USS Liberty (I know, again): but new sworn testimony of cover up

FWIW - while the IAF is pretty good, every war there are a case or two of so called “friendly fire”.

For example (and sorry, I couldn’t find a non-Hebrew cite), during the Lebanon war (1982-1985), about 50 Israeli soldiers were killed in a single air-to-ground attack in Lebanon. By the IAF. And there were other cases as well:(

So, while I have no proof of it, Occam’s razor suggests that the pilots on this sortie simply fucked up.

Above case (and I’ll look some more for documentation later, when I have more time) proves that these messes do happen. This time it was a US ship rather than our own troops that we hit, which made for political implications, but these incidents just do happen, just about in every war, and it makes far more sense to attribute the attack on Liberty to a “friendly fire” fuckup than to some kind of conspiracy theory.

Not to come of as callous - I’m not suggesting this makes the attack somehow “OK”. Just that it most likely was a horrible mistake and not some kind of evil plot.

Dan Abarbanel

IMHO Noone Special has it right – in cases like these, the only logical tool at our disposal is Occam’s Razor.

Israel and the IDF and IAF are motivated to lie about the attack – if they fucked up, they want it to seem like they didn’t fuck up as bad as they did. And if they didn’t, they of course want that to be covered up.

The survivors obviously have biased views as well. This is unavoidable: I can’t imagine how one could survive a deadly attack and record one’s observations without some kind of slant. It is normal human reaction to vilify one’s attackers.

And the US government probably just wants the whole thing to go away. At some level, they have to balance the needs of a proxy state in the region (which has been incredibly effective at acting as a lever for the US) with the needs of its servicemen. They have to draw that line in the sand somewhere.

We have no irrefutable evidence either way. So we have to go with the simplest story. The simplest story does not involve a bi-national coverup extending to the highest levels of government. Congressional investigations “ordered” by the president to find in a particular way (isn’t Congress supposed to be independent?). Plans, apparently phoned in from Washington, which immediately called off the Liberty’s air cover within an hour, as claimed by Mr. Duality’s cite. We are talking 1967 here, when it took two weeks to decide on targets to bomb in North Vietnam. 35 years of nearly complete silence by every member of both sides of the government. These things appear as flights of fancy, at least to me. So we have to go with human error, IMHO.

Even with much greater levels of technology, we drop bombs on our own troops and those of our allies. Even with the most precise GPS targeting, we blow up Chinese Embassies. There has always been a fog of war, and there probably always will be. To posit an extensive, highly coordinated coverup between two different governments in the height of a vicious war is IMHO a little ludicrous.

The USS Liberty is not unique in this fact. Other incidents of friendly fire have drawn the exact same calls of conspiracy and cover up. One which comes to mind is when Norman Schwarzkopf lost 8 men to US artillery in Vietnam.
The parents of one of the men lost, Michael Mullen, became convinced of a cover up, and have testified to Congress and written books about it. Again, officials including Schwarzkopf deny any such conspiracy, and blame it on the fog of war. Friendly fire is tragic, especially because survivors cannot vilify the enemy and take comfort in the fact that their loved ones died in a brave necessary fight.

Most of those examples of friendly fire are against ground troops which are obviously very small.Examples of friendly fire against ships are exceedingly rare AFAIK especially when you consider that visibility conditions were excellent and that the USS Liberty had large, specialist equipment and didn’t look at all like the Egyptian ship that it was supposedly mistaken for.

Here is an article published in the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligency which gives a summary of the evidence that the attack was deliberate:
If anyone has any counters to the specific points that he raises I would be interested in hearing about them.

While looking for cites on the Israeli friendly fire incident in Lebanon that I mentioned above (which I haven’t found yet), I ran into this attemp to debunk the “deliberate attack” theory. I think the following, rather long, quote from the website is warrented:

Dan Abarbanel

“Critics claimed the Israeli tape was doctored, but the National Security Agency of the United States released formerly top secret transcripts in July 2003 that confirmed the Israeli version.”
This would appear to contradict the article in the Naval Institute Proceedings that I put up above:
"On 14 February 2003, the “godfather” of the NSA’s Auxiliary General Technical Research program, Oliver Kirby, noted that the Liberty was “my baby.” Within weeks of the calamity, Kirby, deputy director for operations/production, read U.S. signals intelligence (SigInt)-generated transcripts and “staff reports” at NSA’s Fort Meade, Maryland, headquarters. They were of Israeli pilots’ conversations, recorded during the attack. The intercepts made it “absolutely certain” they knew it was a U.S. ship, he said. Kirby’s is the first public disclosure by a top-level NSA senior of deliberate intent based on personal analyses of SigInt material.

