We realize this blog is long today, but we concluded it was best to the keep the timeline for all of June 8 and June 9, 1967 together. For anyone attempting to understand the events of the USS Liberty Incident, a cohesive timeline is crucial. For background, see Holmes’ previous article, Spy Ships–Behind the USS Liberty Incident.
Bare Facts of the USS Liberty Incident
By Intelligence Operative Jay Holmes*
USS Liberty, image from US Navy
As the sun rose over the Middle East on the morning of June 8, 1967, the fortunes of Israel seemed much improved as compared to a week earlier. Before the sun set again, the relationship between Israel and the United States was changed forever.
The Egyptian and Jordanian armies were in shambles. The Syrian, Egyptian, and Jordanian air forces were almost completely destroyed. Israel had captured Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Sinai Desert, and the Gaza Strip. The Israeli war cabinet was debating whether or not to invade the Syrian Golan Heights.
The Israeli Command Room remained busy trying to keep an accurate picture of its force dispositions and the locations and intentions of military units in the theater of combat. For five days, the updates to the main map table had been almost completely favorable to the Israeli military.
Not having been in that room and not having any reliable sources who were in that room, I can only guess that the tension preceding the war and any anxiety in its early hours was gradually replaced by relief and confidence as the markers representing various Egyptian and Jordanian army units were removed from the map table.
Many individuals from many nations played a part in the events leading up to the attack on the USS Liberty. Times of events were recorded in a variety of time zones. For our purposes, I will use 24 hour “Zulu” time. US military communications are generally logged in “Zulu” or what Englishmen call Greenwich Mean Time.
A timeline of the sequence of events on June 8, 1967 is critical for any honest person wishing to gain an understanding of the attack on the USS Liberty. It’s also necessary for any attempt to guess at Israeli intentions or to make a judgment about theories surrounding that day.
June 8, 1967
The US Joint Chiefs of Staff release a top secret written “standoff” message to the Army Communications Center ordering the USS Liberty to remain at least one hundred miles from the coasts of Egypt, Israel, and Syria. It is meant for transmission to the US Commander of US Forces in Europe. We will call this message “080110Z.”
The Israeli Air Force launches a routine dawn reconnaissance flight to patrol her coastal area.
Message 080110Z, now encrypted, is transmitted to the US Commander of European Forces, US General Lemnitzer. The Message is received and decoded.
The Commander of US Naval Forces Europe, Admiral John McCain, receives Message 080110Z.
Apparently, some people are confused about which John McCain was in command of our US Naval Forces in Europe in 1967. At the time, Senator John McCain was in a POW camp in Hanoi, North Vietnam so I find it a bit odd that a few people mistakenly associate him with the attack on the USS Liberty.
Ensign J.D. Scott has the deck watch on the USS Liberty. He observes a “flying boxcar” aircraft circling off the port beam of the ship. He is unable to see any identifying marks on the plane with his binoculars.
Israeli Naval Headquarters in Haifa receives a message from the “flying boxcar” that a ship that might be a destroyer is sailing toward Gaza on compass heading 120 degrees True. The Command Room staff designates the USS Liberty as a “skunk” (unknown) and places a red marker for it on the map table.
At the same time, the Army Communications Center in the Pentagon transmits the 080110Z standoff message to the USS Liberty and to the Sixth Fleet. The Liberty does not receive the message.
The Israeli Navy orders Motor Torpedo Boats (“MTB’s”) to standby to put to sea.
The Israeli Navy receives a message from their “flying boxcar” updating the contact with the USS Liberty as a “US supply ship.”
If Israeli Intelligence had already received information about the previous US standoff orders sent to Sixth Fleet and the new message intended for the USS Liberty, they may have wondered why a US Navy supply ship was in the area. What, if any, information Israeli Intelligence received from inside the Pentagon at the time is unknown to me, and the Israelis are not going to tell me or anyone else. I can only wonder.
We do know that the Walker Spy Ring did not deliver Navy encryption information to the Soviets until the following year. I am guessing that the Israeli spies inside of the Soviet system were not yet picking up Soviet intercepts of US Navy traffic.
USS Liberty takes a westerly heading when she turns to course 259 degrees True.
USS Liberty reports being orbited by two delta wing aircraft. They are too far away for identification.
Israeli Navy Commander Admiral Erell is informed that the 0350Z contact is still designated as a “skunk” with a red marker. He orders the marker changed to green for neutral.
