Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #572 The Liberty Incident

Recorded October 8, 2006

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Introduction: In recent programs, Mr. Emory has highlighted resurgence in anti-Semitism, particularly in the wake of the 2006 Lebanon War. A frequently discussed topic in that context is the Israeli air and naval attack on a U.S. electronic spy ship, the U.S.S. Liberty during the 1967 Six Day War. This broadcast presents the most credible account to date of that incident. Misreported as “an accident” (the attack was deliberate) or a stratagem to draw the United States into the war, the attack on the Liberty was an outgrowth of clandestine U.S. policy in the Middle East. Officially an ally of Israel, the U.S. has long played on “both sides of the street”—secretly supporting the Arabs to a large extent, due to the influence of the petroleum industry on American politics and the Arab control over much of the world’s oil. Because of this janus-faced policy, the American intelligence establishment bowed to oil industry pressure to curry favor with the Arab nations during the overwhelming 1967 victory of the Israeli forces. Stationed off the Sinai coast, the U.S.S. Liberty utilized sophisticated NSA electronics to monitor and map Israeli military activity, creating a detailed “Order of Battle” or OB report. An agreement was reached by the Texas-based, petroleum-associated American President (Lyndon Baines Johnson) to give this OB report to the Egyptian armed forces, imperiling Israeli units deployed in the Sinai. Learning of this gambit, the Israelis planned an attack by combined sea and airborne units that was designed to disable the Liberty’s electronic surveillance capability, while minimizing the loss of life among the crew. Both the Israeli and American accounts of the incident are false, by agreement. In exchange for silence about U.S. spying on Israel, the Israelis have perpetuated the official lie that the attack was an accident.

Program Highlights Include: U.S. intelligence betrayal of Israel’s nuclear secrets to the Arabs; the role of that betrayal in causing the Six Day War; the Liberty’s betrayal of Israeli electronic signals deception against Jordan during the war; detailed analysis of the attack itself, including the unusual choice of weaponry and sequencing of the deployment against the Liberty; the role of British intelligence in betraying Israeli secrets to the Arabs; analysis of the behavior during the Liberty incident of U.S. ambassador to Israel Wally Barbour (a right wing Democrat, oil politician and father of G.O.P. governor of Mississippi Haley Barbour.)

1. Beginning with the historical event within which the Liberty incident occurred, the program presents an overview of aspects of that conflict that have not received much (if any) attention. According to Loftus’ and Aarons’ sources, petroleum-related interests in the U.S. and Britain played a double game: pretending to be on Israel’s side while secretly currying favor with the Arabs. Learning that Israel would not have a nuclear weapon perfected before the end of 1967, the U.S. and Britain betrayed this information to the Arabs, enabling them to plan an attack with conventional weapons before Israel could “go nuclear.” When Israel informed the U.S. of a plan to launch a preemptive attack, the U.S. and Britain promptly betrayed that information to the Arabs. During the conflict, U.S. and British intelligence monitored Israeli communications (using the NSA equipment on the U.S.S. Liberty) and gave this information to the Arabs, enabling them to construct an “OB” (“Order of Battle”) report on Israeli military units in the Sinai. It was this betrayal (eventually discovered by the Israelis) that led to the attack on the Liberty. That precisely choreographed strike neutralized the Liberty’s electronics, preserving the secrecy and integrity of Israeli military operations. “ . . . . For the first time in two thousand years, Jews around the world swelled their chests with pride [after the Six Day War]. When an American ship, the USS Liberty, was accidentally damaged in the conflict, President Johnson graciously accepted the immediate apology of the government of Israel. Despite some American casualties, the United States and Israel remained firm friends. Our sources say that there is more to the story than that, much more. The U.S. and British governments, while pretending to be on Israel’s side, were giving all of Israel’s secrets to the Arabs. In many ways, it was the Western spies who indirectly started the war. In this chapter we examine the following allegations: Western intelligence informed the Arabs that Israel would not have a nuclear defense shield finished in 1967, thus leaving a window of opportunity for attack; Realizing the danger of a massed Arab attack, the Israelis informed the United States of their intention to launch a preemptive strike, which the CIA promptly betrayed to the Arabs; U.S. intelligence attempted to curry favor with the Arab oil producers by giving the precise details of Israel’s order of battle to the Arabs during the war; Israeli intelligence discovered the American betrayal and attacked the U.S. ship, the Liberty, which was gathering electronic information on Israeli troop movements and sending it to British intelligence, which in turn relayed it to the Arabs; Both the American and Israeli governments agreed to suppress the truth about the Liberty incident from the public.”
(The Secret War Against the Jews: How Western Espionage Betrayed the Jewish People; John Loftus and Mark Aarons; Copyright 1994 [SC]; St. Martin’s Press; ISBN 0-312-15648-0; p. 259.)

