded to Navy
officials in Washington.65 Regardless of the Rabin-Castle dispute, it is apparent that the Govern-
ment of Israel made it clear to the




61
     J. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty, supra note 2, at 206-07.
62
   Id.
63
   Id.
64
     Y. Rabin, The Rabin Memoirs 110 (1979).
65
     Both the attaché and the embassy sent messages. The embassy message reads: "NO REQUEST
       FOR INFO ON U.S. SHIPS OPERATING OFF SINAI WAS MADE UNTIL AFTER LIBERTY IN-
       CIDENT HAD ISRAELIS MADE SUCH AN INQUIRY IT WOULD HAVE BEEN FOR WARDED
       IMMEDIATELY TO THE CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS AND OTHER HIGH NAVAL COM-
       MANDS AND REPEATED TO DEPT GP-3 BARBOUR"
     AMEMB Tel Aviv msg 4178 June 67
     (message from American Embassy Tel Aviv to the U.S. Secretary of State).
The USDA message reads: REF A MSG (STATE DEPT 211695 DTG 11780 JUN 67) TO AMEMB TEL AVIV CITED WASH-
    LAQKNL 16 JUN NEWS STORY STATING ISRAEL GOVT QUERIED ALUSNA ON SINAI PENINSULA. STATE RE-
    QUESTED EMBASSY COMMENT. REF B MSG (AMEMB TEL AVIV 4178 JUN 67) TO STATE DEPT. CONTAINS DE-
    NIAL THAT SUCH REQ WAS MADE AND STATES ANY SUCH REQ WOULD HAVE BEEN FORWARDED IMMEDI.
    ATELY TO CNO AND OTHER HIGH NAVAL COMMANDERS AND REPEATED TO STATE DEPT. GP-3.
79                                         A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




United States, before the attack, that the Liberty's presence would not be tolerated.

        Although Israel was clearly indicating its intention to attack a U.S. warship if it were not
moved from international waters off the Egyptian coast, and officials in Washington knew of this
threat, word did not reach the ship at sea. 66 The ship's officers and men proceeded to carry out
their last-received instructions by moving into position off Gaza, as the 8th of June dawned.

           D. The Attack on the Liberty

        Early on the morning of June 8, 1967, the Liberty became a center of attention. At about 6
a.m. local time, she was circled by a French-built, twin-engine Nord 2501 Noratlas. The purpose
of this reconnaissance was to see if the Liberty had been moved as a result of the prior day's
warnings. 67 The Noratlas is a medium range transport and does not carry bombs. 68 In this case,
the Israeli Air Force was using it as a reconnaissance plane. The ship was beyond the limits of
the claimed Egyptian territorial sea (and the narrower claimed Israeli territorial sea) 69 At 7:20
a.m., Lieutenant James Ennes, U.S. Navy, the morning officer of the deck for the Liberty,
checked the ship's flag and found that it was not visually suitable. He had the signalman hoist a
new flag that measured five by eight feet to the ship's tripod mainmast.70 At 9 a.m., when the
Liberty was reconnoitered by a jet, the American




      USDA Tel Aviv msg 161945Z Jun 67 (message from U.S. Defense Attache Tel Aviv to the U.S. Chief of Naval Opera-
      tions).
      Because the movements of the Liberty were under the direct control of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, it is
      the author's opinion that the local country team, including the Ambassador and the Naval Attache, might not normally
      have been aware of the nearby presence of an intelligence-gathering ship such as the Liberty. The testimony before
      U.S. Representative Robert Sikes, however, shows that someone in the USDAO Tel Aviv knew that the Government
      of Israel was threatening the Liberty. See supra notes 58-60 and accompanying text.

66
     For an account of the communications problems, see generally Review of DOD Communications, supra note 58.
67
     Telephone interview with Stephen Green, author of Taking Sides, supra note 2 (June 13, 1985). Mr. Green has been told by an Israeli
      present in the Israeli Defense Force war room that this was the purpose of the first daylight reconnaissance flight on the morning of June
       8th. Id.
68
     J. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty, supra note 2, at 55 n.2.
69
     See Smith, supra note 15, at 62. See also U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry, supra, note 3.
70
     J. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty, supra note 2, at 50-51.
80                                  A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




flag was fluttering in the wind. 71 At 10 a.m., two rocket-armed, delta-winged jets circled the ship
three times, close enough for the Liberty crewmembers to count rockets and see the pilots, yet
no national identification markings were visible on the planes. 72 The American flag had been
fluttering straight out in the breeze during these passes. 73 At 10:30 a.m., an Israeli Noratlas
made several passes at the ship and was so close to the ship that its seams and rivets were
clearly visible. The ship's flag was still fluttering.74 Again, at 11:00, 11:30, 12:15, and 12:45, an
Israeli Noratlas reconnoitered the ship. At the 11:00 and 11:30 passes, Lieutenant Ennes
checked the flag and found it to be flying. 75 This concern with the flag was simply an extra pre-
caution, since Lieutenant Ennes had seen the Israeli reconnaissance pilots wave at Liberty
crewmen, 76 and a Chief Petty Officer had come to the bridge to tell Lieutenant Ennes, "No
sweat, Lieutenant, we can hear the pilots reporting by radio that we are American. 77 The last
Israeli air reconnaissance of the ship was at 12:45; but, forty-five minutes earlier, three Israeli
motor torpedo boats (MTBs) had left the Israeli naval port of Ashdod to intercept the Liberty.78

      At 2 p.m. local time, three Israeli jets attacked the Liberty. The first two planes, which at-
tacked with rockets, had no national markings.79 Soon, other jets joined the first group. The
second group of jets was armed with napalm, and they proceeded to bomb the ship with the jel-
lied gasoline and with rockets. During the assault by the initial group of jets, through either ex-
traordinary coincidence or expert marksmanship, the second plane disabled nearly every radio
antenna on the ship. As a result, the Liberty was temporarily unable to call for help. 80

       Sometime before the attack, crewmembers of the Liberty had intercepted radio transmis-
sions between the Israeli jets, the motor torpedo boats from Ashdod, and their bases.81 These
intercepted conversations referred to the Liberty as an




71
     Id. at 52.
72
   Id. at 53.
73
   Id.
74
   Id. at 55.
75
   Id.
76
   Ennes, The USS Liberty Affair, supra note 2, at 1.
77
   Id. at 3.
78
   J. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty, supra note 2, at 220.
79
   Id. at 53. Telephone interview with Stephen Green, author of Taking Sides, supra note 2 (June 13, 1985). Mr. Green
   confirmed the lack of markings through interviews with three witnesses including the signalman on the signal bridge
   who watched the first planes through his binoculars. Id.
80
   J. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty, supra note 2, at 67.
81
     Smyth, Dispute is Revived Over Israeli Attack That Killed 34 on U.S. Navy Ship, L.A. Times, Nov. 23, 1983, §
     I-A, at 3, col. 2.
81                                     A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




American ship.82 During the attack, five of the six shore communications circuits on the Liberty
were jammed, and the jammers were searching for the sixth circuit.83 The Liberty's radio crew fi-
nally got a message out to the U.S. 6th Fleet on the sixth circuit.84 Since the attackers did not have
national markings, this call for help referred to the ship being under attack by unidentified aircraft. 85

        By this time, the Liberty was covered with rocket holes, and napalm fires were burning eve-
rywhere. Because of the rocket holes, the burning napalm and jellied gasoline flowed into the inte-
rior parts of the ship. Many wounded were being taken to the ship's wardroom and mess decks for
treatment, and a number of men were dead. After twenty-five or thirty minutes of intense air attack,
by at least a dozen aircraft, the planes left and the three Israeli MTBs from Ashdod arrived. Just
prior to the arrival of the MTBs, Commander McGonagle had ordered the holiday size American
flag, measuring seven by thirteen feet, hoisted to replace the five by eight foot flag that had been
shot down by the jets.86 During the attack, the Liberty's four fifty-caliber machine guns were fired,
but they were continually attacked and silenced.

        The MTBs from Ashdod came on the scene at high speed with their signal lights flashing.
These lights were seen by Commander McGonagle, but the small hand-held signal light that he had
would not penetrate the smoke around the bridge to let him signal back.87 Even if the ship's captain
had been able to signal, however, it probably would have done no good. At a different location on
the ship, a ship's signalman also spotted the signaling by the MTBs and kept signaling back, ,U.S.
Ship," until his signal lamp was shot out, and he was wounded.88 The MTBs fired five torpedoes.
Four of the torpedoes completely missed the ship. The fifth hit the ship directly amidships, in the
ship's cryptologic spaces, leaving a forty-foot hole, killing twenty-five men, and trapping fifty more in
the flooded compartment.89 After firing the torpedoes, the MTBs circled the ship at close range,
machine-gunning




82
   Id. In a later conversation with an Israeli who had participated in the attack, Liberty survivor and author Lieutenant
   Commander James M. Ennes, Jr., U.S. Navy (ret.), was told that the participant knew that Liberty was an American
   ship but was told to attack anyway. Letter from James M. Ennes, Jr., to Walter L. Jacobsen (Jan. 26, 1985) (discuss-
   ing the attack on the Liberty).
83
   S. Green, supra note 2, at 230. See also J. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty, supra note 2, at 74 (the jamming would
   cease when rockets were airborne).
84
   S. Green, supra note 2, at 230
85
   Id. at 229
86
   C. Salans, Memorandum for the Under Secretary of State, Subj: "The Liberty" - Discrepancies Between Israeli Inquiry
   and U.S. Navy Inquiry - INFORMATION MEMORANDUM (Sept. 21, 1967) (Freedom of Information Act obtained copy
   is in the possession of the author); U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry, supra note 2, at 81.
87
     J. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty, supra note 2, at 81.
88
     Smyth, supra note 81, at 2.
89
     Ennes, The USS Liberty Affair, supra note 2, at 4.
82                                            A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




anyone who came on deck.”90 By this time, the Liberty's four machine guns had ceased firing. As
the MTB Tahmass circled the Liberty looking for a target, one Liberty sailor, who had run out onto
the main deck, gave a defiant sign to the boat. He then watched a 40mm cannon swing around
until it came to bear squarely on his chest. The sailor did not move while the boat drifted past, and
the Israeli gunner did not shoot him.91
         By this time the ship was in flames, dead in the water, and sinking. The casualties were
thirty-four dead or dying, and 171 wounded.92 Orders came from the bridge to prepare to abandon
and scuttle the ship; but, no one went on deck because of the machine-gunning by the MTBs 93 Fi-
nally, the machine-gunning stopped as the torpedo boats withdrew, and a Liberty sailor went out on
deck to make preparations for abandoning ship. He found three undamaged rubber life rafts in a
rack on the ship's port quarter, and he put them in the water and secured them with a line to the
ship.94 Several hundred yards away from the Liberty, the men on the MTBs watched the orange life
rafts drop into the water. Someone moved on the center boat, and it came closer to the Liberty. At
that point, the MTB opened fire on the life rafts floating in the water. Two were deflated and the line
on the third raft was cut. This raft floated away on the water, the MTB took it aboard, and then all
three torpedo boats sped away toward their base at Ashdod.95 Earlier, one Liberty sailor had no-
ticed the Israelis concentrated their machine-gun fire at the life rafts stowed on deck.96 The boats
left at about 3:15 p.m. local time. Coincidentally, a few minutes before they left, the 6th Fleet had
radioed the Liberty (wrongly, as it turned out) that planes and surface ships were on the way to
help.97
         Next, two helicopters from the Israeli Defense Force arrived on the scene. They were loaded
with armed combat troops that were visible through the open side doors. Each helicopter also car-
ried a mounted machine gun.98 The helicopters circled the ship and departed without landing.99
Shortly after the MTBs left, the Liberty slowly, but steadily, started moving under its own power to-
ward deeper water.100




90
      Id.
91
     J. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty, supra note 2, at 90.
92
     Ennes, The USS Liberty Affair, supra note 2, at 4.
93
     J. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty, supra note 2, at 91, 94-95.
94
     Id. at 95.
95
     Id. at 96.
96
     S. Green, supra note 2, at 231
97
     Id.
98
     Id. at 232.
99
     J. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty, supra note 2, at 96. 100. Id. at 97.
100
      Id., at 97.
83                                     A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




Israelis had erroneously attacked a ship that was possibly a U.S. Navy ship. The message con-
veyed Israel's apologies. 101

        At 4:32 p.m., the MTBs returned to offer assistance to the Liberty. They were given a
negative response and went away. 102 Later in the afternoon, an Israeli helicopter, with the U.S.
Naval Attaché aboard, hovered and inquired about casualties. Commander McGonagle, the Lib-
erty's commanding officer, refused to let the helicopter land, and it left the area.103 The Liberty,
however, did need help; she was full of wounded, badly listing, and, although her engines gave
some power, she often made no headway. The next morning, two U.S. Navy ships arrived to as-
sist her and she stayed afloat until she pulled into the drydock at Malta, where she was re-
paired.104

         On June 10, 1967, the Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe, convened a court
of inquiry to inquire into the facts and circumstances surrounding the attack on the Liberty. In a
subsequent endorsement to this inquiry, the Judge Advocate General of the Navy concluded that:
"The record discloses beyond any doubt that U.S.S. Liberty was, at the time of the attack, en-
gaged in peaceful operations in international waters, and that the attack of Israeli aircraft and mo-
tor torpedo boats was entirely unprovoked and unexpected.105 The attack took place on a clear
day, 106 and the Liberty was the only non-Israeli vessel in sight.107

         In response to the attack, U.S. planes had been launched to defend the Liberty, but the
first of these planes had been personally recalled by Secretary of Defense McNamara, 108 possibly
because they were armed with nuclear weapons." 109 Properly armed planes were hastily dis-
patched, but they were recalled before they reached the ship because, by the time they were air-
borne, the attack was over and Israel had already alerted the USDAO in Tel Aviv, who had then
alerted Washington




101
      Id. at 99. The message from the USDAO to Washington read:
      ALUSNA CALLED TO (Israeli foreign liaison officer) TO RECEIVE REPORT. ISRAELI AIRCRAFT AND MTB'S ERRONEOUSLY AT-
      TACKED U.S. SHIP AT 08/120OZ (2:00 local time), POSITION 31-25N 33-33E. MAYBE NAVY SHIP IDF HELICOPTERS IN RESCUE
      OPERATIONS. NO OTHER INFO. ISRAELIS SEND ABJECT APOLOGIES AND REQUEST INFO ON OTHER US SHIPS NEAR WAR
      ZONE COASTS.
102
      J. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty, supra note 2, at 102-03.
103
      Id. at 105-06.
104
      Id. at 119,138-39.
105
      U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry, supra note 3, 3d Endorsement, at 1-2.
106
      J. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty, supra note 2, at 49.
107
      Id. at 64 (conclusions are those of the author based on information provided in the Ennes book). Note, however, that
      there was a report of a U.S. submarine in the area which may have witnessed the attack. Id.
108
      Id. a t 78. 109. Id. at 237-38
109
      Id. at 237-38
84                                       A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




                   (and the U.S. 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean) that Israel had mistakenly attacked a
                   U.S. ship and had apologized.110

                   E. Conclusion - Why The Liberty Was Attacked
        The Israeli attack on the Liberty was intentional and premeditated. The question is, why?
Obviously, Israel wanted to keep something hidden. Given the timing of the ship's arrival on the
8th of June, and the slightly later attack on Syria, the most likely thing that Israel wanted to con-
ceal was something dealing with the attack on Syria.111 One reason might be a fear on the part of
Israel that, if her battlefield successes up to June 8th were known, she would be pressured not to
attack Syria in the first place.112 Additionally, Israel may have attacked Syria intending to keep the
land that she seized. If she appeared to be the aggressor in the attack, this might not be possi-
ble.113 The Liberty was the only ship close enough to be able to fathom from radio traffic whether
Israel or Syria had truly violated the cease-fire. If the Liberty were out of action, the world would
only know Israel's version of events. This would leave Israel with Syrian land.114

       Whatever the reason, the attack on the Liberty was not an accident. It was also not true
that the Israelis, as they were to later claim, had mistaken the Liberty for the Egyptian horse
transport El-Quseir, which was in port in Alexandria at the




110
      See supra note 101.
111
      J. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty, supra note 2, at 209-13; S. Green, supra note 2, at 222-23; D. Neff, supra note 2, at 253-54 and
       265-66.
112
      Z. Schiff, A History of the Israeli Army (1870-1974) 159-160 (1974). 113. S. Steven, supra note 2, at 194.
113
      S. Steven, supra note 2, at 194.
114
      For a short list of what the Liberty might have been capable of hearing, see S. Green, supra note 2, at 225.
85                                        A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




time.115 The decision to attack the Liberty was a conscious one, taken by Israeli leadership in the
command center.116




115
      J. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty, supra note 2, at 153-54. The Government of Israel initially excused its attack in part by alleging
      that the Liberty had been mistaken for the old horse transport El Quesir, then in port in Alexandria about 250 miles away. Id.
116
      A CIA Information Report reads:


           (Source(s)) commented on the sinking (sic) of the US communications ship Liberty. They said that Dayan person-
           ally ordered the attack on the ship and that one of his generals adamantly opposed the action and said, 'This is
           pure murder.' One of the admirals who was present also disapproved the action, and it was he who ordered it
           stopped and not Dayan. (Source(s)) believe that the attack against the U.S. vessel is also detrimental to any politi-
           cal ambition Dayan may have.

      CIA Information Report, Subject: (deleted)/Attack on USS Liberty ordered by Dayan (Nov. 9, 1967). Stewart Steven's
      account in The Spymasters of Israel, based on access to Israeli intelligence officials, discusses the events leading up to
      the attack and, taken together with the just-cited CIA report, leaves no doubt of Minister Dayan's involvement with the
      Liberty. Id.; S. Steven, supra note 2, at 234-35. Presumably, it was these Israeli intelligence officials who told Mr. Ste-
      ven that the oral orders to the forces that attacked the Liberty were to disable, not sink, the ship. S. Steven, supra note
      2, at 235. In view of the ferocity of the attack and the comprehensiveness of the efforts made to conceal the attack (e.g.,
      jamming of radios, use of unmarked aircraft, and shooting of life rafts), however, the limited nature of the attack is open
      to question. Could any Israeli official ever state that Israel had attacked the Liberty with the intent of totally destroying
      her?

      There is also a second CIA information report which reads:


           (deleted) attack on the USS LIBERTY by Israeli airplanes and torpedo boats. He said that "you've got to remember
           that in this campaign there is neither time nor room for mistakes," which was intended as an obtuse reference that
           Israel's forces knew what flag the LIBERTY was flying and exactly what the vessel was doing off the coast. (de-
           leted) implied that the ship's identity was known at least six hours before the attack but that Israeli headquarters
           was not sure as to how many people might have access to the information that LIBERTY was intercepting. He also
           implied that there was no certainty of control as to where the intercepted information was going and again reiter-
           ated that Israeli forces did not make mistakes in their campaign. He was emphatic in stating to me that they knew
           what kind of ship the USS LIBERTY was and what it was doing offshore.


      CIA Information Report, Subject (deleted) Comment as Known Identity of USS Liberty/(deleted) (Jul. 27, 1967).


      There is a third CIA document in which a Turkish General Staff informant told his American contact that the Turkish General Staff
      felt that the attack was deliberate, based on information supplied by the Turkish military attaché in Tel Aviv. CIA Intelligence In-
      formation Cable, Subject: Turkish General Staff Opinion Regarding the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty (June 22, 1967).


