A USS Liberty’s Hero’s Passing

Exclusive:  Silver Star winner Terry Halbardier, the hero who got off the SOS that saved the USS Liberty from Israeli destruction in 1967, died last week in California, prompting ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern to recall the murderous attack and the cowardly cover-up that followed.

By Ray McGovern

Terry Halbardier, who – as a 23-year old seaman in 1967 – thwarted Israeli attempts to sink the USS Liberty, died on Aug. 11 in Visalia, California. It took the U.S. government 42 years after the attack to recognize Halbardier’s heroism by awarding him the Silver Star, a delay explained by Washington’s determination to downplay Israeli responsibility for the 34 Americans killed and the 174 wounded.

On June 8, 1967, during the Six-Day War, the Israeli military attacked the USS Liberty, an American spy ship which had been monitoring Israeli transmissions about the conflict. Intercepted Israeli communications indicated that the goal was to sink the Liberty and leave no survivors.

USS Liberty (AGTR-5) receives assistance from units of the Sixth Fleet, after she was attacked and seriously damaged by Israeli forces off the Sinai Peninsula on June 8, 1967.  (US Navy photo)

USS Liberty (AGTR-5) receives assistance from units of the Sixth Fleet, after she was attacked and seriously damaged by Israeli forces off the Sinai Peninsula on June 8, 1967. (US Navy photo)

Warplanes and torpedo boats had already killed 34 and wounded 174, when Halbardier slid over the Liberty’s napalm-glazed deck to jury-rig an antenna and get an SOS off to the Sixth Fleet.  The Israelis intercepted the SOS and broke off the attack immediately. In effect, Halbardier prevented the massacre of all 294 onboard. Still, the infamy of the attack on the Liberty was two-fold.

First, the Liberty, a virtually defenseless intelligence collection platform prominently flying an American flag in international waters, came under deliberate attack by Israeli aircraft and three 60-ton Israeli torpedo boats off the coast of the Sinai on a cloudless June afternoon during the six-day Israeli-Arab war. Second, President Lyndon Johnson called back carrier aircraft dispatched to defend the Liberty lest Israel be embarrassed — the start of an unconscionable cover-up, including top Navy brass, that persists to this day.

Given all they have been through, the Liberty survivors and other veterans – who joined Halbardier to celebrate his belated receipt of the Silver Star on May 27, 2009 – can be forgiven for having doubted that the day of the hero’s recognition would ever come.

In the award ceremony at the Visalia (California) office of Rep. Devin Nunes, the Republican congressman pinned the Silver Star next to the Purple Heart that Halbardier found in his home mailbox three years ago. Nunes said, “The government has kept this quiet I think for too long, and I felt as my constituent he [Halbardier] needed to get recognized for the services he made to his country.”

Silver Star recipient Terry Halbardier, who got off an SOS message that saved the USS Liberty from Israeli destruction on June 8, 1967.

Silver Star recipient Terry Halbardier, who got off an SOS message that saved the USS Liberty from Israeli destruction on June 8, 1967.

Nunes got that right. Despite the many indignities the Liberty crew has been subjected to, the mood in Visalia was pronouncedly a joyous one of Better (42 years) Late Than Never. And, it did take some time for the moment to sink in: Wow, a gutsy congressman not afraid to let the truth hang out on this delicate issue.

Treatment Accorded the Skipper

I was present that day and I could not get out of my head the contrast between this simple, uncomplicated event and the earlier rigmarole that senior Navy officers went through to pin a richly deserved Medal of Honor on another hero of that day, the Liberty’s skipper, Captain William McGonagle.

Although badly wounded by Israeli fire on June 8, 1967, McGonagle was able to keep the bombed, torpedoed, napalmed Liberty afloat and limping toward Malta, where what was left of the bodies of the 34 crewmen killed and the 174 wounded could be attended to. Do the math: yes, killed and wounded amounted to more than two-thirds of the Liberty crew of 294.

I remembered what a naval officer involved in McGonagle’s award ceremony told one of the Liberty crew: “The government is pretty jumpy about Israel…the State Department even asked the Israeli ambassador if his government had any objections to McGonagle getting the medal.”

When McGonagle received his award, the White House (the normal venue for a Medal of Honor award) was all booked up, it seems, and President Lyndon Johnson (who would have been the usual presenter) was unavailable.