2. An interesting sidelight to the discussion concerns Israel’s affinity for President Kennedy. In The Guns of November, AFA#’s 11, 12, 13, 15, 37—available from Spitfire–as well as FTR#’s 120, 188, Mr. Emory set forth the numerous and profound Nazi connections to the assassination of President Kennedy. Under the circumstances, one wonders if Kennedy’s support for Israel might have influenced the actions of the conspirators. “Israel mourned the loss of President Kennedy deeply. Before he died, Kennedy had blunted Nasser’s missile threat, made the first arms shipment from the U.S. government, and backed Israel repeatedly in the United Nations. The Israelis did not know what to make of his successor, Lyndon Baines Johnson. In public, Johnson had been an ardent supporter of Israel. In private, however, they feared that he was, and would always remain, an oil man. In fact, the Israelis did not trust Johnson at all. After the Suez debacle, they would never trust any American with the lives of their citizens. They launched a crash program to complete their first atomic warhead.” (Ibid.; p. 260.)

3. Next, the program highlights some features of the development of the Israeli bomb. “During the early 1960’s, the Kennedy administration watched the construction of the Israeli nuclear reactor at Dimona with some concern and increased the number of American spies in Israel. Kennedy offered Israel a deal. If it would stop its nuclear project, the United States would provide $600 million for a nuclear-powered water desalinization plant. The Israelis refused. They knew that sooner or later, one of the Arab states would start manufacturing poison gas and germ warfare weapons. The threat of a nuclear weapon would be the only thing that could deter the Arabs from starting another holocaust. After Kennedy died, Johnson watched the reactor at Dimona go into full production with French assistance. The Jews had atomic energy, but they did not yet have an atomic bomb. Although Seymour Hersh’s excellent book [The Sampson Option] covers this subject in some detail, there are a few key details he missed. As will be seen in the next chapter, the Israelis had used their window inside West German intelligence during the 1960’s to obtain Argentine uranium and South African testing facilities. The Israelis were using both the German and the French A-bomb programs to further their own purposes.” (Idem.)

4. In 1967, Israel was at least a year away from developing a functional nuclear device, a fact that elements of U.S. and British intelligence betrayed to the British. “What Hersh also did not know is that the CIA had several agents working in Israel under various cover assignments. One of them confirmed to us that in the spring of 1967, the Israelis had the potential to make a nuclear warhead but had not succeeded yet. They were at least a year away from making a working prototype. During that time the Jews still would be vulnerable to surprise attack. Somehow this information found its way from the CIA to the Arabs. Some of our sources among the ‘old spies’ say that it was Miles Copeland’s handiwork; others say that it was the long arm of British intelligence, aided by NSA technology. As we shall see, the NSA routinely shared Israel’s secrets with the British, who just as frequently passed them on to the Arabs.” (Idem.)

5. After the betrayal of the status of Israel’s nuclear development, the Arabs, acting on that intelligence, planned an annihilating attack on Israel. “Whoever was responsible, the leak of the Israeli atomic schedule set off a race against time. The Arabs had one last period of opportunity to smash the Jewish state with conventional weapons. The Israelis had less than a year to try to finish one weapon before the united Arab armies launched their attack. In fact, it would take Israeli scientists much longer than they had estimated to get the A-bomb. The American intelligence reports that Israel could not prepare a nuclear defense shield in 1967 gave the Arabs some breathing room to plan their next battle against the Jews. In the spring of that year, Nasser was temporarily occupied fighting a war in Yemen, where he was testing chemical and biological weapons in preparation for his final solution of the Jewish problem.” (Ibid.; pp. 260-261.)