      All three CIA documents were obtained by this author from the CIA, using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). When the
      documents were received, so was the partial transcript of an interview with Admiral Stansfield Turner, then Director of the CIA,
      conducted by Steve Bell on the Good Morning America television show of September 19, 1977. During that interview, ADM Turner
      noted that (presumably) the three documents noted above were raw intelligence. He also noted that there was a CIA document
      that said that, in the CIA's considered opinion, the Israeli Government did not know about the USS Liberty before the attack. This
      apparent denial must be considered in the context of the close relation between the CIA and the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence
      and operational service. It is noteworthy that ADM Turner never himself said that the documents were untrue. Television interview
      of Admiral Stansfield Turner, Director of the CIA, conducted by Steve Bell on the Good Morning America television show (Sept.
86                                          A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




                       F Reparations
      The Government of Israel made several official explanations concerning the attack. 117
Although these explanations have been cited as examples of misinformation, 118 and America
knew the explanations were untrue, 119 they were pub




      19, 1977). In a more recent development, author James Ennes indicated that, when someone recently submitted a FOIA request
      to the CIA on the subject of the Liberty, the response did not include the partial transcript of ADM Turner's television interview.
      Telephone interview with James M. Ennes, Jr., author of Assault on the Liberty, supra, note 2 (May 16, 1985). Perhaps the CIA no
      longer finds the denial credible.

117
      The initial explanation by the Government of Israel for the attack came through Lieutenant Colonel Bloch of the Israeli Defense
       Forces and was given to the U.S. Defense Attache Office in Tel Aviv. The explanation consisted of seven points: 1) The ship was
       sighted and recognized as an unidentified naval ship 13 miles from the coast; 2) the presence of a ship in a fighting area is
       against international custom; 3) the area off El-Arish is not a common passage for ships; 4) Egypt has declared the area off her
       coast to be closed to neutrals; 5) the Liberty resembles the Egyptian supply ship El-Quesir, 6) the Liberty was not flying a flag
       when sighted and she moved at high speed westward toward the enemy coast; and 7) the Israeli Defense Forces had earlier re-
       ceived reports of bombardment of El-Arish from the sea. U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry, supra note 4, at page 3 of document 45 of
       exhibit 48.


       A refinement of some of the foregoing explanations for the attack was that the Liberty was tracked by radar on the Israeli motor
       torpedo boats as proceeding at 28-30 knots. A standing Israeli naval rule of engagement in effect at the time provided that,
       "When there are reports of an enemy in the theater, and radar detects one or more ships sailing at a speed above 20 knots, they
       shall be considered hostile and no further identification shall be carried out." M. Greenberg, supra note 3, at 11 (quoting Flotilla
       1, Arnsinf Operation Procedures, Order No. 50.003). Accordingly, this mistaken tracking of the ship, combined with the standing
       order or rule of engagement, was, according to an official Government of Israel story, a significant factor in the innocent errors
       that led to the attack on the ship. M. Greenberg, supra, note 4. The underlying facts recounted by the Government of Israel are of
       questionable value. S. Steven, supra note 2, at 235.

118
      E. Pond, There's a Trojan Norse Built Every Minute, Parading Lies as Truth, Christian Sci. Monitor, Feb. 26, 1985, at 17, col. 4.
119
      S. Steven, supra note 2, at 235.
87                                         A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




licly accepted and written into the records to maintain the appearance of American-Israeli unity.120

On the day of the attack, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that Israel had apologized for
the attack.121 On the 10th of June, the Israeli Embassy, in Washington, D.C., sent an apology for
the attack. This letter labeled the incident a tragic accident which occurred at the height of hostili-
ties in the area.122 The apology also offered to make amends for the loss of life and material dam-
age.123 The American reply to the apology, dated June 10, 1967, called attention to the flag and to
the identification numbers on the ship.124 It called the attack incomprehensible and condemned it as
an act of military recklessness. This reply also noted that the Secretary of State expected the Gov-
ernment of Israel to take disciplinary measures in the event of wrongful conduct by military person-
nel, and that it was expected Israel would take steps to ensure that such an incident would not
happen again. The U.S. reply noted, further, that claims would be forthcoming.

       The Israeli rebuttal, of June 12, 1967, rejected the U.S. references to military recklessness
and the allegation that the ship might have been identified at least an hour before the attack. The
rebuttal noted that an official Israeli investigation had been ordered. Finally, Israel noted that the
Liberty was in an area of hostilities that Egypt had warned neutral vessels not to enter.125

        Death claims submitted after the attack by the U.S. Government were paid nearly one year
later by the Government of Israel, on May 27, 1968. At that time, the U.S. Government was prepar-
ing claims on behalf of the men injured in the attack. 126

       The claims for the wounded progressed more slowly. Author and Lieutenant Commander
James Ennes, U.S. Navy (ret.), theorized that the negotiations for all the claims, including those for
the dead and wounded and compensation for the ship and equipment, were linked to the new arms
agreements that were then being negotiated between the U.S. and the State of Israel.127 Finally, in
February 1969, the State Department informed the survivors of the amounts that would be claimed.




120
      Id. See M. Greenberg, supra note 3, at 8 (the Israeli account of reports of the shelling of El-Arish from the sea is not true); C.
       Salans, supra note 86, at 4 (the Liberty was the only ship off the coast of El-Arish, and her four 50-caliber machine guns, visible
       by reconnaissance planes, quite obviously weren't capable of doing the shelling). See also M. Greenberg, supra note 3, at 22; C.
       Salans, supra note 86, at 3-4 (the "misidentification" of the Liberty as the horse carrier El-Quesir by experienced naval officers is
       incredible). These are but two of the intentional misstatements in the created story that were publicly accepted as authentic by
       both governments.
121
      Department of Defense News Release No. 452-67 (June 8, 1967).
122
      J. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty, supra note 2, at app. R.
123
      Id.
124
      Id. at app. S.
125
      Id. at app. T.
126
      58 Dep't St. Bull. 799 (June 17, 1968).
127
      J. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty, supra note 2, at 196-99.
88                                           A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




       These claims were individually submitted on March 28, after they were reviewed by a team
of American attorneys hired by the State of Israel to check the reasonableness of the claims.128
The claims were found to be reasonable, and the full $3,452,275 that had been requested was
paid, on April 28, 1969.129 Seven survivors filed no claim.

        The only claim left unpaid was the $7,644,146 that had been requested for damage to the
Liberty. This was quite a bargain, considering the $20 million that it cost to refit the ship and the
$10 million that it cost to replace the sophisticated electronic gear.130 The Government of Israel,
however, refused to pay. Her position was that the U.S.S. Liberty had sailed knowingly into a war
zone, had spied upon the combatants, and had suffered the consequences. The responsibility for
that, said the Israelis, lay fairly and squarely with the Americans. 131 For a time, the United States
was not inclined to press Israel because, in light of U.S. monetary aid to Israel, it was felt that the
U.S. would in effect be paying itself.132 Finally, however, on December 18, 1980, it was an-
nounced that the Government of Israel had offered to pay $6,000,000 in three yearly installments
to settle the original $7,644,146 claim. The U.S. accepted this plan and agreed to drop the over
$10 million in interest payments that were due.133 The first of the three payments was made on
January 15, 1981. 134 [In a similar incident that took place during the hostilities between Japan and
China before World War II, Japanese airplanes bombed and sunk the U.S.S. Panay, an American
gunboat lawfully operating on the Yangtze River in China, on December 12, 1937. In that case,
the Japanese government apologized officially, noted to the United States the action taken
against the responsible official, and made full reparation for the attack, including payment for the
vessel, 4 months and 10 days after the attack.]135




128
       Id. at 197-98.
129
       60 Dep't St. Bull. 473 (June 2, 1969).
130
       J. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty, supra note 2, at 199.
131
       S. Steven, supra note 2, at 195.
132
       D. Neff, supra note 2, at 355.
133
       Id.; Dep't St. Press Release of Dec. 18, 1980.
134
      Telephone inquiry at the Israel desk of the U.S. State Department on June 10, 1985, indicated that the case file contains an entry that, on
      January 15, 1981, the first $2 million installment was paid. A male desk officer (who would not reveal his name) stated that his file showed
      no further record of payments, but that he had no reason to doubt that the additional payments had been made. The desk officer stated
      that the State Department does not keep records of matters such as this and that the Treasury Department should be consulted. Tele-
      phone interview with a desk officer (name unknown) at the Israel desk of the U.S. State Department (June 10, 1985). A telephone check
      with an attorney at the Office of Legal Advisor of the U.S. Department of State also indicated that the Department of the Treasury was the
      cognizant agency to keep track of payments due. Telephone interview with A. Kreczko, Office of Legal Advisor, U.S. Department of State
      (June 10, 1985). The U.S. Department of the Treasury was not called.
135
      Documents on American Foreign Relations January 1938-June 1939, 194-204 (S. Jones & D. Myers ed. 1939).
89                                      A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




                   G. Investigations
        After the attack, the Government of Israel convened two inquiries, one by an Israeli De-
fense Force line officer and a later one by a military judicial official. The line officer concluded
that the attack on the Liberty was due to an erroneous report of enemy action, the speed of the
Liberty mistakenly reflected on radar in excess of twenty knots, the mistaken identification of the
Liberty as an Egyptian horse transport, and the Liberty's intentional concealment of its presence
in the area. He recommended better procedures for declaring danger zones, better pilot training
in ship identification, and better staff training.136

       The judicial inquiry similarly attributed the attack to an understandable mistake because of
the ship's suspicious movements and its lack of identifying markings. 137 The investigating judge
stated that, from the large amount of evidence before him, he did not discover any deviation from
the standard of reasonable [wartime] behavior which would justify bringing anyone to trial.138

        The U.S. Naval Court of Inquiry, that was convened to investigate the attack on the Lib-
erty, found that the available evidence indicated the attack on the Liberty was a case of mistaken
identity and, further, that no available information indicated that an intentional attack against a
U.S. ship was intended.139

      II. THE ISRAELI CLAIM TO AN INTELLIGENCE GATHERING EXCLU-
          SION ZONE

          [M]y whole argument on this question was concentrated on proving that the incident in-
         volving the Soviet and United States' aircraft occurred over Soviet territory and not over
         the high seas. It is therefore absurd to suggest that I could be defending the right of any
         State to shoot aircraft down over the high seas. - Soviet U.N. Ambassador Vyshinsky dur-
         ing the 1954 U.N. Security Council debates on the shooting down of a U.S. patrol plane by
         Soviet aircraft.

          A. Factual Highlights
       The apparent purpose of the attack on the Liberty was to stop the United States from ob-
taining current and reliable information about the progress of the Six-Day War. 140 Defense Minis-
ter Dayan, and others, apparently felt that such information in the hands of the United States
would hamper the war effort.141 The




136
    M. Greenberg, supra note 3, at 27-28.
137
    Id. at 30.
138
    Id. at 30 (quoting the decision of the examining judge).
139
    U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry, supra note 3, at 161-62.
140
    S. Steven, supra note 2, at 234-35.
141
    Id.
90                                           A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




       Government of Israel made statements to the effect that the Liberty's presence in "a fight-
ing area" was contrary to international custom,142 and that the Liberty , was in an area that Egypt
had declared closed to neutrals.143 These statements implied justification for the attack based on
the location of the Liberty. By being in close proximity (although outside of territorial waters) to an
area where fighting was going on, the United States ran the risk that the Liberty might be mis-
taken for an Egyptian, Jordanian, or Syrian ship (however unlikely, given Israeli military intelli-
gence prowess). Since the Liberty was fully identified as an American or non-hostile ship well be-
fore the attack, however, this was not a logical justification for the Government of Israel to assert.
It was also illogical for Israel to claim that she had a right to enforce some sort of undefined
Egyptian exclusion zone after Egypt had been defeated. Finally, while the Government of Israel
had broadcast a warning for vessels to stay away from the coasts of Israel after darkness, this
would not justify the attack, since the Liberty, was attacked in broad daylight.

       What Israel was claiming by implication was an exclusion zone on the high seas directed
toward intelligence-gathering vessels, thus giving her the right to force them to leave by threats
or to destroy them if they did not. Restated, the Israelis' implied claim was that the United States
had no right to conduct electronic intelligence gathering from a maritime exclusion zone of unde-
fined character or limits in the southeastern Mediterranean.

        A study of the legality of the Israeli claim requires a twofold examination, an examination
of the activity, and an examination of the location.

            B. The Lawfulness of the Activity
                      1. The Nature of Intelligence Gathering

        Intelligence gathering involves obtaining information about one state for use by another
state. It can be done by military attaches traveling openly as a guest to the host state's military
bases, by reading another state's newspapers, or by listening to another state's radio signals
from a position where the listener is legally entitled to be.

       When radio signals are sent, or telephone calls are transmitted by radio waves, these sig-
nals do not travel through a relatively secure electric cable. They are sent through the atmos-
phere. While these signals generally reach their intended receiver, they also radiate outward in
other directions. These broadcast electronic signals may be received, not only by the intended
recipient, but also by any receiver that is tuned to the same radio signal frequency, whether this
unintended listening post is next door, along the coast, or, more recently, in a satellite.




142
      See supra note 117.
143
      J. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty, supra note 2, at app. T
91                                        A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




         The gathering and analyzing of radio signals by unintended listeners who are located in
areas where they have a right to be, such as on the high seas, has been dubbed "spying" by the
popular press. This is no more spying, however, than is subscribing to publications from foreign
countries to gather political intelligence or talking to recently returned travelers to find out about
the conditions in the countries they have just visited. Intelligence gathering, especially on the high
seas, is often very open. An intelligence-gathering platform like the Liberty, its government affilia-
tion made obvious by its haze grey color and white identifying numbers, operates without con-
cealment; its distinctive radio antenna array clearly hints at, if not betrays, its mission. 144 By col-
lecting these signals, a state is taking advantage of information that has been voluntarily put into
the public domain, i.e., the earth's atmosphere. Espionage or spying, on the other hand, involve
obtaining information about a state that the state has not voluntarily put into the public domain.
This may involve the corruption of people's integrity, the use of false pretenses, and unlawful or
clandestine activities.145 Ships like the Liberty have been called "technical research ships," So-
viet listening ships have been called "trawlers," military attaches have been given diplomatic
status, and no one is fooled or corrupted. On the other hand, when an espionage agent pretends
to be a simple business person and uses money to break a person's national loyalties, or when a
military attaché violates the host state's laws contrary to his diplomatic status by trying to corrupt
a citizen of the host state to steal secrets, this is a distinctly different type of activity. Electronic
intelligence gathering is more akin to scouting or reconnaissance, considering the openness of
this activity.146

        States that send radio signals may prevent other states from intercepting these signals.
Controlling the contents of conversations, the use of land lines, and the use of mail and courier
services for transmitting sensitive information are some of the methods available to prevent se-
crets from being plucked out of the air.147


           2. Intelligence Gathering and International Law




144
      2 L. Oppenheim, International Law 423 (H. Lauterpacht ed. 9th ed. 1961).
145
      Clandestine activity and false pretenses are concepts from Hague Convention V, Respecting the Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers
      and Persons in case of War on Land of 1907, 36 Stat. 2310, IS. No. 540. See Hague Convention IV, Respecting the Laws and Customs
      of War on Land of 1907, 36 Stat. 2277, T.S. No. 539.
146
      Q. Wright, Espionage and the Doctrine of Non-Intervention in Internal Affairs, Espionage and International Law 11-12 (R. Stanger
      ed. 1962). But see R. Falk, Space Espionage and World Order. : A Consideration of the Samos-Midas Program, Espionage and In-
      ternational Law 54 (R. Stanger ed. 1962).
147
      For a recent U.S. domestic case in which :t was held that there was no justifiable expectation of confidentiality in private con-
      versations conducted over a cordless telephone, see State v. Delaurier, 488 A. 2d 688 (R.I. 1985).
92                                       A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




         Intelligence gathering is not specifically rendered unlawful by any treaty or international
agreement and, significantly, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty 148 contains no prohibitions on the use
of outer space for reconnaissance satellites,149 even though that use of outer space was known at
the time.150 Intelligence gathering on the high seas and from other lawfully placed stations has
been recognized as legal by general state practice, which has developed into a customary rule of
international law. Thus, intelligence gathering is customarily conducted by states under the belief
that it is accepted as a legal practice by a substantial majority of states. 151

        The clearest example of the custom in operation can be found in the military attache and
diplomatic programs. It is widespread practice for states to send military attaches to embassies
and, through this accepted practice, their open intelligence gathering about the host state's mili-
tary is condoned.152 This open intelligence role is not only condoned by, but also aided by, the
host state, which invites attaches on military tours and conducts briefings for them. Likewise, al-
though not specifically mentioned in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,153 “open in-
telligence gathering” activities are accepted as a correlative purpose of diplomatic activity and
tolerated with a high degree of latitude.154 This does not mean, however, that clandestine spying
by attaches, or other clandestine activity conducted by them, is tolerated by states.

        The concept of open intelligence gathering by customary law is also reflected in intelli-
gence gathering at sea. By 1967, worldwide seagoing intelligence gathering was common prac-
tice with "virtually all of the warships of all the navies carry[ing] out visual and electronic observa-
tions as a normal part of their activities.155 A number of states maintain fleets of intelligence
ships, and it is highly noteworthy that protests and actions against them have sought justification
in claims of penetration of the territorial sea or allegations of self-defense, but not in terms of the
generic unlawfulness of intelligence gathering activities on the high




148
      Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celes-
       tial Bodies, opened for signature Jan. 27, 1967, 18 U.S.T. 2410, T.I.A.S. No. 6347 (entered into force on Oct. 10, 1967).
149
      Lissitzyn, Electronic Reconnaissance From the High Seas and International Law, in 61 U.S. Naval War College International Law
      Studies 1947-1977 at 563, 567 (R. Lillich & J. Moore ed. 1980).
150
      J. Bamford, supra note 2, at 187.
151
      J. Brierly, The Law of Nations 59-61 (H. Waldock 6th ed. 1984).
152
      M. McDougal, H. Lasswell & W Reisman, The Intelligence Function and World Public Order, M. McDougal & W Reisman, Interna-
      tional Law Essays 299 (1981).
153
      Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, April 18, 1961, 3 U.S.T 3227, T.I.A.S. No. 7502, 50 U.N.T. S. 95
154
      M. McDougal, H. Lasswell & W Reisman, supra note 152, at 299
155
      Aldrich, The Pueblo Seizure: Facts, Law, Policy, 63 Am. Soc. Int'l L. Proc. 1, 5 (1969) (remarks made as part of a panel discussion
      during the 63rd Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law).
93                                           A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




seas.156 Absent hostilities, intelligence gathering on the high seas is lawful; it becomes illegal only
when it interferes with the activity of another lawful user of the high seas or when it infringes upon
protected features of the public order in the coastal state, thereby upsetting the balance of inter-
ests.157 Since intelligence gathering from the high seas is normally conducted in an unobtrusive
and noninterfering manner, there is generally no support for the proposition that electronic intelli-
gence collection from the high seas is of a nature that would justify an attack or interference, par-
ticularly when the states are at peace with each other,158 and when there is no trend to the con-
trary. 159

           3. Appraisal of the Israeli Implied Claim of Right to Exclude Intelligence Gathering

        The Liberty was patrolling in a dog-leg pattern off the Gaza Strip, which Israel had just
conquered. Egypt had been defeated, and a cease-fire was going into effect. The Liberty was in
international waters and was doing no more than lawfully listening in on radio transmissions from
the Six-Day War. It was not interfering with coastal fishing, oil exploration, or any other legitimate
coastal state activity. It was a ship owned by a state that was at peace with Israel. There is abso-
lutely no evidence that the Liberty's intelligence product was being used to aid the Arab States to
Israel's detriment. By the 8th of June, Israel had reopened the Straits of Tiran and had repulsed
the alleged Egyptian attack that had precipitated the outbreak of hostilities. Israel was also hold-
ing her own against Egypt's allies, Jordan and Syria, and had, in fact, conquered some Jordanian
territory. There is no issue of self-defense. Under these circumstances, Israel's implied claim that
the United States had no right to conduct intelligence gathering activity under the circumstances
was completely unfounded.

