Israeli attack on USS Liberty 6-8-67

“His main conclusion seems to be that there’s a whole lot of conflicting testimony.”
No he clearly believes that the attack was deliberate. Read the last paragraph in the link I gave.

“As for at least one of the signal intercepts, that’s based on the testimony of one person who claims he read a CIA transcript which then disappeared and has never been seen again.”
Considering that the “person” was the US ambassador I would say that is a pretty reliable source. Besides there is whole different set of intercepts investigated by the NSA which confirm his basic point.

“So I could understand a pilot who was expecting to see a freighter seeing what he expected to see.”
But it’s not just the antenae. It’s that and the size differences and the US flag and the good visibility. Plus it’s not just one pilot but many pilots who conducted multiple reconnaisance flights and took photos. To believe the Israeli story you would need an awful lot of people making big blunders in good visibility conditions and you still wouldn’t explain the intercepts. It just doesn’t add up.

I was wrong. You are pathetic. All that Borne has done is to report that there were claims that some officials wanted the Liberty sunk. He doesn’t endorse this particular theory. Secondly why is this so unbelivable? It doesn’t mean sunk while there were sailors aboard. I am guessing the ship was badly damaged anyway.

To take this one statement and imply that everything else that Borne says is not credible is ridiculous. Not to mention the Bramford book and the article in the journal which provide other evidence.

I have given lots of specific evidence from multiple,credible sources to show the attack was deliberate. Obviously you are unable to refute those specific arguments. Instead you try in the most stupid fashion imaginable to attack the credibility of the sources. Pathetic is the only word.

Your US Navy link doesn’t work. In any case apart from weather conditions there is the issue of multiple reconnaisance flights by the Israelis when comparing to the Coral Sea attack. Also we should note that this is not a case of friendly fire strictly speaking. The Israelis did have possible motives to attack the ship which makes it different from the Japanese sinking their own ships.

The Liberty may have fired a shot but that doesn’t address the main aspects of Bamford’s evidence which is based on NSA intercepts.

Let me try that again. USS Liberty displaced 7,725 tons.

The link works now from my computer; I misread an “l” for a “1” when I typed the URL for the first link.

The difference comes from the displacement of the ship when light and fully loaded. So there is no real discrepancy.

“Displacement: 7,190 tons light 10,680 tons fully loaded”

Just to add some context here is a list of the eleven investigations (and conclusions) carried out by various branches of the US govt into the USS Liberty attack:

1)U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry June 10-18, 1967 The attack was a case of mistaken identity. Calm conditions and slow ship speed may have made American flag difficult to identify. No indication the attack was intended against U.S. ship.

2)CIA Report June 13, 1967 The attack was not made in malice and was a mistake.

3)Joint Chiefs of Staff Fact Finding Team (Russ Report) June 9-20, 1967 Outlined “findings of fact,” bud did not make any findings about the actual attack.

4)Clifford Report July 18, 1967 No premeditation, but “inexcusable failures” by Israeli forces constituing “gross negligence.”

5)Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 1967 Secretary of Defense McNamara testified he supported conclusion that the attack was not intentional.

6)Senate Armed Services Committee Feb. 1, 1968 No conclusion. Secretary McNamara makes comparison of attack on Liberty to that on Pueblo with regard to uncertainty about what was happening at the time of the incident.

7)House Appropriations Committee April-May 1968 Navy communications “foulup” and no conclusion regarding Israeli actions. Much of report remains classified.

8)House Armed Services Committee May 10, 1971 Critical of Navy communications, no conclusion regarding Israeli actions.

9)Senate Select Committee on Intelligence 1979 Responding to critical book by Liberty crewman James Ennes, Senate investigation found no merit to his claim attack was intentional.

10)National Security Agency 1981 Liberty was mistaken for an Egyptian ship as a result of miscalculations and egregious errors.

11)House Armed Services Committee June 1991 Responding to request from Liberty Veterans Association, Subcommitte on Investigations launched probe that concluded there was no evidence to support allegations made by the Association and no reason for further investigation.

CyberPundit:But it’s not just the antenae. It’s that and the size differences and the US flag and the good visibility.

