Monday, March 12, 2012

409 Reason for attack on USS Liberty: to take territory from Jordan & Syria in defiance of US ban

Reason for attack on USS Liberty: to take territory from Jordan & Syria in defiance of US ban

(1) Summary: conflicting reasons for Israel's attack - Peter Myers, November 27, 2010
(2) BBC video (2002) Dead In The Water - The Sinking of the USS Liberty
(3) Discussion with Israel Shamir: Why did Israel attack the Liberty?
(4) Review of Operation Cyanide, by Peter Hounam
(5) 1967 war: Dimona (Israel's nuclear reactor) "played an important but hidden role"
(6) Assault on the USS Liberty: Israeli Pilot says he recognized the Liberty as American
(7) Israel jammed 4 of the Liberty's 5 radio frequencies; these were US frequencies
(8) CIA intelligence in 1967 war enabled Israeli victory (via James Angleton)
(9) Israel attacked the USS Liberty to circumvent ban on attacking Syria, Jordan - Alan Hart

(1) Summary: conflicting reasons for Israel's attack - Peter Myers, November 27, 2010

Michael Santomauro recently sent around a link to a BBC documentary on the sinking of the USS Liberty (item 2).

The documentary includes high-level interviews and is well-worth watching; but it leads in the wrong direction.

The documentary was apparently made by Peter Hounam, author of the book Operation Cyanide (item 4). I have not read it, but it's about a US-Israeli plan for a false-flag attack on an American ship (blamed on Egypt), which is used as justification for a US "counter-attack" on Egypt, taking out its Soviet weapons installations.

At the time, both the US & the Soviet Union had ships nearby.

There does seem to have been an "Operation Cyanide"; but Alan Hart gives (item 9) a different, more plausible, explanation for Israel's attack - which means that this documentary is misleading (but very worthwhile if this is borne in mind).

I asked Israel Shamir why Israel would have wanted to get the US to intervene militarily on Israel's side, given that it had already destroyed Egypt's airforce and defeated Egypt's army. Israel struck on June 5.

Israel attacked the Liberty on June 8, the fourth day of the 1967 war, AFTER those events.

Shamir said that Israel was worried that the Soviet Union might itself enter the war; this would be a reason to get the US in (before Soviet intervention). But that would risk a nuclear flash between the two superpowers, already tense over Vietnam.

I don't think that's the real reason.

David Eshel argues (item 5) that Nasser wanted to destroy Israel's nuclear reactor - it was a motive for Egyptian invasion, egged on by the Soviet Union. Israel got in first.

But in item 9, Alan Hart quotes General Chaim Herzog: "If Nasser had not been stupid enough to give us a pretext to go to war, we would have created one within a year or 18 months."

Items 6 & 7 provide evidence that Israel's excuse - that it mistook the ship's identity - is wrong. An Israeli Pilot says he recognized the Liberty as American (item 6). The  Liberty's radio frequencies were jammed (item 7) ; these were US frequencies, and Israel would have known that.

Item 8 says that the CIA - through James Angleton - provide intelligence which enabled Israel to locate and destroy the Arab forces. Angleton get a special mention in the BCC documentary - he was honoured by Israel.

In item 9, Alan Hart says that Johnson had given a Green Light to Israel's attack on Egypt - which had the major Soviet-supplied forces in the area - but, not wanting to anger the Soviets too much (lest they intervene), had banned any land attack on Syria or Jordan. Moshe Dayan, however, initiated the latter attack on his own initiative, to capture East Jerusalem and the West Bank (from Jordan) and the Golan Heights (from Syria), as a means to achieve Eretz Israel.

The Liberty had been sent to monitor communications, to verify who was doing what. Dayan, defying an explicit US ban, wanted to stop the Liberty from providing signals intelligence to the US government - which would have elicited a "Stop" order from the US and a UN ceasefire before Israel had established "facts on the ground".

This is the only plausible explanation of Israel's attack. Alan Hart was a journalist on the spot during this war.

One corollary is that Noam Chmosky's account of who dominates whom is absolutely wrong, and that he is absolutely untrustworthy.

(2) BBC video (2002) Dead In The Water - The Sinking of the USS Liberty

Dead In The Water - The Sinking of the USS Liberty
1:08:32

BBC 2002

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3319663041501647311#

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 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 Defence Robert McNamara, former head of the Israeli navy Admiral Shlomo Errell and members of the USS Liberty crew.

(3) Discussion with Israel Shamir: Why did Israel attack the Liberty?

(a) from Shamir

Why did Israel attack the Liberty?

From: info info <info@israelshamir.net> Date: 26.11.2010 06:37 PM

The best explanation I know is that they planned to sink it and to blame it on Egyptians to get the US to support them in the war.

(b) from Peter M.

Israel,

> blame it on Egyptians to get the US
> to support them

But this event happened on about the 3rd day of the war.

They'd already destroyed the Egyptian airforce. Israel had already won the war.

(c) From Shamir:

From: Israel Adam Shamir <info@israelshamir.net> Date: 27.11.2010 12:21 PM
Subject: Re: why did Israel attack the Liberty?

yes but they were afraid of Russian intervention. It was a probable event - Russians began to mobilse volunteers

(4) Review of Operation Cyanide, by Peter Hounam

Operation Cyanide - Peter Hounam

http://www.amazon.com/Operation-Cyanide-Bombing-Liberty-Nearly/dp/1904132197

Operation Cyanide: How the Bombing of the USS Liberty Nearly Caused World War Three [Hardcover]
Peter Hounam

 Peter Hounam reveals that the attack was part of a clandestine plan between the US and Israel known as "Operation Cyanide," designed to ensure victory for Israel in the Middle East. By blaming the attack on the Arab world, retaliation on a grand scale would be justified. ...

On June 8, 1967, the Israelis attacked the USS Liberty, in international waters, 13 miles off the coast of the Sinai Peninsula, and tried to sink it, and kill all 294 American on board the spy ship. The Israelis then falsely claimed it was just a case of "mistaken identity."

However, according to Peter Hounam, the author of the expose', "Operation Cyanide," the murderous Israeli attack was a set up to blame the Egyptians and bring the U.S. into the 1967 war on their side. The Liberty was a "sitting duck" for the Israeli jet planes' missiles and rockets and their torpedo boats. The attack lasted at least 75 minutes, killing 34 brave Americans and wounding 172 others. On first hearing of the Liberty attack by allegedly "unidentified aircraft," the U.S. launched planes from the Sixth Fleet carriers, then located in the Mediterranean, off Crete, armed with nuclear weapons. They were headed for Cairo to retaliate. Only minutes before reaching their target, they were recalled. Why? The Israelis had failed to sink the Liberty! According to Hounam's research, the White House knew within minutes of the Liberty attack, that the perpetrator was really Israel (p. 94). On two separate occasions, the White House recalled aircraft rescue missions for the Liberty. On the last attempt, LBJ told Rear-Admiral Lawrence Geis of the Sixth Fleet, "I WILL NOT EMBARRASS OUR ALLY." The Liberty was then left "dead in the water," without any assistance for over 16 hours.