6. “According to Nasser’s original timetable, he would launch the final attack on Israel in late 1967. The cooler fall weather would greatly facilitate an armored invasion. The Soviet tanks had no air conditioning and were ovens in the summer. A fall attack also would give him the time to pull his 50,000 men and their heavy armor out of Yemen and move them into the Sinai. Israel would be crushed long before its first warhead was completed. As the summer of 1967 approached, it was clear that war was coming again to the Middle East. The tiny nation of Israel was not even twenty years old but appeared headed for extinction by its powerful neighbors, which surrounded it on nearly all fronts. President Gamal Abdel Nasser, the radical nationalist who ruled Egypt, had begun with massive radio propaganda campaign calling on the Arab nations to unite in the destruction of the Jews. The powerful Egyptian army, massively equipped by the Soviet Union, had begun its slow, ponderous movement over the Sinai Desert toward Israel. Israeli intelligence suspected that Syria and Jordan were preparing to launch simultaneous sneak attacks from the north and east, as soon as the Egyptians had everything in place in the south. Egyptian artillery moved to close the Red Sea to sink any vessel flying the Israeli flag and blockaded the Israeli port of Eilat. This was a clear violation of international law, but the UN did nothing, except accede to Nasser’s request and order its Emergency Force out of harm’s way in preparation for the assault.” (Ibid.; p. 261.)

7. Note that the United States, while recognizing that Egypt’s blockade was an act of war, refused to assist Israel. Neither did the United Nations. Israel launched a preemptive attack that smashed the Egyptian armies and drove them back across the Sinai. “The Americans agreed that Egyptian interference with Israeli shipping on international waters was an official act of war. Even Nasser had acknowledged as much back in 1956 as a condition for Israel’s withdrawal after the Suez campaign; in 1967 the United States offered its sympathy but refused to provide any military assistance whatsoever. President Johnson turned his back. The Israelis told their American ally that if it would not help, it should keep its planes and ships away from the combat area, and Israel would fight by itself. One of the most widely reported, but least understood, battles in the secret war against the Jews was about to begin: one of the few espionage battles in the war to be fought entirely at sea. By early June 1967, the Israelis knew that Nasser’s invasion could come at any time. On June 5, Israel launched a preemptive attack before the Egyptian army could finish its buildup and reach its borders. The first three days of tank battles saw the tiny Israeli army pushing the Egyptians back across the Sinai, away from Israel, and the destruction of the Arab air forces. It was a heroic achievement that was marred by one unfortunate mistake, or so the Israeli government says. The ‘unfortunate mistake’ was the attack on the USS Liberty stationed off the Sinai Coast. . . .” (Ibid.; pp. 261-262.)

8. Stationed off the Sinai coast, the Liberty had already penetrated an Israeli electronic warfare deception that had lured Jordan into the conflict. At this point in the war, the Israelis realized that something had to be done about the Liberty. “. . . The Israelis had broken the Arabs’ ciphers and codes, enabling them to feed false messages to the enemy. The phony messages led the Jordanians to believe that the war was going well for Nasser, when, in fact, the Egyptians already had been effectively knocked out of the battle. Such signals deception was bound to make King Hussein think about joining in on the victorious side. It was then, [British military author] Deacon asserts, that things started to badly wrong for the Israelis: ‘ . . . On the night of June 7, the Mossad . . . knew that their deception plan had been spotted by the Americans. The Israeli attack must be halted forthwith as a cease-fire was to be ordered by the United Nations. . . . When the Ambassador protested, he was informed in diplomatic language, that the United States knew that Jordan had been lured into fighting by signal deception. It was obvious that, if Liberty continued with her transmissions, it could be disastrous for Israel as they would be able to reveal that the Israelis were in violation of a UN cease-fire order.’ According to Deacon, the Israelis ordered that the ship, which was a threat to the Jews’ plans, must be put out of action, ‘whatever flag it was flying.’ The Israelis feared ‘there could be leakages from the State Department to the United Nations and, even worse, the latter, whose administrators were already biased against Israel, could pass on information to the Egyptians.’ The Israelis were not stupid. They knew that the State Department’s Middle Eastern policies had a pronounced anti-Semitic tilt.” (Ibid.; pp. 266-267.)