So it fell to the Secretary of the Navy to sneak off to the Washington Navy Yard on the banks of the acrid Anacostia River, where he presented McGonagle with the Medal of Honor and a citation that described the attack but not the identity of the attackers.

Please don’t misunderstand. The Liberty crew is not big on ceremony. They are VERY-not-big on politicians who wink when Navy comrades are killed and wounded at sea. The Liberty survivors are big on getting the truth out about what actually happened that otherwise beautiful day in June 1967.

The award of the Silver Star to Terry Halbardier marked a significant step in the direction of truth telling. Halbardier said he accepted his Silver Star on behalf of the entire 294-man crew. He and fellow survivor Don Pageler expressed particular satisfaction at the wording of the citation, which stated explicitly — with none of the usual fudging — the identity of the attackers: “The USS Liberty was attacked by Israeli aircraft and motor torpedo boats in the East Mediterranean Sea….”

In the past, official citations, like Captain McGonagle’s, had avoided mentioning Israel by name when alluding to the attack. I think former U.S. Ambassador Edward Peck put it best in condemning this kind of approach as “obsequious, unctuous subservience to the peripheral interests of a foreign nation at the cost of the lives and morale of our own service members and their families.”  Strong words for a diplomat. But right on.

Just a Guy From Texas

Were it not for Halbardier’s bravery, ingenuity, and technical expertise, the USS Liberty would surely have sunk, taking down much – if not all – of the crew.

You see, the first thing the Israeli aircraft bombed and strafed were the Liberty’s communications antennae and other equipment. They succeeded in destroying all the antennae that were functional. One antenna on the port side, though, had been out of commission and had escaped damage.

In receiving the Silver Star, Halbardier made light of his heroism, claiming that he was just a guy from Texas who could do a whole lot with simple stuff like baling wire. (In the infantry we called this kind of thing a “field expedient.”)

In any case, with his can-do attitude and his technical training, he figured he might be able to get that particular antenna working again. But first he would have to repair a cable that had been destroyed on deck and then connect the antenna to a transmitter.

The deck was still being strafed, but Halbardier grabbed a reel of cable, ran out onto the deck, and attached new cable to the antenna so a radioman could get an SOS out to the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean.

Voila. “Mayday” went out; almost immediately the Israeli aircraft and torpedo ships broke off the attack and went back to base; the Israeli government sent a quick apology to Washington for its unfortunate “mistake;” and President Johnson issued orders to everyone to make believe the Israelis were telling the truth — or at least to remain silent.

To their discredit, top Navy brass went along, and the Liberty survivors were threatened with court martial and prison if they so much as mentioned to their wives what had actually happened. They were enjoined as well from discussing it with one another.

As Liberty crewman Don Pageler put it, “We all headed out after that, and we didn’t talk to each other.” The circumstances were ready-made for serious Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The stories shared by Liberty survivors after the award ceremony, including descriptions of the macabre but necessary effort to reassemble torpedoed body parts, and the plague of survivor’s guilt, were as heart-rending as any I have heard. They are stories that should be shared more widely for those muzzled far too long.

These were the deep emotional scars to supplement the ones all over Halbardier’s body, some of which he uncovered when asked by the local press gathered there in Visalia. Typically, Halbardier made light of the shrapnel that had to be plucked out of his flesh, emphasizing that he was lucky compared to some of the other crew.

No Mistake

Despite Israeli protestations, the accumulated evidence, including intercepted voice communications, is such that no serious observer believes Israel’s “Oops” excuse of a terrible mistake. The following exchanges are excerpts of testimony from U.S. military and diplomatic officials given to Alison Weir, founder of “If Americans Knew” and author of American Media Miss the Boat:

Israeli pilot to ground control: “This is an American ship. Do you still want us to attack?”

Ground control: “Yes, follow orders.”

…………………..

“But sir, it’s an American ship — I can see the flag!”

Ground control: “Never mind; hit it!”

Haviland Smith, a CIA officer stationed in Beirut during the Six-Day War, says he was told that the transcripts were “deep-sixed,” because the U.S. government did not want to embarrass Israel.