And despite all that friendly fire still happens even in this modern day and age.

In April 1994, a two-ship flight of Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters headed into Northern Iraq on a mission.
On the way, two Air Force F-15s shot them down. They were victims of friendly fire.
” -from this page.

And that happened despite the fact it was relatively clear day (as the helicopters were easily spotted by the F-15’s), and that Blackhawks are not used by Iraqi forces or that they were clearly marked as being American (US flag on side of aircraft, reg numbers etc etc)
*The incident occurred on April 14, 1994, when two U.S. F-15s on patrol in northern Iraq spotted two U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopters. Thinking they were Iraqi copters violating the no-fly zone, the F-15s shot them down with air-to-air missiles, killing 26 people aboard the helicopters. * -CNN

Now if friendly fire occurs because of lack of communication internally amongst the various members of the US armed forces, then it will damn well sure happen between the armed forces of different countries. Hell the day before the USS Liberty attack the Israeli air force bombed it’s own armored column on the West Bank.

  1. Malthus - the multiple recon flight mean little - as the ensign was fouled and tattered. it was replaced but there is no evidence that the israeli’s identified it until the attack was underway.

  2. Alessan - you are a fool. yes “even” the egytians can sew. and ythe israelis can commit war crimes. the fact remains that the idf attacked an american vessel. a vessel that i believe the mis identified as an egytian horse carrier. but they did use an immense ammount of ordnance on such a trivial class of vessel. they attacked a vessel in international waters. they proceeded to shoot up lifeboats. that in itself is a crime. even if it had been the egytian vessel crammed full of egyptian infantry - it is a war crime to shoot up life boats.

as to your question why didn’t the israelis finish the job - a us spy plane orbiting the region picked up israeli communications and it seems that during the attack - the israeli motor-torpedo boats made an id on the flag - confused they stopped thier attack and withdrew… returning latter to offer assistance when it was confirmed that they had fired on, torpedoed and napalmed an american ship. they were not so politely told where to go by the surivors - completely understandable i think.

i highly suggest that you two read “The Liberty Incident: The 1967 Attack on the U.S. Navy Spy Ship” by a. jay cristol. it is the best account of the incident yet in print. with respect to ennes - i believe his account is colored by the trauma of his experience and the U.S. governments resistance to fully and transparently investigate the incident for 35 years.

i find cristol’s asertation that the liberty was attacked with the belief that it was an egyptian vessel - by airmen and sailors blinded by the desire to prove themselves to thier fathers - to prove that thier generation would also fight for the israeli state. as such they did not obey the laws of war - and are responsible for thier actions even though they occured in error.

what really gets me - as a human being and as a bohemian - is this sense that i get from your posts alessan. you asert rather plainly that israel’s right to self defence overwhelms all other concerns. this is not true. this is israel’s (and the bush administration’s) failing. many israeli’s and jews i’ve talked to claim the suffering of the holocaust excuses israel’s heavy handed actions. that is offensive. i lost family to the final solution and i would not dare to take action in the name of thier deaths. that is supremely offensive. israel is not special - they have no right to violate the civil liberties of palestinians or arab israelis- and to treat them as german jews were treated in the 30’s (religios id cards, arab only ghettos, relocation, harassment) is offensive to all those who died under and opposing the nazi regime.

i’m not a paciifist - i believe in the soverign right of nations to go to war to protect thier interests. however israel and the bush regime need to understand that sacrificing the moral high ground - and taking provocatiove unilateral action does not enhance national security - it degrades it.

insurgents (terrorists are just insurgents working for an unrecognized political action - thus the vietcong and the sandinista weren’t terrorists in US eyes) act out of desperation. period. they lack the material ability to stage frontal assaults so they resort to guerilla warfare. taking provocative action against refugee camps or counties does nothing to discourage insurgents - it fills thier ranks as otherwise moderate people are polarized by the suffering inflicted on them. this is why insurgency works so damn well. lessons the us and israel should learn - as they are both nations founded through insurgency - terrorism.

both nations need to get swedish on terrorism. sweden is a very modern country - with heavy world influence through companies like nokia and volvo. when was the last time the swedes had a big terrorist problem? on the contrary israel was had and have terrorists from all over the world flocking to attack it, from as far away as japan.