An Israeli Air Force air controller receives a message from a pilot that he was fired on by a ship near El Arish. The Israeli Navy dispatches two destroyers to the area to search for Egyptian warships.
The USS Liberty reduces speed to five knots to “loiter” off the Egyptian coast in international waters.
After the “fired upon” Israeli pilot lands and is questioned, the Israeli Air Force is not convinced that he was fired on by a ship at all. The pilot’s description of the ship fits that of the USS Liberty. The Israeli destroyers are ordered to reverse course back to their original patrol area further north and further away from the Liberty’s position.
After the “flying boxcar” patrol craft lands and the crew is debriefed, the Israeli Naval Intelligence informs the Israeli Navy HQ that the ship spotted earlier is the USS Liberty.
The Liberty records another flying boxcar plane circling. No markings are observed.
The Liberty reports to US Naval Security Station Command that due to the current situation, she has taken the precaution of destroying all superseded messages.
The Israeli Naval HQ duty officer orders the green marker for the USS Liberty removed from the board as an old contact.
Admiral Martin orders another standoff message to be sent to USS Liberty with a “received message” answer requested. Liberty does not receive the message until after the attack.
Israeli MTB Division 914 consisting of three MTB’s sails from Ashdod for a patrol to Ashkelon.
The Israeli Navy receives reports that a ship is shelling El Arish.
USS Liberty records that another patrol craft is circling her.
Israeli Defense Force Central Command in Tel Aviv receives a report that a ship is shelling El Arish.
USS Liberty changes course to 238 degrees True.
Tel Aviv receives another message about “ship activity” off of El Arish.
USS Liberty records sighting an explosion in the El Arish area. Apparently, the retreating Egyptian Army is exploding ammo dumps rather than allowing their capture by the rapidly advancing Israeli Army.
The Israeli Naval HQ has a semi-legibleentry describing two targets firing on El Arish.
Israeli Navy Captain Rehav orders MTB 914 to patrol north of El Arish.
MTB 914 receives the order to proceed to the El Arish area.
USS Liberty goes to General Quarters (battle stations) as a drill.
Israeli MTB 914 is informed of reports of shelling off of El Arish.
Liberty records another explosion in the El Arish area. The Israeli MTB squadron is again informed that El Arish is being shelled from the sea.
Israeli MTB 914 detects the USS Liberty on their World War Two era radar.
Israeli MTB 914 is ordered to close with the contact and identify it.
MTB 914 reports to Israeli Navy HQ that the “target is making 30 knots” and requests air support since they will be unable to catch the “target.”
The maximum speed of the USS Liberty under ideal conditions is 18 knots. The MTB crew has badly misinterpreted their radar data and has wildly miscalculated the speed of the Liberty. The higher speed that they report leads the Israeli Navy HQ to suspect that MTB 914 is tracking a warship.
The Israeli Navy requests air support from the Israeli Air Force.
The USS Liberty secures from GQ drill, and the Captain orders the Liberty left in “condition three” (most of her watertight hatchways closed except when a crew member is passing through the hatchway). Liberty takes a radar fix (with modern radar) on the El Arish minaret and verifies that the ship is 25.5 miles away from shore in international waters.
Israeli MTB 914 reports that the “target” is 17 miles distance making 28 knots. This message, when compared to previous reports, should have caused a realization by the commander of MTB 914 and by the Israeli Naval HQ that MTB 914 was mistaken in its reporting of the speed and position of the “target.”
USS Liberty records a radar contact of three small ships at 16 knots distance (MTB 914).
An Israeli flight of two fighters with call sign “Kursa” reports having “the ship” in sight.
Flight “Royal,” a flight of two Mystire attack planes armed with napalm and headed for the Sinai, is diverted to the Liberty’s position.
Kursa flight attacks the USS Liberty with 20mm cannon fire and rockets. Captain McGonagle is on the bridge at the time of the attack. He is badly wounded and bleeding but remains on the bridge.
MTB 914 is ordered to proceed fast to target.
Israeli Royal flight is given permission to attack.
USS Liberty records explosion on port side. Napalm detonates on the deck of the Liberty and pours into the interior through rocket and cannon holes made by the attacking aircraft. Her communications antennas have been destroyed.
Kursa flight leaves the attack site and Royal flight attacks the USS Liberty.
USS Liberty goes to General Quarters. Captain McGonagle orders flank speed.
MTB 914reports it is 11 knots from the “target” and requests that aircraft leave the area.
Israeli Air Force Headquarters asks for the target ship’s identity to be checked.