Equally telling is the fact that the National Security Agency (NSA) destroyed voice tapes seen by many intelligence analysts, showing that the Israelis knew exactly what they were doing. I asked a former CIA colleague, who was also an analyst at that time, what he remembered of those circumstances. Here is his e-mail reply:

“The chief of the analysts studying the Arab-Israeli region at the time told me about the intercepted messages and said very flatly and firmly that the pilots reported seeing the American flag and repeated their requests of confirmation of the attack order. Whole platoons of Americans saw those intercepts. If NSA now says they do not exist, then someone ordered them destroyed.”

One need hardly add at this point that the destruction of evidence without investigation is an open invitation to repetition in the future. Think the more recent torture-interrogation videotapes.

As for the legal side: the late Captain Ward Boston, unburdened himself on his accomplice role as the Navy lawyer appointed as senior counsel to Adm. Isaac Kidd, who led a one-week (!) investigation and then followed orders to pronounce the attack on the Liberty a case of “mistaken identity.” Boston signed a formal declaration on Jan. 8, 2004, in which he said he was “outraged at the efforts of the apologists for Israel in this country to claim that this attack was a case of ‘mistaken identity.’” Boston continued:

“The evidence was clear. Both Adm. Kidd and I believed with certainty that this attack … was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew … Not only did the Israelis attack the ship with napalm, gunfire, and missiles, Israeli torpedo boats machine-gunned three lifeboats that had been launched in an attempt by the crew to save the most seriously wounded — a war crime …

“I know from personal conversations I had with Adm. Kidd that President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered him to conclude that the attack was a case of ‘mistaken identity’ despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”

W. Patrick Lang, Col., USA (ret.), who was the Defense Intelligence Agency’s top analyst for the Middle East for eight years, recounted the Israeli air attacks as follows: “The flight leader spoke to his base to report that he had the ship in view, that it was the same ship he had been briefed on, and that it was clearly marked with the U.S. flag…

“The flight commander was reluctant. That was very clear. He didn’t want to do this. He asked them a couple of times, ‘Do you really want me to do this?’ I’ve remembered it ever since. It was very striking. I’ve been harboring this memory for all these years.”

Lang, of course, is not alone. So too Terry Halbardier, who told those assembled at his Silver Medal award ceremony, “I think about it [the attack on the Liberty] every day.”

Why Sink the Ship?

What we know for sure is, as the independent commission headed by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Thomas Moorer put it, the attack “was a deliberate attempt to destroy an American ship and kill her entire crew.”

What we do not know for sure is why the Israelis wanted that done. Has no one dared ask the Israelis? One view is that the Israelis did not want the United States to find out they were massing troops to seize the Golan Heights from Syria and wanted to deprive the U.S. of the opportunity to argue against such a move.

James Bamford offers an alternative view in his excellent book, Body of Secrets. Bamford adduces evidence, including reporting from an Israeli journalist eyewitness and an Israeli military historian, of wholesale killing of Egyptian prisoners of war at the coastal town of El Arish in the Sinai.

The Liberty was patrolling directly opposite El Arish in international waters but within easy range to pick up intelligence on what was going on there. And the Israelis were well aware of that. But the important thing here is not to confuse what we know (the deliberate nature of the Israeli attack) with the ultimate purpose behind it, which remains open to speculation.

Also worth noting is the conventional wisdom prevalent in our Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) that Egypt forced Israel into war in June 1967. An excellent, authoritative source has debunked that — none other than former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin! In an unguarded moment in 1982, when he was prime minister, he admitted publicly:

“In June 1967, we had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that [Egyptian President] Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”

Thus, the Israeli attack admittedly amounted to starting a war of aggression, and the occupied West Bank territories and the Golan Heights – gained by the Israelis in the 1967 war – remain occupied to this day. The post World War II tribunal at Nuremberg distinguished a “war of aggression” from other war crimes, terming it the “supreme international crime, differing from other war crimes only in that it contains the accumulated evil of the whole.”

Perhaps the attempt to sink the Liberty and finish off all survivors qualifies as one of those accumulated evils. Terry Halbardier summed it up this way when he was awarded his Silver Star:  “There’s lots of theories but let’s just say they didn’t want us listening in to what they wanted to do.”

