WHO SAYS THE LIBERTY ATTACK WAS DELIBERATE?
The following is a partial list of individuals
supporting the position that the attack was deliberate
This is the group that Israeli supporter Ahron Jay
Cristol calls "conspiracy theorists"
- "I was never satisfied with the Israeli explanation.
. . . Through diplomatic channels we refused to
accept their explanations. I didn't believe them
then, and I don't believe them to this day. The
attack was outrageous."
US Secretary of State Dean Rusk
- "Accidents don't occur through repeated attacks by
surface vessels and aircraft. It obviously was a
decision made pretty high up on the Israeli side,
because it involved combined forces. The ship was
flying an American flag. My judgment was that
somewhere along the line some fairly senior official
gave the go ahead. I personally did not accept the
US Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Recorded
- "...the board of inquiry (concluded) that the
Israelis knew exactly what they were doing in
attacking the Liberty."
-- CIA Director
Richard Helms in his book A Look Over my
- "It was no accident."
CIA Director Richard Helms in interview for
Times, 6/26/2002. Asked to say more, Helms
remarked that he did not want to spend the rest of
his life testifying in court about the attack.
- "To me, the picture thus far presents the distinct
possibility that the Israelis knew that the Liberty might be their target and attacked
anyway, either through confusion in Command and
Control or through deliberate disregard of
instructions on the part of subordinates."
-- CIA Deputy Director Admiral Rufus
That the attack was deliberate "just wasn't a
disputed issue" within the National Security Agency
-- Former NSA Director retired Army
Lieutenant General William Odom on 3 March 2003
in an interview for Naval Institute Proceedings
Former NSA/CIA Director Admiral Bobby Inman "flatly
rejected" the Cristol/Israeli claims that the attack
was an accident
-- 5 March 2003 interview for Naval
- "I have never believed that the attack on the USS
Liberty was a case of mistaken identity. That is
ridiculous. Israel knew perfectly well that the ship
Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, former Chief of Naval
Operations and later Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
writing for Americans for Middle East Understanding,
June 8, 1997
- "To suggest that they [the IDF] couldn't
identify the ship is ... ridiculous. ... Anybody who
could not identify the Liberty could not tell
the difference between the White House and the
Admiral Thomas Moorer, Chief of Naval Operations
and later Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, quoted in
The Washington Post, June 15, 1991, p. 14
- "To me, the picture thus far presents the
distinct possibility that the Israelis knew that Liberty might be their target and attacked
Admiral Rufus Taylor, Deputy CIA director, as
quoted by CIA director Admiral Rufus Taylor in
A Look Over My Shoulder.
Of four former NSA/CIA seniors with inside
knowledge, none was aware of any agency official who
dissented from the position that the attack was
-- David Walsh, writing in Naval
- "That the
Liberty could have been mistaken
for the Egyptian supply ship El Quseir is
Special Assistant to the President Clark Clifford,
in his report to President Lyndon Johnson
- "Inconceivable that it was an accident � 3
strafing passes, 3 torpedo boats. Set forth facts.
Punish Israelis responsible"
Clark Clifford, Secretary of Defense
under Lyndon Johnson, in Minutes of NSC Special
Committee Meeting, 9 June 1967
nice whitewash for a group of ignorant, stupid and
inept [expletive deleted]."
-- Handwritten note of August 26, 1967,
by NSA Deputy Director Louis W. Tordella reacting to
the Israeli court decision exonerating Israelis of
blame for the Liberty attack. Dr. Tordella
expressed the view that the attack was deliberate
and that the Israeli government attempted to cover
it up to authors James Ennes and James Bamford and
to Congressman George Mahon (D-Texas), and in an
internal memorandum for the record. He noted "a nice
whitewash for a group of ignorant, stupid and inept
(redacted)" in the margin of the official Israeli
excuse for the attack as noted in the NSA Gerhard
- "The attack was clearly deliberate."
General Marshall Carter, former director, National
Security Agency, in a telephone interview with
- "The attack was deliberate"
Lucius Battle, former presidential advisor, as
keynote speaker for 1982 USS Liberty reunion.