Pal, you’re reading a lot of crap I didn’t even write. The remark about Egyptians sewing? Just a sarcastic way of saying that anyone can fly any flag they want.

That remark about Sweden was perhaps the most asinine thing I’ve ever read on this board. Of course we’d love to be like Sweden - Sweden doesn’t have any enemies. Hell, they haven’t seen a battle since Gustav Adolfus. One thing I can assure you, though - if the Swedes fought wars, they would commit war crimes. Every nation does, with no exception. The only question is, how many, and what’s done with the perpetrators.

Do you have any idea how condescending that remark sounded? It’s like saying: “Do you know what the problem with you poor people is? You don’t have enough money. You should be rich, like me. If you had more money, you wouldn’t have to work so hard.” I mean, sheesh. Sweden. Why don’t you criticize me for not receiving daily blowjobs from Victoria Silvstedt while your at it?
P.S. The moral high ground and $0.85 will get you a tall latte at Starbucks.

“the multiple recon flight mean little - as the ensign was fouled and tattered”
What’s your source for this? Anyway it doesn’t really matter because the ship was distinctive in many ways ,including size and shape, from the Egyptian ship.

I think the differences with the helicopter incidents are obvious; they are smaller and faster by far than the ship. Again what about the multiple recon. flights before the attack? And finally what about the sigint messages in the Liberty case?

I am aware that there were multiple committees which looked at the incident but according to researchers like Borne they didn’t look systematically at the evidence like the Sigint intercepts. Note that the former Director and Deputy Director of the NSA are on record saying they thought the attack was deliberate.

If you could give us the specific explanations that these reports come with for the evidence cited in the Fishel article and the Borne piece that would be useful.

Thanks for the insult. Please feel free to continue to debate at the same high level.

Please also explain why it is “ridiculous” to point out an obvious absurdity in the cranky conspiracy item you posted as “an especially good description about the problems
with the official investigation after the incident”. Seems right on point to me.

I didn’t see any claims that certain bits of it were “endorsed” by the authour, and others “not endorsed”. But no doubt with your powers of clairvoyance, you can tell the difference.

As for your claim that the account of a will on the part of the USA to sink its own ship to save the Israelis from embarrasment is “not incredible”, that just goes to show you are willing to believe anything that supports your own point of view, no matter how absurd.

As for the rest of the so-called “evidence”, it has been examined something like eleven times by people who, unlike you and me, actually have access to the (secret) evidence that the “case” is built on - and rejected.

And yes, I judge the credibility of any witness by the totality of their statement. How can evidence be evaluated otherwise? I don’t have access to secret papers - but that does not mean I am obliged to accept every crank and tinfoil-hat wearer who claims that their wacky conspiracies are supported by secret agency intercepts, the validity of which none of us are in a position to evaluate.

Take eye-witnesses. How is their evidence evaluated, if a particular witness is the only one to have seen an event? We can’t cross-examine them, we can’t contradict them, so we are left with (a) examining logic and motivations; and (b) examining the statements themselves, for internal consistency and trustworthyness.

Simply cherry-picking the bits you like and claiming the bits you don’t like aren’t “endorsed” is just foolish. If this was a witness in court, they would be torn apart on cross-examination. Perhaps you have heard the term “impeaching the credibility” of a witness? Well, that is just what I did. You don’t like it, that is clear - but so what.

Your so-called “evidence” clearly fails the first test, as has been pointed out to you by several - there is no credible motivation for the crime that makes any logical sense. I have demonstrated why the last particular bit of evidence you proudly presented fails the second. Yet you are calling me “pathetic”.

Sounds to me like the last disparing cry of the sore loser. They inevitably resort to insults when evidence and argument fail them.

IIRC the Liberty was so badly damaged that it was put of commission a few years later and sold as scrap. Why exactly is it so difficult to believe that some officials might have wanted to sink it?. Are you under the impression they were suggesting that it be sunk with sailors aboard? There is nothing in Borne’s piece which suggests this. So your argument for dismissing his web-site as a “crank conspiracy item” is ludicrous.