In an interview on 24 February 2003, retired Air Force Major General John Morrison, the agency’s then-second-in-command (and Kirby’s successor), said he had been informed at the time of Kirby’s findings and endorsed them. Former NSA Director retired Army Lieutenant General William Odom said on 3 March 2003 said that, on the strength of such data, the attack’s deliberateness “just wasn’t a disputed issue” within the agency. On 5 March 2003, retired Navy Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, NSA director from 1977-1981, said he “flatly rejected” the Cristol/Israeli thesis. “It is just exceedingly difficult to believe that [the Liberty] was not correctly identified.” He said this was based on his talks with NSA seniors at the time having direct knowledge. All four were unaware of any agency official at that time or later who dissented from the “deliberate” conclusion."

So basically you have a number of NSA officials who dispute Israel’s version. The article also doesn’t address all the other points in the Fishel article? What about the selective jamming? The large, visible differences between the USS Liberty and the Egyptian ship?


It always seems to come down to word-against-word. Sure, that Fishel article makes some good points. But they are the same points the Israelis dispute. He claims that the Israelis extensively reconnoitered the Liberty, the Israelis deny this. He says that the Israelis knew of the Liberty in the area, the Israelis deny this. He says that they could clearly identify the flag, the Israelis deny it and say that a purported denial by the US of ships in the area raised suspicions of ships flying false colors. It always comes down to the primary evidence and the primary evidence seems to be in tremendous dispute, with plenty of it to support both sides.

His motive given, that somehow intercepting messages about messages of the impending advance on the Golan (on the other end of the country) would cause Israel not to attack, doesn’t seem to cut the mustard for me. What exactly would the US do? We are not talking about days here, we are talking about hours. The attack was delayed, sure, but from 11:30 AM to 3 PM. I don’t see how debate on a cease fire in the UN would have changed this, especially considering Israel taking shelling from the Golan. Aerial bombartment of the Golan began on June 8, the day of the attack on the Liberty. The battle was over by mid-day June 10, and a cease-fire line set on June 12th. Knowing how the UN works, I can’t imagine a much different progression given the difference from 11:30 to 3 PM to know about the Golan offensive.

Fishel asks us to assume that Israel would have sacrificed its closest allegiance, in the time of its greatest need, for three and a half hours of time that would have allegedly brought a cease-fire. Or, if somehow the Americans had heard about the advance from the Liberty, they would have stepped in to prevent Israel from attacking Syrian artillery raining shells down on civilian centers in the Kinneret. I just can’t buy it.

I can understand how you can look at the primary evidence and be convinced one way. I look at the primary evidence and am not convinced either way. All I see is a big, giant mess of conflicting reports. So I go with the simplest theory: no coverups, no conspiracies to the highest levels of government. Just pure and simple human fuckups. Which to me means friendly fire incident.

“So I go with the simplest theory: no coverups, no conspiracies to the highest levels of government”
The problem is that this theory is no longer simple because of the large number of US officials who dispute the official version (and now one official who directly describes a cover-up). I also generally tend to discount theories of cover-up but when senior officials from multiple agencies from that same government go on record claiming that the official story is false it looks awfully suspicious. What would be their motive for lying?

As for the disputes about the actual incident some of the undisputed facts also make it hard to believe it was an accident; the excellent visibility conditions, and the large, visible electronic equipment on the USS Liberty which distinguished it significnatly from the Egyptian ship. Like I said above while friendly fire incidents on ground troops are common, they are exceedingly rare on ships especially in the conditions of this particular incident.

I agree btw that Fishel’s explanation about the Israeli motive isn’t that convincing. There are other theories out there as well though only the Israelis will know if they are true… Given the facts above I find it easier to believe that Israel did have have some motive rather than that the attack was a mistake.

The “Israel Attacked the Liberty to cover up their pending attck on Golan” is not valid because the US was already aware of the attack before the Liberty incident took place. Michael Oren (Israeli historian who wrote the definitive book on the 6 Day War) writes

How do you mistakenly attack a ship for an hour and a quarter? If the attack was a mistake, it’s the single most bizarre case of misidentification that I’ve ever heard of.

The problem is, the debate is not about history, but about entrenched personal/political positions.

There is simply no way that those who are convinced about the attack will ever admit that the evidence is inconclusive, or that a motive is lacking.

I went through this debate before - I’m not going to do it again, because some of those who believe in the deliberate attack scenario are incapable of compromise argument or considering the evidence in any way objectively. For some reason, they have much invested in this particular 36-year-old conspiracy theory.

Once again you have nothing to contribute to the debate; you just whine about the alleged motives of other people. I don’t have anything “invested” in this particularl issue; I have just looked at the evidence and come to my conclusions. I have given my reasons and my evidence in detail in this and the previous thread. Please go whine somewhere else and leave this thread for those who are seriously interested in the issue.