Getting Away With Murder

In sum, on June 8, 1967, the Israeli government learned that it could get away with murder, literally, and the crime would be covered up, so strong is the influence of the Israel Lobby in our Congress — and indeed, in the White House. And those USS Liberty veterans who survived well enough to call for an independent investigation have been hit with charges of, you guessed it, anti-Semitism.

Does all this have relevance today? Of course. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu understands that there is little that Israel could do that would earn the opprobrium of the U.S. Congress or retaliation from the White House, whether it’s building illegal settlements or slaughtering civilians in Gaza. The Israelis seem convinced they remain in the catbird’s seat, largely because of the Israel Lobby’s influence with U.S. lawmakers and opinion makers.

One of the few moments when a U.S. official has had the audacity to face Israel down came from – significantly – a U.S. Navy admiral. In early July 2008, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, was sent to Israel to read the riot act to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who seemed to be itching to start hostilities with Iran while President George W. Bush was in office.

We learned from the Israeli press that Mullen, fearing some form of Israeli provocation, went so far as to warn the Israelis not to even think about another incident like the attack on the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967 — that the Israelis should disabuse themselves of the notion that U.S. military support would be knee-jerk automatic if Israel somehow provoked open hostilities with Iran.

This is the only occasion I am aware of in which a U.S. official of such seniority braced Israel about the Liberty incident. A gutsy move, especially with Vice President Dick Cheney and national security aide Elliott Abrams then in the White House, two hawks who might well bless — or even encourage — an Israeli provocation that would make it very difficult for Washington to avoid springing to the defense of its “ally.”

The Israelis know that Mullen knows that the attack on the Liberty was deliberate.  Mullen could have raised no more neuralgic an issue to take a shot across an Israeli bow than to cite the attack on the Liberty. The Jerusalem Post reported that Mullen cautioned that a Liberty-type incident must be avoided in any future military actions in the Middle East.

Perhaps Mullen had learned something from the heroism of Terry Halbardier

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. After serving as an Army infantry/intelligence officer, he spent a 27-year career as a CIA analyst. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

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36 comments on “A USS Liberty’s Hero’s Passing

  1. incontinent reader on said:

    Very, very important article, as was your June 9, 2014 article and its links to Crewdson’s and Weir’s article (and what happened to Crewdson after his was published). Americans must never forget this war crime, what its consequences have been, or who were, and continue to be, responsible.

    • incontinent reader on said:

      Given that this attack was believed to be an attempt by the Israelis to sink the ship and kill all survivors and then blame it on the Egyptians, the next step is to make the connection or draw the analogy between this attack, and other such false flag, or attempted false flag attacks by alleged ‘friends’. Maybe 9/11? or, maybe, another more recent one with more certainty, namely, MH-17?
      Something to think about.

    • Zachary Smith on said:

      I overlooked your post when this thread first appeared, and missed the reference to the Crewdson article. I’ve just now located and saved it.

      The piece was friendlier to Israel than I liked. He cuts them a LOT of slack regarding the six reconnaissance flights. And his suggestion that the helicopters which appeared were there to “rescue” the Americans is beyond ridiculous. Those two machines were carrying troops to finish off the vessel.

      The bastards got away with it, and will never pay. But to the end of my days I’ll never forgive the murderous swine.

    • Carroll Johnson on said:

      I first learned about the attack on the USS Liberty about 1976 when an article about it was published in Penthouse or Esquire. This would be 9 years after the attack. It has been largely ignored since. Most of our media is unwilling to speak truth to power. Carroll Johnson

  2. Zachary Smith on said:

    Americans must never forget this war crime, what its consequences have been, or who were, and continue to be, responsible.

    Most Americans have never heard of the attack. At your next family reunion or BS session at the bar, ask the people around to hold up their hands if they’ve even heard of a ship named USS Liberty.

    For most of my life I was one of the idiots who believed the propaganda about Holy Israel. That event was what finally jerked me into the real world.

  3. bfearn on said:

    The attack on the Liberty should be no mystery as Israel has attack friends and foes whenever it wanted to. On 25 July 2006, four unarmed United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) peacekeepers were killed during an Israeli air strike on a UN observation post in southern Lebanon. Israel said they made a mistake, he same kind of mistake made on the Liberty!! That post advised the Israelis numerous times that they were getting too close before they were killed by a direct hit. Many other examples of Israeli using deadly force to protect their reputation as the ‘good guys’.

