Remembering the U.S.S. Liberty — June 8 1967 [UPDATE: NSA Transcript]

There has been a lot of media coverage mostly written by Israelis or American Jews regarding Israel’s ‘victory’ fifty years ago during the so-called Six Days War directed against its Arab neighbors but I have yet to see an account that mentions the fate of the U.S.S. Liberty. Nevertheless, the Liberty is not forgotten.”

Former CIA Analyst Philip Giraldi

Israeli planes and torpedo boats attacked this U.S. Navy research ship, the USS Liberty, in the Mediterranean Sea near the Sinai Peninsula on June 8, 1967. Photo: Bettmann Archive/Getty

The attack on the U.S.S. Liberty by Israeli warplanes and torpedo boats on June 8 1967, has almost faded from memory, with a younger generation completely unaware that a United States naval vessel was once deliberately targeted and nearly sunk by America’s “greatest friend and ally” Israel.  Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

UPDATE — “The Americans have findings that show our pilots were aware the ship was American,” a newly published document by the State Archives says. [Haaretz – July 11 2017]

The book includes, among other things, a CIA document from November 1967 that is still partially censored. In the document, which is also on the official CIA website, an anonymous source is quoted as saying: “They said that [then-Israeli Defense Minister Moshe] Dayan personally ordered the attack on the ship, and that one of his generals adamantly opposed the action and said, ‘This is pure murder.’”

There is no dispute about the authenticity of the document, but clearly not every sentence written in an intelligence document is the unvarnished truth.

The new book quotes a story reported by former U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dwight Porter, who recounted a conversation between an Israeli pilot and the Israel Air Force war room, which was allegedly picked up by an NSA aircraft and inadvertently cabled to CIA offices around the world:

“Israeli pilot to IDF war room: This is an American ship. Do you still want us to attack?

IDF war room to Israeli pilot: Yes, follow orders.

Israeli pilot to IDF war room: But sir, it’s an American ship – I can see the flag!

IDF war room to Israeli pilot: Never mind; hit it.”

Both the CIA document and the quote have already been published in the past.

Former DIA Pat Lang posted a very interesting story about this NSA intercept.

This conversation was intercepted by NSA assets with the 6th Fleet during the event.  USS Liberty was a SIGINT collector engaged in monitoring Egyptian communications during the 6 day War.  She was off the Egyptian coast when attacked repeatedly by Israeli aircraft and patrol boats.  She was a converted freighter and virtually defenseless.  The USS America aircraft carrier battle group was in the general area and launched a strike against the Israelis but on the order of the WH the aircraft were recalled.  That is a puzzling thing.  LBJ quickly had the matter buried under the snowdrift of a suppressed naval investigation.

In the course of my duties at the time I read the NSA transcripts quoted above.

Six months after the attack I was a student as a captain in the Military Intelligence Advanced Couse at Ft. Holabird, Maryland. This was a year long course for mid-career intelligence officers. We had a separate building for a classroom. The whole building was a SCIF. An MP checked you in and out of the building. All the students and instructors had TS/SCI clearances at the COMINT category III level. During the course I was required to take several electives off a menu, like a Chinese restaurant. One that I took was a survey course for senior officers in cryptology. This course was normally taught to colonels and generals at the NSA school at nearby Ft. Meade. There were several sub-courses; cryptanalysis, traffic analysis, direction finding and voice intercept operations. In the last of these, the instructor was a retired army cryptologic warrant officer. He brought his teaching materials from FT. Meade. Among them was a booklet illustrating voice intercept operations.

Among the examples contained therein was the English translation transcript of the chatter between the Israeli air strike crews and their higher command. The quotation from this transcript as quoted in the Haaretz story is correct.

New subject: to what extant was LBJ guilty in any way in the matter of these sailors deaths and wounding? pl

Telegram from the Israeli Embassy in Washington to the Foreign Ministry

Do you realize that the president is also the supreme commander of the U.S. armed forces?”

“In the grave situation that has been created, the only way to soften the result is for us to be able to announce to the U.S. government already today that we intend to prosecute people for this disaster. We have to publicize that in Israel already tonight,” according to a Foreign Ministry letter.

“This activity is the only way to create the impression, both to the U.S. government and the public here, that the attack on the ship was not the result of malicious intent by the Israeli government – I repeat, the Israeli government – or authorized groups in the IDF. For obvious reasons, it is crucial that our announcement about prosecuting those who are to blame be publicized before – I repeat, before – the publication of the American report here.”

U.S. Independence Day party held at the U.S. Embassy in Israel after the disaster

“When asked in my presence, how long the ship’s trip to the United States would take, the commander of the USS Liberty  replied with a smile, ‘About two weeks – unless we encounter Israeli planes again.’”

Tom Segev, in a 2012 article, came out against the various “conspiracy”theories.

“None of the four people who could have ordered an attack on an American ship – Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, Mossad chief Meir Amit, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin – was daring and crazy to that extent,” he wrote.

However, Segev concluded with a slight note of doubt.