           C. The Lawfulness of the Location




156
      M. McDougal, H. Lasswell & W Reisman, supra note 152, at 309-10 (emphasis added). For a collection of examples in which electronic
      intelligence-gathering aircraft were shot down by the Soviet Union and North Korea after allegedly being in their airspace, see Lissitzyn,
      supra note 149, at 566-67. In these examples, the nations that shoot down the aircraft have never officially claimed a right to interfere
      with foreign aircraft over the high seas and, in one case, the Soviet Union specifically denied that it claimed such a right.
157
      M. McDougal, H. Lasswell & W Reisman, supra note 152, at 309. Lissitzyn, supra note 149, at 567.
158
      Id. at 568. Professor Lissitzyn bases this on his observations that: 1) All shootings at reconnaissance aircraft are justified on the basis of
      straying into territorial airspace; 2) the number of states committing acts of interference is small; 3) it is unlikely that a rule of law making
      electronic reconnaissance unlawful will emerge if the stronger states don't support it; and 4) there is no evidence in the international
       community of any sentiment for such a law.
159
      Id. at 568.
94                                               A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




       The area, over which Israel had by implication asserted her intelligence gathering exclu-
sion zone, was an area of the high seas off Egypt.

The area was beyond the territorial sea, or the contiguous zone, of either Israel or Egypt. Thus,
there is no question to be resolved of Israel's rights over the Liberty, as a warship of a nominally
neutral state in Israel's territorial waters 160 or in Israel's contiguous zone. 161 The focus settles
on the limited assertion of an exclusion zone over the high seas beyond the contiguous zone.

               I. The General Nature of the Freedom of the Seas in 1967

        "[T]he basic policy of the law of the sea is to promote the utmost use and enjoyment of the
ocean for the benefit of all peoples. 162 To this end, the great ocean expanses are, as a matter of
policy, left as free as possible from national jurisdiction claims over them. One historical excep-
tion to this policy is limited sovereignty claims in furtherance of legitimate self-defense.

        The major source of treaty law governing the high seas in 1967 was the 1958 Geneva
Convention on the High Seas (hereinafter The High Seas Convention),163 to which both Israel and
the United States were parties.164 The preamble of this treaty notes that it is simply a codification
of international law already in existence and that its provisions are declaratory of established
principles of interna




160
          Convention on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone, Apr. 29, 1958, 15 U.S.T 1606, TI.A.S. No. 5639, 516 U.N.T.S. 205 (entered into
          force Sept. 10, 1964) [hereinafter cited as Territorial Seas Convention). The width of the territorial sea was not provided for in the treaty,
          but no nation could have a territorial sea wider than the contiguous zone of 12 miles. See Territorial Seas Convention, art. 24(2). This
          treaty gives a coastal state the right to compel warships to leave territorial waters for noncompliance with coastal state regulations. See
          Territorial Seas Convention, art. 23. Israel claimed a 6-mile territorial sea in 1967, Egypt a 12-mile territorial sea.
161
      .   The rights of control of a coastal state would be limited to those listed in article 24(1) of the Territorial Seas Convention, which
          reads, in pertinent part:
                   1. In a zone of the high seas, contiguous to its territorial sea, the coastal State may exercise the control necessary to: (a)
                   Prevent infringement of its customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary regulations within its territory or territorial sea; (b)
                   Punish infringement of the above regulations committed within its territory or territorial seas.
          Territorial Seas Convention, supra note 160, art. 24(1).
162
      McDougal, Authority to Use Force on the High Seas, in 61 U.S. Naval War College, International Law Studies 1947-1977 at 551,
          554 (R. Lillich & J. Moore; ed. 1980).
163
      Convention on the High Seas, Apr. 29, 1958, 2 U.S.T. 2312, TI.A.S. No. 5200, 450 U.N.TS. 82 (entered into force Sept. 30, 1962)
          [hereinafter cited as High Seas Convention].
164
          United Nations, Multilateral Treaties Deposited With the Secretary-General 587 (1982). The United States ratified the treaty on
          April 12, 1961, and Israel ratified the treaty on September 6, 1961. Id.
95                                           A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




tional law. 165 Article 8(1) of that convention provides that warships on the high seas have com-
plete immunity from the jurisdiction of any state other than the flag state. 166 Warships are de-
fined in the treaty as ships that belong to the naval forces of a state, that bear the distinguish-
ing external markings of a warship of its nationality, that are under the command of a commis-
sioned officer whose name is on the state's official navy list, and that are manned by a crew
under regular naval discipline. 167 The term high seas, as defined in article 1, means all parts of
the sea, except internal waters and territorial sea of a coastal state. 168

         The High Seas Convention provides, in article 2, that the high seas are open to all na-
tions and no part of them may be subjected to state sovereignty. 169 Article 2 lays out four spe-
cific freedoms guaranteed to states inter alia: Freedom to navigate; freedom to fish; freedom to
lay submarine cables and pipelines; and freedom to fly over the high seas. Inter alia freedoms
include such things as the freedom to conduct scientific research and the freedom to conduct
electronic intelligence gathering. The only limit on the exercise of high seas freedoms, whether
the specifically named ones or the inter alia ones, is that these freedoms must be exercised by
states with reasonable regard to the interests of other states in their exercise of these same
freedoms. 170 This then would seem to end any question of the right of a friendly state to
electronically listen on the high seas off the coast of another state. For centuries, however,
states have asserted limited jurisdiction claims over portions of the high seas for such purposes
as enforcement of smuggling and sanitary laws, and these have continued to be recognized. 171
States have also asserted jurisdiction over portions of the high seas in asserting claims of self-
defense. It is within this latter category that Israel's claim must be found.

             2. State Claims to Jurisdiction Over the High Seas Based on Self-Defense




165
      High Seas Convention, supra note 163, at preamble. The preamble reads, in part: "Recognizing that the United Nations Confer-
                                                                               7,
       ence on the Law of the Sea, held at Geneva from 24 February to 2 April 1958, adopted the following provisions as generally de-
       claratorv of established principles of international law ...." Id.

166
      Id. art. 8(l).

167
      Id. art. 8(2).
168
      Id. art. 1
169
      Id. art. 2.
170
      Id.
171
      These categories have been historically recognized. See Church v. Hubbart, 6 U.S. (2 Cranch) 187 (1804); I L. Oppenheim, International
       Law (H. Lauterpacht ed. 7th ed. 1948). Limited jurisdiction has also been recognized for other purposes related to resources. See also
       U.S. Presidential Proclamation No. 2667, Policy of the United States with Respect to the Natural Resources of the Subsoil and Sea Bed
       of the Continental Shelf, Sept. 28, 1945, 3 C.F.R. 67 (1948) (extending jurisdiction and control to the natural resources of the U.S. conti-
       nental shelf while still recognizing freedom of the high seas).
96                                         A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




        State claims to jurisdiction over the high seas based on self-defense have been variously titled. Some
authorities discuss them under the title of contiguous zone.172 During the drafting of the 1958 Convention on
the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone (hereinafter Territorial Seas Convention), however, references to
security were deliberately left out.173 Thus, it may cause confusion to refer to zones based on self-defense or
national security as contiguous zones, especially after the 1958 treaty gave character and territorial limit to
the term.174 In this discussion, the term maritime security zone will be used as the generic term.175

         Since reference to security zones was specifically left out of the Territorial Seas Convention, and
since they do not appear in the High Seas Convention, at least one author has asserted that maritime security
zones are clearly unlawful;176 however, they have been, and continue to be, used and recognized by states.
The reason that they are not unlawful is that, when properly declared, a maritime security zone may be based
on self-defense under article 51 of the United Nations Charter. The reason that maritime security zones for
self-defense have been, and continue to be, recognized is that states find them useful. This does not lead to
widespread abuse of these zones, however, since only those that have been reasonably declared in the face of
a valid threat have been recognized. In fact, the international law commission that worked on drafts of the
law of the sea articles for the 1958 Geneva Convention felt that the concept of security zones was too vague
to be included in the treaties. Instead, the commission felt that the states' inherent right of self-defense would
provide an adequate safeguard for their legitimate interests177

         Maritime security zones generally fall into four categories: (1) Peacetime zones declared by a state in
the face of a limited threat or for a limited purpose, including warning areas; (2) zones declared by a neutral
in the face of a widespread conflict with the intent of limiting the effects of the conflict (often called neutral-
ity zones); (3) zones declared by states during a limited or widespread conflict and directed only at the other
belligerent (often called sea defense areas or exclusion zones); and (4) zones declared by a belligerent and
directed at all shipping within the declared zone (often called a total exclusion zone, operational zone, or war
zone).




172
      McDougal, Authority to Use Force On the High Seas, supra note 162, at 557.
173
      Lissitzyn, supra note 149, at 565.
174
      See Territorial Seas Convention, supra note 160, art. 24.
175
      The term "maritime security zones" is used in Note, Maritime Security Zones: Prohibited Yet Perpetuated, 24 Va. 1. of Int'l L.
      967 (1984). It is used by the author here as a general term to describe state zones of jurisdiction based on self-defense. The
      area is otherwise crowded with terms. The discussion of maritime security zones does not include a discussion of the tradi-
      tional laws of blockade, searches, and contraband
176
      See id. at 967.
177
      Glover, International Law in the Falkland Islands, New Zealand L. J. 191, 192-93 (1982).
97                                       A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




       Some generalization can be made about maritime security zones. They must be an-
nounced.178 This is a self-evident characteristic; the purpose of a maritime security zone is to put
other nations on notice of some change in the normal high seas regime. A major purpose of mari-
time security zones during belligerencies is to place the political onus of escalation of the conflict
on the other party, thereby clarifying hostile intent.179 179 An unpublicized security zone amounts to
nothing more than a trap. The announcement should also reasonably describe the limits of the
maritime security zone. Finally, since maritime security zones are founded in selfdefense, they
must meet the self-defense criteria of being reasonable, necessary, and proportionate.180

          3. Appraisal of the Implied Israeli Claim of Right to Attack the Liberty in Interna-
             tional Waters

        Since the Liberty was not in territorial waters nor in a contiguous zone, as defined by the Terri-
torial Seas Convention, the only basis for the Israeli hostile action against a nonbelligerent warship
must be found in a claim of self-defense applied to the high seas. Applying the criteria for a mari-
time exclusion zone to the implied exclusion zone that the Government of Israel sought to assert
against the Liberty reveals that this zone did not meet the basic requirements.

        The zone was neither announced nor defined.181 The only Israeli public announcement
about a maritime exclusion zone was: "Warning: All vessels are required to keep away from the
coasts of Israel during darkness."182 The Israeli announcement, unlike the British announcements
during the recent war in the.




178
      See Mallison & Mallison, A Survey of the International Law of Naval Blockade, U.S. Naval Inst. Proc., Feb. 1976, at 45 (addressing
       the related area of blockades).
179
      2 D. O'Connell, International Law of the Sea 1112 (1984).
180
      D. Bowett, Self-Defense in International Law 269 (1958).
181
      See supra note 55.
182
      ]. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty, supra note 2, at 48.
98                                           A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




Falklands, 183 did not define what the coasts of Israel were, nor did it state whether the
maritime exclusion zone included the coasts of conquered territory or whether it included
waters beyond the territorial sea. In any case, this warning applied only to

183
      During this war, three security zones were eventually declared. The first, a limited one, was declared on April 12,1982; the second
      one, on the 28th of April, declared a total exclusion zone; and the third, which is still in effect today, is called a "protection zone"
      and runs 150 miles out from the islands and is similar to the zone declared on April 12, 1982.


      The first British exclusion zone during the Falkland/Malvinas Islands War of 1982 declared:

         The British Defense Secretary announced to Parliament on 7 April 1982: "Through appropriate channels the following notice is
         being promulgated to all shipping forthwith: `From 0400 Greenwich Mean Time on Monday, April 12, 1982, a maritime exclu-
         sion zone will be established around the Falkland Islands. The outer limits of this zone is a circle of 200 nautical miles radius
         from latitude 51 degrees 4 minutes south, 59 degrees 30 minutes west which is approximately the centre of the Falkland Is-
         lands. From the time indicated, any Argentine warships and Argentine naval auxiliaries found within this zone (on the high seas
         within 200 miles of the islands) will be treated as hostile and are liable to be attacked by British forces. This measure is without
         prejudice to the right of the United Kingdom to take whatever additional measures may be needed in exercise of its right of
         self-defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter."'

                      2 D. O'Connell, International Law of the Sea, supra note 179, at 1111.

         This declaration of a limited maritime security zone was a legitimate measure, since it was made in response to an Argentine
         breach of its duty of nonaggression under Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter. U.N. Charter, art. 2(4), which reads: "All
         Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political in-
         dependence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations."

         The zone limited the area of hostilities and was used to test Argentine belligerent intent. 2 D. O'Connell, International Law of the Sea,
         supra note 179, at 1111; Maritime Security Zones, supra note 175, at 989. As noted in the above quote, the exclusion was conspicu-
         ously limited to the naval ships of the other belligerent. In this context, this maritime security zone was clearly valid.

         An example of a criticized use of a total maritime exclusion zone was the April 28, 1982, declaration of a total maritime exclu-
         sion zone around the Falklands by Great Britain. The zone applied to the same 200-mile area around the Falklands that the
         earlier declared lesser maritime zone had, but this proclamation stated:



                       The Total Exclusion Zone was announced on 28 April 1982. The British Prime Minister informed Parliament: "The
                       latest of our military measures is the imposition of the total exclusion zone around the Falkland Islands, of which
                       we gave forty-eight hours notice yesterday. The new zone has the same geographical boundaries as the maritime
                       exclusion zone which took effect on 12 April. It will apply from noon London time tomorrow (30 April 1982) to all
                       ships and aircraft, whether military or civil, operating in support of the illegal occupation of the Falkland Islands. A
                       complete blockade will be placed on all traffic supporting the occupation forces of Argentina. Maritime and aviation
                       authorities have been informed of the imposition of the zone, in accordance with our international obligations."

       2 D. O'Connell, International Law of the Sea, supra note 179, at 1155.

       The mere presence of any ships or aircraft in the zone, regardless of nationality, was interpreted as being hostile and justi-
       fying measures of self-defense. Id. at 1111. The British argued that the Falklands total exclusion zone was a rightful meas-
       ure of self-defense under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, which reads in part: "Nothing in the present Charter shall impair
       the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations
       ...." U.N. Charter art. 51. The zone had, in fact, been declared only when Argentina failed to withdraw from the Falklands
       after the U.N. Security Council had called upon it to do so. 2 D. O'Connell, International Law of the Sea, supra note 179,
       at 1111. The Soviets objected to the morerestrictive British zone, saying that it violated Article 2 of the 1958 High Seas
       Convention. Glover, supra note 177, at 192-93. This greater zone had the effect of excluding Soviet vessels, then shadow-
       ing the British fleet, away from the scene of operations. See N.Y. Times, Apr. 29, 1982, at 1, col. 6. In fact, by linking this
99                                        A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




darkness and, therefore, it did not apply to the Liberty at 2 p.m., local time, on the 8th of June.

       The United States Government was given its own private maritime exclusion zone an-
nouncement to keep the Liberty away from Israeli coasts whatever the time of day. Even these
private warnings, as they have been described, however, are not specific enough about the
physical limits of the zone. 184 Since the Six-Day War was not a world war, the only type of mari-
time security zone that could properly




       total exclusion zone to all ships and aircraft operating in support of the Argentine occupiers of the Falklands, the British
       have constructed a legally supportable formula for the extended zone.

                During the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05), the Japanese declared a defensive sea area up to 10 miles from her
                coast. Foreign shipping was required to follow routes that kept it away from the main operational areas. The U.S. Na-
                val War College International Law Situations for 1914 regarded this as precedent on the basis of reasonableness, and
                the U.S. followed the Japanese lead in 1917. 2 D. O'Connell, International Law of the Sea, supra note 179, at 1109.

                It is important to note that the examples of the Japanese-declared zone and the first and third British zones in the
                Falklands all deal with limited war, and the maritime security zones this created were limited in their scope and mini-
                mally upset world community use of the high seas. This is not to say, however, that more extensive maritime security
                zones have not been declared. Mallison, Studies in the Low of Naval Warfare, in U.S. Naval War College International
                Law Studies 1966 at 87-89 (1968).


184
      S e e supra notes 54-66 and accompanying text.
100                                        A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




have been declared would have been a limited one directed against only the other bellig-
erent. 185

        Most importantly, the Israeli exclusion zone does not meet the basic requirements
for self-defense. The zone was not necessary. The tacit maritime security zone announced
privately was specifically directed against the United States. The United States was neu-
tral, however, and the only activity that it was conducting was electronic intelligence gath-
ering. As has been shown in the previous discussions, intelligence gathering on the high
seas by a nonbelligerent is a permissible use of the high seas. Therefore, Israel had no
legitimate reason to justify a security zone against the United States.




185
      Maritime security zones that totally exclude all shipping are of questionable legality. The declaration of a maritime security zone or
      war zone that excludes all shipping from an area, whether neutral or belligerent, on peril of destruction, traditionally can be justi-
      fied only as a reprisal for similar enemy actions. 2 L. Oppenheim, International Law, supra note 144, at 551. In the event of a war
      of world proportions, however, such a total zone may be arguably accepted as permissible, as were the total blockades of both
      world wars. Mallison & Mallison, A Survey of the International Law of Naval Blockade, supra note 178, at 48. But see D.
                                                          7
      O'Connell, The Influence of Law on Seapower 16 , (1975). To argue otherwise is to argue in the face of clear state practice, and a
      rule of law that is not honored in state practice is no rule at all. This is not to say, however, that a limited war would justify taking
      the same measures. Mallison & Mallison, A Survey of the International Law of Naval Blockade, supra note 178, at 48. But
      see D. O'Connell, The Influence of Law on Seapower 167 (1975). Outside the extraordinary circumstance of a general world war,
      the clear rule is that the declaration of a maritime security zone controlled by a belligerent and entered by neutral ships at their
      peril is not recognized as legal. 2 L. Oppenheim, International Law, supra note 144, at 548-49. Maritime security zones that were
      directed against all traffic except the declarant's own have been used three times in the twentieth century; the first was in World
                                                                      ,
      War 1. Id. On November 3, 1914, Britain declared a military area in the North Sea and mined the entire area, leaving some lanes
      open for neutral shipping. Id. This extensive mining was claimed to be a reprisal to German mining. Subsequently, Germany, in
      reprisal for the North Sea mining by Britain, declared a total war zone around the British Isles in which every ship, regardless of
      nationality, would be liable to attack. 2 D. O'Connell, International Law of the Sea, supra note 179, at 1110. This was known by
      the German Foreign Ministry to be contrary to the international law of the time and was justified as a reprisal. O'Connell, Interna-
      tional Law and Contemporary Naval Operations, 1970 Brit. Y.B. Int'l L. 46 (1971).


      During the Second World War, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States all declared security zones, called war or
      operational zones. Germany again declared hers around the British Isles, the British theirs in the Danish Straits, and the United
      States in the Pacific Ocean. Mallison, Studies in the Law of Naval W arfare, in U.S. Naval War College International Law
      Studies 1966, at 69-91 (1968). After the war, Grand Admiral Doenitz was convicted of a war crime for authorizing the establish-
      ment of a total war zone around the British Isles. 22 Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal,
      Nuremberg 558 (1948). This was contrary to the London Naval Protocol of 1936, 173 L.N.TS. 353. No punishment was awarded
      for this offense, however, because of the similar allied actions. W Mallison, Studies in the Law of Naval W arfare 1966, at 69-
      91 (1968).
101                                     A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




Finally, the zone was disproportionate. The naval operational requirements of Egypt, Is-
rael, and Syria have been coastal, and the need to extend jurisdiction over an undefined
area of the high seas was disproportionate to Israel's real defense needs. 186

         4. Conclusion

      The Israeli-implied claim to a maritime exclusion zone against the Liberty on the high
seas was not justified in international law.