- "My immediate reaction was it was not an
accident. It had to be a deliberate attack."
Lucius Battle, in BBC Documentary "Dead in the
- "....did not buy the Israeli 'mistake'
explanations either. Nobody believes that
explanation." When informed by author Bamford of
gruesome war crime (killing of large numbers of
POWs) at nearby El Arish, Morrison saw the
connection. "That would be enough," he said. "They
wouldn't want us in on that. You've got the motive.
What a hell of a thing to do."
Major General John Morrison, US Air Force,
Deputy Chief NSA Operations during the attack and
later Chief of NSA Operations as reported in Body
of Secrets by James Bamford, p233.
"I can tell you for an absolute certainty (from
intercepted communications) that they knew they were
attacking an American ship."
Oliver Kirby, former deputy director
for operations/production, National Security Agency.
Kirby participated in NSA's investigation of the
attack and reviewed translations of intercepted
communications between pilots and their headquarters
which he reports show conclusively that they knew
their target was an American ship. Kirby is
considered the "Godfather" of the USS Liberty
and USS Pueblo intercept programs. (Telephone
interviews with James Ennes and David Walsh for Friendless Fire, Proceedings, June 2003)
- On the strength of intercept transcripts of
pilots' conversations during the attack, the
question of the attack's deliberateness "just wasn't
a disputed issue" within the agency.
Lieutenant General William E. Odom, former
director, National Security Agency, interview with
David Walsh on March 3, 2003, reported in Naval
Institute Proceedings, June, 2003
- Inman said he "flatly rejected" the Cristol
thesis that the attack was an accident. "It is just
exceedingly difficult to believe that [USS Liberty] was not correctly identified" based on
his talks with NSA seniors at the time having direct
knowledge of intercepted communications. No NSA
official could be found who dissented from the
Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, USN,
Director National Security Agency 1977-1981,
reported in Proceedings, June, 2003
- "I found it hard to believe that it was, in
fact, an honest mistake on the part of the Israeli
air force units. I still find it impossible to
believe that it was."
Paul C. Warnke, Undersecretary of the
Navy and later general legal counsel to the
Department of Defense.
- "In many years, I have wanted to believe that
the attack on the Liberty was pure error. It
appears to me that it was not a pure case of
mistaken identity. . . . I think it is about time
that the State of Israel and the United States
government provide the crew members of the Liberty, and the rest of the American people,
the facts of what happened and why it came about
that the Liberty was attacked 30 years ago
today." Later, McGonagle remarked, "USS Liberty
is the only US Navy ship attacked by a foreign
nation, involving large loss of life...that has
never been accorded a full Congressional hearing."
-- Captain William L. McGonagle,
Commanding Officer, USS Liberty, speaking at
Arlington National Cemetery June 8, 1997.
- "The Israelis told us 24 hours before that ...if we
didn't move it, they would sink it. Unfortunately,
the ship was not moved, and by the time the message
arrived the ship was taking on water."
John Stenbit, Assistant Secretary of
Defense for C3Im in an address to the AFEI/NDAI
Conference for Net Centric Operations, Wednesday,
April 16, 2003
Department Legal Advisor and author of highly
critical detailed analysis of the Israeli excuse in
telephone interview from his home in France, Mr.
Salans described the attack as deliberate.
Legal Advisor Carl Salans
- Walter Deeley, NSA department head, conducted
still-classified investigation of the attack and
remarked later in telephone interview that he
regards the attack as deliberate.
NSA Department Head Walter Deeley
highest officials of the [Johnson] administration,
including the President, believed it 'inconceivable'
that Israel's 'skilled' defense forces could have
committed such a gross error."
-- Lyndon Johnson's biographer Robert
Dallek in Flawed Giant, Oxford
University Press, 1998, pp. 430-31
- Never before in the history of the United
States Navy has a Navy Board of Inquiry ignored the
testimony of American military eyewitnesses and
taken, on faith, the word of their attackers.