Here is the problem with this. This Isreali “ace” admits here that “…the ship did NOT have ANY symbol or flag I could see…” (emphasis mine). Then why attack it? The Egyptians were not known for a large navy (check Janes for that period), and this wasn’t WWII- any unidentified ship was far more likely to be neutral than enemy. In fact, the USA had the largest navy afloat- with the Russians and GB next. So if there was an “unidentifed” military vessel the chance it was Egyptian was slim, and the chance it was one of those 3 was very high. Even if so- he could ID that the ship was only armed with light machine guns, and no cannon capable of shelling shore positions.

They simply had no business attcking a ship without a positive ID for enemy. Thus, I go back to my original supposition.

My comments were not directed at you; don’t wear the label, unless of course it fits.

Your response above is exactly the sort of defensive reaction which makes this not a “debate”, but a shouting match between the converted. I am certainly not the only one to have noticed this fact.

Your original supposition (Israel attacked the ship on purpose, to demonstrate they were not a US puppet) is far less likely than the idea that a pilot, eager for action, screwed up. It’s been a staple of Arab propoganda for decades to say Isreal is a U.S. puppet, but why would Israel care enough their opinion to try to disprove such a foolish claim?

For that matter, if Israel wanted to display some independence, they could have voted against the U.S. on some U.N. debate, rather than attack one of their ships. You’re suggesting they used cold-blooded logic to come up with a completely ridiculous plan. Bravo.

“My comments were not directed at you; don’t wear the label, unless of course it fits.”
So who was the comment directed at? You have made these kinds of cheap shots at me on a previous thread on this same issue.

"Your response above is exactly the sort of defensive reaction which makes this not a "debate", but a shouting match between the converted "
 Nonsense. I have given my facts and interpretation ; **Edwino** and others have given theirs. That is the substantive debate.

You OTOH obviously have nothing of value to contribute to the actual debate but have some strange obsession with the issue and  a compulsion to attack the motives those who you disagree with.

looks around

Who is calling for who to not post? Who is adding insults about “whining”?

If you want to look for “strange obsessions and compulsions”, look in the mirror. If your tinfoil hat doesn’t obscure the view!

The fact is, there is nothing new about this debate, other than what was mentioned by the OP - who admits that there are no new facts to discuss.

Since we have already hammered over those facts repeatedly in other threads, why do you keep back at it - returning, as one might say, to the same thing over and over again ad nauseum? To demonstrate your “superior knowledge”? To suck a new set of victims into a debate in which, as I know, you will never admit to any doubts about your theory?

I intended my remarks as a friendly warning, directed to the poster I quoted - to keep others from wasting too much time trying to “debate” with some minds totally closed to any notion of compromise or doubt. Naturally, if they wish to do so and find it enjoyable, that is up to them. Unlike you, I do not assume that I have the power to force others not to post; nor to I presume to tell others what to do.

Forewarned is forearmed.

[Need I mention that the notion that you can somehow bully someone into not participating is, frankly, funny? :smiley: ]

I’m afraid you missed this part of the
[quoted article]

(bolding mine)

Dan Abarbanel

It’s rare to see someone who posts so much about an issue and yet has so little to contribute by way of substance about the issue itself. In any case I have no desire to continue this meta-debate. Strangely enough I am more interested in the actual facts of what happened that day with the USS LIberty. I will leave others to judge which one of us has more to say about that.

Noone Special,
I think the US Navy inquiry that you reference about the flag is the same one which the attorney in the OP has testified was ordered to cover-up the facts . The statement about the flag is contradicted by other sources. From Naval Institute Proceedings article:
“In a January 2003 radio interview, Signalman Joe Meadors described the flag as fluttering each of several times he observed it during the attack. No survivor who glanced toward either flag at this time remembers it otherwise.”

If only you had posted like this in the first response, rather than arrogantly (and amusingly) larding on the personal insults and orders, you wouldn’t have heard a further peep out of me.

Finally, a response that sounds more or less rational. I guess you have learned that foaming at the mouth is not a particularly effective tactic.

For the record, I did have only a single point to make - and I made it in my first post. All the rest was in response to your provocations. Now, go out and prove me wrong with your sweet reasonableness and openness to doubt and compromise!


“Finally, a response that sounds more or less rational. I guess you have learned that foaming at the mouth is not a particularly effective tactic.”
Thanks. These are the kind of restrained comments that contribute to reasonable discussion. Also from your first post: “some of those who believe in the deliberate attack scenario are incapable of compromise argument or considering the evidence in any way objectively”. That’s exactly the way to describe those you disagree with if you want a good discussion. Your perceptive and detailed analysis of the actual USS Liberty incident is also much appreciated.