T Nation

Why Israel Attacked the USS Liberty

BY PHILLIP F. TOURNEY SURVIVOR OF THE USS LIBERTY

As I sit in my office beginning to write my first article for American Free Press newspaper, I look out my window. I see snow covered peaks, nature at its best in Colorado. It calms me to see such beauty and thank God I�??m alive with my family. As I start to write, my heart is beginning to race, my palms are sweating. I�??m not as comfortable as I was just a few moments ago. I know all of you know the story of the attack on our ship, the USS LIBERTY, by the government of Israel, but it needs to be repeated.

June 8, 1967 I was a 20 year old 3rd class petty officer in damage control at the time of this sneak attack from our so-called ally, Israel. We were identified as American and friendly many hours before the slaughter began at 2:00 P.M.

The Israeli jet aircraft were ruthless and stubborn in their attempt to sink and murder all hands aboard. They hit every antennae on our ship, no accident for sure. The Israeli reconnaissance aircraft took pictures of our ship in the morning hours, nothing was missed. The attacking aircraft dropped napalm on the bridge of our ship to burn us alive.

Soon after the jets were done with us we see 3 motor torpedo boats approaching our ship at a high rate of speed. We then learned who our attackers were.

We saw 3 flags marked with the Star of David. We were in shock because the Israelis were supposed to be our allies! We had had no idea who was attacking us until then. The attacking jet aircraft were unmarked. The torpedo boats maneuvered themselves into a torpedo launch attitude, now come the 5 to 6 torpedoes. The captain was doing his best to maneuver the ship to avoid sudden death. The torpedoes whizzed by our ship, forward and aft with 1 hitting its mark, almost dead mid-ships, blowing to bits 25 American heroes who stood their ground below the water line and accepted their fate, doing their duty for the United States Government.

The torpedo gunboats were not even close to being done with us. The torpedo gunmen shot at our fire fighters and stretcher bearers, anything that moved. They were shooting at our water line to blow up the boilers inside and finish the job of sinking us.

The captain had given the order to abandon ship, as it appeared we were about to roll over. There were 3 life rafts left that were floatable. We put them over the side so we could put our most severely wounded in them to try to save their lives. The torpedo gunmen would have none of that and blew 2 of them out of the water. They took the 3rd raft aboard their boat, seeing it as an obvious trophy for all their hard work. The torpedo gunmen continued their assault until I guess they ran out of ammunition. They circled the ship and left.

Old Glory was still on her mast, 7�?? x 13�?? holiday colors. We thought the attack was over. Two Israeli helicopters approached our ship with armed gunmen at the ready to finish us off. They were there a short time and left in the same direction they came. We had no idea why they didn�??t shoot at us. We wondered if they were finally done with their murderous carnage on a virtually unarmed ship which only had 4 50 caliber machine guns that had been taken out by the jets on the first pass when the attack began.

Little did the crew know that Terry Halbardier, an ET, got off an SOS from an antennae that was not hit by the Israeli heat seeking missiles because it was taken off line due to a malfunction before the attack. The SOS he sent stated we were under attack by unknown jet aircraft. This message was sent out within 15 minutes of the attack and was picked up by the USS SARATOGA and the USS AMERICA. Captain Tully of the USS SARATOGA sent ready aircraft to our aid only to have them recalled. The USS AMERICA also sent rescue aircraft to come to our aid. These life saving planes were recalled not once but twice. These orders came straight from the White House, first from Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and then from President Johnson himself. Johnson said he was not about to attack our �??ally�??, Israel. How did he know who was attacking our ship when we didn�??t even know? Help did not arrive until 18 hours later when the American rescue aircraft could have been there in 15 to 20 minutes driving off the torpedo boats and saving precious American lives.

What remained was a ship with a 40 x 40 foot torpedo hole in her side, 821+ canon and rocket holes, thousands of rounds of fifty caliber armor piercing bullets and napalm that had been burning up our ship. Thirty four American souls were murdered, 173 were wounded, which constituted attempted murder, out of a crew of 294. Two thirds of the crew had been murdered or wounded.

Israel and our government, in this 2 hour attack, had come up with a plan to sink our ship, blame it on Egypt and bring the U.S. into the Six Day War. If this so called accident was so cut and dry, why were all records sealed tighter than Fort Knox? Israel got by with cold-blooded murder and other war crimes and it�??s only a matter of time until they do it again, perhaps on a ship off the coast of Iran. Israel controls America�??s fate and our elected officials bow to their every whim.