The bottom line is that this debate is about the very specific evidence put forward by people like Fishel, Borne, Bramford etc. about signals intercepts, visibility conditions, reconnaisance flights and the like. You obviously have nothing useful to say about these issues. Anyone with any sense would gracefully retire from the debate but , for some strange reason you feel unable to do this. Instead you construct ludicrous meta-arguments and try to attack the credibility of Borne (what about Bramford and Fishel anyway? ).

I give you 0/10 for logical reasoning but 10/10 for being amusingly persistent for a losing cause. You ought to get together with that Iraqi Information Minister after the war is over.

Since I never mentioned anything about sinking the ship with crew aboard, you must be using your powers of clarvoyance on me for a change - to put words in my mouth. Can you say “straw man”?

The charge that “unnamed Washington officials” wanted to sink a US ship to protect Israel from embarrasment is inherently absurd, whether you think so or not. If you don’t think this is a cranky claim, it reflects on your powers of objectivity.

I have no intention wasting my time demolishing the rest of your sources. Why bother, when I demolish one you don’t believe it, and simply subject me to a torrent of insults - rather than attempting to critically engage in argument. No doubt if I demolished all of them, I would just hear how I am pathetic, the equivalent of the Iraqi Information Minister, etc. ad nauseum.

As far as I am concerned, at least one of your sources has been exposed as hopelessly cranky, and you have been exposed as incapable of serious argument.

As far as “amusingly persistant in a losing cause” goes, how would you describe someone who persists in a 36 year old controversy about a friendly fire incident, which has been investigated eleven times and not found to have any merit whatsoever?

Here’s your tinfoil hat. Enjoy. :smiley:

“The charge that “unnamed Washington officials” wanted to sink a US ship to protect Israel from embarrasment is inherently absurd, whether you think so or not”
Repeating this again and again without any explanation is not an argument. There is nothing implausible about a few American officials wanting to sink a badly damaged ship which was soon scrapped anyway. Claiming that this “demolishes” the credibility of Borne is the height of absurdity.

But ,hey, if you have nothing to work with, what can you do?

The article from JICI refers to a signals intercept that has an Israeli pilot identifying the Liberty as American, followed by an Israeli order to attack anyway. It lists as a source Dwight Porter, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, who is said to have revealed this in 1991. So far as I can tell, nobody has come forward with an actual copy of the tape or transcript of the signal intercept, so we have only Porter’s word that it exists. If Porter’s story is true, it certainly is damning evidence against the Israelis.

Dwight Porter apparently told this story to columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak in 1991. I have not been able to find an actual copy of Evans’ and Novak’s report on the Web, though there are scads of references to it. The version generally given is that CIA station chief’s agents in the U.S. Embassy in Beirut showed Porter a translated copy of the signals only hours after the attack, showing an Israeli pilot reporting that the ship was American and was flying an American flag, and twice receiving orders to attack in response. The CIA agents then allegedly disappeared with their transcript; some versions have them destroying it.

One site dismisses Porter’s story as impossible, because the UHF frequencies used by the Mirages were too short-range to be picked up in Beirut, 205 miles away. I see nothing in the article to substantiate the range data, though.

Porter’s version also contradicts that of Marvin Nowicki, USN, flying the U.S. EC-121 electronic intel aircraft near the Liberty during the attack. Nowicki, listening to the conversations, heard no mention of the American flag being sighted until after the Israeli torpedo boats had closed in, and does not report hearing any order to attack being given after the torpedo boats reported sighting an American flag on the ship.

Porter’s story also contradicts the existing Israeli Air Force tape of the radio conversations between Kursa flight (the two Mirage IIIs that strafed the Liberty and ground control. On those tapes, the pilots can be heard, after the attack, reporting the hull number and stating “There is no flag on her!” This is reported on page 26 of Cristol’s timeline.

Liberty’s own deck log substantiates the tape’s claim that the pilot saw no flag on the ship. The pilot reported that there was no flag at 1411 hours local time. At 1426 hours

This is on page 27 of the same timeline.