At pp. 267-268, Hounam said, "Sinking the Liberty and blaming Egypt and the Soviets would have freed Johnson's hand to do almost anything-even to drop an atomic bomb on Cairo. Trouble only arose when the Israel operation failed - and the damned ship stayed afloat." Hounam revealed that within LBJ's hawkish administration, there was shadowy clique that met under the rubric of the "303 Committee." Richard Helms, the late CIA Director, said that entity was, "A device for examining covert operations of any kind and making a judgment on behalf of the President, so he wouldn't be nailed with the thing, if it failed." Out of the "303 Committee," came a project labeled, "Frontlet 615," which was furthered defined as, "A secret political agreement in 1966 by which Israel and the U.S. had vowed to destroy (Egypt's Gamal Abdel) Nasser." The military name for the operation was, "Operation Cyanide." The secrets of our government can kill. ...

The USS Liberty was attacked by unmarked planes and torpedo boats in international waters during the Six Day War between Israel and the Arab States. The attack on the surveillance ship lasted 75 minutes -- 34 men died and 172 were injured. Initially it was thought that either Egypt or the U.S.S.R. was responsible, but astonishingly Israel, the U.S.'s closest ally, said that the planes and boats belonged to them, and that they mistook the ship for an Egyptian vessel -- despite the prominently displayed Stars and Stripes.

This hard-hitting investigation shows that on that day in 1967, the world came closer to all-out nuclear war than ever before -- this incident made the Cuban Missile Crisis seem tame by comparison. Peter Hounam reveals that the attack was part of a clandestine plan between the US and Israel known as "Operation Cyanide," designed to ensure victory for Israel in the Middle East. By blaming the attack on the Arab world, retaliation on a grand scale would be justified.

A massive cover-up has endured to this day -- the attack on the Liberty remains the only maritime incident that has not been investigated by Congress. But many survivors and senior government officials say that the attack was no accident, including Secretary of State at the time, Dean Rusk. Based on interviews with ex-government officers and the examination of official documents, this book answers the following questions: Why did the White House call back rescue planes from helping the Liberty -- twice? What was the CIA's role in this attack? Did LBJ know in advance about the attack? Why did the U.S. government accept Israel's explanation?

This book will shock any reader interested in Middle-East affairs, as it shows that the U.S. was prepared to -sacrifice its men and risk nuclear war to ensure victory for Israel.

(5) 1967 war: Dimona (Israel's nuclear reactor) "played an important but hidden role"

http://defense-update.com/analysis/analysis_120607_sixdayswar.htm

How the Kremlin Manipulated the 1967 War to the Brink of Nuclear Conflict

By David Eshel

"…if Israel produces the atomic bomb then I believe that the only answer to such action would be preventive war. The Arab states will have to take immediate action and liquidate everything that would enable Israel to produce the atomic bomb."

Excerpts from an Interview with President Nasser,
by Iraqi Newsmen, 20 February 1966

Egypt expressed deep concern over the nuclear reactor that Israel was allegedly building near Dimona. After an air battle over the Golan Heights on April 7, 1967, during which six Syrian aircraft were downed, Egypt announced that it was allying itself with Syria.

Thus, on May 15, Egyptian forces entered the Sinai, in violation of the agreement signed in 1957, in the wake of the Sinai War. In addition, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships and ordered UN forces to withdraw from their positions along the border.

Moscow, humbled by the losses of the April air battle, had already goaded its Egyptian ally into greater hostility towards Israel as a way of easing the pressure on Damascus. Soviet officials conjured up imaginary Israeli troop concentrations on Syria's borders, prompting Colonel Nasser to mass his own armies at the Egyptian-Israeli frontline in Sinai. But he even exceeded his mandate from the Soviets when he dismissed the UN's truce-monitoring force in the Sinai Peninsula and mounted a blockade of the Red Sea's Straits of Tiran, denying shipping access to the Israeli port of Eilat.

According to Israel's declared national security policy- Egypt's provocative action called justification for an act of war (casus beli). But by June 1967, the Israelis found themselves increasingly surrounded by superior Soviet-backed forces of the Arab and Islamic world, all of whose leaders were vowing to "throw the Jews into the sea," and the Israelis were considering a first strike, before it was too late. But the Soviets had already orchestrated a strategic plan of their own.

An Egyptian plan to attack Israel codenamed Operation Fajr (Dawn) was set to start effectively at dawn for May 27, 1967. Another plan, which was already shaped jointly in November 1966, by Soviet Marshal Andrei Gretchko and Egyptian Field Marshal Abdel Hakim Amer, was named "Conqueror" and modeled on clear Soviet strategic concepts. A detailed report of the joint-Egyptian-Soviet plan was captured later by the IDF on the Golan Heights from Syrian sources, including Russian language documents. However, for reasons of political constraints, directed by highest authority at the time, these were kept top secret and were only released in part many years later. Indeed, Israel's political cover-up succeeded so well that Kremlin's proven responsibility for the Six-Day War had actually been withheld from the histories of the 1967 conflict until close to its frostiest anniversary!

The story of Moscow's active involvement in the Six Day War and its immediate aftermath, the so-called War of Attrition (June 1968- August 1970) reads like a prefect mystery thriller. It was conducted by all involved with shrewd manipulations, deceipt and deception concocted by the best brains of the intelligence trade, in Moscow, Tel Aviv and Cairo. Moscow's action in 1967 followed a tend in veiled threats, which Premier Nikolai Bulganin had directed at Israel as well as Great Britain and France during the so-called 1956 "Suez Crisis", warning them to halt their activities against Abdul Nasser's Egypt. A few years later, a similar ploy nearly worked during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, only to be averted by a cool-headed John F Kennedy. Now as tension rose once again in the Middle East, The Kremlin, under Andrei Kosygin tried this ruse again, this time against Israel proper.

For decades, it had remained an established consensus among historians, that the Six Day war broke out by a sequence of mistaken accidents and misconceptions, perhaps related to a Soviet perception of Israel's aims against Syria, based on what caused the conflagration over the Jordan headwaters during the early Sixties. But some of the recently published studies of the Six-Day War actually hinted at the fact that the Israeli nuclear dimension played an important but hidden role in the events leading up to the war, but none of the books has focused on this aspect. Layers of ambiguity, secrecy and taboo, in addition to censorship, prevented the story from coming to light. However, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the war, a duo of reporters challenged this "accident theory" offering plausible explanation for the real causes of the war. In their new and well-researched revelations, Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez actually argue that the idea over the Six Day War originated in a scheme by the Soviet Politburo to eliminate Israel's nuclear facility at Dimona, and with it destroy the Jewish nation's strategic aspiration to develop nuclear weapons for its ultimate defense. In their book "Foxbats over Dimona- the Soviets' nuclear gamble in the Six Day War", (Yale University Press) Ginor and Remez argue, however, that rather than become involved directly, the Kremlin devised a complex and shrewd scheme to actually lure the Israelis into starting a war which would then end with a Soviet destructive attack on the Dimona complex.