         D. Summary

        Intelligence gathering on the high seas is not an inherently illegal activity and Israel
had no grounds on which to justify asserting national authority over the high seas near her
coasts, except against belligerents. The implied claim by the Government of Israel to an
intelligence gathering exclusion zone on the high seas as against the United States as a
cobelligerent, or against any nonbelligerent, was invalid and is not supportable in interna-
tional law.

III. THE ATTACK ON THE LIBERTY AS ISRAELI AGGRESSION

                    World order, in the long run, depends not on men, but upon law,
                    law which embodies eternal principles of justice and morality.
                    - John Foster Dulles

           A. The Issue

       The Israeli attack on the Liberty raises important questions about aggression and an-
ticipatory self-defense. Part III of this article examines these questions in the context of
international law.

           B. The Use of Force and International Law

           1. The United Nations Charter Framework

      The world legal order on the use of force is given in the U.N. Charter. 187 The first
element of world legal order required by the Charter, and found in article 2(3), is that all
members must settle their disputes peacefully and without jeopardizing




186
      U.N. Charter, art. 2.
187
      D. O'Connell, The Influence of Law on Seapower, 127 (1975)
102                                            A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




international peace and security.188 Article 2(4) of the Charter contains the prohibition of aggres-
sion and reads: "All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of
force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner
inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations."189 Article 51 of the Charter provides the
framework for the lawful use of force by a state by limiting the use of force to self-defense only. 190
Article 51 states: "Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or
collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until
the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.
. . .191 These two articles provide the limits of the lawful use of force under international law.
Force may be lawfully applied only if it is in self-defense. If force is not applied in self-defense it
is aggression, and illegal. As one commentator noted in 1966: "International law presently re-
quires that the initiation of war or the use of force short of war be limited and kept within the con-
cept of self-defense, which must be premised on a specific and immediate threat of armed at-
tack.192 Within the United Nations framework then, the use of force is lawful only in self-defense.
Any other use of force is unlawful aggression.

                           2. The Character of Self-Defense Under Article 51

        In the past, there has been some dispute as to the extent to which article 51 incorporates
the previous customary international law of self-defense. Professor Kunz espoused the narrow
view. Based on the "clear and unambiguous193 meaning of the words "armed attack" in article 51,
he felt that the only proper use of force under article 51 was in response to an actual (as opposed
to an imminent) "armed attack.194 In other words, Professor Kunz felt that the customary interna-
tional law of self-defense was not recognized in the Charter. He said: "Article 51 prohibits `pre-
ventive war.' The `threat of aggression' does not justify self-defense under Art. 51. Now in mu-
nicipal law self-defense is justified against an actual danger, but it is sufficient that the danger is
imminent. The `imminent' armed




188
          Id. art. 2(3).
189
          Id. art. 2(4).
190
          Id. art. 51
191
          Id.
192
          Harlow, The Legal Use of Force Short of War, U.S. Naval Inst. Proc., Nov. 1966; at 93.
193
      .   Kunz, Individual and Collective Self-Defense in Article Sl of the Charter of the United Nations, 41 Am. 1. Int'l L. 872, 873 (1947).
            Professor Kunz stated: "The Permanent Court of International Justice held that, where a text is clear and unambiguous, no
            resort should be had to traveaux preparatoires for its interpretation." Id.
194
          Id. at 877-78.
103                                  A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




attack does not suffice under Art. 51.195 Professor McDougal and Mr. Feliciano take issue with
the technique of interpreting documents, and especially article 51, using the "clear and unambi-
guous" meaning of words as a guide. In their collection of essays entitled Law and Minimum
World Public Order: The Legal Regulation of International Coercion, they argue:

      In the first place, neither Article 51, nor any other word formula can have, apart from
      context, any single "clear and unambiguous" or "popular, natural and ordinary" meaning
      that predetermines decision in infinitely varying particular controversies. The task of
      treaty interpretation, especially the interpretation of constitutional documents devised,
      as was the United Nations Charter, for the developing future, is not one of discovering
      and extracting from isolated words some mystical pre-existent, reified meaning but
      rather one of giving that meaning to both words and acts, in total context, which is re-
      quired by the principal, general purposes and demands projected by the parties to the
      agreement. For determining these major purposes and demands, a rational process of
      interpretation permits recourse to all available indices of shared expectation, including,
      in particular . . . the preparatory work on the agreement. 196

    Professor and Mrs. Mallison, writing later about article 51, did, in fact, try to find the context
for article 51. They went back to the negotiating history of the U.N. Charter and found:

      The negotiating history at the San Francisco Conference reveals that Article 51 was in-
      tended to incorporate the entire customary law or "inherent right" of self-defense. This
      comprehensive incorporation of the customary law includes reasonable and necessary
      anticipatory self-defense since this is an integral part of the customary law. 197

   This research into the negotiating history is borne out by reference to the equally authentic
French text of article 51. The French text uses the broader term "aggression armee," which en-
compasses the conception of "armed attack" but is not so limited and more accurately reflects the
negotiating history. 198




195
    . Id. at 878.
196
      M. McDougal & F. Feliciano, Law and Minimum World Public Order: The Legal Regulation of International Coercion 23435
       (1961) (footnotes omitted).
197
      S. Mallison & W Mallison, Armed Conflict in Lebanon, 1982: Humanitarian Law in a Real World Setting 13 (1983).
198
      Id
104                                  A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




       The more authentic reading of article 51, then, is that the inherent right of self-defense re-
ferred to in the article incorporates the entire customary law of selfdefense, including reasonable
and necessary anticipatory self-defense, since this has always been a part of the customary law. 199

          3. The Requirements for Anticipatory Self-Defense

        The requirements for anticipatory self-defense have been established through customary in-
ternational law.

        In an attack in 1837, the American steamer Caroline was destroyed by Canadian forces. 200
During the Canadian Rebellion of 1837, the Caroline was used to transport supplies to rebels on
several occasions. The United States appeared to the Canadian Government to be unwilling or un-
able to stop this action. Accordingly, Canadian militia crossed the Niagara River at night and cap-
tured the ship during a battle in which two Americans were killed. The Canadians set the ship afire
and set it adrift in the river, where it was destroyed as it went over Niagara Falls. One of the claims
of Great Britain was that the attack was justified as an act of self-defense. The United States did
not deny that the concept of anticipatory selfdefense could be invoked, but denied that it existed in
the Caroline situation. The British ended the affair by apologizing for the incident without assuming
any legal responsibility for the deaths of the two Americans, the wounding of others, and the de-
struction of the ship.

        During the diplomatic correspondence on the case, the American Secretary of State, Daniel
Webster, proposed to Lord Ashburton, the British Special Minister to Washington, a formula for an-
ticipatory self-defense. By attempting to show that Mr. Webster's formula had, in fact, been satis-
fied, Lord Ashburton implicitly adopted this formula.201 The formula required a "necessity of self-
defense, instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.”202
According to the Mallisons, the more correct formulation of the rule under international law is that
the state invoking anticipatory self-defense must go through a process of deliberation that results in
the choice of a lawfully proportionate means of responding coercion. 203 In any case, they feel that
the British response was proportional to the threat posed by the Caroline.204 This view is more in
harmony with article 2(3) of the U.N. Charter.




199
      Mallison & Mallison, The Israeli Aerial Attack on June 7, 1981, Upon the Iraqi Nuclear Reactor: Aggres-
      sion or Self-Defense? 15 Vand. J. Int'l L. 417, 420 (1982).
200
      2 J. Moore, Digest of International Law 409-414 (1906); Jennings, The Caroline and McLeod Cases, 32 Am. J. Int'l L.
      82 (1938).
201
      Jennings, supra note 200, at 89-90.
202
       Id. at 89 (citing 61 Parliamentary Papers (1983)).
203
       Mallison & Mallison, supra note 199, at 422.
204
       Id.
105                                      A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




        An example of the use of peaceful procedures was the British action toward the
French fleet following the Vichy French Government armistice with Nazi Germany in June
1940. 205 At that time, Germany had control of most of the continent of Europe. It was a
bleak time for Britain, with German bombing a regular feature of British life and a German
invasion of England expected. The French fleet had taken refuge in Alexandria, Egypt;
Oran, French North Africa (Algeria); and Martinique, in the West Indies. The British feared
that the Germans would take control of the French fleet through the Vichy Government. If
the French fleet had joined with the German Navy, things would have been very grim in-
deed, since Britain's major lifelines were all by sea and the French Navy could have
helped cut off British sea commerce and facilitated the threatened German invasion of
England. In response to this grave threat to its very existence, the British served on the
French naval commanders in each of the refuge locations a list of alternatives. The pre-
ferred choice was for the French fleet elements to join the British against Germany. The
second choice was to make the French fleet useless to the Germans by the French them-
selves. The third choice, failing the other two, was that the British would attack and sink
the vessels. In Alexandria and Martinique, the French accepted the second choice. In
Oran, the choices were rejected; and, after further efforts at reaching agreement failed,
the British attacked and sunk the fleet at Oran. The British conduct has been viewed as
appropriate. 206

       A more recent use of anticipatory self-defense was the Cuban Missile Crisis of
         207
1962. At the time, the Soviet Union was secretly installing strategic missiles with nuclear
capability in Cuba. At the same time, the Soviets were publicly denying the installment of
these intercontinental missiles. If the installed missiles had become operational, they
could have posed grave danger to the balance of power. Because the Soviets refused to
acknowledge the actions they were taking, diplomatic efforts to end the crisis failed, and
the United States imposed a limited naval blockade around Cuba for the purpose of halting
the further introduction of strategic missiles. At the same time, the United States worked
through the United Nations to reach a diplomatic settlement that would result in the re-
moval of the missiles that were already in Cuba. The result was an agreement that led to
the withdrawal of the missiles from Cuba.

      The Cuban Missile Crisis is noteworthy in two respects. First, the Crisis illustrates
appropriate proportionality. The United States used the least amount of




205
      1 L. Oppenheim, International Law, supra note 171, at 270-71.
206
      Mallison & Mallison, supra note 199, at 423 (citing 1 L. Oppenheim, International Law 303 (H. Lauterpacht ed. 8th ed. 1955)).
      Oppenheim calls the act one of self-preservation.
207
      See S. Mallison & W Mallison, Studies in the International Humanitarian Law of Armed Conflict, 42 (revised preliminary edition
      1985}, this text may also be found at Mallison, Limited Naval Blockade or Quarantine-Interdiction: National and Collective De-
      fense Claims Valid Under International Law, 31 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 335 (1962).
106                                     A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




force necessary to contain the aggression that the missile placement and the threat to the balance
of power represented. Second, the Crisis shows the simultaneous use of peaceful means for re-
solving the situation.

       These cases illustrate the legal criteria of anticipatory self-defense: 1) The use of peaceful
procedures if available; 2) actual necessity, as opposed to sham or pretense, for the use of force in
the responding coercion; and 3) proportionality in the responding coercion. 208 Anticipatory self-
defense is regarded as a highly unusual and exceptional action that may be employed only when
the evidence of the threat is compelling and the necessity to act is overwhelming,209 that is, the
danger is instant.

          C. Assessment of the Israeli Attack
          1. Peaceful Procedures

         Prior to ordering the attack on the Liberty, officials of the Israeli Government attempted to
peacefully get the United States to move the ship. By notifying the United States that the ship had
to be moved or it would be attacked, the Government of Israel was arguably giving the United
States a peaceful alternative to the use of force. This, it may be said, constituted a resort to peace-
ful procedures prior to the attack. This argument fails, however, because the Government of Israel
had no right to make the demand to move. The unsuccessful attempt by United States Government
officials to move the ship was a gratuitous response. The United States was not an enemy, nor a
potential enemy- state. The United States had every right to be in international waters listening in
on atmospheric radio transmissions.210 The notifications by the Government of Israel to the United
States would have constituted peaceful procedures only if the threatened Israeli attack was di-
rected toward an enemy or potential enemy who was immediately, specifically, and directly threat-
ening with military force.211 Since the Government of Israel was asking the Government of the
United States to do something that the United States was not obligated to do under international
law, the procedures by Israel were not justified by any necessity in the situation.

          2. Necessity




208
      Mallison & Mallison, supra note 199, at 423.
209
      !d. at 419
210
      See supra notes 140-86 and accompanying text.
211
      McDougal, supra note 162, at 556.
107                                   A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




To be in harmony with the United Nations framework for the use of force, the Israeli attack must be
shown to have been based on necessity. The Israeli military leaders were concerned about the
Liberty because they felt that the information being heard by the Liberty's radio receivers had al-
ready revealed one Israeli secret to United States officials and they did not want any more re-
vealed.212 According to one commentator, Israel wanted the world to think that she was the victim of
an attack so that she would be justified in retaining conquered land.213 Israeli military leaders also
feared that battlefield intelligence broadcast over Israeli radios and intercepted by the Liberty
would end up in enemy hands via Arab sympathizers in the U.S. State Department and the Penta-
gon.214

        It is also speculated, and there is much circumstantial evidence to confirm, that Israel did
not want the United States or the world to know that it would soon be attacking Syria, U.N. cease-
fire notwithstanding.215 These concerns of the Israeli military leadership must be examined in view
of Israel's lawful military objectives in the Six-Day War.

         Israel had made preparation for war in response to Egypt's removal of the United Nations
Emergency Force, the movement of Egyptian troops into the Sinai, and the Egyptian closure of the
Straits of Tiran. Israel alleges, however, that she attacked Egypt in what Israel alleged was a re-
sponse to an offensive thrust by Egyptian armor and planes.216 The only lawful war aims Israel had
were to repulse any Egyptian, Jordanian, and Syrian attacks and to reopen the Straits of Tiran. Is-
rael's insistence that the United States move the Liberty or it would be attacked could have been
prompted only by Israel's need to hide its forthcoming breach of a cease-fire to seize Syrian lands,
and the reason to hide this move into Syria was to make keeping Syrian land after the war easier to
justify.217 By the time the decision was made to attack the Liberty, Israel had won the war. Egypt
had been defeated, the Straits of Tiran had been captured by Israel, and a cease-fire was in effect.
Jordan had been defeated, and a cease-fire was in effect. Syria had not seriously fought Israel, and
a cease-fire was in effect. The belief that any leaks from the United States would have jeopardized
the legitimate war aims of an already victorious Israel was a highly speculative and ill-founded one.




212
      See supra notes 19 & 20 and accompanying text. See also S. Steven, supra note 2, at 234.
213
      Id.
214
      Id.
215
      J. Ennes, supra note 2, at 209-13.
216
      22 U.N. SCOR (1347th mtg.) at 1 U.N. Doc. S/P.V. 1347 (1967). Contradicting the claim at the Security Council
       was the fact that the Israeli Air Force had caught the Egyptian Air Force on the ground in a complete surprise. S.
       Steven, supra note 2, at 230-31.
217
      See D. Neff, supra note 2, at 265; S. Steven, supra note 2, at 234. Israel annexed Jerusalem on June 28, 1967,
       started settlement colonies on the West Bank on Sept. 27, 1967, and annexed the Golan Heights on Dec. 14,
       1981. See D. Neff, supra note 2, at 323
108                                        A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




The case of the destruction of the French fleet at Oran, described earlier, is instructive on this
point. In that case, the attack was ultimately justified because the Government of France had
just fallen under the sway of England's deadly enemy - an enemy that had not only talked of
England's destruction, but that had also just demonstrated its willingness to use force by con-
quering most of continental Europe. If the French ships in question had not been neutralized or
destroyed, there was little doubt at the time that they would have been used against England,
either on the high seas or to invade her. Thus, the use of violence was justified by the dire ne-
cessity of the situation. The posture of the United States toward Israel in 1967 simply did not
equate to that of Vichy France toward Great Britain in 1940.

       The Liberty was the warship of an ally of Israel. The ship did not represent any threat to
the territorial integrity or political independence of Israel. The attack was not founded in actual
necessity. The actual reason for attacking the Liberty was to hide an Israeli attack on Syria for
the purpose of territorial expansion.

                       3. Proportionality

       The military leadership of Israel not only chose to confront the Liberty, but also chose the
means of dealing with her. They were confronted with a warship that was a lumbering, con-
verted merchant ship incapable of going over seventeen knots. Was the killing of thirty-four
men, and the wounding of 171 others, a proportional response? Proportionality is judged ac-
cording to the character of the initial coercion. 218 In this case, there was no coercion by the
United States and no specific or immediate danger posed by the ship. Accordingly, any use of
armed force against the Liberty would have been, and was, unjustified.

                       D. Conclusion
        The attack on the U.S.S. Liberty was not a justifiable act of anticipatory self-defense. The
Liberty committed no aggression against Israel. The Israeli attack was not preceded by justifi-
able peaceful procedures. The attack was unnecessary because it was based only on a specu-
lative threat and conducted after Israel's legitimate war aims had been achieved. Any coercion
against the ship would have been unjustified. Since there was no justification for the attack as
an act of selfdefense under article 51 of the U. N. Charter, and since the attack was not com-
mitted as part of a decision of the U.N. Security Council, it was an unlawful use of force by a
member of the United Nations.

       The decision by the Government of Israel, acting through its military leadership, to attack
the U.S.S. Liberty was a decision to commit aggression under




218
      Mallison & Mallison, supra note 199, at 420
109                                   A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter. The attack itself was an act of unlawful aggression.
The deaths and injuries suffered cannot be lawfully justified.

IV T H E WRONGFUL US E OF UNMARKED MILITARY AIRCRAFT
                  [O]ne of the "morals" of the first great war was the demonstration of the
                  need for nationality marks upon aircraft. . . . - J. M. Spaight

         A. Factual Highlights

       On the day of the attack, the Liberty was being heavily scrutinized by Israeli Defense
Force aircraft. Most of the flights were made by a twin-engined transport, marked with the Is-
raeli Star of David, that was being used as a reconnaissance plane. At 10 a.m., however, two
rocket-armed, delta-winged jets circled the ship three times at very close range. These planes
had no external, visible national markings. 219 Later, at 2 p.m., during the attack, the first two
planes that attacked the Liberty were also delta-winged jets, and witnesses again saw no exter-
nal national markings on them.220 The calls for help that got out from the Liberty referred to the
attacking forces only as unidentified aircraft. 221 If the ship had gone down with all hands, the
only thing that the United States would have known was that the Liberty had been attacked by
unidentified aircraft and, had the jamming of the Liberty's radios been totally successful, the
United States might not have even known that. 222 These disturbing facts raise the question of
whether the use of unmarked aircraft is proper under international law.

         B. The International Law Criteria

       International efforts to codify rules concerning the conduct of war on land and at sea
have been moderately successful, but there is virtually no treaty law on air warfare. 223 In1922,
however, a special committee of jurists from six powers was appointed to study and prepare
rules for air warfare. Their product was a draft code entitled, Rules of Air Warfare.224 Although
never adopted in legally binding form, it is nevertheless an authoritative attempt to promulgate
rules governing air warfare,




219
     J. Ennes, supra note 2, at 53.
220
    . See supra note 79
221
     S. Green, supra note 2, at 229
222
     Author Steven Green's speculation on this point may be found at S. Green, supra note 2, at 229-30.
223
     The Laws of Armed Conflicts ix. See generally, The Laws of Armed Conflicts 133-39 (D. Schindler & J. Toman ed. 1973).
224
     The Laws of Armed Conflicts 139 (D. Schindler & J. Toman ed. 1973).
110                                      A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




and it reflects customary rules and general principles of law that underlie the conventions on the
conduct of war on land and on the sea.225

These important draft rules provide, in part:

         Art. 3: A military aircraft shall bear an external mark indicating its nationality and military
         character.

         Art. 7: The external marks required by the above articles shall be so affixed that they can-
         not be altered in flight. They shall be as large as practicable and shall be visible from be-
         low and from each side.

         Art 19: The use of false external marks is forbidden. 226

       It is important to note the timing of the drafting of these rules. They followed the extensive
experiences with the heavier-than-air craft that were used in the First World War. Following that
experience, it was deemed so important to have aircraft marked with their nationality that it was
mentioned in several places in the rules.227 In article 19, the prohibition against the use of false
marks emphasizes the importance that the drafters put on clear, authentic national markings.