9. The primary mission of the Liberty was to communicate Israel’s battlefield secrets to the Egyptians. “Further, it was not idle speculation that Israel’s secrets might end up in Egyptian hands. According to our sources in the American intelligence community who talked to us about the Liberty incident, passing Israeli secrets to the Egyptians was the whole idea of stationing the ship off the Sinai coast. They believe that all the published versions of the Liberty incident—the crew’s, the Israelis’, the U.S. government’s, [“ex”-CIA officer] Eveland’s and Deacon’s—are wrong. When the authors described what we already knew from Eastern sources, several Israelis reluctantly provided corroboration of the best-kept secret of the Six Day War. Contrary to the Israeli government’s categorical denials, the assault on the Liberty had been deliberate, but was an act of self-defense.” (Ibid.; p. 267.)

10. Not even the surviving members of the Liberty’s crew were “in” on the gambit. This is important to remember, because surviving members of the crew have been doing media appearances in which they (sadly) parade their ignorance of the reality of the incident. “The ‘old spies’ are adamant that the Liberty crew only knows the what, not the why, of what happened. Similarly, although Eveland and Deacon exposed the fact that the Israelis knew what they were doing when they attacked the ship, they did not know the real reason. Even U.S. Naval Intelligence did not piece together what had happened until years later, and they had to get most of the answers from the British, who got them from the NSA. This is the real version of the Liberty incident, as told by our sources among the former intelligence officers who were there on both sides of the battle. In the weeks preceding the 1967 war, the Israeli embassy in Washington fully briefed the CIA and the White House on its strategy to preempt the Arab invasion. Once before the Israelis had launched a preemptive strike in the Sinai without Washington’s explicit approval. The 1956 Suez debacle still rankled in everyone’s memory. This time the Israelis wanted to make sure that they had not crossed wires with their most important, perhaps only, ally in the world. Every major facet of the impending campaign was discussed in advance, including the strike against Syria.” (Idem.)

11. “Our sources insist that the U.S. government knew that the Israelis were going to attack the Golan Heights weeks before it happened and gave them the green light. Syria was in the Soviet camp and no particular friend of the United States. Jordan was another matter. According to the ‘old spies’ we interviewed on this point, a CIA agent in Amman, Jordan, leaked word to Jordan’s King Hussein about the secret Israeli briefing. Everyone likes to tell good news: the Israelis would counterattack only in the north and south against Egypt and Syria. Under American pressure, the Israelis had agreed not to send troops into the West Bank. As long as Jordan did not attack Israel from the east, King Hussein could stay out of the war and keep the provinces of Judea, Samaria, and the old city of Jerusalem, which the Jordanian army had stolen from Palestine back in 1948.” (Ibid.; pp. 267-268.)

12. Jordan was planning to attack Israel from Syrian territory. Note that Israel was planning to attack the Golan Heights (held by Syria). It was the Israeli plan to withdraw units from the Sinai for the Golan offensive that was imperiled by the Liberty’s electronic eavesdropping. “It was a good deal for Jordan, but not good enough. King Hussein was under pressure from the Arab world to join in the attack against Israel. It would be a little embarrassing for him to sit back and do nothing while the Egyptian and Syrian armies came hundreds of miles to fight the Jews. From one point in Jordanian territory in the West Bank, it was less than a ten-mile drive across Israel to the ocean. A Jordanian armored column could cut the country in half. The king had to do something to appease his Arab brothers, so he sent Jordanian troops to attack from Syria, while promising the CIA that not a single Jordanian soldier would attack Israel from the West Bank. Hussein slyly omitted his plan to place Jordanian troops under Nasser’s control. The CIA passed the word on Israel not to worry about an attack on its highly vulnerable eastern flank.” (Ibid.; p. 268.)