The existence of the intercept Porter reports, at least as it is described on the Web, is thus questionable. Is there any more evidence for this intercept?

CyberPundit, I do not understand what you are trying to say to Malthus. You state, clearly, that the USS Liberty was badly damaged and thus there was a perfectly adequate reason to scrap her. How does this help justify the claim quoted on Borne’s website that she was scrapped for the purpose of saving Israel from embarrassment?

Malthus, I am not particularly impressed by Borne either, but since he is not claiming to be a witness to the event, I think it is more worthwhile to examine his sources, or lack thereof, than to evaluate his mental competency. Borne could be loony as a bedbug and still be citing sources from sane and reliable witnesses.

I agree that more details about the Beirut intercept would be nice and certainly the NSA intercepts discussed by Bramford are a better piece of evidence. However I don’t think your points necessarily contradict Porter’s story. The Israeli pilots could have identified the ship was American without a flag. (from the markings, equipment etc.) The Fishel reference to the Porter story doesn’t mention any flag.

As for the other point you misunderstand me. I am not saying that the ship was scrapped to reduce publicity and neither, I think , is Borne. Borne just reports that some US officials wanted to order the sinking of the ship for that purpose (or so Tordella was told).

Malthus appears to believe that this is so inherently absurd that it “demolishes” Borne’s credibility
He says:
“The charge that “unnamed Washington officials” wanted to sink a US ship to protect Israel from embarrasment is inherently absurd, whether you think so or not.”
I am merely pointing out that this is not the case. There is nothing inherently absurd in what Tordella was told.

I think the differences with the helicopter incidents are obvious; they are smaller and faster by far than the ship.
But relative to a fighter jet their speeds are both extremely slow. And as mentioned Blackhawk helicopters are exclusively used by the US (at least in Iraq) and they are clearly identified. Still didn’t stop them being shot down.

Again what about the multiple recon. flights before the attack?
The multiple recon flights identified the ship as the Liberty. However the fatal error seems to have been the following (taken from Michael Oren’s article, a copy which I have found online)
"At 1:41 p.m., Ensign Aharon Yifrah, combat information officer aboard the flagship of these torpedo boats, T-204, informed its captain, Cmdr. Moshe Oren,23 that an unidentified ship had been sighted northeast of El-Arish at a range of 22 miles. The ship was sailing toward Egypt at a speed, Yifrah estimated, of 30 knots.

Yifrah’s assessment, twice recalculated and confirmed by him, was pivotal. It meant that the ship could not be the Liberty, whose maximum speed was 18 knots. Moreover, the Israelis had standing orders to fire on any unknown vessel in the area sailing at over 20 knots, a speed which, at that time, could only be attained by fighting ships. This information, when added to the ship’s direction, indicated that the target was an enemy destroyer fleeing toward port after having shelled El-Arish.

The torpedo boats gave chase, but even at their maximum speed of 36 knots, they did not expect to overtake their target before it reached Egypt. Rahav therefore alerted the air force, and two Mirage III fighters were diverted from the Suez Canal, northeast to the sea. When they arrived, the vessel they saw was “gray with two guns in the forecastle, a mast and funnel.” Making two passes at 3,000 feet, formation commander Capt. Spector (IDF records do not provide pilots’ first names) reckoned that the ship was a “Z” or Hunt-class destroyer without the deck markings (a white cross on a red background) of the Israeli navy. Spector then spoke with air force commander Gen. Motti Hod, who asked him repeatedly whether he could see a flag. The answer was “Negative.” Nor were there any distinguishing marks other than some “black letters” painted on the hull.

IAF Intelligence Chief Col. Yeshayahu Bareket also claimed to have contacted American Naval Attaché Castle at this point in an attempt to ascertain whether the suspect ship was the Liberty, but the latter professed no knowledge of the Liberty’s schedule - a claim later denied by Castle but, strangely, confirmed by McGonagle.24 One fact is clear, however: After two low sweeps by the lead plane, at 1:58 p.m., the Mirages were cleared to attack."

