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

Lis­ten: MP3  Side 1   Side 2


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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