US carrier USS Saratoga of Sixth Fleet receives a message from Liberty that she is under attack. The Liberty has been transmitting the message repeatedly since 1158Z.
Later, during a US Navy Court of Inquiry conducted by Admiral Kidd, the Liberty’s communications specialists testified that their communications channels were being jammed. This and the fact that the attacking Israeli aircraft destroyed her antennas would explain the delay in transmitting a message concerning the attack.
Many individuals have attempted to refute the jamming claim made by the Liberty crew members. It should be remembered that all crew members of the USS Liberty were hand picked by the Navy and vetted for secret and top secret clearances. In addition, Captain McGonagle reviewed service records, and based on his impression of any crew member, he could have them replaced at any time.
The communications specialists on the Liberty were well trained, well tested Navy radiomen and communications technicians with well established reputations for efficiency, accuracy, and integrity. Civilian National Security Administration (“NSA”) employees on board the Liberty at the time of the attack were also hand picked and well vetted by the NSA. The notion that the USS Liberty communications team was mistaken about having its primary communications frequencies actively jammed defies all logic and reason.
MTB 914 reports that they are on their attack run. Royal flight reports that the target ship has an identifier of “Charlie Tango Romeo Five” (CTR-5). The Liberty is actually marked GTR 5.
The Israeli Air Force controllers suspect that the ship might be American and order their aircraft to leave the area.
Israeli Air Force dispatches two helicopters to the scene to rescue survivors.
Israeli Navy HQ orders MTB 914 to not attack, and that identification of the target may be mistaken. Later, MTB 914 Commander Oren claimed he didn’t receive the order to halt the attack, but the order was recorded in his boat’s log.
USS Liberty crew notices that her flag has been shot away in the air attacks. The 7′ X 13′ Holiday Flag is hoisted.
USS Liberty log indicates a flashing light from the attacking MTB’s, but the Liberty’s signal lamps were destroyed by the Israeli air attacks, and the ship was unable to signal back.
One of the Liberty’s 50 caliber machine gun mounts opens fire on the attacking MTB’s. Captain McGonagle orders “cease fire” because he suspects that the MTB’s are Israeli and are attacking in error. Another machine gun fires, but it is later determined that it fired spontaneously due to heat from the napalm-induced fire.
1230Z to 1232Z
The times of the log entries of the USS Liberty and those of the log entries of MTB 914 differ by a few minutes. Commander Orem of MTB 914 reports that the target ship is the Egyptian El Quseir.
The Liberty bears no resemblance to that Egyptian ship. The standard method for describing a ship’s size is to state the weight of the water that the ship displaces when it is afloat. The El Quseir was a third of the size of the Liberty and had a displacement of 2,600 tons. The USS Liberty displaced 7,700 tons. The Liberty had distinctive satellite antennas clearly visible above her decks. The El Quseir’s profile was very different from that of the USS Liberty.
After reporting that they are being fired on and asking several times for permission to attack, Israeli Naval HQ gives permission to MTB 914 to attack the USS Liberty.
Rear Admiral Geis takes tactical command of Task Force 60, which was the main battle component of Sixth Fleet.
USS Liberty attempts to maneuver to avoid oncoming torpedoes. A torpedo passes astern of the Liberty.
USS Liberty turns to port to avoid torpedo attack. Image from US Navy.
An Israeli torpedo hits USS Liberty amidships on her starboard side, blasting a hole approximately 40 feet in diameter into her hull. Liberty begins to take on water rapidly. The torpedo damages the electrical system and the Liberty loses electrical power.
The USS Liberty loses steam pressure and secures her boilers. She is dead in the water. At this point, with 34 crew members dead or dying and 171 crew members wounded including the captain, no reasonable person would give good odds for the Liberty remaining afloat for long. Reasonable betters would have lost that bet.
Remarkably, the remaining crew members managed to perform brilliant damage control work. They eventually regain electrical power, control the fires and flooding, and get the ship underway.
It should be noted that the only doctor on board the USS Liberty is Navy Doctor Richard Kiefer. He is badly wounded in the attack. He suffers a broken right knee cap and an open wound to his left leg, and he has 11 pieces of shrapnel in his abdomen. He binds his abdomen together with a life jacket and proceeds to tend to his wounded shipmates non-stop for over 24 hours. Thanks to his remarkable courage, his outstanding determination, and his great skill many of the Liberty’s wounded are kept alive.
The aircraft carrier USS Saratoga receives a radio message from the Liberty stating that she is under attack and badly damaged. The message is sent “in clear” (not coded).