So the ship was identified earlier, but due to miscalculations of speed it was determined the ship spotted later was not the USS Liberty, and seeing that the Israeli Army/Navy was under orders to fire on any unidentified ship the attack was ordered.

The Israeli pilots could have identified the ship was American without a flag. (from the markings, equipment etc.)
But they didn’t have to, nor was it their responsibility. The ship had already been marked as not being the Liberty (due to the speed miscalculation), the pilots checked to see if they could see a flag (which they reported that they couldn’t, which has been confirmed by both the tapes the IDF released and from other sources such as Nowicki) and seeing that the ship was going to fast too be the USS Liberty it was assumed to be Egyptian and attacked.

As for the distinctiveness of the equipment on the Liberty it obviously wasn’t distinctive enough as the pilots reported it as being “gray with two guns in the forecastle, a mast and funnel.”. Hardly a distinctive description.

You make a good point. Naturally, Borne is relying on hearsay, not on his own evidence.

However, it has some value to examine the attitude that this analyst takes with the evidence he has. Is he cherrypicking and uncritical with sources that support his point of view, or is he objective and impartial with the evidence - evidence that is so powerful as to lead him to a certain conclusion?

Now, I have no particular insight into the existence or reliability of the intercept transcript. It may exist, and be reliable; it may not. Your previous post does a very credible job of examining the transcript against other available evidence, but such an examiniation can never, in the nature of things, prove the matter one way or another - as none of us are in a position to properly evaluate an intercept which was gathered secretly some 36 years ago.

However, once certainly can question the reliability of this particular analysis, which is based on the transcripts and other evidence. Given that the transcripts themselves are beyond our effective reach, an examination of those secondary sources may be the best that can be done. Are they predisposed to fudging or inventing evidence, or do they generally appear reliable?

In other words, is this a serious matter, or more likely to be simply a concocted conspiracy theory? If it is the latter, an examination of primary sources will get one nowhere. As you have seen (and I have seen many cases similar), one tends to find references to the existence of damning, incontrovertable proof of the conspiracy - which, unfortunately, has been lost or more likely destroyed by agents of the conspiracy to cover up the existence of the conspiracy. An examination of primary sources leads further and further into a maze of innuendo and accusation. At some point, one (in order to believe the conspiracy) is forced to rely on the word of someone that the evidence exists and is trustworthy …

So, while in strict fairness it certainly is true that a looney conspiracy theorist may be citing reliable and accurate witness reports, as a general matter this is rarely the case in reality. When I see laughable claims being advanced by a secondary source, I tend to think that pursuing the sources for other claims made by the same secondary source may well be a waste of time.

I am glad to see that your more extensive research confirms that fact in the case of this particular primary source. However, I will also point out that I could have predicted this would be the case, and in fact I was right in this particular instance.

As I noted before, your research cannot prove (particularly to the True Believer) that the intercept in question does not exist. After all, the CIA may have destroyed it. And, the True Believers really will not care if any particular bit of evidence is disproved or not - there is always other evidence, other sources, new evidence …

The real question is - how much time and effort should one devote to demolishing a particular conspiracy theory, before one grows bored?

There are a couple of problems with Oren’s story:
The Liberty was holding a steady course at 5 knots per hour. It’s hard to square with the pilots “seeing” that it was going too fast to be the Liberty and also the “miscalcuations” that it was going at 30. The difference between 5 and 30 is enormous and obvious even to an untrained eye.

Besides according to the Porter intercept they did identify that the ship was American and were told to attack it anyway.

I am disinclined to waste my time with you since Skip and Danimal have so much more interesting things to say and you clearly have nothing to contribute to this debate except whining about conspiracy theories.

Let me just note what should have been obvious if you had actually read the piece by Borne: he is talking about a completely different intercept, namely the one picked up by the NSA through their spy plane. The source for this is the Director and Deputy Director of the NSA going on the record. The Beirut intercept isn’t available for the public but it is the US Ambassador to Lebanon who says, also on the record, that it exists.

In any case feel free to moan,rant and whine on behalf of Israel without saying anything about the substance of the debate. It’s nice to have some comic relief from the serious discussion between Danimal, Skip and me.