Perhaps the most startling information in the book concerns Moscow's military preparations during Spring 1967, when the Kremlin prepared a plan, surrounding Israel with an armada of nuclear-armed naval forces in the Mediterranean and even pre-positioning military matériel on land, and training troops nearby with the expectation of using them physically against Israeli targets. No less as an eye opener, is to learn from the team that Soviet photo-reconnaissance MiG-25s (the "Foxbats" of the title) actually overflew the Dimona nuclear reactor shortly before hostilities started, in May 1967. This particular disclosure seems however somewhat surprising, based on the fact, that the the official service year for the first production model of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 (Foxbat) was in 1972. An earlier still experimental version, designated Ye-266 was a Stripped-down MiG-25 prototype used to set several speed and altitude records from 1965 to 1967, could hardly be expected to fly such a dangerous mission over a highly defended strategic target. To the best of available records, no operational aircraft of this type was available in the USSR at the time of the reported recce mission over Dimona. But this fact does not alter their main conclusion, that the Kremlin orchestrated the war for their own strategic reasons.

A book published in Israel, using for the first time IDF documents from the highest level, revealed the concern among the top brass and the political level during the two preceding years about an Egyptian military response to Israeli nuclearization. The top military and government echelons assessed that the nuclear compound in Dimona was a major target for an Egyptian surprise attack, especially if and when Egypt believed Israel was close to producing a nuclear weapon. Two officially recorded (but withheld) high-altitude aerial photography flights over Dimona, on May 17 and 26, were indeed critical for the IDF and the government's understanding of the Egyptians' intentions. Now Ginor and Remez insist, that the Soviets instigated, if not flew these dramatic reconnaissance sorties themselves. Whether these were actually flown by MiG-25 or upgraded versions of the operational MiG-21 remains debatable, but certainly not significant. In fact, about 1966 a new version designated MiG-21RF PFM was put in service as a high altitude interceptor, preceding the MiG-25, which followed only a few years later. The MiG-21RF (NATO: "Fishbed-J") a single-seat tactical reconnaissance version of the MiG-21MF, was recorded flying sorties over Sinai in the early seventies. Another possibility could have been a sortie by the Soviet high altitude, long range strategic reconnaissance aircraft designated Yak-25RV "Mandrake", which could reach 68,000 feet altitude. The Yakovlev Yak-25 was a direct competitor to the American U-2 spy plane and was known throughout the sixties flying reconnaissance sorties in the Middle East.

With Israel's alleged nuclear activities becoming a hot topic in Cairo and Moscow, the Soviet Navy had already deployed some of its nuclear submarines to the Mediterranean in early 1967. One of its captains had received top secret sealed orders to prepare for action, apparently firing missiles at the Israeli shoreline, when ordered directly by the Kremlin. More vessels followed shortly as Moscow offered Cairo a "nuclear umbrella" to safeguard Egypt against an Israeli nuclear weapons capability. Marshal Andrei Antonovich Grechko, the Soviet deputy defense minister, actually had told his Egyptian counterparts in Cairo that the Kremlin had dispatched "destroyers and submarines to the waters near Egypt, some armed with missiles and secret weapons" to help wipe out the Zionists. Thus by the end of May 1967, Soviet amphibious forces were placed on readiness for action aboard of vessels "visiting" Port Said and an air component was placed on alert in the Ukraine, with a small staff group already forward deployed in Egypt.

But then, on June 5th, 1967 the Israeli Defense Forces completely turned the tables on all involved. Instead of the carefully devised offensive scheme jointly prepared by Moscow and Cairo, the IDF attacked with all its might. Preceded by a brilliant deception campaign, which lulled the Arab air forces into total disarray, the Israeli air force, using purely conventional weapons only, destroyed three Arab air forces within hours in a magnificent feat of daring arms, preparing the way for a lightning campaign on the ground, which destroyed all three Arab armies, capturing the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank of Jordan and the Golan height in a mere six days.

The Kremlin leaders were flabbergasted by Israel's daring exploits, in face of their quite open threat to intervene actively on the side of the Arab nations, should Israel attack. Billions of Dollars worth of Soviet-made arms had been seized or destroyed. Years of expensive funding to their Arab clients went down the drain and Soviet prestige was quickly unraveling around the world, especially in the Arab domain. U.S. intelligence was already picking up signs of this fear in the Kremlin. In the President's daily brief on June 9, for example, the CIA informed President Johnson that "the Soviets are finding it hard to conceal their shock over the rapid Egyptian military collapse. An unidentified Soviet official could not understand 'how our intelligence could have been so wrong".

But the Kremlin did not give up that easily yet. Within days the Soviets had recovered and Acting Defense Minister Andrei A. Grechko and KGB Chairman Yuri V. Andropov were already pressing for the immediate dispatch of strong Soviet forces to the Middle East. In their book, Ginor and Remez mention a retired Soviet air force lieutenant named Yuri V. Nastenko confirming years later, that bomber and fighter jets, such as the MiG-21s that were under his command and placed already on highest operational alert on the evening of June 5, 1967, in what he expected in preparation for "real combat." Another Russian officer, Yuri N. Khripunkov, a former Soviet naval commander who was serving on one of 30 Soviet warships that had been moved from the Black Sea southward to the Mediterranean in June 1967, also reported being on stand-by for action against Israeli targets.

But real active Soviet intervention started in earnest during the so-called War of Attrition only one year later. The deployment of Soviet units to Egypt was relatively swift, while still gradual. Organized in the frame of the Operation "Kavkaz", the first units of the Soviet Air Defense Force, the V-PVO started to arrive in Egypt equipped with SA-3 SAMs and early warning radars. A total of three SAM-brigades arrived, one deploying along the Hilwan-Suez axis, another in the Alexandria area, and a third one defending Cairo and two other important bases. The first SAM-site was declared operational by 15 March 1970.

Once these units were in place the V-PVO started deploying manned fighter jet interceptors, flown by specially selected and highly trained pilots. The Russian did not risk any chances against the combat experienced Israeli pilots after their demonstration on June 5th. But Israeli intelligence was not dormant and as soon as the Soviet pilots were operational in Egypt, their radio traffic was monitored and carefully recorded. After losing several F-4 Phantom jets, to Soviet SAMs, the Israeli air force went over to try and confront the Russian pilots in aerial combat. Their chance came on July 30 shortly after midday, when two Phantoms attacked an Egyptian radar site on the Gulf of Suez, escorted by a Mirage III finger-four formation, flying high-cover As expected the Russian pilots took off to engage, scrambling no less than eight new MiG-21MF (J-type). In the dogfight that followed, five MiGs were shot down. Of the Russian pilots only one managed to eject safely, while the remaining four died in the action. It was the last time that Russian pilots engaged Israeli flyers. Soon after, a cease fire was arranged, which more or less held until October 6, 1973 when the Yom Kippur War started.

During 1971 Israeli and US intelligence tracked several Soviet reconnaissance flights over Sinai and southern Israel. Those included suspected MiG-25R Foxbat B versions, which may have overflown the Dimona complex as well. None were intercepted, but one pilot, flying at top speed, to escape interception, which actually wrecked the engines on landing at an Egyptian airfield.

A the end of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Soviets once again threatened Israel with nuclear intervention. With the IDF having crossed the Suez Canal into Egypt and surounding the Egyptian Third Army near Suez, the Russians became alarmed. There were intelligence reports that a Soviet ship allegedly carrying nuclear weapons had docked in Alexandria. Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev threatened on 24 October, airlifting Soviet airborne troops to reinforce the Egyptians, cut off on the eastern side of the Suez Canal. No less than seven Soviet airborne divisions were placed on high alert. This action immediately prompted US President Richard Nixon's counter action with the US military technically placed at DEFCON 3 status. Under this US Pershing I missiles, stationed in West Germany, were also placed on high alert status for immediate action. Once again, the world came on the brink of global nuclear conflict, which luckily was averted at the last moment, when Israel Prime Minister Golda Meir agreed to a cease-fire, relieving the pressure on the Egyptian Third Army.