-- Captain Richard F. Kiepfer, Medical
Corps, US Navy (retired), USS Liberty
"The evidence was clear. Both Admiral Kidd and I
believed with certainty that this attack...was a
deliberate effort to sink an American ship and
murder its entire crew.... It was our shared belief.
. .that the attack. . .could not possibly have been
an accident.... I am certain that the Israeli pilots
[and] their superiors. . .were well aware that the
ship was American."
-- Captain Ward Boston, JAGC, US Navy
(retired), senior legal counsel to the US Navy Court
According to Kidd's legal counsel, Captain Ward
Boston, USN, Kidd discussed with him his belief that
the attackers were aware they were attacking an
American ship. The Court ruled otherwise because
they were so directed by Washington.
-- Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, President of
the Navy Court of Inquiry, as reported in Navy
"I feel the Israelis knew what they were doing. They
knew they were shooting at a U.S. Navy ship."
Captain Ward Boston, legal counsel to
the Navy Court of Inquiry, as reported in . Navy
- "No one in the White House believed that the
attack was an accident."
George Christian, Press Secretary to
President Lyndon Johnson in letter to James Ennes,
- After reviewing the Court of Inquiry in his official
capacity as legal counsel to the convening
authority, concluded that the evidence did not
support the findings that the attack was an accident
and declined to recommend that his Commander sign
and forward it to Washington.
Rear Admiral (then captain) Merlin
Staring, Staff Legal Office for Commander in Chief
US Naval Forces Europe and later Chief Judge
Advocate General of the Navy. Statement to Navy
Times, 3 June 2002 and elsewhere
- "This book [Assault on the Liberty]
gives convincing evidence that the attack was
deliberate and that the facts, including the Navy's
bungling before and during the attack, were covered
-- United States Senator Adlai E.
Stevenson III as reported in Congressional Record --
Senate S13136 September 23, 1980. Senator Stevenson
later announced his interest in holding
Congressional hearings on the attack. He pointed out
that the survivors have been consistent in their
accounts of what happened and that the attack was,
in his word, "premeditated." Also reported by
William J. Small, United Press International,
September 28, 1980.
"The Congress never investigated this matter, and I
don't detect much enthusiasm for getting into it
Senator Adlai Stevenson III in letter
to James Ennes dated September 9, 1980
- "From what I have read, I can't tolerate for
one minute that this was an accident! ... What have
we done about the Liberty? Have we become so
placid, so far as Israel is concerned or so far as
that area is concerned, that we will take the
killing of 37 (sic) American boys and the wounding
of a lot more and the attack on an American ship in
the open sea in good weather? We have seemed to say:
'Oh, well, boys will be boys.' What are you going to
do about it? It is most offensive to me!
Senator Bourke Hickenlooper; From
transcript of July 1967 Senate Foreign Relations
Hearing on Foreign Assistance Act of 1967.
- "I have read the Navy investigation of the Liberty, and the evidence adduced there, and I
have read the Israeli court of inquiry records, and
based upon their own records of the investigation, I
cannot agree that it was accidental."
Senator Bourke Hickenlooper; From
transcript of May, 1968, Senate Foreign Relations
Hearing on Foreign Assistance Act of 1968, page 444.
- "American leaders did not have the courage to
punish Israel for the blatant murder of its
citizens. . . . The Liberty's presence and
function were well known to Israel's leaders.
...Israel's leaders concluded that nothing they
might do would offend the Americans to the point of
reprisal. If American leaders did not have the
courage to punish Israel for the blatant murder of
American citizens, it seemed clear that their
American friends would let them get away with almost
George Ball, under secretary of state at the
time writing in The Passionate Attachment:
America's Involvement with Israel, pages 57-58.
- "I don't think that there's any doubt that it
was deliberate.... [It is] one of the great
cover-ups of our military history."
David G. Nes, the deputy head of the
American mission in Cairo at the time
- "FBI officials counter that 'friendly' spying
can be as damaging as spying for enemies, they note,
as in 1967 when Israeli jets deliberately attacked
the electronic intelligence-gathering ship USS Liberty...."