13. In addition to the Jordanian deal, the U.S. was planning to betray the Israeli withdrawal of selected units from the Sinai to the Egyptians. This gambit was executed by LBJ, in cooperation with the oil industry that was, and is, pro-Arab. “Through one of their spies, the Israelis quickly found out about the CIA deal with King Hussein, and they were furious. It may not have made a lot of difference to the CIA if Jordanian troops were fighting on the northern front, but it made a lot of difference to the Jews. But this was nothing compared to what the Jews found out next. When the Israelis discovered that the Americans also had made a deal with the Egyptians, they became even more furious at the CIA. To be fair, our sources in the intelligence community acknowledge that, by and large, the CIA was a just a messenger boy. The real decisions were being made in the White House. Aramco and the other big players in the oil business were extremely concerned that American aid to Israel would alienate the Arab oil producers. It was not enough to withhold military assistance in the coming war. Everyone in the Moslem world knew that the United States was still neutral in favor of Israel. The oil men wanted some under-the-table help for the Arabs.” (Idem.)

14. “President Lyndon John son had been in the ‘erl bidness’ himself down in Texas and knew how the game was played. The oil producers got to LBJ or someone very close to him in the White House. Our sources were never able to find our who. The oil men asked if the president could throw the Arabs a bone, some sort of secret assistance that the public would never find out about but would make the Arab leadership grateful. The point was to keep the oil flowing no matter had happened in the 1967 war. The White House approved a contingency plan to send the Arabs a little intelligence about the Israeli Defense Forces, not too much, nothing that would tip the balance of war. Just a little something to let the Arab leaders think the Americans were secretly on their side, no matter what was said about Israeli in public. Unfortunately, the small-scale contingency plan escalated. No one planned it that way. Only a handful of staffers in the White House, the National Security Agency, and the CIA knew what had happened, and they all pointed the finger at each other. . . .” (Ibid.; pp. 268-269.)

15. In order to please the Arabs and betray Israel, the Liberty was gathering vast amounts of raw electronic intelligence about Israel’s armed forces. “ . . . The Egyptian generals were considerably easier to get along with. They desperately needed intelligence now and begged the CIA for its promised assistance. It was not long in coming. On June 8, the morning of the fourth day of the Six Day War, the USS Liberty arrived off the Sinai coast. Although its crew did not know it, it was the only hope the Egyptian army had of retrieving anything from one of the quickest and most decisive military victories in history. The Liberty was more than a floating radio set. It was a giant for electronic intelligence and could do much more than simply eavesdrop on radio communications. Anyone could do that. The nation of Israel is so tiny that the U.S. embassy in Beirut could monitor all the radio traffic in the entire country. The embassy even taped the Israeli pilots talking back and forth when they hit the Liberty.” (Ibid.; p. 270.)

16. Using the raw electronic intelligence gathered by the Liberty, a British listening station in Cyprus was helping to develop a detailed battlefield map of Israeli forces in the Sinai. “So what was the Liberty doing there? Our sources among the ‘old spies’ have an interesting explanation. They believe the Liberty was making a war map. Every time an Israeli soldier squawked on his walkie-talkie, the ship recorded his voice and indexed it with the direction and the strength of the signal. The same thing happened with tank radios, headquarters’ telephones, even coded cable traffic. The ship swept up everything in the airwaves while noting the location of every speck of electronic dust in Israel. This is called a raw intelligence take. The Liberty was one of the most sophisticated spy ships in the world at that time. Even so, it was not big enough to process all the electronic garbage it collected. Processing intelligence requires banks of computers and teams of analysts. All the ship did was record the garbage, compress it electronically, and transmit it to a land station. What happened next was none of its concern. The crewmembers did not know it, but the land station was located on the island of Cyprus. That was the clever part. The navy’s paper trail would show that no American computer had even begun to process the Liberty’s troop movement data at the time of the attack. If asked under oath, the few officers involved in the scheme could swear that the ship never gave any Israeli secrets to the Arabs. They would be telling the truth, as far as it went. The British secret service has one of the largest electronic listening posts in the world on the island of Cyprus. It had little difficulty in downloading the transmissions from the Liberty. All of Israel’s electronic garbage was sifted by an enormous computer that began to decode Irael’s cable traffic. Another went to work on plotting the military radio transmissions, while still another began to sort the telephone calls intercepted from microwave relay towers across Israel.” (Ibid.; pp. 270-271.)