        In emphasizing clear national markings, the drafters of the Rules of Air Warfare were sim-
ply reflecting the emphasis that other codifications of rules of war have put on authentic national
markings. In spite of the failure of the draft Rules of Air Warfare to be ratified, international cus-
tom requires operational combat aircraft that are engaged in hostilities be distinctively marked
with a national marking.

       The trend toward requiring markings in combat started in the aftermath of the Franco-
Prussian War. During that conflict, it was the practice of the Prussian Government to execute,
upon capture, irregular French soldiers who could not produce identification showing that they
were authorized to fight on behalf of Frances.228 Subsequently, at the Brussels Conference of
1874, the Russian Government proposed, in article 9 of the original draft of the agreement from
that conference, a series of requirements that would entitle irregular combatants to be treated as
regular soldiers. One of these four important requirements was that the person claiming regular
soldier combatant status must "wear some settled distinctive badge recognizable at a dis-
tance”.229 While the Declaration of the Brussels




225
    Id.
226
    Id. at 140-42 (discussing the Hague Rules of Air Warfare 1922-1923, arts. 3, 7, & 19).
227
    In fact, articles 1-10 of the draft rules are devoted exclusively to classification and marking of aircraft.
228
    S. Mallison & W Mallison, Studies in the International Humanitarian Law of Armed Conflict, supra note 207, at 167-68.
229
    Id. at 168
111                                         A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




Conference (including the listing of requirements for claiming combatant status) went unratified, it
nevertheless comprises the foundation upon which the modern law of land warfare has been
built.230 The importance of combatants possessing a distinctive badge or marking is reflected in
the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, 231 and in the more recent Geneva Convention of
1949.232 Without distinctive identification, the combatant does not come within the protection of
the laws of war and may be in danger of being viewed as an outlaw. The result has been that, in
land warfare, soldiers must wear a uniform and "irregulars," if they are to be accorded the privi-
leges of combatants, must bear some fixed, recognizable emblem to indicate their character as
fighting men and to separate them from the civilian population.233

       The customary law is also reflected in the treatment of warships. Article 8(2), of the 1958
Convention on the High Seas, requires that warships bear distinguishing external marks denoting
them as warships of their state.234 This treatment of warships is important because requiring a
warship to be distinctively marked is more analogous to requiring a combat aircraft to be marked
than the requirement for a soldier to be distinctively marked.

       The world community also requires distinctive markings on civil aircraft. The 1944 Conven-
tion on International Civil Aviation provides: "Every aircraft engaged in internation air navigation
shall bear its appropriate nationality and registration marks. 235

        The established policy of the world community is to require that combat personnel be dis-
tinctively attired or marked, that warships be distinctively marked,




230
    Id. at 167
231
    See, e.g., Hague Regulations of Hague Convention IV Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, 36 Stat. 2277, T.S. No.
     539 (Oct. 1907). The regulations read, in pertinent par': "The laws, rights and duties of war apply not only to armies, but also to
     militia and volunteer corps fulfilling the following conditions ... 2. To have a fixed distinctive emblem recognizable at a distance;
     ...." Id.
232
    . See, e.g., Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed
       Forces at Sea, Aug. 12, 1949, 6 U.S.T. 3217, TI.A.S. No. 3363 [hereinafter cited as Geneva Maritime Convention]. The Geneva
       Maritime Convention provides, in part:
             The present Convention shall apply to the wounded, sick and shipwrecked at sea belonging to the following catego-
             ries: ... (2) Members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a
             Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such
             militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfill the following conditions: ... (b) that
             of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance; ....
                    Id. art. 13(2)(b).

233
      J. Spaight, Air Power and War Rights 76 (1947).
234
      .High Seas Convention, supra note 163, art. 8(2), which provides in pertinent part: "For the purposes of these articles, the term 'warship'
       means a ship belonging to the naval forces of a State and bearing the external marks distinguishing warships of its nationality...."
235
      Convention on International Civil Aviation, art. 20, Dec. 7, 1944, TI.A.S. No. 1591, 15 U.N.TS. 295.
112                                          A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




and that civil aircraft be distinctively marked. There is no reason for a different policy, as re-
flected in customary law, to regulate operating combat aircraft. The underlying policy is the
same, and so is the reflective customary law. In 1947, the English commentator, J. M. Spaight,
in his definitive book, Air Power and War Rights, stated: "The determination of combatant
status is a necessity of civilized warfare on land, on sea, or in the air. The distinction between
the combatant and the non-combatant elements of a community is the essential condition
precedent of the humanizing of warfare. 236 The importance of distinctive markings on combat
elements noted by Mr. Spaight has, since the days of the Franco-Prussian War, become recog-
nized by the world community as significant and necessary, and this recognition has been re-
flected in world practice that is today accepted as law.

        The customary rule in effect in 1967 is evidenced by the practice of the United States.
Article 500 d. of the Law of Naval Warfare, as reprinted in 1955, required military aircraft to
bear the military markings of their state.237

        That Israel was aware of the importance of this customary rule is shown by the care
taken to mark the U.S. Air Force tactical reconnaissance jets with the Star of David and authen-
tic Israeli stock numbers (which required Israeli participation) before they were sent to Israel
and into combat. 238 The collusion of Israel in the use of false exterior markings shows their
awareness that such markings were required.

           C. Resolution of the Issue

        The Government of Israel sent unmarked military aircraft to attack the U.S.S. Liberty..
There is a customary rule of international law that military aircraft, when operational, must be
distinctively marked with their nationality and military character. Israel violated this customary
rule of international law. No injury is attributable solely to the fact that the aircraft were un-
marked, however, the act of using unmarked aircraft is evidence of the maliciousness of the at-
tack on the Liberty by the Government of Israel.




236
      J. Spaight, su pr a note 233, at 76.
237
      The Department of the Navy, Law of Naval Warfare (NWIP 10-2) may be found as the appendix to Tucker, Th e L aw o f W ar and
      Ne ut ral i ty a t Sea in XIX U.S. Naval War College International Law Studies 1955 at 394 (1957). Warships in time of war may
      sail under a false flag or in disguise, providing that their true colors are hoisted before they open fire. H. Smith, The Law and Cus-
      tom of the Sea 91 (1954). The higher speed and smaller size of aircraft, however, justify the more restrictive rule.
238
      S. Green, s u p ra note 2, at 206.
113                                      A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




          V QUESTIONS OF HUMANITARIAN LAW RAISED BY THE ATTACK

                    Men who take up arms against one another in public do not cease on
                    this account to be moral beings, responsible to one another and to God.
                    - Francis Lieber

          A. Brief Factual Summary
        While the Liberty was under attack by the Israeli MTBs, the torpedo boatmen were spray-
ing the ship with machine-gun fire. Witnesses noted that they were directing their machine-gun
fire particularly at the stowed inflatable life rafts on the deck of the Liberty. After torpedoing and
then machine-gunning the Liberty, the MTBs pulled off to one side away from the ship and idled
as the Liberty sat helpless in the water. When the Liberty appeared to be sinking and the crew
had been ordered to abandon ship, one Liberty seaman braved going out on deck to look for
serviceable life rafts. He found three, inflated them, put them in the water, and tied them to the
ship. At that point, one MTB came closer to the Liberty and shot at the three good life rafts. This
deflated two of the boats, and the third was shot free of its line to the Liberty and was taken
aboard the MTB. After destroying or seizing the remaining life rafts, the MTBs left the scene,
possibly believing that U.S. planes and surface ships were on the way. The MTBs provided no
other life rafts or supplies to Liberty personnel. This conduct by Israeli naval personnel requires
examination, in light of the humanitarian law of war at sea established by convention and post-
World War II war crimes trials.

          B. The Maritime Convention

          1. General

        In 1967, both Israel and the United States were parties to the 1949 Geneva Convention
for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed
Forces at Sea. 239 The only reservation made by Israel was that the Red Shield of David be used
as a distinctive sign for medical personnel




239
      Geneva Maritime Convention,   supra,   note 232. This convention establishes the basic principle that members of the armed forces
      and those assimilated to them who are at sea and who are wounded, sick, or shipwrecked must be respected and protected in all
      circumstances. Draper,   Rules Governing the Conduct of hostilities-The Laws of War and Their Enforcement,       in 62 U.S. Naval
      War College International Law Studies 1947-1977 at 257 (R. Lillich & J. Moore ed. 1980).


      Although a large part of the law of war may he found in conventions, substantial areas are also found in the customary law and
      especially in the numerous judicial precedents furnished by the international and national war crimes tribunals operating at the
      end of World War 11. Draper,    Rules Governing the Conduct of Hostilities-The Laws of War and Their Enforcement,           in 62
      U.S. Naval War College International Law Studies 1947-1977 at 249-50 (R. Lillich & J. Moore ed. 1980).
114                                          A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




instead of the Red Cross. 240 Article 2 of the Convention provides that it applies in all cases of
armed conflict between two or more parties to the Convention, even if a state of war is not recog-
nized by one of them.241 The use of the words "armed conflict" means that the treaty applies to
any difference arising between two states that leads to an involvement of the armed forces,
regardless of how long the incident lasts.242 There is no need for a state of war to be recognized
for the Maritime Convention to apply; the occurrence of de facto hostilities is sufficient.243 The
Convention protects members of the armed forces of a state and persons who accompany these
armed forces without being a member of them. 244 The Convention applies on the high seas or in
territorial waters.245

            2. Article 18 - After an Engagement

        The duty of belligerents toward survivors after a conflict at sea is particularly important.
Article 18 covers conduct after an engagement. Paragraph one reads: "After each engagement,
Parties to the conflict shall, without delay, take all possible measures to search for and collect
the shipwrecked, wounded and sick, to protect them against pillage and ill-treatment, to ensure
their adequate care, and to search for the dead and prevent their being despoiled. 246 This re-
quirement may also be found in article 16 of the 10th Hague Convention of 1907, which states:
"[A]fter every engagement, the two belligerents, so far as military interests permit, shall take
steps to look for the shipwrecked, sick, and wounded, and to protect them, as well as the dead,
against pillage and ill-treatment.. . .247

       Wounded and sick persons are combatants who, by reason of a wound or sickness, have
ceased to fight. 248 A shipwrecked person is one whose vessel has been destroyed or lost at
sea, those persons who are in a disabled ship, and those who are cast away on the coast or on
an island as a result of an accident at sea.249 These people must be in need of assistance and
care, and they must refrain from any hostile act. 250




240
      This reservation may be found in The Laws of Armed Conflicts, supra note 224, at 494.
241
      Geneva Maritime Convention, supra note 232, art. 2.
242
      1. Pictet, Commentary: Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of the
       Armed Forces at Sea 28 (1960).
243
      Id.
244
      Geneva Maritime Convention, supra note 232, art. 13(4).
245
      1. Pictet, supra note 243, at 88-89.
246
      Geneva Maritime Convention, supra note 232, art. 18.
247
      Convention X for the Adaption to Maritime Warfare of the Principles of the Geneva Convention, art. 16, 1907, 36 Stat. 2388.
248
      Id.
249
      I. Pictet, supra note 242, at 89.
250
      Id.
115                                       A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




         The obligation in article 18, to take all possible measures without delay, is a strict re-
quirement, subject only to the operational capacity of the units at the scene. 251 Thus, a motor
torpedo boat or submarine may not have the capability to see to the wounded or to ensure the
safety of the shipwrecked. Both of these types of war vessels have peculiar vulnerabilities, and
their continued presence on the scene of a battle may jeopardize their safety. In that case, hu-
manity yields to military necessity and torpedo boats and submarines may hastily leave the
scene of a battle. 252 Even these types of vessels must radio nearby hospital ships or other neu-
tral ships, however, and must at least try to supply such materials as lifeboats, food, and wa-
ter. 253

            3. Articles 50 to 53 - Grave Breaches

        Article 50 outlines the procedures and duties with regard to war crimes or grave
breaches committed against persons protected by the Maritime Convention. 254 The grave
breaches detailed in article 51 include the destruction of property not justified by military ne-
cessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly. 255 This particularly covers hospital ships, res-
cue craft, medical installations, and medical aircraft. 256 The object of this part is to protect the
lives of survivors at sea by protecting that property designed to care for and preserve their lives
and, thereby, prevent the great suffering, injury, and death that virtually always follow the de-
struction of such humanitarian property. 257

       The grave breaches section ends with articles 52 and 53. 258 Article 52 prohibits one party
to the Convention from absolving itself or another party from grave breaches that may have
been committed. Article 53 provides for investigations of abuses and infractions of the Conven-
tion.

            E. The War Crimes Trials




251
      Id. at 130
252
      Id. at 131
253
      Id. at 130-31.
254
      Geneva Maritime Convention, supra note 232, art. 50.
255
      Id. art. 51. Article 51 provides:
        Grave breaches to which the preceding Article (Article 50 relating to the suppression of grave breaches) relates shall be
        those involving any of the following acts, if committed against persons or property protected by the Convention: willful kill-
        ing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body
        or health, and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlaw-
        fully and wantonly.
      Id., art. 51.
256
      J. Pictet, supra note 242, at 269-70
257
      Id.
258
      Geneva Maritime Convention, supra note 232, arts. 52 & 53
116                                        A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




        There are two World War II war crimes trials that bear these facts. The first trial, known as
The Peleus Trial, was tried before a British military court in Hamburg, Germany, in 1945.259 The
captain of U-852, Lieutenant Commander Heinz Eck, and others, were tried for shooting and
throwing grenades at the life rafts and wreckage from the S.S. Peleus, which had just sunk in the
South Atlantic. Lieutenant Commander Eck stated in his defense that he did not fire at the survi-
vors themselves, but intended only to destroy the flotsam and rafts to ensure that there would be
no telltale trace of the sinking that would endanger his U-boat and crew, although he knew that
his actions would also result in the Peleus survivors being unable to save themselves.' 260 Lieu-
tenant Commander Eck was convicted and sentenced to death for the deaths of the Peleus survi-
vors who died as a result of the shooting and grenading of the rafts and wreckage.

       In the trial of Helmuth von Ruchteschell, tried before a British courtmartial in Hamburg in
1947, the defendant, a captain of German armed raiders in the North Atlantic between 1940 and
1942, was convicted inter alia of sinking merchant vessels without making any provision for the
safety of the survivors.261 The court held that the defendant had a duty to search for, and protect,
survivors. Significantly, the court held that the defendant had a high duty to the survivors if his
method of attack intimidated the crew.262 Two propositions came from the case:

        (1) if the raider is aware of survivors who have taken to their lifeboats, he must make rea-
sonable efforts to rescue them; (2) it is no defense that the survivors did not draw attention to
their boats if they had reasonable grounds to believe that no quarter was being given. 263

        The conduct that the court found intimidating to the crew was the continuous stream of
fire with tracer ammunition that the German raider fired on the defending ship, which was an
armed British merchantman. The fact that the continuous fire might have been accidental was
not significant in relieving the raider of looking after survivors.

            E Appraisal of the Israeli Conduct

            1. Appraisal Under Article 18




259
      Trial of Heinz Eck, August Hoffmann, Walter Weisspfennig, Hans Richard Lenz and Wolfgang Schwender (The Peleus Trial) (J. Cam-
       eron ed. 1948) [hereinafter cited as the Peleus Trial].
260
      Id. at 51-52.
261
      Trial of Helmuth Von Ruchteschell, 9 U.N. War Crime Commission Law Reports of Trials of War Criminals 92 (1949).
262
      Id. at 88.
263
      Id
117                           A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




         At the time the MTBs stopped firing their machine guns at the Liberty, the ship was sitting
helplessly in the water. The officers and crewmen on the Israeli MTBs could only have concluded
that the Liberty was a ship in distress and that she had wounded on board. The fact that they chose
to stop machine-gunning the ship, and pull off to the side, shows that the ship was no longer an ef-
fective basis of "enemy" power. Under article 18, these MTBs had a clear duty to try to provide for
the sick and the wounded. They made no attempt, however, to communicate with the ship. The au-
thoritative commentary on article 18 clearly states that, while relatively frail craft like submarines
and MTBs may not have a duty to remain with a distressed craft or wounded combatants, they must
radio an alert for help and try to supply food, water, and lifeboats. Instead, when one of the MTBs
saw U.S. life rafts go into the water, the clearest sign of distress and an impending abandonment of
ship, it moved closer, shot two of the life rafts, and seized the third one. Instead of offering help or
throwing out its own life rafts or supplies, the MTB deprived apparently shipwrecked and distressed
seamen of their own life rafts and left the scene. Again, while the MTB crews had the right under
the principle of military necessity to leave the scene of the battle, they still had the duty to ensure
care. Under the circumstances, the return of the boats an hour later has the appearance of being
part of an attempt to buttress a public display of conduct consistent with the Government of Israel's
"tragic accident" explanation for the attack rather than being a genuine attempt to save lives, since
the boats knew that the ship was American before they attacked it. The MTB crews owed their hu-
manitarian duty before they left the first time, not an hour later.

       2. Appraisal of Grave Breaches

       The destruction of the Liberty's last life rafts meant that the Liberty crewmembers lost the
means to save the lives of the wounded who could not have survived overboard on their own. This
wanton destruction of property by the Israeli torpedo boat crew is far removed from any act of mili-
tary necessity.

        The purpose behind the destruction of property prohibition of article 51 in the Maritime Con-
vention is to prevent the destruction of hospital ships, rescue craft, and other property that is in-
tended to alleviate human suffering after battle and thereby to prevent or minimize suffering, injury,
and death. While a life raft is not a hospital ship, the underlying value served by each is the same:
the preservation of human life. The destruction of the life rafts by the Israeli MTB, while not a grave
breach of the magnitude of the torpedoing of a hospital ship, nevertheless remains a wrongful de-
struction of property not justified by military necessity and is therefore a grave breach prohibited by
article 51.

       3. Aspects From War Crimes Trials
118                                        A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




        The Peleus trial sheds additional perspective on the conduct of the Israeli MTB crews. In
that proceeding, the court was instructed that, "[tlo fire so as to kill helpless survivors of a tor-
pedoed ship is a grave breach against the law of nations.”264 In this case, the Israelis did not
shoot at life rafts which had people on them, as in the Peleus trial. They did, however, by their
conduct, seem to be specifically bent on depriving the Liberty crewmembers of the ability to
survive the sinking of their ship, both by destroying the three remaining life rafts that the Liberty
had and by their earlier noticed concentration of fire on towed life rafts. Similarly, Lieutenant
Commander Eck had taken action that deprived the Peleus survivors of being able to survive
the sinking of their ship. Of course, the Liberty did not sink, however, at the time the order to
prepare to abandon ship was given, it appeared she would, either as a direct result of the at-
tack or by being scuttled. 265 The conduct of the Israeli MTB crews is analogous to the conduct
for which Lieutenant Commander Eck was punished. The fact that the Liberty escaped sinking
does not lessen the serious misconduct of the MTB crews toward the survivors.

       The trial of Von Ruchteschell also emphasizes the duty of a belligerent toward survivors
at sea. The second point made by this military tribunal hints at the intimidation of the survivors
of warfare at sea by the victorious belligerent.