(6) Assault on the USS Liberty: Israeli Pilot says he recognized the Liberty as American
http://www.washington-report.org/backissues/0693/9306019.htm

June 1993, Page 19

This Month in History

The Assault on the USS Liberty Still Covered Up After 26 Years

By James M. Ennes Jr.

...
Israeli Pilot Speaks Up

Fifteen years after the attack, an Israeli pilot approached Liberty survivors and then held extensive interviews with former Congressman Paul N. (Pete) McCloskey about his role. According to this senior Israeli lead pilot, he recognized the Liberty as American immediately, so informed his headquarters, and was told to ignore the American flag and continue his attack. He refused to do so and returned to base, where he was arrested.

Later, a dual-citizen Israeli major told survivors that he was in an Israeli war room where he heard that pilot's radio report. The attacking pilots and everyone in the Israeli war room knew that they were attacking an American ship, the major said. He recanted the statement only after he received threatening phone calls from Israel.

The pilot's protests also were heard by radio monitors in the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon. Then-U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dwight Porter has confirmed this. Porter told his story to syndicated columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak and offered to submit to further questioning by authorities. Unfortunately, no one in the U.S. government has any interest in hearing these first-person accounts of Israeli treachery.

Key members of the Lyndon Johnson administration have long agreed that this attack was no accident. Perhaps most outspoken is former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Thomas Moorer. "I can never accept the claim that this was a mistaken attack," he insists.

Former Secretary of State Dean Rusk is equally outspoken, calling the attack deliberate in press and radio interviews. Similarly strong language comes from top leaders of the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency (some of whose personnel were among the victims), National Security Council, and from presidential advisers such as Clark Clifford, Joseph Califano and Lucius Battle.

A top-secret analysis of Israel's excuse conducted by the Department of State found Israel's story to be untrue. Yet Israel and its defenders continue to stand by their claim that the attack was a "tragic accident" in which Israel mistook the most modern electronic surveillance vessel in the world for a rusted-out 40-year-old Egyptian horse transport.

Despite the evidence, no U.S. administration has ever found the courage to ever found the courage to defy the Israeli lobby by publicly demanding a proper accounting from Israel. ...

(7) Israel jammed 4 of the Liberty's 5 radio frequencies; these were US frequencies

The following appeared in the Fall, 1995 (Vol 8, No 3) Issue of the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence

The Attack on the Liberty: an "Accident"?

by Reverdy S. Fishel

http://www.uss-liberty.com/2010/05/28/the-attack-on-the-liberty-an-accident/

Although David Rodman's review of The Secret War Against the Jews: How Western Espionage Betrayed the Jewish People, by John Loftus and Mark Aarons, notes some of the serious flaws in that work, his critique contains its own serious flaw that should gall anyone who knows a few basic, uncomplicated facts about Israel's 8 June 1967 attack on the electronic intelligence ship U.S.S. Liberty.

All serious scholarship on the subject accepts Israel's assault as having been perpetrated quite deliberately, but Rodman says that the "most credible" explanation of the attack is that it was an "accident." To see so flagrant a misstatement in IJIC, considering its standards of factuality, is startling. Assault on the Liberty (1980), by James Ennes, a lieutenant who was on the bridge during the attack, was a very big seller; so the facts of the case need not be out of anyone's reach. In fact, Israel's attack on the Liberty was as accidental as Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor.

SCANNING THE SKIES

The U.S. Government had posted the Liberty off the coast of Gaza, in international waters, to monitor developments in the region during the Sixday War. (The Liberty's mission will be discussed in detail below.) At dawn 8 June, Israeli aircraft began reconnoitering the ship, some flying so close that the pilots could clearly be seen, and as low as masthead height, obviously photographing it. This extensive observation lasted seven hours and involved eight separate observations, at about 0600, 0900, 1000, 1030, 1100, and 1130, 1200 and 1215 p.m. U.S. intercept stations twice overheard Israeli pilots reporting that the ship was American. The visibility conditions were perfect; the ship's American flag was flying free and clear in a good breeze.

At 1400 a well coordinated attack by jet aircraft and torpedo boats began. Jets hammered the virtually unarmed ship with cannon and rockets, and napalmed it. Its forward machineguns were wiped out in the first firing pass, and whatever transmitting antennas survived that pass were disabled by the second. Nine minutes into the attack, crewmen juryrigged a transmitter to an antenna. But the radiomen discovered that four out of five of the ship's radio frequencies, including the international distress frequency, were being jammed. Ironically, the only time Liberty could transmit was while the jets were firing their missiles. A frantic cry for help was sent to the Sixth Fleet, only 400 miles away and off Crete; despite the Israeli jamming, the Liberty's plea for assistance was received. The patchwork transmitting arrangement ceased functioning soon afterward.

Torpedo boats soon arrived and continued the attack, firing five torpedoes, with one hitting and killing 25 men. They then leisurely circled the defenseless ship for 40 minutes, pumping hundreds of 40mm, 20mm, and 50cal. rounds at wounded men on deck, stretcher bearers and fire fighters. Thinking the ship was about to sink, the crew threw life rafts over the side; the attackers machinegunned those too. With increased radio activity from the U.S. Sixth Fleet indicating an impending U.S. response (many of the Fleet's messages bore "Flash" precedence), the Israelis suddenly contacted the U.S. embassy and informed it of this "accident." It was probably the longest "accidental" attack in the history of naval warfare an hour and 15 minutes.

Two separate flights of jets from the carriers America and Saratoga were recalled by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, the first flight probably because Washington was not absolutely certain of the attackers' identity and was leery of starting a war with the Russians if they were the guilty party. The second flight was recalled after receipt of the Israeli xplanation.

MORE EVIDENCE OF GUILT

In addition to the abovementioned circumstances which show that Israel's attack was deliberate the lengthy and careful surveillance, the radio jamming, etc. numerous other details belie Israel's professed innocence. They include: * The Israelis initially claimed they had "mistaken" the Liberty for the Egyptian ship El Quseir. But the El Quseir was only 40 percent the size of Liberty (4000 vs. 10,400 tons). The El Quseir was an old, rustedout horse transport that bore about as much resemblance to the Liberty as a rusty VW does to a new Cadillac. The Liberty was arrayed with numerous specialized antennas, and an ultramodern (for 1967) 16foot microwave dish, a device possessed by no other ship in the world except her sister ship Belmont. She bore standard U.S. Navy markings, which included a freshly painted 10foothigh hull number, and Liberty on the stern.

* The radio jamming is by itself damning evidence that the assailants knew exactly whom they were attacking. Such jamming requires intimate advance knowledge of the target being jammed, obtained by extended monitoring of its signals. And this was selective jamming; it struck Liberty's frequencies and no others.

Afterward, in one of their ever changing explanations, the Israelis claimed to have learned the ship's identity when they heard its distress signals. But the attack continued for sixty six minutes after the first distress signal, which the Israelis had jammed, was sent. Had this particular Israeli claim been true, they would have recalled the torpedo boats before they even reached the ship.