The Israeli Air Force helicopters heading for the USS Liberty are told that the ship is an Israeli cargo ship.
USS Liberty records that one of the attacking torpedo boats has hull number 206.
Overall Commander of Task Force 60, Admiral Martin, orders the USS Saratoga to launch four armed A1 attack planes to go to the aid of the Liberty. The next day, he apologizes to Admiral Geis for not issuing the order through him due to the urgency of the situation.
MTB 914is ordered to search for survivors and identify the attacked ship.
MTB 914reports to Israeli Naval Command that the ship “might be Russian.”
The Israeli Air Force helicopters are told to identify and report the language of any of the rescued seamen.
USS Liberty identifies helicopters with Israeli markings circling her.
The National Military Command in the Pentagon receives a message from the US Commander Europe reporting the attack on the Liberty.
The Israeli helicopter pilots inform the Israeli Air Force that the attacked ship is American and flying an American flag.
The Pentagon informs the NSA of the attack on USS Liberty. During the attack, a Navy NSA controlled EC121 aircraft has been (routinely) recording communications traffic in the area of the attack.
US Naval Task Force 60 Tactical Commander Admiral Geis orders the retransmission of Admiral Martin’s message to the carriers USS America and USS Saratoga with an ASAP and a reminder that “defend the Liberty means just that.”
Power is restored to the bridge and the fires are extinguished but USS Liberty remains unable to steer.
Israeli MTB Division 914 reports to Israeli Naval Command that the ship is American, and that the fires are extinguished.
Admiral Martin reports that Task Force 60 is headed toward the last reported position of the Liberty at 27 knots.
Israeli MTB 914is ordered to proceed to El Arish.
Soviet First Deputy Premier Alexi Kosygin sends a HOTLINE message to US President Johnson concerning a UN proposed cease fire between Israel and the “Arab” states.
USS Liberty records that she has re-established communications. Her radio log indicates that she is only able to transmit, not receive, and only on her high frequency voice radio equipment (as opposed to encrypted teletype messages, short range tactical communications equipment, etc.).
Israeli Defense Forces inform US Naval Attaché Commander Ernest Castle of the attack on the USS Liberty due to “mistaken identity.” After visiting the Israeli headquarters commander, Castle sends Flash Messages to the White House and Sixth Fleet reporting that the Israelis say that a tragic accident has occurred. Israel doesn’t deny that it attacked; it denies that the attack was intentional.
The USS Saratoga launches four A1s to defend the USS Liberty. The 39 minutes required for launch seems excessive by modern carrier operation standards, but USS Saratoga has been conducting nuclear launch drills for nuclear armed planes when she receives the order to launch four A1s. She has to secure from the drill using very rigidly enforced and precise sequences of procedures due to the handling of nuclear weapons.
The Liberty radio indicates that she can now both transmit and receive voice messages at high frequency.
USS Liberty transmits a report on her condition and an initial casualty list.
US Navy Task Force 63 recommends that fleet tug USS Papago be dispatched to assist the Liberty.
USS Liberty records that small vessels are approaching her again.
US Joint Chiefs of Staff send a message to Commander US Forces Europe that the use of force is authorized. Note that Admirals Martin and Geis had effectively authorized the use of force earlier.
Sixth Fleet messages the US European Command that they are not currently in communication with the USS Liberty. US Navy communications centers in Morocco and Greece are able to copy transmissions from the Liberty.
Sixth Fleet re-establishes communications with the Liberty via the Navy communications center in Greece.
USS Liberty, image from US Navy.
USS Liberty reports to Sixth Fleet that she is making 8 knots under her own power on a heading of 340 degrees True.
Israeli MTB 914 closely approaches the Liberty and via megaphone offers “assistance.” The Liberty declines.
Commander US Naval Forces Europe, Admiral McCain, receives a message from the US Defense Attaché in Tel Aviv explaining that the Israelis assert that the incident is a tragic mistake.
Admiral Martin messages Admiral McCain that all aircraft are being recalled.
Admiral Martin transmits a recall order to both the USS America and the USS Saratoga.
The Liberty stops her engines again.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Cyrus Vance calls Admiral McCain on a telephone and informs him that all news releases concerning the USS Liberty incident will come from Washington, not from the ships.
Admiral Martin transmits another situational report indicating that two destroyers are preceding at best speed to the USS Liberty.