                      The circumstances that the Liberty's surviving crewmembers found themselves
               in were similar to those of one of the ships destroyed by Von Ruchteschell. The in-
               coming fire was so fierce that crewmembers did not feel safe about going out on deck
               to save themselves. 266 On the Liberty, the call to demolish and prepare to abandon
               ship went out some time before the crew dared go out on deck, due to the constant
               machine-gunning of the ship. The Liberty's own machine gun had been abandoned.
               Since machine guns, as found on the MTBs themselves, generally would not sink a
               ship the size of the Liberty, a question is raised about the purpose of the constant
               machine-gunning by the MTBs. The use of radio jamming to prevent communication
               by the Liberty with the outside world, the shooting out of the signal lamp at the begin-
               ning of the attack, and the hail of gunfire at the ship while the ship was helpless in the
               water could easily have led Liberty crewmembers to feel that the attackers did not
               want any survivors. In circumstances such as this, the law of the Von Ruchteschell
               case is that the victorious belligerent must be especially careful to ensure that the
               survivors are not intimidated by a feeling that no quarter will be given. An attack as
               fierce as the Israeli attack on the Liberty, like the one in the Von Ruchteschell case,
               requires extra care on the part of the




264
      The Peleus Trial, supra note 259, at 122.
265
      Lieutenant Golden in the engineroom had even received an order to scuttle the ship. He chose to ignore the order and stay at his post
      working on the engine. J. Ennes, Assault on the Liberty, supra note 2, at 94.
266
      Id. at 95.
119                                        A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty




victorious belligerent. 267 The time that the MTBs spent idling off of the side of the disabled ship
should have been time that they spent trying to open communication with the Liberty or with
other American units for the benefit of survivors.

           G. Conclusion

       The crewmembers of the MTBs violated their duty under the Maritime Convention and the
customary law of war recognized by the post-World War II war crimes trials to adequately care for
survivors of battles at sea, and they committed a grave breach of the Maritime Convention by in-
tentionally and wantonly destroying the ship's life rafts.

VI. CONCLUSIONS

        On June 8, 1967, an electronic intelligence-gathering ship, the U.S.S. Liberty, was in in-
ternational waters off the coast of the Sinai Peninsula listening to the events of the Six-Day War,
then nearly finished. The Government of the United States, as a nominally neutral nation, was
legally entitled to conduct this activity, since intelligence gathering on the high seas is lawful.

        Later that day, the Government of Israel intentionally attacked the ship, severely crippling
it and killing thirty-four U.S. citizens. The attack was not legally justified and constituted an act of
aggression under the United Nations Charter. The attack itself identified two further violations of
international law. First, the use of unmarked military aircraft, contrary to the customary interna-
tional law of air warfare. Second, the wanton destruction and seizure of life rafts being put over
the side by Liberty , crewmen. To speculate on the motives of an attack group that uses unmarked
planes and deprives helpless survivors of life rafts raises disturbing possibilities, including the
one that the Liberty crew was not meant to survive the attack, and would not have, but for the in-
correct 6th Fleet radio broadcast that help was on the way - which had the effect of chasing off
the MTBs.

       There is still a shroud of mystery surrounding the Israeli attack on the U.S.S. Liberty. What
is needed is a thorough, honest, public investigation by the United States Congress, similar to the
Watergate Hearings. This is not a novel idea, and the list of proponents includes two former
Chiefs of Naval Operations, Admirals Arleigh Burke and Thomas Moorer. 268 Only by thoroughly
and publicly examining this incident will all the facts be known and all the lessons be learned.




267
      Trial of Helmuth Von Ruchteschell, supra note 261, at 88

268
      . Fraser, U.S.S. Liberty: .4 Symbol of Government Secrecy, Navy Times, Dec. 9, 1985, at 27, col. 1-4. See Burgess, Moorer Wants
        Probe of Attack on Liberty, Navy Times, Dec. 30, 1985, at 8, col. 1-5. See also Matthews, Group Wants Probe of Liberty Attack,
        Navy Times, Oct. 13, 1986, at 8, col. 1-5.
120   A Juridical Examination of the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty
 ASSAULT ON THE USS LIBERTY:

    DELIBERATE ACTION OR

      TRAGIC ACCIDENT?


                                           BY


                     COLONEL PEYTON E. SMITH

                             United States Army





                      DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT A:
                              Approved for Public Release.
                               Distribution is Unlimited.




                     USAWC CLASS OF 2007


This SRP is submitted in partial fulfillment of the
requirements of the Master of Strategic Studies Degree.
The views expressed in this student academk research
paper are those of the author and do not reflect the
official policy or position of the Department of the
Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.




U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA 17013-5050

!sociatio
;onon
 nd the



                                        USAWC STRATEGY RESEARCH PROJECT




            ASSAULT ON THE USS LIBERTY: DELIBERATE ACTION OR TRAGIC ACCIDENT?




                                                                by



                                                   Colonel Peyton E. Smith

                                                     United States Army





                                                  Commander Mark A. Stroh

                                                      Project Adviser




            This SRP is submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the Master of Strategic Studies Degree.
            The U.S. Army War College is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States
            Association of Colleges and Schools, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, (215) 662-5606. The
            Commission on Higher Education is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary
            of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

            The views expressed in this student academic research paper are those of the author and do not reflect
            the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S.
            Government.

                                               U.S. Army War College

                                     CARLISLE BARRACKS, PENNSYLVANIA 17013

                                           ABSTRACT


AUTHOR:                Colonel Peyton E. Smith

TITLE:                 Assault on the USS Liberty: Deliberate Action or Tragic Accident?

FORMAT:                Strategy Research Project

DATE:                  30 March 2007         WORD COUNT: 7,459              PAGES: 29

KEY TERMS:             Naval History, Rules of Engagement, Military Intelligence

CLASSIFICATION:        Unclassified


         The USS Liberty was an unarmed electronic inteHigence gathering naval vessel
patrolling in international waters off the Sinai Peninsula in 1967. It was abruptly attacked by
Israel but received no aid from American aircraft in the area. This paper will explore geopolitical
conditions at the time, what happened, what the American and Israeli official response was, and
bring other facts together from both interviews with surv,iving crew and memoirs of senior
government officials to attempt to develop a complete picture of events related to the USS
Liberty. While personal testimony from those directly involved in the incident indicates Tel Aviv
may have deliberately targeted the American ship, the question of whether the attack was
intentional or the result of a "perfect storm" of command and control failures on both sides,
remains unresolved.
ASSAULT ON THE USS LIBERTY: DELIBERATE ACTION OR TRAGIC ACCIDENT?


         I know nothing about [the USS Liberty]. I don't want to say I didn't at the time, but
         today I have no knowledge of it.

                                                                 -Robert McNamara
      Forty years have passed since that clear summer day on 8 June 1967 when Israel
attacked the USS Liberty with aircraft and torpedo boats, killing 34 young American men and
wounding 171. Was the USS Liberty attacked intentionally? Tragic accidents have happened
to every military force in the history of modern warfare, however, many reasonable people have
not been able to accept nor fully understand Israel's attack as such an accident. Based upon
the coordinated effort involving air, sea, and command and control, one must question if this
attack was nothinQl less than intentional. Worse, the Israeli government's version of the attack
disagrees with the eyewitness recollections of survivors. Key American leaders call the
attack deliberate. More important, a key eyewitness participant from the Israeli side has told
survivors that Israel knew they were attacking an American ship. This paper will cite the
conditions of the time and explore US and Israeli official responses along with interviews of
surviving crew members. This attack was most likely deliberate for reasons far too sensitive to
be disclosed by the US and Israeli government and that the truth may never be known.

The Cold War Environment and the Middle East
      The Cold War between the United States (US) and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
(USSR) provided the backdrop and set the conditions in which the assault on the USS Liberty
occurred. The US had developed and continued to maintain strong relations with Israel; the
USSR had done the same with Arab nations who are the majority in the strategically important
oil-rich Mid-East region. In the late 1960s, the US considered its relationship with Israel as part
of a broader regional policy that supported the political independence and territorial integrity of
all Middle Eastern states as critical to US national interests. 1 Only five years earlier, the US
stood its ground against the USSR during the Cuban Missile Crisis, in which US reconnaissance
imagery verified that a Soviet nuclear missile installation was being built in Cuba. This was,
among other things, a violation of the Monroe Doctrine that had supplied a mandate for
American Presidents to oppose European military encroachment in the Americas since the
1830s.
      President John F. Kennedy upheld the principles of the Monroe Doctrine and forced the
world to stop and take notice of this new development on the international stage by challenging
the Soviet Union with US nuclear strike capability and naval power. Over the next 14 days the
confrontation went from hot to cold and back again, but in the end, the Soviet Union backed
down. Soon, Nikita Khrushchev, the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet
Union, was removed from office by the Central Committee of the party and replaced by Leonid
Brezhnev, who pushed the USSR into a major warship construction program with the objective
of gaining Soviet command of the seas and the capacity to project power capable of opposing            01
that which was displayed by the US.                                                                    T
      Over time, limited superpower naval confrontations followed. Large numbers of Soviet             Sl

vessels - including the USSR fleet of intelligence collection ships - would shadow US warships
and intentionally interfere with and collect intelligence on US operations, particularly in the
Mediterranean. Often Soviet or US destroyers would steer on a collision course with their              hi
adversaries in a crazy game of "chicken." Ships bumped in many instances. This escalating              A
and extremely dangerous game eventually led to the 1972/ncidents at Sea Agreement. While               P
both sides continued this insane game on a more limited basis, the agreement called for the
following steps to avoid collision and control behavior at sea:                                        o
      •	     Not interfering in the "formations" of the other party;                                   w
      •	     Avoiding maneuvers in areas of heavy sea traffic;                                         ai
      •	     Requiring surveillance ships to maintain a safe distance from the object of               w
             investigation so as to avoid "embarrassing or endangering the ships under                 si
             surveillance;"                                                                            ur
      •	     Using accepted international signals when ships maneuver near one another;                m
      •	     Not simulating attacks at, launching objects toward, or illuminating the bridges of the   th
             other party's ships;                                                                      o
      •	     Informing vessels when submarines are exercising near them; and                           m
      •	     Requiring aircraft commanders to use the greatest caution and prudence in                 Is

             approaching aircraft and ships of the other party and not permitting simulated attacks
             against aircraft or ships, performing aerobatics over ships, or dropping hazardous
             objects near them. 2
      For example, just prior to the attack on the USS Liberty, and while operating in the
Mediterranean, the Commander of the US Sixth Fleet had to send a message to a Soviet
missile frigate that was interfering with the fleet's freedom of maneuver by maintaining a less        W
than safe distance:                                                                                    M
           Your actions for the past five days have interfered with our operations. By                 of
           positioning your ship in the midst of our formation and shadowing our every move            ot
           you are denying us the freedom of maneuver on the high seas that has been
           traditionally recognized by seafaring nations for centuries. In a few minutes the
       task force will commence maneuvering at high speeds and various courses.
       Your present position will be dangerous to your ship, as well as the ship of this
       force. I request you clear our formation without delay and discontinue your
       interference and unsafe practices. 3

      The highly controversial and unpopular Vietnam conflict was ongoing at the time. In fact,
on 2 June 1967 US Air Force fighter-bombers accidentally attacked the Soviet merchant shjp
Turkestan in Cam Pha Harbor in North Vietnam--just when Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin was
set to arrive to deliver a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The
hope was Kosygin and President Lyndon Johnson could come to some type of agreement for
nuclear de-escalation while he was in the US. 4 While in Leningrad, an American diplomat and
his wife were spat on by an incited mob;5 President Johnson had a great desire to win Jewish
American support for the Vietnam conflict and maintain the strategic relationship built by
President Kennedy at all costs. 6
      The rapidly deteriorating situation in the Middle East is described at length in Michael B.
Oren's book, Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East. Full-scale
war broke out on 5 June 1967 when Israei sent almost its entire fleet of 250 fighter-bomber
aircraft to destroy Egypt's Air Force in less than two hours. Many Arab leaders charged the US
with supplying the attack aircraft to Israel, even when they knew otherwise.? Syria and Iraq
signed a military pact to work together and Iraq followed with an agreement to place troops
under Egyptian command. 8 Prior to the attack, the Soviets distributed false reports of Israeli
military forces deployed along the Syrian border - perhaps a Soviet move to improve or expand
their position with Arab countries in the Middle East,9 Many years later, writing in On Moscow's
Orders, Captain Nicolai Shashkov tells of his orders to be prepared to fire eight P-6 (SS-12)
nuclear missiles at the shores of Israel if the Soviet high command determined that the US and
Israel were attacking Syria - an ally and friend of the USSR. Captain Shashkov goes on to say:
       I received an oral instruction from the Commander-in-Chief of the USSR Navy,
       Fleet Admiral Gorshkov to 'be ready to make a rocket strike on the coast of
       Israel.' Of course, this was only in the event of the Americans and Israelis
       launching a beachhead in friendly Syria. In fact, it was there near the shores of
       Syria; that was my main positioning area. 10

      Within the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), there were undercurrents of frictions as well.
When the war broke out, Israel's Air Force had 65 state-of-the-art Mirage fighter jets, 35 Super
Mystere, 35 Mystere Mark IV's, 50 Ouragans, 20 Vatour light bombers, 45 Fougas, and a cadre
of well trained and operationally focused pilots. By contrast, the Israeli Navy had only three
obsolete destroyers, nine motor torpedo boats [called MTB] (three of the nine deployed in the
Red Sea), and other miscel11aneous small craft. Israeli inter service rivalries were blatant and


                                                 3

unhealthy.11 Aharon Yifrach, an officer in the Motor Torpedo Boats unit who felt the pressure to
get the Israeli Navy into the fight, told us:
        On the first night of the 1967 War, the Israel Navy inserted six naval commando
        teams [known in Israel as"frog men"] into various Arab ports...The Navy became
        concerned about thei,r safety and sent MTB Division 914 to help extract them.
        [914 is same MTB unit that attacked the USS Liberty] They were withdrawn but in
        the milling around, one MTB collided with another, making a hole in its bow about
        the size of a dinner plate... The Air Force had destroyed all the Arab air forces
        and controlled the skies. The armor had conquered the Sinai and were dipping
        their feet in the Suez Canal. The paratroopers had captured the entire West
        Bank, East Jerusalem and Israe'li troops were praying at the Western Wall. And
        the Navy - we had made a hole in one of our own boats. We were anxious to
        get into action. 12

      The Cold War, Soviet expansionism, Arab mobilization, deployment of Arab forces, the
Jordanian-Egyptian Treaty, the closure of the Strait of Tiran, and Israeli inter service rivalries ­
are all major themes in a developing tragedy worthy of Shakespeare. By May of 1967 the script
was written, the actors were on stage in the theater, and the conditions were set for a great
disaster scene.


Timeline of Events Leading to the Attack on the USS Liberty (All Times Shown as Sinai Time
Zone):
      On 23 May 1967, the Liberty, a US National Security Agency (NSA) intelligence vessel,
was ordered to take a position 13 miles off Port Said, Egypt. Such ships often sailed off various
coasts to listen, record signal emissions, chart their sources' locations, and gather any data of
political or military use in the Cold War. Frank Raven, an NSA civilian employee, did not
support the deployment of the USS Liberty into a potential war zone. But his lone voice of
dissension was overruled by the leadership and the order was sent to get underway. 13 On 24
May 1967,




                                                 USS Liberty
                                   455 feet in length. 10,680 tons displacement

                                          Figure 1: USS Liberty




                                                        4
as the Liberty began steaming 3,000 nautical miles from the Ivory Coast to the Straits of
Gibraltar, the Cairo newspapers reported that Egypt had mined the Straits of Tiran. 14
      On 27 May 1967, US Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., ordered US Sixth Fleet Commander
Vice Admiral Martin, not to operate aircraft within 100 nautical miles of Egypt's coast. When the
Liberty arrived in Rota, Spain, linguists trained in Arabic and Russian reported aboard. None
assigned to the ship spoke Hebrew. 15
      On 31 May 1967, the USS Libertyarrived in Rota, Spain. There the vessel came under
operational control of US Commander in Chief for Europe, General LL Lemnitzer, who passed
operational control to his functional subordinate Commander in Chief US Naval Forces Europe
(CINCUSNAVEUR).16 With orders from the Joint Chiefs of Staff relayed by the Commander in
Chief for Europe, LJSS Liberty was ordered to deploy on 2 June to operational area 3 (12.5
nautical miles to the UAR (Egypt) and 6.5 nautical miles to Israel). The USS Liberty departed
Rota, Spain, on a course paralleling the North African coast.   17

      On 6 June 1967, Israel destroyed more than 150 Egyptian tanks in the Sinai and captured
the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan. Nasser broke diplomatic relations with the US
and closed the Suez Canal. The UN Security Council voted unanimously for a cease-fire.
Among the warring nations of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Israel, Jordan alone accepted it. Six Israeli
demolition team divers were captured in Port Alexandria. Syria shelled a number of
communities on Israel's northern border. 18
      Enroute to operational area 3, the USS Liberty conducted shipboard operational and
technical training events in preparation for collection against its main collection objective -- the
situation between Israel and UAR. The mission was further clarified by Commander in Chief
US Naval Forces Europe to Commander Sixth Fleet, Vice Admiral William L. Martin, on 3 June
when Martin was told that the USS Liberty's mission was to conduct an "extended independent
surveillance operation in the eastern Mediterranean and the Sixth Fleet might be called upon to
provide logistics and other support.,,19
      On 5 June 1967, war broke out and Israel attacked the United Arab Republic (UAR).
Commander and Chief US Naval Forces Europe sent a message to the Commander Sixth Fleet
to take note of some 20 Soviet warships and auxiliary vessels and an estimated eight or nine
Soviet submarines moving into the Eastern Mediterranean. The Commander in Chief US Naval
Forces Europe directed the Sixth Fleet Commander to keep his ships and aircraft at least 100
nautical miles away from the coast of Lebanon, Syria, Israel, and the UAR and at least 25
nautical miles away from Cyprus. These directives did not provide specific instructions to the
USS Liberty.2o When the USS Liberty's ship captain, Commander William L. McGonagle, heard



                                                  5

that war had broken out, he immediately requested from Commander Sixth Fleet a destroyer
escort that could protect the USS Liberty and serve as an auxiliary communications center. 21
      On 6 June, Commander Sixth Fleet replied to the Commander USS Liberty that the ship
                                                                                                         D
was clearly marked and in international waters and not a participant in the conflict; therefore, the
                                                                                                       NI
request for escort support was denied. However, he reassured Commander McGonagle that if
anything occurred he could have aircraft from the Sixth Fleet overhead and providing protection
within ten minutes. 22
      Early on 7 June, due to the area hostilities, the Commander Sixth Fleet directed the USS
Liberty to report all threatening actions via flash precedence. For some unknown reason, the
USS Liberty did not receive this message. 23 The USS Liberty was underway off the coast of the
UAR, approaching operational areas two and three. The Commander and Chief US Naval
Forces Europe authorized the Commander Sixth Fleet to assume operational control of the USS
Liberty on 7 June, in order "to facilitate area command and control and any possible
                                                                                                       ten
requirement for protection during the Middle East hostilities and pointed out that the USS
                                                                                                       tral
Liberty's schedule might be revised for safety reasons as dictated by the local situation.,,24 The
                                                                                                       SitL
USS Liberty acknowledged receipt of the Operational Control or OPCON change effective 7
                                                                                                       init
June 1967.
                                                                                                       sys
      Joint Chief of Staff transmitted a message to Sixth Fleet requesting verification of their
                                                                                                       the
location and assurance that aircraft were not within 200 miles of the UAR, Syria, or Israel. This
                                                                                                       Na
concern was possibly due to the successful Israeli drive into UAR territory and earlier
                                                                                                       cae
allegations by the UAR of direct US involvement with Israel to include intelligence gathering 25
                                                                                                       dire
and air attack support against the UAR. Commander Sixth Fleet replied in the negative; the
                                                                                                       ide
only communications he had with Israel had been to establish a radio voice communications link
                                                                                                       Isr,
with the American Embassy in Tel Aviv. 26
      In light of the UAR allegations of US complicity with Israel, Israel's successful operational
                                                                                                       pm
push into UAR territory and the number of Soviet warships in the vicinity, the Joint Chiefs of
                                                                                                       rep
Staff and the US Chief of Naval Operations decided to move the USS Liberty to a position 100
                                                                                                       cre
nautical miles off the coast of Israel, UAR, and Syria and 25 nautical miles from Cyprus late on
                                                                                                       ide
7 June 1967. This message was conveyed vocally by MAJ Breedlove of the JOIint
                                                                                                       the
Reconnaissance Center directly to the command center US Naval Forces Europe, indicating a
                                                                                                       retl
formal message would follow from the Joint Chief of Staff. 27 Due to a number of policy and
communication issues, the Sixth Fleet and the USS Liberty never received this message. The
USS Liberty continued on course remaining in international waters at all times and flying the
American flag in clear view. 28