* The Israelis claimed that the ship's U.S. flag hung limp because there was no wind. Later, when presented with the fact that the flag had been perfectly visible, they claimed that they thought that the ship was an enemy vessel flying false colors. The extended radio monitoring, exposing considerable advance investigation of Liberty's communication facilities, refutes this claim.

* The Israelis claimed that the torpedo boats, after first sighting the ship, had called in the aircraft to attack after the ship refused to identify itself. This is an obvious lie, because the attack was clearly a preplanned and well coordinated onetwo punch employing different branches of the Israeli Defense Forces. The jets were already intent on attacking the ship before the Liberty came into the torpedo boats' radar range. Directly contradicting themselves, the Israelis later claimed that their aircraft had called in the torpedo boats.

* The Israelis eventually admitted that before the attack, their commanders had compared reconnaissance photos of the Liberty with Jane's Fighting Ships. But they claimed that before the attack they twice telephoned the U.S. naval attache in Tel Aviv inquiring whether the Liberty was a U.S. ship and were told that there were no U.S. Navy ships in the area. They claimed that having received a negative reply, they decided that the ship had to be the El Quseir. However, the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, and later the naval attache, emphatically stated that no such inquiries were made. The Israelis not only knew the ship's nationality and that she was an "ELINT" ship; they also knew she was the Liberty herself.

* Immediately preceding the attack, an Israeli pilot recognized Liberty as a U.S. ship and radioed this information to IDF headquarters. He was instructed to attack anyway. This dialogue was intercepted at the U.S. embassy in Beirut. Former U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dwight Porter revealed the existence of this intercept in 1991.

* Finally, there is evidence, circumstantial but clear, of a relationship between the attack on the Liberty and a postponement of Israel's planned attack on the Golan Heights. The Golan attack was scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on 8 June; the Liberty was spotted by 6 a.m. or earlier; lastminute orders delayed the Golan attack; the Liberty was put out of commission; and the Golan attack occurred shortly thereafter. The vaunted IDF made very few mistakes in that war.

After the attack Secretary of State Dean Rusk recommended a strong response, and Presidential Counselor Clark Clifford advised President Johnson to treat Israel in the same manner as the U.S. would treat the Soviets or the Arabs if they had committed the atrocity. The U.S. would certainly not have taken this insult in silence had the offender been any country but Israel. But President Johnson stoically accepted Israel's explanation. The Navy conducted a Court of Inquiry, which ignored and even suppressed testimony that the attack had been deliberate; it dealt only with the actions and performance of the Liberty crew. State Department legal advisor Carl Salans performed an assessment of Israel's official explanation; with only the Navy's highly incomplete and erroneous preliminary investigation to go on, he thoroughly discredited the Israeli Government's claims of innocent error. The logical next step was to confront the Israelis with his findings, but that was not done. The U.S. Government's inaction was completely out of keeping with the outrageousness of the attack.

What was Israel's motive for this act? The scheduling of the Israeli assault on the Golan Heights for 8 June was a move to defeat an intense effort in the United Nations to halt the war, a ceasefire having been scheduled for 9 June. Such pressure was also being applied by the U.S. Government. The IDF leaders were under pressure to acquire the Golan before the ceasefire was imposed, preferably without being labeled the aggressor (as in 1956 when Israel had colluded with Britain and France to attack Egypt). But with all the pressure to attack Syria, and after all the hurried preparations to do so, the Golan attack was suddenly called off within hours of its scheduled commencement. Why? Obviously, someone in the IDF leadership feared the Liberty might intercept some of the many signals then filling the air that would expose Israel's preparations for invasion. They might then be forced into a ceasefire before they conquered the coveted territory.

THE LOFTUS AND AARONS BOOK

Loftus and Aarons's book, the subject of Rodman's critique, is a collection of preposterous and demonstrably false theories and allegations. With regard to the Liberty attack, the only significant detail they get right is that it was deliberate, but they actually make the ludicrous statement that Israel's attack was justified because "the Liberty was gathering electronic information on Israeli troop movements and sending it to British intelligence, which in turn relayed it to the Arabs." Not only does this statement lack any genuine authentication, it also betrays a conspiracymindedness that makes all their other concoctions suspicious. Another claim born of this same freeranging inventiveness is that "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."

Other ridiculous claims:

* "Civilian 'spies' of the National Security Agency (NSA)" had wrested control of i.e. hijacked the Liberty from the U.S. military and the Joint Chiefs of Staff; "Commander McGonagle [Liberty's skipper] did not know it at the time, but the real masters of his ship were the civilian spies of the NSA." That U.S. ELINT ships' collection assignments were drawn up at NSA is well known; it is not the big secret that the authors make it. They state that only an individual known as an NSA "Major" and two others "had access to the supersensitive communications areas" on the ship, where in reality well over 100 men worked. The individual they refer to was Allan Blue, a 23yearold Arabic linguist, who was killed. Blue was a GS7 a relatively low level civilian NSA employee, not a "major"; and NSA certainly does not confer military rank.

* "The Israelis tried to jam the ship's frequencies, to no effect. The Liberty's equipment was much too sophisticated to be stopped in that fashion." Anyone who wants to believe this statement should ask the American radiomen who were desperately trying to find an open frequency with which to alert their potential rescuers, while their comrades were falling dead around them.

* Liberty "was there to spy on the Jews. That was its only mission." Had this been the case, Hebrew linguists would have been aboard; there were none. There were at least four Russian and three Arabic linguists aboard, however; that indicates the ship's intelligence targeting. Additionally, Ennes has recently disclosed that a special tasking of the ship, apart from gathering all the information on every party it could, was to determine if TU95 "BEAR" Bombers of the Egyptian Air Force were controlled and flown by Soviets. Ennes also says that "at least two men recall that their orders were to concentrate on Soviet intercepts and to ignore any Israeli signals they happened to hear. The order was 'Note the signal and, if it is Israeli, drop it.'"

Loftus and Aarons's other falsities concerning the Liberty incident let alone those included in the rest of their work are far too numerous to mention here. They continually cite unidentified sources "confidential interviews" of "former CIA officer[s]" and "former NSA employee[s]," etc; thus they are free to invent whatever suits them. Yet Rodman says this work "deserves to be taken seriously." They allege "a massive espionage campaign against Jewry and Israel by western intelligence agencies," and claim that these agencies "aided Arab armies during the many ArabIsraeli wars." Rodman terms this work "an important subject that has thus far not received its due."

A QUESTION OF MOTIVATION

Rodman's treatment of the Liberty attack resembles the accounts put forth by the Israeli Government. He repeats Israel's obviously false initial explanation of mistaken identity, stating that the Liberty was "roughly the same size and shape" as the El Quseir. He admits to some knowledge of the arguments regarding the deliberateness of the attack mentioned above; therefore he cannot claim innocence, but he states that those who maintain that the attack was deliberate "are unable to present incontrovertible evidence" of their claim. He would have us believe that "Until proved otherwise, the official explanation remains the most credible." The only official explanations, apart from the ever changing ones presented by Israel, are the seriously incomplete Navy inquiry and the Salans report, which fails to address much of the evidence described above. These lack authority because of those flaws. But while the U.S. Government has never officially examined most of the above circumstances or admitted that Israel's attack was deliberate, it also has never accepted the Israeli claim that the attack was in error. Liberty survivors have presented voluminous evidence of Israel's guilt to the U.S. Congress and have requested an investigation, but without success.