  4. rosemerry on said:

    Thanks Ray for this reminder. Is it also true that Adm (?)McCain, the father of John McCain, was involved officially in the coverup?
    So sad to think that this was the start of the really large increase in US funding to Israel, just as Israel showed it could do plenty of harm on is own.
    The pretexts change, but the behaviour of Israel now, with its constant attacks on Palestinians, its refusal to follow any of the agreements it has made since 1993, its lies and propaganda as well as the deep hatred it harbours for any resistance to its violent acts and policies, would make any fair person fear for the future.

    • Anonymous on said:

      Speaking of keeping their word, here is a part of the Balfour decision that rottenchild agreed to.

      ” it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, “

  5. F. G. Sanford on said:

    “I know from personal conversations I had with Adm. Kidd that President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered him to conclude that the attack was a case of ‘mistaken identity’ despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”

    An investigation was conducted which lasted only one week(!). It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to realize that such an “investigation” was tailored to find little or nothing of import. Anyone who has spent time in the military knows that investigations for things as trivial as “Unauthorized Absence” can take weeks.

    The real question is how such a brazen attack could have been planned and conducted with the expectation of absolute impunity. This was a “combined forces” attack involving air, surface, communications, surveillance and ‘command and control’ elements. Such an attack can only be regarded as “spontaneous” in the Hollywood movie sense. The general public wouldn’t know any better. But any graduate of the War College who pretends this was a “mistaken identity” case should have the decency to return his diploma.

    The real question is, “Who approved the plan”? Does anybody really believe it was fledgling little Israel?

    • Joe Tedesky on said:

      I’ll throw this to you F.G..

      “President Lyndon Johnson called back carrier aircraft dispatched to defend the Liberty lest Israel be embarrassed”

      Ever since I learned of this USS Liberty attack a couple years ago, I have tried to learned as much as possible. Somewhere, I seem to recall a story about the U.S. having a AWAC in that area. That McNamara, and Johnson allowed this whole thing to go down. We are talking about an era of assassinations, coups, hell you name it they probably done it….anyway, I have a degree of belief this was a failed false flag. Sorry, got carried away, take care. J.T.

  6. Hillary on said:

    Getting away with its attack on the USS Liberty gave Israel the confidence to do whatever it wished in its ethnic cleansing and war like behavior in the Middle East and elsewhere.
    N.B. without the assassination of President Kennedy there would be no Nuclear Weapons in the Middle East.
    https://www.google.cl/search?q=rabin+israel&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=np&source=hp&gws_rd=cr&ei=h5oCU9KmLqPk0wHv14HoDA#channel=np&q=Yitzhak+Rabin+in+dallas%2C&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official

    • Joe Tedesky on said:

      Hillary you always seem to have great links for us to read. Thanks J.T.

      • Hillary on said:

        Hillary you always seem to have great links for us to read. Thanks J.T.
        Joe Tedesky on August 17, 2014 at 9:46 pm
        ..
        J.T. I have complained previously that many of my comments and links have NOT been allowed..
        Anything on 9/11 is NOT allowed ?

        • incontinent reader on said:

          Hillary- you may just be up against the spam control which doesn’t necessarily interpret before rejecting a comment. I suggest you write it out first on a separate page and then paste it in as a comment, rather than revising it in the comment box.

      • Joe Tedesky on said:

        Hillary as the person in front of me stated try copy and paste. I copy the text then if the comment does not go well. I get out then re-enter the article and paste the text. I also copy and paste the code number. Why is there a code number? Of course maybe you have tried this and are being censored…if that is so, then that is to sad. take care J.T.

  7. Brendan on said:

    That wasn’t the first time that Zionists not only got away with an act of terrorism but received support afterwards from the country it attacked. The Irgun bombed the British in the King David Hotel in 1946 killing 91 people, about half of them British. Ten years later the Brits and Israelis were comrades in arms trying to invade Egypt.

    Eisenhower stopped that invasion, but a decade later there seemed to be a consensus amongst US politicians supporting Israeli militarism, thanks to lobbying groups like AIPAC.