I love my country and will not stand by and let this continue. While there is time, we must do what we can to save our sinking ship of state. In many ways, America today is the USS Liberty after that 2 hour attack taking place 40 years ago. We are badly hit and stand the chance of sinking into the abyss with everyone being lost forever unless something is done immediately. Write your president and congressmen and let them know you know what is going on and you will not fight anymore for Israel. Israel has 300 nukes, so let them take care of themselves. There is nothing, neither in the Middle East nor elsewhere, that is worth one more drop of precious American blood.

The leaders of our country who swore an oath to protect this nation ordered the survivors of the LIBERTY to never repeat this piece of history under penalty of jail or worse. 40 years ago, another nation got away with cold-blooded murder on the high seas, and as an American veteran, let me say this for the record�??NO ONE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO GET BY WITH COLD-BLOODED MURDER, AND ESPECIALLY NOT ISRAEL, NOT THEN AND NOT NOW.

The USS LIBERTY VETERANS ASSOCIATION http://www.ussliberty.org is offering $10,000.00 to anyone who can disprove that our story is the truth. as of this moment, no one from the pro-Israeli crowd has accepted the challenge.

2007 By Phil Tourney, survivor of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty

If it was supposed to be an attack by Egypt, why were the Torpedo boats flying the Star of David?

How hard would it be for them to get or make some foreign flags?

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
If it was supposed to be an attack by Egypt, why were the Torpedo boats flying the Star of David?

How hard would it be for them to get or make some foreign flags?[/quote]

Good question. I know, the planes have allegedly been painted to look like the Egyptians’ (see BBC’s Dead in the Water).

We know now that Lyndon Johnson’s entourage didn’t believe a word of the Israeli’s explanation.

[i]"The Johnson administration did not publicly dispute Israel’s claim that the attack had been nothing more than a disastrous mistake. But internal White House documents obtained from the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library show that the Israelis’ explanation of how the mistake had occurred was not believed.

Except for McNamara, most senior administration officials from Secretary of State Dean Rusk on down privately agreed with Johnson’s intelligence adviser, Clark Clifford, who was quoted in minutes of a National Security Council staff meeting as saying it was “inconceivable” that the attack had been a case of mistaken identity.

The attack “couldn’t be anything else but deliberate,” the NSA’s director, Lt. Gen. Marshall Carter, later told Congress."[/i]

I wasn’t there, but the story is very fishy. Here’s more:

“…the board of inquiry (concluded) that the Israelis knew exactly what they were doing in attacking the Liberty.”- Former CIA Director Richard Helms

"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 "- Former US Secretary of State Dean Rusk

Did they really do it on purpose? I don’t know. But I am firmly convinced that the Israelis could have pulled it off easily. They exert tremendous leverage on Washington.

Israelis= biggest scumbags in the world

Sorry, but this story doesn’t pass the sniff test.

mike

[quote]Mikeyali wrote:
Sorry, but this story doesn’t pass the sniff test.

mike[/quote]

Yep.

After 5 Congressional and CIA investigations, leave alone Israeli and American naval investigations, why is this story presented so?

How about the simplest explanations?

  1. Yes, the air attack was deliberate…a deliberate and horrifying mistake of “friendly fire” in the fog of war.
  2. Eye-witnesses are respected, but no single eye-witness sees everything. (And one, Bramford by name, has been caught fabricating “evidence.”)

For example, from Wiki (and an entry not contested) is the mistake of the torpedo boat:

About twenty minutes after the aircraft attack, the ship was approached by three torpedo boats bearing Israeli flags and identification signs. Initially, McGonagle, who perceived that the torpedo boats “were approaching the ship in a torpedo launch attitude,”[23] ordered a machine gun to fire on the boats. After recognizing the Israeli standard and seeing apparent Morse code signalling attempts by one of the boats (but being unable to see what was being sent, due to the smoke of the fire started by the earlier aircraft attack), McGonagle gave the order to cease fire. This order was apparently misunderstood in the confusion, and two heavy machine guns on the USS Liberty again opened fire. One gun was fired accidentally due to exploding ammunition (Oren, 267). Subsequently, the Israeli boats responded with fire and launched at least two torpedoes at Liberty (five according to the 1982 IDF History Department report). One hit Liberty on the starboard side forward of the superstructure, creating a 36 X 24 foot hole in what had been a former cargo hold converted to the ships research spaces and killing 25 servicemen. That torpedo hit a main brace which absorbed much of the energy, crew members reported that if the torpedo had missed the brace the Liberty would have split in two.