As to the motivation for the attack, Rodman omits the oftmentioned theory concerning the Golan invasion presented above, which is plausible, probable, and damning. However, he states that "many unofficial accounts of the incident assert that the attack was deliberate, part of a devious Israeli plot." The many "unofficial" accounts that assert Israel's guilt have been provided by persons of such stature and reputation as Dr. Louis Tordella, NSA's Deputy Director in 1967, who termed one of Israel's explanations "a nice whitewash"; a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Thomas Moorer; former Secretary of State Dean Rusk; and Liberty survivors.

One of Rodman's errors is of a different nature: he frequently misuses the term antisemitic. Semites are descendants of Shem Jews and Arabs. Rodman even applies the term antisemite to Saudi King Ibn Saud, himself a semite. Liberty survivors, some of them Jewish, have been given this label simply for calling attention to Israel's attack, as are many other people who criticize the Israeli Government. Rodman states that the Liberty attack caused "some" loss of life. Thirtyfour Americans killed, 171 wounded 205 purple hearts out of a crew of 293. Some casualties indeed.

Note on sources: Ennes's Assault on the Liberty, is out of print, but autographed copies with updating enclosures are available through Terry's Book Store, P.O. Box 789, Woodinville, WA, 98072, for $20. A more recent study, also definitive, is John Borne's book, The USS Liberty: Dissenting History vs. Official History. Borne's work is especially valuable for findings that have turned up in the years since Ennes's book came out. It is available by writing to AET, PO Box 53062, Washington, D.C., 20009, for $13.95. Numerous survivors' accounts and official documents are in the author's possession, such as the "Israeli Preliminary Inquiry 1/67," otherwise known as the "Yerushalami Report,"; the State Department's "Salans Report;" the report of the U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry, and State Department telegrams. The Liberty literature also includes numerous articles in such periodicals as the Naval Law Review and Middle East Policy.

Two other books are devoted to the attack: Conspiracy of Silence and Pearl Harbour II; both contain many serious factual errors and outlandish claims, the latter being the source of the "NSA Major" myth that is repeated by Loftus and Aarons. Warriors For Jerusalem by Donald Neff, provides a good account of the UN proceedings dealing with the Sixday War and of the Israeli Syrian conflict during that period.

Statement by survivor John Hrankowski:

We had been surveilled all morning and part of the afternoon by Israeli forces. They knew who we were. We heard them reporting over radio who we were and how we were sailing and where we were sailing. They saw the flag and everything else. We were in international waters.

At 2:00 the action started when we had just completed a general quarters drill. I had just come out or the engine room to get some fresh air when the firing started. That's when I took my shrapnel hit, nothing fantastic but pieces of shrapnel. I went back to the boiler room and prepared to start lighting off number one boiler to get steam to get out of there.

This persisted for probably 25 or 35 minutes with the aircraft rocketing us and hitting us with everything they had, napalm and cannon fire and after that there was a comparatively small lull. We heard that they were getting hit all over the place and we could see the torpedo boats moving in and firing torpedoes at us, and then one hit and put a 40 foot hole in the side of the ship and knocked all power off.

By that time the ship's interior was blackened, you couldn't see anything except with battle lanterns. We were still in the process of lighting off the boiler and trying to head the ship out to see. The ship was listing and we got the word to prepare to abandon ship. We were ordered by Lieutenant Golden who was in charge in the engine room to exit, and the last one out of there was myself, and I had to cut off the boilers' fuel supply. I was the last one.

We got outside at the main battle dressing station where a lot of injuries were. We were just about to go topside when we heard a lot of shots and canon fire and machine gun fire. Evidently they were trying to pick off people who were fighting fires and trying to put life rafts in the water. They were picking these people off with machine guns. We were told, I didn't see them, but we were told that they were shooting up the life rafts that were in the water, so needless to say they weren't going to take survivors at all.

And so we headed back to our spaces and did not abandon ship. We stayed with it. And it continued probably for another 40 minutes with them shooting and finally after seeing that the ship was not going to sink they grabbed one of the life rafts and they exited the scene. And through that, the helicopters had come over loaded with Israeli troops.

This lasted almost two hours and finally we got the ship turned around and boilers lit off and headed out to sea.

We also heard that nine minutes into the attack we had reached a message to the Sixth Fleet and they were on their way with aircraft to help us. Little did we know until afterwards that three sets of aircraft were turned back.

To be lied to is the supreme insult, it carries the implication that you are stupid enough to be misled and manipulated, thereby affirming the liars own superiority. To be successfully lied to confirms it. {NLE}

( Israel officially states the attack on the USS Liberty was accidental. Ask your congressman if he believes the attack on the USS Liberty was accidental, or deliberate. Join the call for a congressional investigation. {NLE})

(8) CIA intelligence in 1967 war enabled Israeli victory (via James Angleton)

http://www.mail-archive.com/ctrl@listserv.aol.com/msg74080.html

USS Liberty - The Real CIA Story

Aleisha Saba
Thu, 09 Aug 2001 13:41:17 -0700

CIA Secretly Helped Israelis Quickly Win 1967 War

MID-EAST REALITIES © - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 8/09:

http://www.middleeast.org/premium/read.cgi?category=Magazine&standalone=&num=331&month=8&year=2001&function=text

The real questions -- and answers -- have been avoided for a very long time by the American Government ...

Did the Israelis purposefully attack, trying to quickly sink and kill all on board so no one would be around to tell what really happened and so Israeli plans to expand the war beyond what had been agreed to with the Americans would not be known? Quite clearly yes, especially when one takes into account that the Liberty ship had been closely observed and monitored for many hours before the attack on that bright clear day, and that the first thing the Israelis attempted to knock out was the ship's communications capabilities.

But why did the White House so quickly and so urgently order the Sixth Fleet fighter planes that had launched to protect the Liberty immediately back to ship? That's really the key question whose answer can begin to unravel the real mystery. And the answer according to actual participants we have spoken with and our own investigations over the years seems to go something like this.

The Pentagon immediately launched planes to protect the USS Liberty and was in the process of making plans to attack Israeli ships in Haifa, the port where the torpedo boats came from -- the military top brass was furious! As the attack proceeded however, President Lyndon Johnson got an urgent call from the infamous James Angleton at the CIA; and this is what then led the President to personally intervene through Defense Secretary Robet McNamara to urgently recall the planes, thus leaving the Liberty on its own. The likely reason Johnson did so was that Angleton informed him that the CIA not only knew very well what the Israelis were doing but had in fact provided the Israelis with a secret team of photo intelligence experts -- taking the small select group from U.S. bases in Ramstein Germany and Rota Spain. It was this clandestine American intervention in fact -- CIA orchestrated in close coodination with Israel's Mossad and using out-of-uniform American military personnel and unmarked American planes -- that gave the Israelis the intelligence capabilities they urgently needed to determine just where the Arab armies were and how and when best to hit them. Without this direct clandestine American help the Israelis could never so confidently have known how and where to deploy their own forces and the war would not have ended as it did with such a massive and overwhelming Israeli victory that very much changed the history of the region.