                                                 6
e




...                    Figure 2: Location of USS Liberty Relative to Sixth Fleet Assets
)

            On the morning of 8 June, the USS Liberty had taken up a position just outside Egypt's
      territorial waters, operating between al-'Arish and Port Said "in a lane rarely used by commercial
      traffic and which had been declared off-limits to neutral. shipping by Egypt.,,29 Due to the
      situation between Israel and UAR, increased Israeli maritime reconnaissance patrols were
      initiated in order to detect sea faring vessels prior to their entry into the Israeli coastal radar
      system. At approximately 0600, the first of eight Israeli reconnaissance aircraft were noted by
      the USS Libertycrew. During the first over flight,. the Israeli observer communicated to Israeli
      Naval HQ a "US Navy cargo type ship" with markings of GTR-5 was located just outside Israeli
      coastal radar coverage. This information was forwarded to the Israeli navy intelligence
      directorate. Later in the morning, using Jane's Fighting Ships, the Israelis established the
      identity of the ship as the USS Liberty. 30 Once the USS Liberty was identified, staff officers at
      Israeli HQ in Haifa changed the label from red (unidentified) to green (neutral) on the plot board.
            Although there were eight reconnaissance flights, the Israeli pilots were focused on
      possible Egyptian submarines which had been spotted off the coast. 31 The USS Liberty crew
      reported to Sixth Fleet a reconnaissance aircraft circling the ship three times around 0900. The
      crew was not able to identify the plane. Again, at 1,056 an aircraft circled the ship and was later
      identified as a French-built Noratlas NORD 2501, piloted by the 'Israeli Air Force. 32 The crew of
      the USS Liberty assumed the reconnaissance flights were Israeli as they originated and
      returned in the direction of Israel. 33




                                                         7

                                                                                                     co
                                                                                                     di\




                               Figure 3: French Built Flying Box Car
      Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Lloyd Clyde Painter confirmed reports of the flying box car
reconnaissance aircraft:
       0800 - 1200 Hours - I was assigned to my regular duties on board the ship - in
       spaces below the water line. I overheard crewmembers talking about "over
       flights" that morning. I went topside to check it out. When I reached the bridge
       area, I saw a slow moving "flying box car" with the Star of David visible on the
       plane. I felt secure, as the Israelis were our allies. 34                                     Sc
      Over ninety percent of Israel's population and industry was located along the shores of the
Mediterranean. The Israeli Navy was significantly weaker than the Egyptian naval force, being
outnumbered four to one. The Egyptians also had the support of over 70 Soviet naval vessels.
For some time, the Israelis had requested a naval liaison with the Americans, but this request
was ignored. Although the Sixth Fleet was a counterweight to the Soviet vessels, Israel had no
way of contacting the Sixth Fleet directly. Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, General
Yitzhak Rabin, warned the US naval attache "the United States should either acknowledge its          Th

ships in the area or remove them ... AII unidentified vessels sailing at over twenty knots - a       an

speed attainable only by gunboats - would be sunk.,,35                                               bu

      The USS Uberty continued its course off the Gaza strip at approximately five knots. 36 At      in­

1100 hours, the Israeli staff officer completed his duty shift and, in accordance with the Israeli   rei

procedures, removed the USS Ubertyfrom the control board. It was assumed anything older              orc
                                   37                                                                in
than five hours had left the area.                                                                         I



      At 1124, an explosion occurred at an ammunition dump near the beaches of al-'Arish. At         UE
the time, the Israelis believed it was Egyptian shelling from two vessels observed off the coast.    rec

Due to the vu'lnerability of the coast, General Rabin was adamant to sink any unidentified ship in   Jo

the war zone but advised caution not to target Soviet vessels. 38
      At 1205, three torpedo boats were dispatched to find the vessel responsible for the            ro~


presumed shelling of the beaches at al-'Arish. At 1341, they found the unidentified ship. They
miscalculated the speed of the ship at 30 knots. At this speed, the torpedo boats realized they




                                                 8

    could not catch the unidentified ship and therefore requested air support. Two mirages were
    diverted from a patrol of the Sinai to assist. 39




                                    Figure 4:lsraeli Motor Torpedo Boats

    Scenario of the Attack
e         Lloyd Painter confirms the dispatch of the torpedo boats:
            1200 - 1300 Hours - I was assigned to Bridge Duty as Officer of the Deck
            (000). From the bridge, I again observed the slow flying Israeli aircraft circle our
            ship. At approximately 1255 hours, I also checked the radarscope and saw three
            surface (Naval) contacts with a steady bearing decreasing range approaching
                                                                                    40
            our ship [USS Liberty] at a high rate of speed. I notified the Captain.

          At 1400 hours, both mirages attacked the Liberty with 30mm cannon and 36 rockets. 41
    The ship was unprepared and suffered intense damage. The USS Liberty crew could not see
    any markings on tile attacking aircraft. The ship attempted to contact Sixth Fleet for assistance
    but found the communication frequencies jammed except for the few seconds the rockets were
    in-flight to the target. A message for help went out and was received by the USS Saratoga and
    relayed to the flagship USS Little Rock. Commander of Sixth Fleet, ADM William Martin,
    ordered both the USS Saratoga and the USS America to immediately launch American aircraft
    in defense of the USS Liberty.42 The USS Saratoga was able to do this within minutes but the
    USS America was not prepared to launch immediately. After the aircraft had departed, for many
    reasons - some unclear, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara and President Lyndon B.
    Johnson directed Commander Sixth Fleet to immediately return the aircraft to base. 43
          After the Israeli Mirages expended their ordinance, the Mysteres continued the attack with
    rockets, cannon fire, and napalm. 44
            Fifteen years after the attack, an Israeli pilot approached Liberty survivors and
            then held extensive interviews with former Congressman Paul N. (Pete)
            McCloskey about his role. According to this senior Israeli lead pilot, he
            recognized the Liberty as American immediately, so informed his headquarters,



                                                        9
         and was told to ignore the American flag and continue his attack. He refused to
         do so and returned to base, where he was arrested. 45

      Minutes into the first attack a few members of the Liberty crew saw a periscope pop up
from under the water. 46
      Israeli Account: The Mysteres pilots realized the ship did not return fire and became
suspicious. They attempted to identify the ship but saw no flag. Then, they did see the
markings C-T-R-5 and realized Egyptian warships were almost always identified with Arabic
letting. This information was radioed to the command center and the Mysteres left the vicinity.
General Rabin was concerned the ship was Soviet, not American, meaning Moscow could now
                      47
intervene in the war.
      USS Liberty crew account: More aircraft joined the attack after the Mysteres napalm
attack. 48 During the attack, Commander McGonagle realized the American flag had been shot
down and ordered the largest flag on board to be hoisted on the yardarm as the main halyard
had been destroyed. 49 At 1424, the surface attack began with three torpedo boats closing in
with 20mm and 40mm machine guns firing. 5o At 1434, the boats began launching five
torpedoes, with one striking mid-ship. Again, the USS Liberty sent a distress message which
the USS Saratoga received. 51 Crew on the USS Liberty observed the torpedo boats purposely
firing on the launched inflated lifeboats - this act was clearly a war crime. 52 Due to this, the
Captain had to rescind the order to abandon ship.53 During the attack, Commander McGonagle
'believed he saw an Israeli flag on the boats. The torpedo boat attack continued until after 1500
hours.
      At 1450, the Sixth Fleet Commander sent an unencrypted message to the USS America
and USS Saratoga to launch fighters to come to the assistance and protection of the USS
Liberty with orders to destroy any hostile threat against the US naval vessel. 54 At 1516, the
directive was implemented with instructions to "destroy or drive off any attackers who are clearly
making attacks on the USS Liberty. Remain over international waters. Defend yourself if
attacked.,,55 The aircraft would be on the scene at approximately 1715 hours. 56
      Approximately 1515, two Israeli helicopters circled the USS Liberty twice. The Star of
David insignia was clearly visible. Israeli Account: The mission of the helicopters was to identify
the ship's origin and search for any survivors. The first helicopter did not see anyone or any
markings; but the second helicopter saw the American flag and reported to the Air Force
command center. 57 The USS Liberty crew saw soldiers dressed in full combat gear and
assumed the helicopters' personnel would attempt to board and take control of the vessel. 58
The helicopters were later identified as "French-built Aerospatiale SA321 Super Frelons



                                                10

(Hornets) ... designed for heavy assault and antisubmarine operations. This model is the
largest helicopter made in France and can carry thirty armed troops; it has a boat-type hull and
stabilizing fins to permit amphibious operations.,,59 After circling the ship, both helicopters
departed and did not attempt communications or landing of crew with the ship.




                             Figure 5: French-built Aerospatiale SA321
      From 1536 to approximately 1645, the Israeli torpedo boats were again in the area several
times without signal or action. 60 At 1549, President Johnson was informed of the attack on the
USS Liberty.61 At 1600 hours, the US Naval Attache, Commander E.C. Castle, was called to
the Foreign Liaison Office, Israel Defense Force, and informed of the attack on the USS Liberty
made in error. This message was immediately forwarded to the White House, Department of
State, and others. 52 When the commander Sixth Fleet saw Castle's transmission of the Israeli
error, he immediately recalled the strike force back to USS Saratoga and USS America. 63 At
1729 hours, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sent a message cancelling the authorization of force and
learned the Sixth Fleet Commander had already issued a recall order. 54 All aircraft were
recounted for by 1849 hours.

Aftermath of the Assault in International Waters
      At 1645 hours, Walt Rostow, Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, informed
President Johnson of the accidental attack on the USS Liberty by Israel. Immediately a "hot
line" message was drafted for the Kremlin. The following was received in Moscow at 1724
hours:
         We have just learned that USS Liberty, an auxiliary ship, has apparently been
         torpedoed by Israel forces ill error off Port Said. We have instructed our carrier,
         Saratoga in the Mediterranean to dispatch aircraft to the scene to investigate.
         We wish you to know that investigation is the sole purpose of this flight of aircraft,
         and hope that you will take appropriate steps to see that proper parties are
         informed.    We have passed this message to Chernyakov [Soviet Charge
         d'Affaires] but feel that you should know of this development urgently.55


                                                  11

       At 1810 hours, a helicopter with Commander Castle on board departed Tel Aviv and
proceeded to the USS Liberty. The helicopter approached the USS Liberty at 1835 but was
unable to land due to obstructions on deck and the speed of the Liberty. Castle delivered a
message to the USS Liberty stating who he was and asking if there were casualties. Using the
Aldis lamp, the USS Liberty affirmed casualties but was not sure if Commander Castle
understood. Castle received the message but was unsure the number of casualties - whether
four or forty.66
       At 1910 hours, he returned to the US Embassy. At 2300 hours he contacted General
Getty at the National Military Command Center in Washington DC with an assessment of the
current situation. 67 Evidence of a US clandestine submarine mission operating in the vicinity of
the USS Liberty was confirmed in documents at the LBJ Library.68 Prior to the attack, an
unknown contact had been noted on the USS Liberty's plotting boards on June 4, 5, and 7 with
a penciled X. This contact was on an intercept course with the USS Liberty on the 5 th and had
merged with the Liberty on the   tho   At this point, the plotting was erased and discontinued.
       LT James Ennes questioned LT James O'Connor about the contact. He said "he didn't
know." LT Ennes interpreted that answer as he didn't have a need to know. 59 As we have
noted, during the attack a submarine periscope was seen. After the attack, one of the injured
crew members at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital met a man with the USS Liberty patch on his
uniform and asked him "were you there?" He stated he was there but aboard a submarine, and
that their submarine took pictures of the attack. After the book Assault on the Liberty was
published, other crew members came forward and reconfirmed the account. However,
information or pictures from this submarine remain unavailable possibly due to their classified
nature?O
       Within 24 hours, Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., Commander-in-Chief, Naval Forces
Europe, orally directed Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, President of the Court, to complete the
investigation within one week. 71 A formal letter followed on 10 June 1967.
       The one week deadline was unusual for an incident of this magnitude. Both Admiral Kidd
and Captain Ward Boston, Jr., Senior Counsel to the USS Liberty Court of Inquiry, estimated a
proper investigation would take six months. 72 At the completion of the inquiry, the court record
was classified Top Secret.73


Interpretation of Events
       Over the years, since the USS Liberty's attack, viewpoints of what individuals and
governments believe to have occurred remain in dispute. These differences generally fall into




                                                  12

two camps. The first camp believes the unfortunate incident was due to the fog and friction of
war, causing the USS Liberty to be mistakenly identified as an Egyptian vessel. The second
camp believes the attack on the USS Liberty was a well-planned and coordinated operation by
the Israeli Defense Forces.
      The Israeli government has consistently stated the USS Liberty was a tragic accident.
The fear of an Egyptian attack from the sea compounded with the explosion at al-'Arish, set the
events into motion. 74 The torpedo boats miscalculated the speed of the ship at 30 knots which
would classify it as a war ship. The torpedo boats' top speed was 36 knots. When the torpedo
boats called in air support, the Mirages didn't see any ship identifications and proceeded with an
air strike. More air support arrived and continued the strike with rockets, cannon, and napalm.
One of the aircraft identified the ship markings as GTR-5 and immediately realized the vessel
was not Egyptian as Egyptian ships were normally marked with Arabic lettering not Latin. The
air strike was cancelled.
      The torpedo boats were ordered to stop the attack and remain at a safe distance. This
message was documented in the log book of the torpedo boat, but the mission commander
claimed to have never received it. The crew of the torpedo boats determined the enemy vessel
to be the EI Quseir. 75 Since the USS Liberty was returning machine gun fire, the torpedo boat
continued the assumption that the vessel was hostile and launched a series of torpedoes with
one striking the ship. Israel then sent helicopters to confirm the identity of the ship; made aware
of the tragic mistake,76 they immediately contacted the US Naval Attache in Tel Aviv. 77
       Many people who were witnesses to the events that day, or were involved in the
aftermath, disagree with Israel's position of mistaken identity.   They argue that many of the
details are not consistent with what they saw occur, or that the overwhelming data and
circumstantial evidence do not support the concept of mistaken identity, or both. The notion that
the torpedo boats miscalculated the speed does not make sense as this supposedly occurred at
13411. At that time, the torpedo boats were beyond their maximum radar range and could not
possibly have picked up the USS Liberty. Therefore, it would have been impossible to calculate
any speed since the USS Liberty was not even on radar. 7B
      The attack on the USS Liberty was sudden and powerful - the aircraft did not take the
time to identify the ship.79 If it had, the American flag and the markings GTR-5 would have been
clearly visible, as it was to the earlier maritime reconnaissance flight that morning. The weather
was sunny and clear with a good breeze. BO Later in the attack, the original 5x8-foot flag was
destroyed and replaced immediately with a holiday 9x15-foot flag. B1 Furthermore Dwight Porter,




                                                13

US Ambassador to Lebanon, saw a transcript of an intercepted Israeli message given to him by
the CIA station chief:
       Israeli planes had been given the order by the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) to
       attack the Liberty, but a pilot replied that it was an American ship. The order was
       repeated, but the pilot still insisted that he could see the American flag. He was
       then told harshly that he had his orders: "attack it.,,82

      After the book, Assault on the Liberty was published; a former Israeli Air Force pilot
contacted James M. Ennes, a survivor of the Liberty and the author of the book. He recounted
his experience to Ennes and later, he interviewed extensively with former Congressman Paul N.
(Pete) McCloskey. He was a pilot in the lead Mirage aircraft. He saw the American flag and
informed his headquarters. He was ordered to continue the attack but refused to do so. When
he returned to base, he was arrested. However, the other pilots executed the attack. 83
      The Israelis claim the marker for the USS Liberty was removed from the plot board during
the duty shift change as it had not been updated since the 0600 observation. This doesn't seem
plausible given the fact there were eight reconnaissance flights prior to the 1400 assault. The
Israelis state they were focused on submarines84 ; however, a reconnaissance flight is just that.
The Israeli Air Force was well regarded and it seems unlikely they would not make note of the
ship on their reconnaissance flights.
      The torpedo boat pilots guessed the identity of the ship to be the EI-Quseir. This Egyptian
transport vessel is similar in silhouette but has many differences with the USS Liberty. The
Liberty is 200 feet longer, covered with antennas, and has a state-of-the-art parabolic satellite
dish. 85 Perhaps there could have been a mistake, but based on the distance of the patrol boats
to the USS Liberty it's questionable.




                               USS Liberty and EI Quseir Size and Prorile Comparison

                Figure 6: USS Liberty and EI Quseir Size and Profile Comparison
      When the helicopters approached, the crew saw the size and type of helicopter filled with
combat dressed soldiers and assumed the ship would be boarded. One of the crew yelled,
"They've come to finish us   Off."S6   However, the Israeli helicopters only passed by the ship
several times with no hostile maneuvers and no attempt to communicate. Some crew later
speculated the helicopters' mission was changed from an attack mission to observation and



                                                         14

return to base after hearing the unencrypted message from Sixth Fleet ordering deployment of
attack aircraft to defend the USS Liberty. According to this logic, the helicopters attack mission
was cancelled after their mission to destroy the USS Liberty was compromised. Now that the
US was aware the vessel was under attack and would learn shortly that it was an Israeli attack,
Israel chose a cover story for the incident and "mistaken identification" was given as the reason.
Israel then contacted the US Naval Attache in Tel Aviv.
      The details of the battle also lend credence to the concept of a deliberate attack. The
original US flag was destroyed but replaced with a much larger flag. Several crew members
described the deliberate destruction of life boats, conveying the message that there would be no
survivors. The lifeboat incident was not included in the publicly released court of inquiry.8? The
timing and execution of the attack was well coordinated with the Mysteres arriving immediately
after the Mirages expended their ammunition. The torpedo boats followed the Mirages and
heavily fired upon the already burning ship.
      The conduct of the board of inquiry was disconcerting as well. A thorough investigation of
this matter would have taken at least six months to conduct; however, the Johnson
administration clearly gave Admiral Kidd one week to complete the entire investigation. This
suggested that the investigation didn't have a high priority, raising uncomfortable questions
about its seriousness. Much was accomplished in one week, but due to the time limitations and
the fact that many of the witnesses were injured and evacuated to US Naval vessels and land­
based medical facilities; the court was only able to interview 14 of the 260 surviving members of
the crew. 88
      Another 60 witness declarations from hospitalized crew members could not be included as
evidence. 89 After reviewing evidence, Admiral Kidd and Captain Boston felt the necessity to
interview Israeli members involved in the incident. However, Admiral Kidd was adamantly told
by Admiral McCain "we were not to travel to Israel or contact the Israelis concerning this
matter.,,90 Although both Admiral Kidd and Captain Boston were convinced the attack was
deliberate, Admiral Kidd was ordered by President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense
Robert McNamara to conclude that the attack was a case of "mistaken identity.'J91    Admiral Kidd
told Captain Boston when he returned from Washington D.C., "he had been ordered to sit down
with two civilians from either the White House or the Defense Department and rewrite portions
of the court's findings.,,92 The report was rapidly processed through official channels and
classified Top Secret. 93 Admiral Kidd was told to caution everyone involved in the incident
never to speak of it again. 94




                                                15

      Years later, when the document was declassified and released by the US government,
more questions arose after Captain Boston received a copy. He distinctly remembers testimony
on the intentional destruction of the lifeboats as being recorded into evidence. However, the
document released to the public does not include this information. The copy Captain Boston
certified in June of 1967 had many handwritten corrections and initials. The released version
had none. The original had no deliberately blank pages--the released version did. 95
      Many senior government officials who served during June 1967 have expressed the view
the USS Liberty incident was deliberate and not an accident. Among them is the Director of the
Central Intelligence Agency at the time, Richard Helms, in his book A Look Over My Shoulder.
Helms recalls:
       I had no role in the board of inquiry that foUowed, or the board's finding that there
       could be no doubt that the Israelis knew exactly what they were doing in
       attacking the Liberty. I have yet to understand why it was felt necessary to attack
       this ship or who ordered the attack. 96

Dean Rusk, Secretary of State, writes in his book As I Saw It
      I was never satisfied with the Israeli explanation. Their sustained attack to
      disable and sink the Liberty precluded an assault by accident or by some trigger
      happy local commander. 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. 97

Clark M. Clifford, Counsel to President Johnson, states in his book Counsel to the President: A
Memoir.
       I do not know to this day at what level the attack on the Liberty was authorized
       and I think it is unlikely that the full truth will ever come out. Having been for so
       long a staunch supporter of Israel, I was particularly troubled by this incident; I
       could not bring myself to believe that such an action could be authorized by Levi
       Eshkol. Yet somewhere inside the Israeli government, somewhere along the
       chain of command, something had gone terribly wrong - and had been covered
       up. I never felt the Israelis made adequate restitution or explanation for their
       actions.... 98

Although the official inquiry might have stated it was "mistaken identity," years after the incident
it was apparent no one involved with the incident believed that assessment.