    The supposedly anti-war Robert Kennedy was just as supportive as Lyndon Johnson. Kennedy made a promise during his primary election campaign to send fifty fighter jets to Israel, which enraged the Palestinian Christian Sirhan Sirhan into shooting him. That’s another fact, like the attack on the USS Liberty, that hardly ever gets mentioned.

    Afterwards Johnson did send fifty fighter jets and soon after that Nixon continued the military support for Israel even though it resulted in the oil crisis.

  8. john francis lee on said:

    I just finished the Ennes book, ‘Assault on the Liberty’, and the questions I want answered are, who sent the unarmed spy ship into the warzone and why (to be sunk?), and how is it possible that all 6 of the messages sent to Liberty … a communicatons ship! – telling her to get out of there failed to reach her?

    I always wondered where Israel got the chutzpah to pull this off in 1967 … today no problem, they’d have the US Navy sink the NSA’s ship – and kill the US Navy crew.

    I think there was a lot of filthy action on the part of the NSA/CIA/USNAVY involved with this. The Israelis would never have acted then without a promise of cover from the highest levels in the US … and they sure got it!

    Ray always mentions … everybody always mentions … the obvious : Israel’s role. Read the book, ‘Assault on the Liberty’: focus on the the order to drop everything and sail to where she was attacked; focus on the chain of command – the USS LIberty was under the direct control of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; focus on the botched – they could only have purposefully been botched in my opinion – communications to get the Liberty out of there … they were never meant to be received by Liberty, they were meant to cover the asses of the JCS.

    This is an eyeopener all right. But Israel seems less than half the story.

    • F. G. Sanford on said:

      Please see my comment above. Six “messages” and the ship never received them? With a steel-hulled ship providing a perfect “ground” and a seventy-five foot high wire antenna, Navy “loose-coupler” crystal sets were capable of worldwide reception in the 1920′s; many remained in service well into the 1930′s as “backup” sets in merchant fleets. But we are expected to believe that with the same technology used to communicate with Apollo astronauts, the Liberty ‘missed the call’ six times. The notion that fledgling little Israel would have tried this without a ‘wink and a nod’ is preposterous.

    • Joe Tedesky on said:

      Those old crystal sets were very powerful, indeed. Once, I remember a 3rd class PO Radioman fooled around with the crystal set and rerouted all the cabs in Norfolk, until the cab company dispatcher told all the cabs to stay set. Another time this same Radioman broke in on BOZO the clown show telling little Tommy to stand in the F’king corner…I am not making this up. Just had to tell this story, since you brought up the crystal set radio. Hope, this gave you all some comic relief!

      • F. G. Sanford on said:

        Yeah, but Joe, I noticed from your earlier comment that you were in the Navy when the ships were made of wood…and the men were made of steel.

      • Joe Tedesky on said:

        F.G. Yeah, I once got drunk with John Paul Jones…thanks always enjoy reading your most (as I do others as well). I don’t blame you for not commenting on my above post about false flags. Just learn a lot from what you have to say. I will quit kissing ass now, and you have a nice day. J.T.

  9. Brian Ski on said:

    This was an outrageous attack and a war crime, no doubt. Only Israel could get away with it.
    As to who struck first, there is no doubt that Israel decided to preemptively attack Egypt, starting the Six Days war. Of course, now that the United States has embraced preemptive war (the Bush Doctrine), let’s not be throwing stones from our glass house. Especially when Israel had far better reason to believe that an Egyptian attack was imminent: UN peacekeepers had been forced out of the Sinai, Egypt had positioned 80,000 men and 600 tanks in the Sinai, Egypt had blockaded Israel’s port through which 90% of its oil came, and Egyptian leaders had said on television and radio that they wanted to restore the situation to what existed before 1948 — before Israel was created.
    As to whether the U.S. supported the Israeli attack on Egypt, what I have read is that Israel’s greatest fear was that the U.S. would take action to force Israel to stop the war before it had completed the destruction of the Egyptian forces in the Sinai (and the Egyptian air force everywhere).
    Interesting stuff.