 But don't expect all of this to be dealt with in tonight's very late in the day and we are told quite incomplete documentary -- which incidentally at least at the moment is scheduled to be shown a number of times during this summer vacation month of August. The CIA coverup remains very much top secret ultra. After all, if the Arabs became aware that clandestine American military planes and personnel working under deep CIA cover actually helped the Israelis win their "lightning victory" in 1967 -- they were stationed by the way at a secret Negev base -- the direct complicity of the U.S. in the occupation of Arab territories and all that has transpired since would be far more blatant than it already is.

{Comment (Peter M.): This does not explain the attack on the Liberty. But Alan Hart does}

(9) Israel attacked the USS Liberty to circumvent ban on attacking Syria, Jordan - Alan Hart

Why, Really, Was The USS Liberty Attacked By Israel?

The following is my keynote address to the annual re-union dinner of the Liberty Veterans' Association – Long Island, 12 June 2010.

By Alan Hart

19 June, 2010
Alanhart.net

http://www.uss-liberty.com/2010/06/20/why-really-was-the-uss-liberty-attacked-by-israel/

I want to begin by saying that though I covered wars wherever they were taking place ...

Now to my explanation of why, really, the Liberty was attacked. I'm going to follow this with some thoughts about why the truth has to be given its necessary context and handled with great care.

I'll start by telling you where I was on Thursday 8 June 1967. I was in the Sinai desert. I was the first Western correspondent to the banks of the Suez Canal with the advancing Israelis. On reflection some years later, I realised that what I witnessed in the desert, well out of sight and sound of the attack on the Liberty, was a key to understanding why America's most advanced and sophisticated spy-ship (perhaps I should say intelligence-gathering platform) was attacked. I'll come to what I witnessed in a moment.

First, and to provide some context to assist complete understanding, I must summarise very briefly the whole truth about that particular war. By elements in the mainstream media which peddle Zionist propaganda, and other elements of it which are terrified of offending Zionism either too much or at all, the Western world was conditioned to believe that Israel went to war because it was in danger of annihilation – "the driving in the sea of its Jews".

Zionism's first assertion was that the Arabs started the war by attacking Israel. Zionism's second story was that the Arabs were intending to attack and that in the name of self-defense, Israel had no option but to launch a pre-emptive strike because its very survival was at stake. Both those stories were big, fat, propaganda lies. The Arabs did not attack and were not intending to attack. It was a war of Israeli choice and aggression.

If that was only my Gentile view, it could be dismissed by supporters of Israel right or wrong as an alleged manifestation of anti-Semitism. But let me now tell you this. The forthcoming Volume 3 of my book begins with the longest chapter in the entire work. It's titled America Takes Sides, War With Nasser Act II; and the Creation of a Greater Israel. In this chapter I name and quote a number of Israel's political and military leaders of the time who, years after the war in most cases, admitted the truth. There isn't time this evening for me to name and quote them all, but here to make the point are four:

> In an interview published in Le Monde on 28 February 1968, Israeli Chief of Staff Rabin said: "I do not believe that Nasser wanted war. The two divisions which he sent into Sinai on 14 May would not have been enough to unleash an offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew it."

> On 14 April 1971, a report in the Israeli newspaper Al-Hamishmar contained the following statement by Mordecai Bentov, a member of the wartime national government. "The entire story of the danger of extermination was invented in every detail and exaggerated a posteriori to justify the annexation of new Arab territory."

> In the spring of 1972, General Peled, Chief of Logistical Command during the war and one of 12 members of Israel's General Staff, addressed a political literary club in Tel Aviv. He said: "The thesis according to which the danger of genocide hung over us in June 1967, and according to which Israel was fighting for her very physical survival, was nothing but a bluff which was born and bred after the war." In a radio debate Peled said: "Israel was never in real danger and there was no evidence that Egypt had any intention of attacking Israel." He added, "Israeli intelligence knew that Egypt was not prepared for war."

> In 1982, Prime Minister Begin, arguably the world's most successful terrorist leader, went even further. He said : "In June 1967 we had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches did not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us, We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him."

When I was writing the chapter on the 1967 war, I found myself saying to my readers that there were times, this was one of them, when I wanted to "cry out with the pain of knowing how much Israel's Jews (not to mention the whole of the Western world) had been deceived, lied to, by their leaders".

In passing I'll tell you why I was well informed in my television reporting days about what was happening behind closed doors in Israel. One of my sources, my deep-throat, was General Chaim Herzog, a founding father of Israel's Directorate of Military Intelligence. (He went on to become Israel's ambassador to the UN and eventually the state's president). On the second day of the war, when he was advising me on the best route into the Sinai to catch up with the advancing Israelis, he said to me: "If Nasser had not been stupid enough to give us a pretext to go to war, we would have created one within a year or 18 months."

Another summary truth about what happened in June 1967 is that there would NOT have been a war if Israel's prime minister, the much maligned Levi Eshkol, and his Chief of Staff, General Yitzhak Rabin, had had their way. After Eygpt's President Nasser had closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, they wanted only a limited military operation – to satisfy Israeli public opinion and, most of all, to put pressure on America to lead the international community in delivering on a promise President Eisenhower had made – that in the event of Eygpt closing the Straits of Tiran, the "society of nations" would be mobilized to cause the Straits to be re-opened by all means short of war. That was what Nasser was hoping would happen. For reasons of face, he needed to be able to say to the Arab world, "I backed down because of international pressure."

So why didn't Prime Minister Eshkol and Chief of Staff Rabin have their way?

The short answer is that in Israel the week before the war there was what amounted to a MILITARY COUP in all but name and without a shot being fired.

The best journalists have their brains not up here in their heads, but down here in their guts. From early May, my gut instincts were telling me that war was inevitable, and I persuaded my editor-in-chief at ITN (Independent Television News) to let me go to Israel with a film crew to report on the countdown to it. In those weeks I witnessed Israel's military and political hawks rubbishing Prime Minister Eshkol. They were painting him as indecisive, weak and frightened to confront Nasser. Their objective was to create a crisis of confidence in his leadership ,in the hope that he would be forced to resign. When that didn't happen, the generals demanded that Eshkol, who was both PM and Defense Minister, surrender his Defense Portfolio and give it to Israel's one-eyed warlord and master of deception, General Moshe Dayan. And that's what happened on Thursday 1 June, when a government of National Unity came into being. It was then inevitable that Israel would go to war in a matter of days. I actually predicted that it would do so on the morning of Monday 5 June.

Defense Minister Dayan (whom I knew quite well) was a law unto himself and had plans that went far beyond the war aim on which all of Israel's generals were agreed. It was the total destruction of Eygpt's Soviet supplied military equipment – planes, missiles, artillery, tanks, the lot. (For further background I have to tell you that Nasser had not wanted to be armed by the Soviet Union. He wanted America to be his arms supplier, and it was only when America refused that he turned in despair to the Soviet Union. Also true is that Nasser didn't want an upgraded military for the purpose of initiating war with Israel. He wanted Eygpt to be well enough armed to be able to demonstrate to Israel that attacking Eygpt to impose Zionism's will on it would not be a cost free option).