17. Note that the British were actively collaborating with the Arabs as well. During the 2006 Lebanon War, the BBC (which is inextricably linked with British intelligence) performed an analogous function on behalf of the Arabs, shamelessly presenting a fundamentally distorted picture of the war. “First, the frequencies and locations of major Israeli headquarters were identified, then the smaller regiments and battalions, then the individual units. A great deal of preparatory work had been done before the war began. Spectrographic analysis of known voiceprints enabled the computer to identify each Israeli commander as soon as he spoke on the radio or telephone. The voice was matched to a name and unit number and then the unit’s location was placed on an electronic war map that was updated constantly in Cyprus from the Liberty’s input. The British were about to make good on the promise they had made to the Arabs after the Suez debacle in 1956, when they had abandoned their Israeli ally and told the Saudis that they would support the Arab case on Palestine. In 1967, the plan was for the British to hand the final product of the Liberty’s intelligence haul to the Egyptians. The finished war map was a detailed order of battle intelligence report, or OB. It is the most useful information generals can have in time of war. Using such a map, they can send their troops wherever the enemy is weakest and exploit an undefended region with an attack that penetrates the enemy’s rear areas and cuts off its supply lifeline.” (Ibid.; p. 271.)

18. “Our sources insist that, with the Liberty’s assistance, the Arabs might have been able to turn the war around to some extent or at least force an honorable stalemate. For the first time they would know as much as or more than the Israeli generals did themselves about the movements of the Israeli army. The Arab generals would have details of every Israeli counterstrategy from the moment it began. They would have every Israeli battle order in close to real time. Just as the Israelis were beginning to pull some of their mobile reserves out of the Sinai for the Golan assault in the north, the Liberty was letting the Egyptians know the location of each hole in the southern front. As soon as the Israeli army turned its attention to the north, the Egyptians could launch low-level, but irritating, attacks on Israeli settlements and military formations in the south. ‘You have to understand what this means,’ said one of our sources. ‘The Government of Israel was already pissed off about the CIA leaks to lung cancer. As long as the Liberty was transmitting, every Israeli troop movement would be known to the Arabs within an hour, maybe within minutes, It meant that Israel could lose the war.’ . . . ” (Ibid.; pp. 271-272.)

19. In light of the situation, the Israeli political leadership concluded that disabling the ship was the only practical solution under the circumstances. Utilizing a copy of the ship’s building plans, an attack was planned to disable the ship with a minimum of loss of life. “. . . It came down to a choice between 25,000 of their own dead or attacking one American ship. One fighter-bomber loaded with high-explosive ordinance could blow the Liberty to splinters. Cabinet members asked if there was any option other than drowning nearly 300 American sailors, for no matter what the American politicians had done to them, Israel had always been friends with the American people. A plan to put the ship out of commission with a minimum loss of life was requested. Somehow, the Israelis had obtained a copy of the ship’s building plans, and the Liberty’s fireproof and waterproof compartments gave the IDF an idea. The general staff reported their minimum-damage plan to the cabinet. During the first run, the aircraft would fire only light rockets at the antenna masts and strafe the deck. That would send the crew scurrying safely belowdecks to their battle stations. As soon as they were buttoned up, the second run would drop napalm to burn off the antennas and communications gear without breaching the structural integrity of the fireproof hull where the crew was hiding.” (Ibid.; p. 275.)