  10. Hillary on said:

    PBS Frontline on May 16, 1989:

    “In June, 1967, Israel went to war with Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, capturing all of Jerusalem and what are now the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza. (And Syria’s Golan Heights). Officially, the U.S. was neutral. Secretly, it gave Israel full diplomatic support. The final decision to go to war was not taken, say the Israelis, until their intelligence Chief Meir Amit had met secretly with CIA Director Richard Helms. The first ones to fire were the Israelis, and the Americans were persuaded by the head of the Israeli secret service, the Mossad, who met with the head of the CIA, and through this secret channel got the green light of the U.S. administration to start the war.”
    Remember how the mass media reported that Egypt started the war?
    Egyptian air force planes were all destroyed on the ground! Did the U.S. spy ship, Liberty, off the coast of Sinai block Egypt’s radar? Why did President Lyndon Johnson recall U.S. planes sent to rescue the Liberty under ISRAELI ATTACK, saying: “I don’t care if they (Israel) sink the ship-I will not embarrass our ally, Israel.” Israel used bombs, napalm, machine guns, & torpedoes to try to leave no survivors. (James Bamford: BODY OF SECRETS)
    No survivors would mean no proof that Israel started the war and that the U.S. was in collusion.
    Menachem Begin, Quote –(New York Times, August 21, 1982).
    “In June l967, we had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”

    . General Yitzhak Rabin, Chief of Staff, Israeli Defence Forces quote :
    “I do not believe that Nasser wanted war. The two divisions which he sent into Sinai on May 14 would not have been enough to unleash an offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew it.”
    (Le Monde, February 28, 1968 )
    .
    General Meir Amit, the former head of Military Intelligence who was head of Mossad in 1967:
    “There is going to be a war. Our army is now fully mobilized. But we cannot remain in that condition for long. Because we have a civilian army our economy is shuddering to a stop. We don’t have the manpower right now even to bring in the crops. Sugar beets are rotting in the earth. We have to make quick decisions… If we can get the first blow in our casualties will be comparatively light…”
    (Dennis Eisenberg, Uri Dan and Eli Landau, The Mossad: Israel’s Secret Intelligence Service, New York: New American Library, 1978 , pp. 160-161.)

    During the 1967 “6 Day War”, another 300,000 Palestinians were expelled. 500 Palestinian towns and villages were destroyed, and 14 cities were “cleansed” of Palestinians whose roots in the land went back to ancient times “before the Bible was written”

    Was President Johnson a U.S. TRAITOR ?

  11. Douglas Neiss on said:

    Thank you for an excellent, detailed expose of an Israeli war crime against the U.S. and a moving tribute to Terry Halbardier, whose courage and ingenuity prevented the slaughter from becoming total. Halbardier’s action may have saved Israel, too, as far as future U.S. support goes. Had the Israelis sunk the ship and killed every crew member, I find it hard to imagine we would or could have covered up the crime. But who knows?
    One caveat: The Israel lobby does not have the power you and so many others attribute to it. Not today and certainly not in 1967. Invoking the Israel lobby protects the myth of American innocence at the risk of perpetuating the myth of evil Jewish power. Why not admit, as your reference to Admiral Mullen’s 2008 mission to Israel even implies, that the Israel lobby derives its power from the U.S. government itself, which shares with Israel a policy of permanent war, exploiting overwhelming military superiority, encouraging reactionary religious zealotry, and keeping citizens focused on martial glory and security threats? The U.S. was fighting a little war of its own in 1967. The year of Mullen’s “reading the riot act” to Israel ended with Operation Cast Lead, which the U.S. supported, along with its self-defense justification. The U.S. and Israel are enablers for each other. “A Global Force for Good” (as the Navy now calls itself), whether the U.S. or Israel, can do no wrong. The worst either of us can do is make “mistakes.”

    • Joe Tedesky on said:

      Mr Neisse, you are so right, the U.S. should be accountable to it’s citizens on many levels. Like Flip Wilson use to say, ‘the Devil made me do it’. Blaming Israel only could be away of passing the buck, as you profoundly stated.

      When it comes to the USS Liberty we should know everything about that incident. What, and when, did McNamara, and LBJ learn of this attack. Before, or after the Israeli’s use their brutal force attempting to sink our naval vessel. I, and only I, have a strong hunch that the USS Liberty was being used as a false flag. There I go again with my nut ball conspiracy theories.

      Have a great day…life! J.T.