The key to understanding WHY Dayan ordered the attack on the Liberty is in President Johnson's pre-war understanding with Israel's generals. Probably through Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, Johnson gave Israel's generals the greenlight for war with Eygpt. But it was, effectively, a CONDITIONAL GREENLIGHT. On no account was Israel to widen the war the purpose of grabbing Jordanian and/or Syrian territory.

Dayan intended to do just that if and as the opportunity arose, but he had a problem. He knew, as all of Israel's generals and politicians knew, that although they had Johnson's greenlight to attack Eygpt, they would have only three or four days of complete freedom to act. Why? Because by the end of the third or fourth day, the Johnson administration would have to go along with a Security Council Resolution demanding an end to the fighting.

To guarantee that Israel could complete the job on the Egyptian front in a race against the diplomatic time clock, Dayan had to assign the bulk of Israel's armour, including elements of it that would be needed for an extended war on the Jordanian and Syrian fronts, to the Sinai.

Now to the significance of what I witnessed in the Sinai on the afternoon of Thursday 8 June when (unknown to me at the time) the Liberty had been silenced…. Scores of Israeli tanks and armoured personnel carriers, which had blitzkrieged their way through the Sinai sand, were being loaded onto huge lorries with trailers for transportation to the north, and re-deployment to the Jordanian and Syrian fronts. The orders for this re-deployment were coming by radio from Dayan's staff at the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv.

This takes us to what the Liberty's mission was.

It was assigned to listen to all of Israel's military communications because some in the highest levels of American military and political decision-making did not trust the Israelis to keep their word about not extending the war to take chunks of Jordanian and Syrian territory, to create a Greater Israel of Zionism's mad dream.

The biggest fear of those who didn't trust Israel was the possible consequence of an Israeli attack on Syria, which had also been armed by the Soviet Union. The reasoning behind the fear went something like this. Soviet leaders almost certainly could and would live with the humiliating defeat of their Egyptian client, but for reasons of face they might not be able to live with the humiliating defeat of their Syrian client also. And that raised at least the possibility – if Israel attacked Syria – of Soviet military intervention, leading to the Cold War going Hot. (And this at a time when American forces were getting bogged down in an unwinnable war in Vietnam).

The idea behind the Liberty's deployment was that if it picked up messages indicating that Israel was re-deploying from the Sinai to launch major offensives in the north, and against Syria in particular, the evidence of Israeli intent and duplicity would be passed to Johnson, and that he would then pick up the ‘phone to Prime Eshkol and say something like: "We know what your generals are up to. You must order them to stop, and if you don't or can't, I will."

Simply stated, the Liberty was on station as the Johnson administration's insurance policy. It's main mission was to prevent Israel going to war with Syria and possibly provoking a U.S-Soviet confrontation.

Dayan ordered the attack on the Liberty to prevent it giving the Johnson administration early warning of his intentions to extend the war.

As it happened, Israel's last land grab of the war – the taking for keeping of the Syrian Golan Heights – DID provoke the threat of Soviet military intervention. For some hours there was the prospect of a superpower confrontation and possibly World War III. But at the brink, catastrophe was averted by use of the White House-Kremlin hot line.

Of all the evidence indicating that Dayan didn't want any of the Liberty's crew to live to tell the story, the most compelling in my view is the use of NAPALM during the attack. In Vietnam I saw what napalm can do. It reduces targeted human bodies to small piles of squelchy, black pulp.

So far as I am aware, the only honest piece of reporting in the American media in the immediate aftermarth of the attack was on 19 June in Newsweek's "Periscope" section. A small item in that read as follows:

"Although Israel's apologies were officially accepted, some high Washington officials believe the Israelis knew the Liberty's capabilities and suspect that the attack might not have been accidental. One top-level theory holds that someone in the Israeli armed forces ordered the Liberty sunk because he suspected it had taken down messages showing that Israel started the fighting."

One could salute Newsweek's brief moment of courage, but in one important respect the item was very wide of the mark. Everybody in Washington's war-loop who needed to know did know that Israel had started the war and that President Johnson had given it the greenlight to do so.

For many years there has been speculation that an Israeli general opposed Dayan's decision to attack the Liberty and said it would amount to "Pure murder"? Who was that general? I think I know.

Despite the fact that in his own memoirs he went along with the fiction that Israeli pilots failed to identify the Liberty as a U.S. ship and that the attack was a tragic mistake, I think it was, very probably, Chief of Staff Rabin – the Israeli leader who, many years later as prime minister, was stopped from advancing the peace process with Arafat and his PLO by a Zionist assassin. In the time available to me this evening, I'll give you just one reason of several why I'm convinced it was Rabin who opposed Dayan.

When the Liberty was being attacked, the insider gossip in Israel was that Rabin had "lost his nerve… cracked under the pressure… was drinking heavily… was under the table… a disgrace." I first heard this gossip from Israeli friends I knew to be very, very close to Dayan. It was then former DMI Herzog who confirmed to me that such rumours were rife. In retrospect I think the gossip was inspired by Dayan to give him scope to discredit Rabin if the need arose – if he so much as hinted to anybody outside the command circle that he had tried to prevent the attack on the Liberty. (Could it not be said that the idea of attacking the Liberty was enough to drive any rational human being, even an Israeli general, to drink?) The idea that Rabin might have been tempted to make trouble for Dayan was not unthinkable if he shared – and he probably did – Eshkol's private view of Israel's one-eyed warlord.

When the prime minister learned that Dayan had ordered the attack on Syria without consulting or informing himself or Chief of Staff Rabin, he thought about cancelling the order and said of Dayan, to his aide-de-camp, "What a vile man." (That quotation was unearthed by Avi Shlaim, one of Israel's leading "revisionist", which means honest, historians). What could have made Eshkol resort to such extraordinary language? My guess is that use of the adjective "vile" reflected most of all the prime minister's horror at Dayan's ordering of the attack on the Liberty.

Who was it who described Thursday 8 June 1967 as a "Great Day"?

That evening Egypt's President sent the following message to his Syrian counterpart:

"I believe that Israel is about to concentrate all of its forces against Syria in order to destroy the Syrian army, and regard for the common cause obliges me to advise you to agree to the ending of hostilities and to inform U Thant (UN Secretary General) immediately, in order to preserve Syria's great army. We have lost this battle. May God help us in the future. Your brother, Gamal Abdul Nasser."

That Nasser message, no doubt like all others, was intercepted by Israeli military intelligence. In the margin of a copy of it, Dayan scribbled the following note:

"Eshkol,

1. In my opinion this cable obliges us to capture maximal military lines.

2. Yesterday I did not think Egypt and Syria would collapse in this way and give up the continuation of the campaign. But since this is the situation, it must be exploited to the full.

A GREAT DAY. Moshe Dayan."

The Syrian leadership took Nasser's advice and announced its acceptance of the cease-fire. It came into effect at 0520 hours the following morning, Friday 9 June. So far as the Arabs and the organised international community represented by the UN were concerned, the war was over…. Six hours and ten minutes later, the IDF invaded Syria. Dayan had postponed the attack to allow for the redeployment of IDF units from Sinai – a redeployment that might not have been possible, Dayan had believed, if the Liberty was allowed to go on listening to IDF movement orders.

I end my chapter on this Israeli war crime with this sentence:

The lesson of the cold-blooded attack on the Liberty was that there is nothing the Zionist state might not do, to its friends as well as its enemies, in order to get its own way. ...

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