If the Attack was Deliberate, Why?
      Several reasons have been espoused for the attack. Was Israel trying to inhibit the US
ability to collect intelligence on possible war crimes being committed? Reports of a massive
Egyptian POW execution persist, but no hard evidence of such has been found. 99 Could Israel
have been so concerned with Soviet alliances with neighboring Arab states and Soviet military




                                                16

forces deployed in the region, that they concocted a plan to attack a US naval vessel with the
intent that the blame would fall on Egypt?
      If the US believed Egypt attacked a US Navy ship, that action would cement the firm and
direct involvement policy with Israel that they were seeking, because in the late sixties the US
policy was to support the "political independence and territorial integrity of all Middle Eastern
states.,,100 But a US/Israeli alliance could a'iso create a regional and possible global
confrontation between the US and the USSR. Would Israel want to be at the epicenter of that
confrontation? Remember Captain Nikolai' Shashkov's mission to conduct a rocket strike into
Israel if the 'Americans and Israelis' attacked into Syria.
      Or did Israel not want the US to know the full extent of their military objectives, which
might have included the total invasion of Syria? If Israel perceived the USS Liberty to be
collecting intelligence on their intent to invade and secure Syria, perhaps they felt the necessity
to eliminate that intelligence and therefore, the USS Liberty. However, on 1 June 1967, a senior
Israeli official did inform Richard Helms, the Director of the CIA, that a pre-emptive strike against
Israel's Arab neighbors was imminent and Israel did not want to lose the advantage of
surprise. 101
       Israel did little to hide their intentions in either the Golan Heights or their progress in the
Sinai. 102 Therefore, if Israel thought the USS Liberty was gathering intelligence on the war, why

did Tel Aviv freely give the Director of CIA information prior to the start of the war or continue to
report their progress? None of the reasons stand up to scrutiny. If Israel never admits the
attack on the USS Liberty was deliberate, we will probably never know the reason why.


Why would the US assist in Israel's cover-up?
      Perhaps author Wilbur Crane Eveland, former covert operator and advisor to the CIA was
correct when he wrote in his book Ropes of Sand: America's Failure in the Middle East
       Even moves by Congress to stop all aid to Israel until seven million in
       compensation for the Liberty was paid, succumbed to White House and
       Department of State pressure. Why? Defense Minister Dayan had stated his
       government's position bluntly: unless the United States wishes the Russians and
       Arabs to learn of joint CIA - Mossad covert operations in the Middle East and of
       Angleton's discussions before the 1,967 fighting started, the questions of the lost
       American ship and how the war originated should be dropped. 103

      In 1980, Senator Adlai Stevenson III coordinated an effort with Senator Barry Goldwater to
investigate the events surrounding the attack. The wheels were in motion for an official inquiry
by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Suddenly, Israel reversed their decision and
offered to pay six million dollars in damages on the ship - something they had refused to



                                                 17

consider for the past thirteen years as the incident was considered an American blunder. After
the agreement was signed by President Carter, Senator Stevenson could not find support for a
congressional investigation and the issue was dropped. Were these two events related or was
this just a coincidence?104 And in this connection it is well worth asking what role, if any, did the
fear American politicians have of the Israel Lobby in the US play? The power of this lobby to
influence US foreign policy on the Middle East region was well documented by two
distinguished American scholars [John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt essay] at Harvard and
the University of Chicago - in their recent study The Israel Lobby.105

Conclusion
        Since this event occurred almost forty years ago, much personal testimony has surfaced
regarding the incident. Based on the testimony of many eyewitnesses and the memoirs of
senior government officials, the attack on the USS Liberty was most likely deliberate.
Unfortunately, this issue may go to the grave unresolved unless the US government and the
government of Israel release aU data related to the incident.    Perhaps forty years ago at the
height of the cold war and with fears of major Soviet expansion into the Middle East, the
information regarding the USS Liberty, the unknown subsurface contact (submarine), and the
intelligence collecting aircraft (EC121) that were supposedly not there, would have been too
sensitive to disciose.106 However, now that the Cold War is long over and the global conditions
have changed, the US and Israeli governments should release all pertinent information and
conduct an official inquiry. There is no discernable nationa'l security rational for continuing to
keep these records secret. Only when they are finally released for careful scrutiny can we
finally close the book on this unfortunate and tragic naval incident.



Endnotes

    1   Dean Rusk, As I Saw It (New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 1990), 378.

    2 Agreement Between the Government of The United States of America and the
Government of The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Prevention of Incidents On and
Over the High Seas, available from www.state.gov/tlac/trt/4791.htm#treaty; internet; accessed
31 March 2007.

   3 A. Jay Cristol, The Liberty Incident: The 1967 Israeli Attack on the U.S. Navy Spy Ship
(Washington D.C.: Brassey's, 2002), 3.

    4 Cristol, 4.

    5   Cristol, 5.



                                                 18

    6 Policy Analysis: Ancient History: U.S. Conduct in the Middle East Since World War II and
the Folly Of Intervention, available from http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-159.html; internet;
accessed 10 April 2007. [In Donald Neff's book Warriors for Jerusalem: Six Days That Changed
the Middle East, goes on to say, "As the Vietnam war heated up and Johnson's popularity
cooled, the Jewish American-Israeli connection became increasingly important to him.
Administration officials spent considerable amounts of times trying to enlist Jewish American
support for the war-which many Jews violently opposed-by extending support to Israel.]

   7 Michael B. Oren, Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East
(New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2002), 1171.

    8    Cristol', 14-15.

    9    Rusk, 384.

    10 Nikolai Cherkashin, "On Moscow's Orders," Russian Life, October 1996, 13 and

Christopher Mitchell, dir., Dead In the Water, 60 min., Source Films for British Broadcasting
Corporation, 2002, DVD.

    11   Oren, 171.

    12   Cristol, 7.

     13 Cristol, 12-13 and James Bamford, Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret

National Security Agency (United States: Anchor Books, a division of Random House, Inc.,
2001, 2002), 197-198. [NSA Analyst, Frank Raven said: "She (USS Liberty) could do everything
that the national requirement called for [from the coast of Crete]. Somebody wanted to listen to
some tactical program or some communications or something which nobody in the world gave a
damn about -local military base, local commander. We were listening for the 'higher
echelons.... Hell, you don't want to hear them move the tugboats around and such, you want to
know what the commanding generals are saying, 198." Frank went on to file a complaint with his
leadership in order to get the USS Liiberty out and to a safe collection position.]

    14   Ibid, 13.

    15   Ibid, 14.

    16 William D. Gerhard and Henry W. Millington, Attack on a Sigint Collector, the U.S.S
Liberty (Fort Meade, MD: National Security Agency/ Central Security Service, 1981), 17.

    17   Ibid., 17 -18.

    18   Ibid, 16.

    19   Ibid., 19.

    20   Ibid., 19.

     21 The Story of the USS Liberty, available from http://judicial-inc.bizlUSS_Liberty.htm;
internet; accessed 13 March 2007.



                                                19
     22 The Attack on the USS Liberty and Its Cover Up. available from

http://www.ifamericansknew.org/us_ints/ul-akins.html; internet; accessed 1 March 2007. (This
is a transcript of a speech delivered by Former Ambassador James Akins at the Center for
Policy Analysis on Palestine in September 1999.) and James M. Ennes, Jr., e-mail message to
author, 30 March 2007. Ennes' recollection and that of his boss, Dave Lewis (Commander,
USN, Retired), but Ennes has never seen copies of messages confirming that exchange.
Ennes participated in the drafting of the request, and thinks it was handled on CRITICOMM
circuits, which is probably why it never showed up on general service or fleet traffic messages.

    23   Gerhard and Millington, 20.

    24   Ibid.,20.

    25   Mitchell, DVD.

    26   Gerhard and Millington, 20.

    27   Ibid., 21.

    28   The Attack on the USS Liberty and Its Cover Up. p2.

   29 Michael B. Oren, Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East
(New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2002), 263.

     30 A Report: War Crimes Committed Against US Military Personnel, June 8, 1967, available
from http://www.USSLibertyorg/reportireport.htm; internet; accessed December 10, 2006. (This
report was submitted by the USS Liberty Veterans Association, Inc. to the Secretary of the Army
in his capacity as Executive Agent for the Secretary of Defense, June 8, 2005.) and Oren, 263.

    31   Ibid., 263 - 264.

    32   Gerhard and Millington, 25.

     33 The National Security Agency/ Central Security Service report Attack on a Sigint
Collector, the USS Liberty, states that it was impossible to see identifying markings on the
aircraft. However, in an e-mail from James M. Ennes, Jr. the Officer on Deck the USS Liberty at
the time, clearly remembers seeing the Star of David under the wings. It was Lt. Toth who
drafted the reporting message and not Ennes, therefore, the information may not have been
included in the original message.

     34 Lloyd C. Painter, personal letter from Mr. Painter to Mr. Gary Brummett both surviving
members of the attack on the USS Liberty; provided to author on 23 March 2007 from
Commander Mark A. Stroh, USN of the US Army War College. The original signed letter was
dated 18 April 2005. Information was confirmed during telephone interview on 13 March 2007,
with surviving members James Ennes, Dave Lewis, Gary Brummett and Phillip Tourney.

    35   Oren, 264.

    36   A Report: War Crimes Committed Against US Military Personnel, 4.




                                                20
      37   Oren, 264.

      38   Ibid, 264.

     39    Ibid 265.

    40 Lloyd C. Painter, personal letter from Mr. Painter to Mr. Gary Brummett both surviving
members of the attack on the USS Libet1y; provided to author on 23 March 2007 from
Commander Mark A. Stroh, USN of the US Army War College. The original signed letter was
dated 18 April 2005.

     41    The Story of the USS Libet1y.

     42    A Report: War Crimes Committed Against US Military Personnel, June 8,1967,5-7.

      43 James M. Ennes, Jr., Assault on the Libet1y (United States: Reintree Press, 2004), 304
and RAOM (Ret) Merlin Staring, Former Judge Advocate General of the Navy, telephone
interview by author, 20 April 2007. RAOM Staring related a story of how RADM Lawrence R.
Geis, commander of the carrier task force protested the decision of Robert McNamara on
providing air support to the USS Liberty. RADM Geis, requested to talk with McNamara's
superior - President Johnson came on the communication link and told Geis to return the
aircraft back to the fleet and "that he didn't care if the ship sunk, he would not embarrass his
allies."

     44    A Report: War Crimes Committed Against US Military Personnel, June 8, 1967,5.

     45 USS Libet1y-lsraeli Pilot Speaks Up, 14 July 2003, available from
http://www.rense.com/generaI39/pilot.htm; internet; accessed 17 February 2006.

     46   Ennes, 64.

     47   Oren, 266.

     48   Ennes, 69 and The Attack on the USS Libet1yand Its Cover-Up, 3.

    49    Gerhard and Millington, 28.

     50   The Story of the USS Libet1y.

    51    Gerhard and Millington, 29.

    52    The Attack on the USS Libet1yand Its Cover-Up, 3 and Painter. In Painter's letter he
states:

           I personally observed an Israeli MTB [Motor Torpedo Boats] methodically
           machine gun one of the Libet1y's empty life rafts that had been cut loose and was
           floating in the water. I knew at that split second that the thrust of the IOF attack
           was to kill every American sailor on board. There were to be no survivors that
           day.




                                                   21
    53 A Report: War Crimes Committed Against US Military Personnel, June 8, 1967,7 and
LtCdr (RET) James M. Ennes, Jr., surviving member of the USS Liberty, telephone interview by
author, 13 March 2007

    54    A Report: War Crimes Committed Against US Military Personnel, June 8, 1967, 8.

    55    Gerhard and Millington, p31.

    56    Ibid.

     57 Audio Recording Transcripts (In English), available fromhttp://www.nsa.gov/Liberty;
internet; accessed 21 March 2007. (Declassified intercepted transcripts of audio
communications between Israeli helicopters and Israeli headquarters.) and Cristol, 58.

    58    A Report: War Crimes Committed Against US Military Personnel, June 8, 1967,9.

    59    Ennes, 96.

    60    Gerhard and Millington, 31.

    61    Cristol, 61.

    62    Gerhard and Millington, 32.

    63    Ennes, 99.

    64    Cristol, 64, 243.

    65    Gerhard and Millington, 32.

    66 Ibid.,34 and James M. Ennes, e-mail message to author, 30 March 2007.    That
"message" was written on Castle's calling card and was dropped on the forecastle in a brown
paper lunch bag weig'hted with an orange from someone's lunch. The card eventually found its
way to NSA where someone pocketed it and years later gave it to Dave Lewis who gave it to
James Ennes for use in his book, Assault on the Liberty.

     67   Cristol, 60.

     68   Ennes, 305 and Mitchell, DVD.

     ~ Ennes, 36,38, 42, 64.

     70   Ennes, 64, 305 and Bamford, 208.

     71   A Report: War Crimes Committed Against US Military Personnel, 14.

      Ward Boston, Jr., signed affidavit from Ward to USS Liberty Veterans Association, Inc.
     72
and other parties, dated 8 January 2004. Copy of this declaration was provided to author from
James M. Ennes, Jr. on 23 March 2007.




                                                22
    73  A Report: War Crimes Committed Against US Military Personnel, 16 and James M.
Ennes, Jr, e-mail message to author, 311 March 2007. ("Liberty's mission was indeed top secret,
Top Secret Codeword, but as always with such things there was an unclassified "cover"
[Unclassified cover name] mission which was something like "Research in Communications".
I'm sure that was the rationale for covering up everything concerned with the attack, but I'm also
sure that was not the "real" reason... I think you have read that some of the people directly
involved with intercept have told me that they were told to avoid copying Israeli signals. "If you
get an Israeli signal, note it and drop it." They say they were MOST interested in Soviet signals
from Soviet long range bombers in Egypt. Yet my boss, Dave Lewis, says we're there to copy
anything we could get. Dave should know. But the operators and translators were doing the
nitty gritty work, and they say thei,r advice from NSA was to concentrate on Soviets and ignore
Israel (and Arabs).".

    74   Oren, 264.

    75   Oren, 269.

    76   Oren, 266, 267.

    77   Gerhard and Millington, 32.

    78   Ennes, e-mail.

    79   The Attack on the USS Liberty and Its Cover-Up, 2.

    80 Cristol, 38 and USS Liberty - Israeli Pilot Speaks Up, available from www.rense.com/
generaI39/pilot.htm; internet; accessed on 13 March 2007.

    81 The Attack on the USS Liberty and Its Cover-Up, 4. [Dan Raviv an award-winning CBS
correspondent and Yossi Me'lman, a 1989-90 Nieman Fellow at Harvard discuss in their book
Every Spy a Prince, on page 162: When they saw the U.S. flag, "the Israelis thought it was
probably the Egyptians pretending to be Americans and did not bother to check."}

    82   Ibid, 6.

   83 Ennes, 309 and USS Liberty - Israeli Pilot Speaks Up, available from
www.rense.com/generaI39/pilot.htm; internet; accessed on 13 March 2007.

    84   Oren, 264.

    85   Cristol, 153-154.

    86   Ennes, 96.

    87   Boston, 3.

   88 Clarence A. Hill, Jr. RADM, Letter to The Honorable Gordon England, Secretary of the
Navy, dated 27 Jlul'y 2005 forwarded to author by James M. Ennes on 23 March 2007.

    89   Boston, 2.



                                                2.3
    90   Ibid, 2.

    91   Ibid.

    92 Boston, 2 and RADM Staring. RADM Staring related to author that Admiral Kidd felt as if
the White House and Senior Department of Defense officials did not want to hear the facts as
they related to the USS Liberty.

    93   A Report: War Crimes Committed Against US Military Personnel, 15.

    94   Boston, 3.

    95   Boston, 3 and RADM Staring.

     96 Richard Helms with William Hood, A Look Over My Shoulder: A Life in the Central
Intelligence Agency, (New York, NY: Random House, 2003), 301.

    97   IRusk, 388.

     Clifford Clark with Richard Holbrooke, Counsel to the President: A Memoir (New York,
    98
NY: Random House, 1991),447.

    99   Ennes, 312 and Bamford, 201-203.

          lin Body of Secrets, Bamford writes: As the Liberty sat within eyeshot of EI Arish,
          eavesdropping on surrounding communications, Israeli solidiers turned the town
          into a slaughterhouse, systematically butchering their prisoners. In the shadow
          of EI Arish mosque , they (Israel) lined up about sixty unarmed Egyptian
          prisoners, hands tied behined their backs, and then opened fire with machine
          guns until the pale desert sand turned red. [I saw a line of prisoners, civilians
          and military,] said Abdelsalam Moussa, one of those who dug the graves, [and
          they opened fire at them all at once. When they were dead, they told us to bury
          them.] Nearby, another group of Israelis gunned down thirty more prisoners and
          then ordered some Bedouins to cover them with sand. In still another incident at
           EI Arish, the Israeli journalist Gabi Bron saw about 150 Egyptian POWs sitting on
          the ground, crowed together with their hands helds at the backs of their necks.
          [The Egyptian prisoners of war were order to dig pits and then army police shot
          them to death,] Bron said. [I witnessed the executions with my own eyes on the
           morning of June eighth, in the airport area of EI Arish.] The Israeli military
           historian Aryeh Yitzhaki, who worked in the army's history department after the
           war collected testimony from dozens of soldiers who admitted killing POWs.
           According to Yitzhaki, Israeli troops killed, in cold blood, as many as 1,000
           Egyptian prisoners in the Sinai, including some 400 in the sand dunes of EI Arish.
          Aryeh Yitzhaki goes on to say: "The whole army leadership, including [then]
           Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Chief of Staff [and later Prime Minister
          Yitzhak] Rabin and the generals knew about these things. No one bothered to
          denounce them."

    100   Rusk, 378.




                                                  24
    101   Helms, 299-300.

    102   Oren, 270.

    103 Wiblbur Crane Eveland, Ropes of Sand: America's Failure in the Middle East (New
York: NY, W.W. Norton & Co., 1980),325.

    104   Ennes, 313.

    105 The Israel Lobby Debate, available from http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/mear01_.html;
accessed 12 April 2007. [The author was directed to this source by Playthell Benjamin, co­
author of Reconsidering the Souls of Black Folks: Thoughts on the Groundbreaking Classic
Work of W.E.B. Dubois. Playthell is a veteran columnist, Historian, University Professor, critic
and radio show personality with his program 'Round about Midnight' on WBAI, 99.5 FM, New
York, New York.]

    106   Cristol, 133-139 and Bamford, 194-197, 204-205.




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