“Over the years, various pieces of evidence have emerged that seem to support Israel’s claim that the ship was fired on by mistake. However, a number of questions still hover over the affair, and these nourish the conspiracy theories.”


Most media have decided to ignore the 50th anniversary of the USS Liberty tragedy. The Intercept, Consortium News, CounterPunch and Global Research are among the few exceptions.

RELATED POST: Former CIA Phil Giraldi: “Israel Steals US Technology”

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The Intercept

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the assault on the USS Liberty, and though it was among the worst attacks in history against a noncombatant U.S. naval vessel, the tragedy remains shrouded in secrecy. The question of if and when Israeli forces became aware they were killing Americans has proved a point of particular contention in the on-again, off-again public debate that has simmered over the last half a century.

The Navy Court of Inquiry’s investigation proceedings following the incident were held in closed sessions, and the survivors who had been on board received gag orders forbidding them to ever talk about what they endured that day. [Fifty Years Later, NSA Keeps Details of Israel’s USS Liberty Attack Secret]


In Assault on the Liberty, a harrowing first-hand account by James Ennes Jr., McNamara’s version of events is proven to be as big a sham as his concurrent lies about Vietnam. Ennes’s book created a media storm when it was first published by Random House in 1980, including (predictably) charges that Ennes was a liar and an anti-Semite.

Still, the book sold more than 40,000 copies, but was eventually allowed to go out of print. Now Ennes has published an updated version, which incorporates much new evidence that the Israeli attack was deliberate and that the US government went to extraordinary lengths to disguise the truth. [Infamy at Sea: Israel’s Attack on the USS Liberty 50 Years Later]

Former CIA analyst Phil Giraldi

The attack was followed by a cover-up that demonstrated clearly that at least one president of the United States even back nearly fifty years ago valued his relationship with the state of Israel above his loyalty to his own country.

Government willingness at all levels to protect Israel even when it is killing Americans is remarkable, but it is symptom of the deep corruption that has generated a tendency to go to bat for Israel reflexively, even when it is damaging to U.S. interests and to the rights that American citizens are supposed to enjoy. I note particularly legislation currently working its way through Congress and numerous statehouses make it illegal for any federal or state funding to go to any entity that supports the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement, better known as BDS. BDS is a way to put pressure on the Israeli government over its human rights abuses that is both non-violent and potentially effective. Israel’s supporters have labeled BDS as anti-Semitic and have had some success in making any criticism of Israel labeled a “hate crime.”

So the treatment of the U.S.S. Liberty should surprise no one in a country whose governing class has been for decades doing the bidding of the powerful lobby of a tiny client state that has been nothing but trouble and expense for the United States of America. Will it ever end? As the Israel Lobby currently controls the relevant parts of the federal government and much of the media, change is not likely to happen overnight, but there are some positive signs.

The BDS movement is growing in spite of the pressure it is experiencing and will not go away. And opinion polls suggest that the American people are finally waking up to realize that they are sick and tired of the entire farce playing out in the Middle East under Israeli direction. Israel, which aggressively spies on us, kills our citizens and takes billions of dollars of our tax money which could be better spent here, is no friend of the United States and never has been. Just ask anyone who served on the U.S.S. Liberty. [Global Research — Phil Giraldi]

About Phil Giraldi

Philip Giraldi is a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a columnist and television commentator who is the Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a group that advocates for more even-handed policies by the U.S. government in the Middle East. [WIKIPEDIA]

RELATED POST: Former CIA Analyst Philip Giraldi: “Morell’s bluster deserves a bit of a fact check”

“USS Liberty: Dead In The Water” (BBC Documentary 2002)

On June 8th 1967, during the Six-Day War, Israel attacked and nearly sank the USS Liberty belonging to its closest ally, the USA. Thirty-four American servicemen were killed and over 170 wounded in the two-hour assault by Israeli warplanes and torpedo boats.

Israel claimed that the whole affair had been a tragic accident based on mistaken identification of the ship. The American government accepted the explanation. For more than 30 years many people have disbelieved the official explanation but have been unable to rebut it convincingly.

Now, “Dead in the Water” uses startling new evidence to reveal the truth behind the seemingly inexplicable attack. The film combines dramatic reconstruction of the events, with new access to former officers in the US and Israeli armed forces and intelligence services who have decided to give their own version of events.

Interviews include President Lyndon Johnson’s Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, former head of the Israeli navy, Admiral Shlomo Errell, and members of the USS Liberty crew.


The 50 year cover-up of a mass murder of U.S. servicemen orchestrated by Israel and its friends — Global Research

Fifty Years Later, NSA Keeps Details of Israel’s USS Liberty Attack Secret — The Intercept

Infamy at Sea: Israel’s Attack on the USS Liberty 50 Years Later — Counter Punch


‘But Sir, It’s an American Ship.’ ‘Never Mind, Hit Her!’ When Israel Attacked USS Liberty — Haaretz


Remembering the U.S.S. Liberty — June 8 1967 [UPDATE: NSA Transcript]

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