-- FBI Officials reported in
Washington Times, November 26, 1998
- "How much better if Congress would....call to
account those who were involved in spreading lies
about the tragedy."
James Akins, former US Ambassador to
Saudi Arabia James Akins in Special Report, The
Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty, June 8, 1967,
The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs,
- "The attack was deliberate and not an
Victor Ostrovsky, author and former
Mossad officer, in telephone conversations with
former Congressman Pete McCloskey October 10, 1991,
and with and several conversations with James Ennes.
- "It's an American ship!" the pilot of an
Israeli Mirage fighter-bomber radioed Tel Aviv as he
sighted the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967.
Israeli headquarters ordered the pilot to attack the
former US Ambassador to Lebanon
Dwight Porter describing transcripts of
communications he saw, reported in syndicated column
"Remembering the Liberty" by Rowland Evans
and Robert Novak, November 6, 1991.
- "The historical event which took place in
June 1967 can hardly be called enigmatic and
mysterious. ...It is difficult to understand that
the Israelis could not identity the USS Liberty,
since the ship had a unique antenna and equipment
and especially since the Israelis had identified the
ship with long term observation."
Translated from a taped interview
with Sergeev Oleg Korneevitch, retired Colonel,
- "The government of Israel intentionally
attacked the ship. ...The attack was not legally
justified. ...(there were) two further violations of
international law...the use of unmarked military
aircraft (and)...the wanton destruction of life
Walter L. Jacobsen, Lieutenant
Commander, US Navy, in Naval Law Review, Vol 36,
- "The attack was not an accident."
Stephen Green, author. Antelope
Valley Press, April 5, 1984
- "Certain facts are clear. The attack was no
accident. The Liberty was assaulted in broad
daylight by Israeli forces who knew the ship's
identity. ...The public, however, was kept in the
dark. Even before the American public learned of the
attack, U.S. government officials began to promote
an account satisfactory to Israel. The American
Israel Public Affairs Committee worked through
Congressmen to keep the story under control. The
President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson,
ordered and led a cover-up so thorough that years
after he left office the episode is still largely
Paul Findley, author and former
Member of Congress 1961-1983 in They Dare to
Speak Out, by Paul Findley, 1985, page 166
- "Is the Liberty episode being erased
from history. So it would seem...What has happened
to our prying journalistic corps and our editors,
normally so indignant of attempted suppression of
the news?...We believe that a joint select committee
of Congress should investigate the strange case of
the USS Liberty..."
William F. Buckley, journalist and
publisher, National Review, June 27, 1967
- (In a review of "Six Days of War" by Michael
Oren.) "Oren...frequently descends to vulgar
propaganda. Deeming the Israeli combined air and
naval assault on the USS Liberty ...an
accident,' Oren rehashes official Israeli tales and
embellishes them with his own whoppers."
Norman Finkelstein, PhD, author,
professor of political science, DePaul University,
writing in Journal of Palestine Studies,
Spring, 2003, p85
- "The attack on the USS Liberty was
planned and there is and was a cover-up." "If the
very valuable lessons of the Liberty were
known, the capture of the USS Pueblo could not have
Lloyd M. "Pete" Bucher, US Navy,
Commanding Officer USS Pueblo when captured
by North Korea in January 1968, in telephone
conversations with James Ennes and on September 6,
2002, with Richard Schmucker.
- "Nearly everyone who is not affiliated with
Israel...and who has seriously looked into the
attack believes that it was deliberate. ...The bare
facts of the attack rule out any other conclusion."
-- Donald Neff, author, Washington
Report on Middle East Affairs, August, 2002, p29
- Ralph Hoppe, Colonel, US Army, retired,
reports that dozens of intelligence reports soon
after the attack described the attack as deliberate
including a "consensus report" which summarized the
collective view of the US intelligence community.
Soon orders came from Washington to collect and
destroy all such reports. Nothing more in official
channels described the attack as deliberate.
