Arrest Robert McNamara Issues Beyond Palo Alto, posted by The Cohen Brother, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 1, 2007 at 4:46 pm
I propose that 91 year old Robert McNamara be arrested. No, I'm not suggesting he be tried for his role in planning the fire bombings of Japanese cities during World War II, or for being LBJ's Defense Secretary and architect of the war of aggression against Vietnam. Jail him for one much smaller act, the betrayal of sailors aboard the USS Liberty. While the Liberty was under a massive attack, Robert McNamara twice recalled the airplanes that a navy commander had sent out to defend them.
The crime took place on June 8, 1967 during Israel's "Six Day" war against Egypt, Syria and Jordan. On the third day of the conflict Israeli forces launched a two-hour air and naval attack on the USS Liberty which was in international waters 14 miles off the coast of Egypt. At least a dozen unmarked Israeli aircraft dropped napalm, and shot 30 mm cannon shells and rockets into the ship over a period of a half hour. Then an assault followed from torpedo boats involving torpedoes and machine gun fire. 34 Americans were killed and 172 were wounded.
The attack on the Liberty began at 1358 (military time). The Liberty was the most sophisticated intelligence ship in the world in 1967 and the first thing hit after the gun mounts were the antennae and the bridge. Nevertheless the radio operator managed to send this distress signal from Captain McGonagle: "Under attack by unidentified jet aircraft, require immediate assistance." Eleven minutes later the USS Saratoga acknowledged receiving the message and Captain Joseph M. Tully ordered 12 F-4 jets and other refueling aircraft to go to the assistance of the Liberty and informed Sixth Fleet Commander Admiral William Martin. The planes were about 40 minutes away. They wouldn't have arrived in time to stop the air attack, but could have prevented the torpedo attacks in which the majority of sailors were killed. Yet within minutes after launch an order came down from the flagship, the USS Little Rock, to recall the planes. There's an account that it was done on orders from Defense Secretary Robert McNamara.
Sixth Fleet carrier division commander Lawrence Geis transmitted the message to the Saratoga to recall the planes, but he also told Captain Tully to prepare to launch planes 90 minutes later. At 1450 the order was given to send another group of rescue planes and at 1545 they took off. At 1639 McNamara ordered the recall of these planes. Reportedly Geis demanded confirmation of that recall order from the next higher up in the command, President Lyndon Johnson. Johnson confirmed it and told him that he would not have his allies embarrassed.
The reports about what McNamara and LBJ said are from an account by Liberty intelligence officer David Lewis who said he met privately with Geis after Liberty survivors had been rescued. He said Geis had wanted to assure him that the Saratoga had tried to help. Geis died in 1980 so he can't confirm Lewis' account, but surely there are records about these messages and orders about what went on that day in the Sixth Fleet buried in Navy files.
What would be the charge against McNamara? He denied aid to American troops when they were under deadly attack and as a result 20 some men died and many more were injured. I'm no lawyer, but I've been told that the applicable crime is treason.
There's also the matter of obstruction of justice for ordering a cover-up. There was a hasty Naval Court of Inquiry set up to find out what happened to the Liberty. The senior legal counsel for the court was Captain Ward Boston. Admiral Isaac Kidd was president of the Court. In an affidavit signed on January 9, 2004 Captain Ward (now retired) swears that, "Both Admiral Kidd and I believed with certainty that this attack was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew. I am certain that the Israeli pilots that undertook the attacks, as well as their superiors who had ordered the attack were aware that the ship was American. I know from personal conversations I had with Admiral 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."
The evidence that the attack was deliberate does seem "overwhelming". Here are some of the facts featured in a 2004 report by the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty that concluded the attack was no accident.
∑ Israeli planes had observed the Liberty for eight hours before the attack
∑ June 8 was a clear day with unlimited visibility
∑ Survivors testify that a 5 by 8 American flag was flying all day on the Liberty until it was shot away and replaced by an even larger flag.
∑ The flag was flying in a 12-knot breeze for most of the afternoon.
∑ The Liberty's five American radio channels were jammed during the attack. The Egyptian military did not broadcast on those frequencies.
∑ The Israelis machine-gunned the three life rafts the crew put out when it appeared the attack had let up. (This would assure there would be no survivors).
∑ The Israelis claimed the Liberty had been mistaken for an Egyptian ship. However the Egyptian ship, a 1920's era horse carrier was a quarter the size of the Liberty
Who was this Independent Commission? Its chairperson was Admiral Thomas Moorer (Ret.). Moorer had a storied career. He was one of the first pilots off the ground during the attack on Pearl Harbor. In his long career he held posts of chief of the Pacific fleet, later chief of the Atlantic fleet and eventually Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The other members of the commission were General of the Marines Raymond G. Davis, former Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, Rear Admiral Merlin Starling, former Judge Advocate General of the Navy and Ambassador James Akins, former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. You could hardly ask for more expertise.