  12. John J on said:

    For more on the USS Liberty and the 1967 War (6 Day War), (“Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews”, Vol 3 pg 79-112.) I highly recommend Allan Hart’s 3 volume series available through Amazon.

    As for the start of the war, the Egyptian forward radars connected to their anti-aircraft missiles and batteries had been switched off so senior military staff and politicians could visit the defensive (not offensive formation) of troops in the Sinai. Israel knew this through wireless intercepts and chose that time to attack. They went in low so the regular radars wouldn’t pick them up until it was too late. (In Search of Identity, Anwar el_Sadat’s autobiography pg 174). The Israelis had cracked all the Arab military codes and were privy to all that was going on.
    Concerning comments by high ranking Israelis to the effect they knew Egypt didn’t want war and it was Israel’s choice, (“Politicide” by Baruch Kimmerling, pg.57-59) & Hart’s series Vol 3 Pg 16- 17 + much more.
    Regarding the present day situation, ‘blowback’ from earlier times, one could read Stephen Zunes’s “Tinderbox” where on pg 190 he says:
    “In the early 1980s, the Israelis actually encouraged Islamic groups in the occupied territories in an effort to split the Palestinian movement. While supporters of the secular PLO were denied their own media or any right to hold political gatherings, Israeli occupation authorities allowed radical Islamic groups to hold rallies, publish uncensored newspapers and even have their own radio station. For example, in the occupied Palestinian city of Gaza in 1981, Israeli soldiers – who had shown no hesitation in brutally suppressing peaceful pro-PLO demonstrations – stood by when a group of Islamic extremists attacked and burned a PLO-affiliated health clinic in Gaza. In 1988, Israel detained, tortured, and forcibly exiled Palestinian activist Mubarak Awad, a Christian pacifist who advocated peace with Israel and the use of Gandhian-style resistance to the Israeli occupation. At the same time, however, Israeli occupation authorities were allowing Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin to circulate anti-Jewish hate literature and publicly call for the destruction of Israel by force of arms.” It’s a good read but sometimes I get the feeling that he isn’t quite as balanced as I thought.

  13. Russ Draper on said:

    Why does everyone always dismiss what I consider the real reason behind the attack on the U.S.S. Liberty: Nuclear War. The Israelis had nuclear weapons, yes? The U.S. supplied them (I believe) with nuclear materials to construct such a weapon (Lots of Broken Arrows out there to disguise the gift). The Liberty was an intelligence gathering vessel capable of listening to Israel’s war plans. Should they start to lose a war does anyone seriously believe that the bombs wouldn’t be delivered? Thus, the message to the U.S., don’t interfere with our grand designs.

    • As you are probably aware that is Israel’s “Sampson Option”. If Israel can’t win no one will. An opportunity to settle old scores as well.

  14. John J on said:

    Russ Draper, The war was started by Israel, they knew they would win by taking out Egypt’s air-force. By their own wireless intercepts they knew Nasser didn’t want war, and anyway Egypt couldn’t handle war having lost much in a civil war to its south. They knew when to take out the Egyptian air-force, right when the forward defence radars were switched off. They then wanted to go at Syria, but Johnson had told them only Egypt so they had to take out the Liberty to keep their troop reversal quiet.
    The 1973 Yom Kippur war was different and caught Israel in its overconfident egotistic mood. Things went down hill quickly for Israel, and two Israeli nuclear missiles were threatened to be used if America didn’t come to its aid. Nuclear blackmail.
    The war was a chance to build the Greater Israel that Ben-Gurion had said they could grab after 1948 (that includes the Golan Heights + southern Lebanon from the Litani river +other land).

  15. Shortly after reading the book “Body of Secrets”, I mentioned the story of the USS Liberty to a former Israeli soldier. In one second he was filled with so much anger and hatred that it seemed to fill the room. (He had just been talking to his brother who was in the midst of a tank battle). Needless to say, i didn’t have a discussion, but learned just how powerful the anger is in that area.

    I hope LBJ felt really bad about calling off the carrier defense.

  16. An obscure USS Liberty memorial park on an obscure and secure AFB base in West Texas acknowledges Israel involvment: http://www.goodfellow.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/070719-F-3082L-002.jpg

    http://www.goodfellow.af.mil/photos/media_search.asp?q=liberty&btnG.x=17&btnG.y=6