Aerotech News and Review, March 2,
2001, by John Borne, PhD, and conversations with
- "It is clear that the Israelis knew that they
were attacking a vessel of the US Navy, especially
as it was flying a large Stars and Stripes at the
time. The fact that they spent six hours
reconnoitering and executing the attack, which
included machine-gunning the lifeboats, attests to
the deadly intent of the operation.
Andrew and Leslie Cockburn, Dangerous Liaison, the Inside Story of the
US-Israeli Covert Relationship, by Andrew and
Leslie Cockburn, p152.
- "A. Jay Cristol's virtual minority of one
assessment is not supported by the detailed
non-technical common sense evidence to the contrary
in Body of Secrets (by James Bamford). "There
is nothing surprising in Bamford's conclusion that
the attack was deliberate. Liberty survivors
have made that case convincingly for years."
-- Professor Hayden Peake, author,
former CIA officer and member, Association of Former
Intelligence Officers, The Intelligencer, Vol. 12,
No.1, Summer 2001
- Book reviews transcripts of communications
during the attack which establish that the attack
Israel's Wars, 1947-1993, by
- Survivors of the attack are unanimous in
their conviction that the attack was deliberate.
Among other things, their belief is based upon the
intense pre-attack reconnaissance, the fact that the
firing continued from close range long after the
attackers examined the ship and its markings from a
few feet away, and because the Israeli version of
events as reported to the United States is grossly
- Several Air Force intelligence analysts who have
come forward to report that they saw real-time
transcripts of communications from the attacking
forces which show clearly that they were aware they
were attacking an American ship. Others who saw
these transcripts include Dwight Porter and Oliver
Kirby, mentioned above, and several top officials of
the American intelligence community.
Former US Air Force intelligence
analysts Ron Gotcher, Steve Forslund, Richard Block
and pilot Charles Tiffany
- Published doctoral thesis establishes that the
attack was deliberate.
John Borne, PhD, adjunct professor of
history, NY University.
- Rejects the US Navy Court of Inquiry as
inadequate, declares that the attack was apparently
deliberate, and calls upon the United States to
conduct a complete and thorough investigation.
Resolution #508 of the American
Legion at its 49th annual national convention in
- "The [Navy Court of Inquiry] leaves a good
many questions unanswered."
The New York Times, July 1, 1967
- "The naval inquiry is not good enough."
The Washington Post, June 30, 1967
- "They must have known...that Liberty
was an American ship."
The Washington Star, June 30, 1967
- "The action was planned in advance"
Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson in The
Washington Post, June 30, 1967
- "Only the blind or the trigger happy could
have made such a mistake"
The National Observer
- "The attack was deliberate. Those responsible
should be court-martialed on charges of murder."
-- California Congressman Craig Hosmer
in the Congressional Record--House, June 29, 1967,
- "How can this be treated so lightly? What
complaint have we registered?
-- Mississippi Congressman Thomas G.
Abernethy in the Congressional Record--House,
June 29m, 1967, pp. 17894-5
- "Certain facts are clear. The attack was no
accident. The Liberty was assaulted in broad
daylight by Israeli forces who knew the ship's
identity. ...The President of the United States led
a cover-up so thorough that years after he left
office, the episode was still largely unknown to the
public -- and the men who suffered and died have
gone largely unhonored."
Paul Findley, They Dare to Speak Out,
Lawrence Hill & Co., 1985, p166
- "Nearly as bizarre as the attack itself was
the reaction of the American government to the
incident. A foreign nation had butchered American
servicemen, sending thirty-four to their graves... A
virtually unarmed American naval ship in
international waters was shot at, strafed with
rockets, torpedoed, set on fire...then left to sink
as crazed gunners shot up the life rafts. The
foreign nation then says, sorry about that, and
offers an explanation so outrageous that it is
insulting, and the American government accepts it,
sweeps the whole affair under a rug, then classifies
as top secret nearly all details concerning it."
-- James Bamford, author, "The Puzzle
- The story has been hushed up."
Louisiana Congressman John R. Rarick
in the Congressional Record--House, September 19,
1967, pp. 12170-6