The torpedo boat, under fire, no doubt was also panicked, and returned fire, a fact which many eye-witnesses would not have witnesses. It would later return to offer aid to the ship and its wounded (refused, of course).

Last, what possible reason would Israeli military or government have in attacking the US ship, if they knew it was a US ship? Anyone? (The conspiratorial explanations are reviewed and refuted in the same wiki article and its discussion pages.)

So then, 40 years after this regrettable event, why is it dredged up, time and again, on the internet? What new “fact” sheds light on it? Or is it to be dismissed as just anti-Israel bombast, as “Oklahoma” has it?Honest inquiry is one thing, but conspiratorial theorizing…

Well, mike is right. It doesn’t pass the sniff test.

[quote]DrSkeptix wrote:

Last, what possible reason would Israeli military or government have in attacking the US ship, if they knew it was a US ship?

[/quote]

The ship was an NSA spy ship monitoring communications of both the Israelis and Egyptians during the conflict. The Israelis would have known this. That implies knowledge of Israeli and Egyptian codes, and the Israelis would have known that also.

Perhaps there was unexplained shifts of tactics by the Egyptians that the Israelis noted and deduced possible sources of? The act was too deliberate and barbaric to deduce any other justification.

[quote]Limbic wrote:

The ship was an NSA spy ship monitoring communications of both the Israelis and Egyptians during the conflict. The Israelis would have known this. That implies knowledge of Israeli and Egyptian codes, and the Israelis would have known that also.

Perhaps there was unexplained shifts of tactics by the Egyptians that the Israelis noted and deduced possible sources of? The act was too deliberate and barbaric to deduce any other justification.[/quote]

You believe we were helping the Egyptians at the expense of the Israelis?

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
Limbic wrote:

The ship was an NSA spy ship monitoring communications of both the Israelis and Egyptians during the conflict. The Israelis would have known this. That implies knowledge of Israeli and Egyptian codes, and the Israelis would have known that also.

Perhaps there was unexplained shifts of tactics by the Egyptians that the Israelis noted and deduced possible sources of? The act was too deliberate and barbaric to deduce any other justification.

You believe we were helping the Egyptians at the expense of the Israelis?[/quote]

I am only speculating. Likely the Israelis were monitoring Egyptian communications, they doubtless knew the Egyptians had no spy ships of that caliber, and they doubtless watched the Egyptian command structure very closely. Not to mention spies within. Any “unlikely” changes in activity would have been noted.

The description of the attack seems to indicate an intent to kill, not disable.

The keyword here that everybody seems to be missing is preemptive attack.

The Wiki entry notes that it occurred before the US supplied offensive weapons to Israel, France being the supplier at that time. In those times signals intelligence would have been of considerable interest to the spy agency. The US began supplying offensive weapons the following year.

Doesn’t surprise me. I’m sure AIPACwas doing everything in their Zionist power to ensure that Johnson and MacNamara ignored the truth.

[quote]Limbic wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
Limbic wrote:

I am only speculating. Likely the Israelis were monitoring Egyptian communications, they doubtless knew the Egyptians had no spy ships of that caliber…

The description of the attack seems to indicate an intent to kill, not disable.[/quote]

A fair speculation, but one not supported in fact. From the Wiki spread:

[i]Israel’s official position is that the attack was not the result of an intentional targeting of an American ship, but a deliberate attack on what Israel thought was an Egyptian ship. Israeli officials say they were assured by the United States that no U.S. ships were in the area, [4] and that its air and naval forces mistakenly identified Liberty as the Egyptian vessel El Quseir. In fact, the Liberty was more than twice as large as the El Quseir,[5] and was clearly designated [6] with Latin rather than Arabic letters and numbers. However, the Israeli jet pilots would have to make this distinction while flying at high speeds and when the Liberty was in open water with no other nearby objects to serve as a reference to gauge the Liberty’s size.