President Johnson arrives at the White House to join an emergency meeting. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Chairman, Foreign Intelligence Adviser Clark Clifford, Under Secretary of State Nicholas Katzenbach, Ambassador to Russia Llewellen Thompson, Special Consultant McGeorge Bundy, and National Security Advisor W. W. Rostow are all at the meeting.
US Ambassador to Israel Walworth Barbor messages the State Department that “the Israelis are obviously shocked by the error.”
US Defense Secretary McNamara calls the Pentagon and orders that the aircraft sent to aid the USS Liberty be recalled. They had already been recalled by Admiral Martin forty-five minutes earlier.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff transmit a message stating that the previous use of force order has been withdrawn.
The Defense Department issues its first press release concerning the attack on the USS Liberty, stating that an accident has occurred and the Israelis accidentally attacked a US ship.
USS Liberty reports that she is under way and having difficulty maintaining a course.
Israeli Prime Minister Eshkol convenes a cabinet meeting to discuss a possible Israeli attack on and occupation of the Golan Heights on the Israeli Syrian border. Defense Minister Dyan and others are against the attack. The meeting convenes without an agreement.
Radio Cairo transmits a report that the USS Liberty’s position close to the coast of Egypt is proof of US direct assistance to Israel in the war. Unfortunately, some Egyptians still believe that nonsensical report.
UN Secretary General U Thant reads the “United Arab Republic” acceptance of a UN proposed cease fire.
June 9, 1967
USS Liberty records that she has rendezvoused with the destroyers USS Massey and USS Davis.
UN Secretary General receives a message from Syria agreeing to the cease fire. Israeli records indicate that the Syrians are still shelling Israel from the Golan Heights at this time. The Syrians claim they are not.
Israeli Defense Minister Dyan orders the Israeli Defense Forces Northern Command to attack and seize the Golan Heights.
Israeli UN representatives inform the Secretary General that Syria has continued to shell Israel from the Golan Heights and that the Israeli military has entered the Golan Heights to silence the guns.
The USS Papago reaches the Liberty. The Fleet tug Papago, the destroyer Davis and the Liberty are ordered to proceed to Crete. Later, they are ordered to proceed to Malta where a dry dock is available.
President Johnson receives a HOTLINE message from Soviet Vice Premier Kosygin threatening Soviet military action against Israel if it does not halt its advance into the Golan Heights.
Israel and Syria agree to a final cease fire. The Six Day War ends.
Damaged USS Liberty, image from US Navy.
Many in the United States, including the crew of the USS Liberty, US Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Admiral Issac Kid, Admiral Thomas Moorer, NSA Director General William Oden (along with several NSA executives with access to transcripts of the Israeli aircraft’s communications), then CIA Director Richard Helms, several members of Congress, and a slew of academicians consistently maintain that the attack on the USS Liberty was conducted by Israel with the knowledge that they were attacking a US ship.
Not everyone agrees. Some Americans feel that accusing Israel of knowingly attacking a US ship is simply “anti-Israeli/anti-Semitic” bigotry. The Israeli apologists are not all of like mind in their positions. Some claim that the attack was indeed an accident, but they acknowledge that people may disagree without anti-Israeli motives. Others cite imaginary conclusions from imaginary investigations and unsubstantiated “evidence” showing that the entire matter was the fault of the USS Liberty and the US Navy.
The crew of the USS Liberty have consistently resisted any association with various radical groups that attempt to use the USS Liberty tragedy for pro-Israeli and anti-Israeli agendas.
I am not a USS Liberty veteran nor was I involved in any facet of the events surrounding the attack on the ship. I make no attempt to speak on their behalf. They speak on their own behalf. I encourage all readers to visit the USS Liberty Veterans Association web page at USSLiberty.org.
There are some groups and individuals that are certain that Israel knowingly attacked a US Navy ship propose interesting and often fantastic conspiracy theories concerning Israel’s and the United States’ motives. Some claim that President Johnson and/or others in the US cooperated with Israel to arrange the entire attack to provide an excuse to enter the war against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan.
I disagree with these theories. For one thing, the United States already had an excuse to enter the war once Egypt restricted international traffic through Straits of Tiran to international navigation. For another, if Israel wanted to attack a known US ship to drag the US into the war, it could have done so more effectively earlier in the day rather than waiting.
US President Johnson already had his hands full with the micro-mismanagement of the Vietnam “non-war.” The US was maintaining a strong military presence in Europe, Japan, Okinawa, the Philippines, and Korea in order to “contain communist aggression.” Johnson was clearly not seeking a new war to mismanage. He soon grew so tired of dealing with the Cold War, the Vietnam non-war, his own political party, the “other” political party and the US media that he decided not to seek re-election.