20. “The one problem was the electronic intelligence center below decks in hold number 3. One carefully aimed torpedo could take that out without sinking the ship, but whoever was in that compartment would die. The Israeli military staff estimated that American casualties could be kept to a few dozen. Most of the crew, maybe 80 to 90 percent, would survive. It was the best they could do. The cabinet members gave the order to disable the Liberty with minimum loss of American life. Because they could no longer trust their own telephones, they sent a courier to the nearest Israeli air squadron to ask for volunteers. Half the squadron refused to fly, because they had friends or relatives in the United States. ‘They just could not bring themselves to shoot at the American flag,’ said one of our Israeli sources. The ones who did fly were heartsick. Two of the pilots later had nervous breakdowns. The Americans on the ship were not the only victims of the Liberty incident. Two American-born Israelis volunteered to fly in the squadron.” (Ibid.; pp. 275-276.)

21. “The air crews needed only a little while to unload the heavy-explosive ordinance and replace it with napalm canisters. It took longer to get the torpedo boats briefed and under way. Everything had to be coordinated for 2:00 p.m. so that the planes and torpedo boats arrived at exactly the right times, one after the other, like a ballet sequence. If the napalm was dropped too early, crewmembers might still be on deck. The Israeli torpedo could not be fired until the Liberty’s crew had sufficient time to close all the watertight doors. In the meantime, a reconnaissance plane would make one last pass over the Liberty to confirm its identity and position. Only then would headquarters give the attack order to launch the fighter squadron. The reconnaissance pilots made their report in code, using a scrambling device. Tel Aviv used the same precautions when giving the attack order, as it knew U.S. intelligence was listening. The lead pilot on the strafing run would not break radio silence until he had made visual contact. He was to announce, en clair, when the ship was in sight. . . .” (Ibid.; p. 276.)

22. “ . . . All morning there had been overflights by Israeli reconnaissance, nine passes in all. One of them flew less than two hundred feet from the ship, so close you could see the pilots and give them a friendly wave. No one could mistake the Liberty for an enemy ship with its American flag flying and its U.S. Navy identifiers gleaming in large white numbers on the hull. The number of fly-bys was unusual, but the crew thought that the Israelis were just keeping a constant eye on their position to make sure than a friendly ship did not sail into harm’s way. There was a war on, after all, but the Liberty was minding its own business. It was really nothing more than a floating radio set, very lightly armed, and a threat to no one.” (Ibid.; p. 263.)

23. “At 2:00p.m. another flight of Israeli Mirage jets appeared on the radar screen. A few people on the bridge watched their approach with idle curiosity. Suddenly the Israeli aircraft opened fire and strafed the deck of the Liberty with machine-gun fire and rockets. People were screaming, running for cover. The Israelis left as quickly as they had come. They must have realized their mistake and broken off the attack. For a few seconds there was silence and then the sound of wounded men calling for help. The rockets and gun rounds had chewed up the deck and everyone on it. Some of the radio antennas had been badly damaged, but the Liberty still managed to get an emergency message to the Sixth Fleet that it was under attack and needed immediate air cover. While they waited for the U.S. planes, another huge American flag was hung on the Liberty to prevent any further possibility of misidentification. Instead of the promised American fighter support, however, Israeli Mystere jets were spotted on the horizon. Everyone took cover. The Israeli planes fired rockets at the Liberty and dropped napalm, which is a kind of jellied gasoline that burns everything it touches. Some components of the Liberty’s radar dishes and antennas were made from aluminum. The only problem is that aluminum does not melt, it burns when it is hit with napalm.” (Ibid.; pp. 263-264.)

24. “Walls of flames rolled over the Liberty. As soon as the jets left, the crew rushed out to try to control the fires. Where was the American fighter support? They should have been over the Liberty minutes ago. What else could go wrong? That was when they saw the three speedboats approaching from the Israeli coast. They were not rescue craft, they were torpedo boats. One torpedo struck the starboard side of the Liberty, and the stricken vessel tilted ten degrees over, its steering gone, portions of the deck still burning. Luckily, the watertight compartments below decks had contained the torpedo damage. The ship would not sink, but that was the least of the problems.” (Ibid.; p. 264.)