Supporters of the view that the attack resulted from mistaken identity say Israel had no motive for a surprise attack on Israel’s only significant ally, and the Naval Court of Inquiry, led by Admiral John McCain, found that the attack was a mistake, not intentional, found that the profiles of US ships “were not readily locatable” for identification purposes and found that the Liberty’s “configuration [was] susceptible to confusion with other ships of other nations.” [/i]

So, yes, it was deliberate, and IDF generals apparently ordered the strike (perhaps thinking it was a known Egyptian spy ship re-painted to look like a US ship). And yes it was a mistake of “friendly fire.”

(There was a rumor in the 1970s, not vetted, that a notorious Israel-Egyptian double agent was responsible for the mistaken identification, and that to hide this agent, he was not mentioned in the many official enquiries.)

Further, there was no cover-up, something that might have happened if the event were planned and deliberate for some unknown purpose. The IDF immediately acknowledged to the US its mistake and took blame and responsibility for the consequences. This is something the US itself did not do in friendly fire incidents in Afghanistan (in the tragic Pat Tilman and Canadian affairs.)

I do not know yet to what “truth” gatesoftannheuser is referring.

.

What the fuck would Israel have to gain by attacking us? It was an obvious mistake. Seems people are really pulling at straws to prove that Jews are somehow evil.

[quote]John S. wrote:
What the fuck would Israel have to gain by attacking us? It was an obvious mistake. Seems people are really pulling at straws to prove that Jews are somehow evil.[/quote]

Don’t apply the current situation to what happened decades ago.

Watch this hour-long BBC documentary to get better acquainted with the tragic “incident”.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6595846710992512471

http://stinet.dtic.mil/oai/oai?&verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=ADA278291

[quote]lixy wrote:
John S. wrote:
What the fuck would Israel have to gain by attacking us? It was an obvious mistake. Seems people are really pulling at straws to prove that Jews are somehow evil.

Don’t apply the current situation to what happened decades ago.

Watch this hour-long BBC documentary to get better acquainted with the tragic “incident”.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6595846710992512471 [/quote]

If it wasn’t for us there would be no Israel right now. They have no reason to attack us. Maybe some of you should pull your heads out of your asses and realize that Israel would gain nothing and lose everything if this was intentional.

[quote]John S. wrote:
lixy wrote:
John S. wrote:
What the fuck would Israel have to gain by attacking us? It was an obvious mistake. Seems people are really pulling at straws to prove that Jews are somehow evil.


If it wasn’t for us there would be no Israel right now. They have no reason to attack us. Maybe some of you should pull your heads out of your asses and realize that Israel would gain nothing and lose everything if this was intentional.[/quote]

John: agreed and well said!

Israel had nothing to gain by a purposeful attack on a US ship in 1967.
(The BBC “documentary” adds nothing to the discussion).

Malevolence: No one denies that the event occurred, or that eye-witnesses are appropriately angered.

But I would submit that the hush-up was on the part of the US Navy, because it showed how weak were its communications and command structure:

“The incident exposed possible weaknesses in the military capabilities of the U.S., in that the USA was apparently unable to reliably transmit orders from Washington to its naval ships in the field and count on them being received and promptly obeyed. [25] The USS Liberty was a highly sophisticated electronics eavesdropping ship with the best radio equipment in the fleet, yet it claimed not to have received orders to leave the battle zone. Investigations threatened to expose publicly and emphasize either an inability of U.S. warships to receive orders from Washington dependably or else a failure of a U.S. naval captain to follow orders. One possibility is that the U.S. Navy sought to avoid embarrassing discussions of its operational deficiencies.”

(Again from Wiki. In the Wiki discussions page, there is a comment to the effect that, there would have been dancing and celebrating in the Kremlin, if they knew of the disarray in Washington and Naples, and that it took 14 hours for Naval Command to execute an order to help this ship. And communicatins would continue to be bad in Aug 1967, if anyone remembers the Gulf of Tonkin events.)

Sloth’s post is helpful; a report written in 1993 warns of the history of friend-on-friend losses in the navy.

[quote]John S. wrote:
lixy wrote:
John S. wrote:
What the fuck would Israel have to gain by attacking us? It was an obvious mistake. Seems people are really pulling at straws to prove that Jews are somehow evil.

Don’t apply the current situation to what happened decades ago.

Watch this hour-long BBC documentary to get better acquainted with the tragic “incident”.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6595846710992512471

If it wasn’t for us there would be no Israel right now. They have no reason to attack us. Maybe some of you should pull your heads out of your asses and realize that Israel would gain nothing and lose everything if this was intentional.[/quote]

Kind of like Jonathan Pollard?