If the United States had wanted to enter a war against “the Arabs” we would not have been likely to enter it against three petroleum poor nations such as Egypt, Syria, and Jordan.
It would have been a simple matter for the US to stage an attack on an American ship in order to have one more (of many) reasons for attacking Egypt or Syria. For a simple comparison, please refer to the Tonkin Gulf incident of 1964 in which no US sailors were killed.
Other groups claim that Israel was motivated by the need to keep secret it’s intentions to invade the Golan Heights. This theory seems less outlandish to me but in my view would require some qualification. I am more willing to accept this theory as possible if I view it as a limited conspiracy on the Israeli side that did not include the entire Israeli cabinet and military command structure.
Some individuals claim that after the attack on the USS Liberty occurred, there was a deliberate cover up by the Unites States Government. I believe that there was.
Where I disagree with these various theories is about who orchestrated the cover up. Johnson was in charge. Individuals outside the White House lacked the means and opportunity to affect a cover-up because the White House was well informed by the NSA, the Navy, the Pentagon and the State Department about the available facts of the case. Johnson wanted it kept quiet and quickly forgotten for the simple reason that Israel’s enemies were acting as client states for the USSR, and Johnson did not wish to assist the USSR by assisting Israel’s enemies.
We are all welcome to propose one or many theories. However, I suggest that to hold to a plausible theory, people should consult verifiable facts and credible testimony from the eye witnesses before holding too strongly to any particular belief. The easiest way to ascertain the views of the American eye witnesses is to visit the USS Liberty web page as indicated above.
My suspicion is that members of the Israeli command structure and perhaps a member or members of the Israeli cabinet chose to pretend that they were uncertain of the identity of the USS Liberty and allowed a few overzealous members of the Israeli command structure to proceed with the attack. They may have been motivated by a notion that they might better keep secret their intentions toward the Golan Heights and their military operations in the theater of combat.
By not conducting a congressional investigation of the matter, which would finally allow the surviving members of the USS Liberty to be heard by their government (that government “of, by, and for the people”), the US government assists the wildest of conspiracy theorists in supporting the most outrageous claims. By not being completely forthcoming with the information that they have, the Israeli government is foolishly helping to foster the most outlandish theories. Whatever or whomever they are protecting with silence and misinformation cannot be worth the damage to Israel’s reputation and to her relations with the USA.
There are some facts surrounding the case of the USS Liberty that are not as easily argued against or explained as innocent mistakes. The Liberty crew members clearly state that their communications channels were being scrambled at the time of the attack. Israel knew that ships of the US Navy used the channels, and not Egyptian freighters. The Israeli claim that no flag was flying on the Liberty strikes me as ridiculous.
On the American side, we cannot deny the lousy message handling by the US military communications networks that kept the “stand off” order from reaching the USS Liberty in time to make a difference. Had the Liberty received the message in time, she would have left the area of the eventual attack several hours before the attack occurred.
This in no way reduces the Israeli culpability for the attack. According to their own claims, the Israeli military attacked an unidentified ship in international waters without provocation. The Israeli government has repeatedly admitted doing so. The USS Liberty had every right to be where she was when the attack occurred.
Two more facts that are less subject to reasonable argument are the fact that Israeli/American relations have been affected by the incident as well as the fact that Israel has never shared all its information about the attack. To the degree that the growth of strong anti-Israeli sentiment can be attributed to the attack on the USS Liberty, it can only be blamed on the Israelis. To be sure, there are other causes of anti-Israeli sentiment in Europe and the USA that cannot be blamed on Israel, but it is within the power of the Israeli Government to mend the damage in her relations with the US caused by Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty.
Damaged USS Liberty, image from US Navy.
One fact about the attack on the Liberty remains beyond any reasonable argument. The performance of the captain and crew of the USS Liberty during and after the attack was in keeping with the finest traditions of the United States Navy. The USS Liberty remains the most decorated ship in the long and proud history of the United States Navy and remains as an example of diligence to duty and calm courage under fire that should be understood by every young member of the United States Navy. From the safety of my comfortable home in a safe and pleasant neighborhood I offer a humble but sincere salute to the crew and families of the USS Liberty.
*‘Jay Holmes’, is an intelligence veteran of the Cold War and remains an anonymous member of the intelligence community. His writing partner, Piper Bayard, is the public face of their partnership.
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