25. “The captain of the Liberty realized that something had gone terribly wrong, and the ship was alone. There was no American air cap to protect it, and it had become a floating target for the Israelis. Although the upper structures of the ship had been badly hit, almost 90 percent of the crew had been belowdecks and were still alive. After the Israeli torpedo boats picked up his crew and realized they were Americans, his ship finally would be safe. The problem was that the Israeli boats were slowly circling the Liberty, firing at anyone who stuck his head out of a hatch. The three rubber rafts they did manage to toss over the side were ripped to shreds almost before they hit the water. Finally the Israelis left for good. Out of the 293 crewmen aboard the Liberty, only thirty-four had died. The crew thought it was a miracle that so many had survived.” (Idem.)

26. “Of course, few of the crew believed the Israeli government’s apology that it was all a case of mistaken identification. Nor did they believe the American government was telling the whole story. When the crew of the Liberty were finally rescued, they found that their fighter cover had been ordered out and then canceled by ‘higher authority.’ Incredible as it may seem, the U.S. government had deliberately left one of its own ships defenseless while knowing it was under attack. Several of the officers and crew were interviewed by Navy admirals and then sworn to secrecy about the entire Liberty incident, in the interests of ‘national security.’ The crew described the report of the navy’s official Board of Inquiry as a farce. . . .” (Idem.)

27. After being informed by the Israelis about the attack, the CIA prevailed on the Navy to cancel the air cover for the Liberty. “ . . . As soon as the attack was under way, a senior official of Israeli intelligence paid a surprise call on his CIA counterpart. He told him what they were doing to the Liberty at that moment, and why. Before the second Israeli run even arrived over the ship, the CIA had told the navy to call off air support for the Liberty. Although upon hearing news of the attack, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff at first wanted to launch a ‘quick, retaliatory air strike on the Israeli naval base which launched the attack,’ this idea was quickly rejected. There would be no retaliation of any kind. Why were the U.S. fighter planes, which had taken off while the debate was still under way, ordered back to the carrier and the retaliation strike abandoned? The Israelis had proof that the U.S. government had committed an act of war against Israel by betraying its military secrets to the enemy in the middle of a war in which Israel’s very survival was at stake. The Israelis had sources in the Arab world that the CIA didn’t even know about. The CIA’s low-risk strategy had blown up in its face, along with any hope of plausible deniability.” (Ibid.; pp. 276-277.)

28. “The White House certainly was not happy, but it did not take long to work up a cover story. The American intelligence officers begged the Israelis to pretend that the attack on the Liberty was a mistake. To make it look good, Israel would be quietly reimbursed for whatever compensation it paid to the surviving crewmembers and the families of the dead. By 4:00p.m. that afternoon, the deal was cut. According to our sources in the intelligence community, the governments of Israel and the United States have spent the next twenty-seven years lying about the Liberty incident. There is a substantial amount of circumstantial evidence to show that this version of the affair is correct. There is, moreover, convincing and direct evidence to demonstrate that the official versions told by both governments are false. . . .” (Ibid.; p. 277.)

29. The U.S. ambassador to Israel at the time of the incident was Wally Barbour, a right-wing Democrat and member of the petroleum= political lobby. His son is the G.O.P. governor of Mississippi Haley Barbour. Haley Barbour’s New Bridge Strategies is subcontracting with an Al Taqwa-related company in Iraq. (For more about this, see FTR#433.) As will be seen in FTR#573, Barbour’s PR firm represents the Alfa consortium in the United States. Alfa is part of the international criminal milieu that intersects with the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. “ . . . As a result of the Liberty incident, the White House gave Wally Barbour, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, a new set of marching orders. No further intelligence was to be gathered on the Dimona nuclear reactor, nor were joint anti-Israeli operations to be run with the British and Canadian secret services. Israel was to be the main ally of the United States in the Middle East and was now more important than Arab oil. . . .” (Ibid.; p. 285.)


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