A last line of defense for those who claim that the Israeli attack was an accident concerns the question of motive. Why would Israel attack its "only friend in the world"? Well, for one Israel had plenty other friends. Recall it had fought a war in '56 alongside Britain and France without US support. Though it does seem quite mad for Israel to purposely attack the US that doesn't mean it didn't happen. Some theorize Israel wanted to sink the Liberty and blame it on Egypt as a way of getting US support, a supersized version of what their agents did in Cairo during the "Lavon Affair". Others think Israel wanted to cover up its plans for a ground attack on Syria. So let's find out. Even 40 years later a thorough investigation could come up with most of the truth.
If the Congress had any gumption it would demand the facts. We give Israel multi-billions a year. Congress could require that our Israeli client allow a team of naval investigators and translators examine internal Israeli military documents. Let them interview the Israeli pilots and commanders involved in the assault. Give the investigators a free hand to review all relevant US records.
Robert McNamara has never suffered a day for his crimes. After leaving the Johnson Administration he was appointed head of the World Bank and he held that post for 13 years. In 1995 he wrote a successful memoir "In Retrospect" and in 2003 was subject of an Academy Award winning documentary. He never apologized for anything, least of all to the men he purposely betrayed on the Liberty.
Conversely, here are interviews of James Ennes, an officer who was aboard the USS Liberty when it was attacked and who presents compelling evidence that Israel knew the USS Liberty was an American vessel:
Posted by Sarlat, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 1, 2007 at 5:40 pm
During a 1992 visit to Israel I met a retired Israeli naval officer who had been in active duty during the 6 day war. He told me in no uncertain terms that it would've been impossible for the Israeli navy and air force not to identify the Liberty as a US Navy ship. Beside the flag, The Liberty had a very distinctive shape and trim-no Egyptian naval vessel had anything remotely resembling it, and the ship was clearly in international waters. Moreover, he told me that he knew personally an Israeli air-force Mirage pilot who refuse to sttack the Liberty, radioing his controller that it was a US ship. I heard from a number of addional Israelis about that pilot. He was ordered back, arrested, court-martialled, imprisoned and upon his release was tordered to keep quiet about the affair or risk going back for many years to the infamous Kele 4 military prison. No Israeli who doesn't serve the Israeli propaganda machine ever said to me that they believed Israel attacked the Liberty by mistake.
Posted by Dave, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 1, 2007 at 5:52 pm
There are various theories as to why would Israel risk attacking a US intelligence ship. One theory is that Israel wanted it to look a if an Egypt, who had been closely allied with the USSR at the time had sunk the Liberty. Israel considered the Dean Rusk state department as being rabidly anti-Israeli and pro Arab. Israel was completing the capture of the Sinai with it's Abu-Rodez oil fields and didn't want the state department to push for a quick Israeli withdrawal, ala 1956. Another theory was that the Israelis were worried that the Liberty had obtained information about the massacre of Egyptian POW's and were afraid that it could cause an international outcry and a retaliatory execution of Israeli POW's by the Egyptians.
Posted by Moshe, a resident of Stanford, on Jun 1, 2007 at 6:16 pm
To me, the most sensible explanation for Israel's attack on the Liberty would be the Rusk State Department angle. If the Liberty had been sunk and her crew killed and the Americans believed that the Liberty had been sunk by Egypt, the State Department would be unable to push for an Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai, at least not for many years. Israel has always been completely dependent on the importation of oil at great financial cost because of it has forced Israel to maintain most of her reserves in foreign currency. The Abu- Rodez oil fields had provided Israel with almost half of her oil needs between 1967 and the time the Sinai was handed back to Egypt. Obviously, back in 1967, the Israelis wanted to keep the Sinai and its oil fields for as long as possible without pressure from what they considered the State Department's "Arabists" to hand it back.
Posted by Never Again, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 1, 2007 at 6:46 pm
I've heard that after the Israelis failed to sink the USS Liberty, they backed off, and then returned to offer help a few hours later, whereupon the Liberty's commanding officer told the Israeli "rescuers" to get lost.
Posted by Dave, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 1, 2007 at 7:30 pm
That's what I heard as well. The IDF, one of the most sophisticated militaries in the world, would never have made a dumb mistake like failing to identify a US naval ship and attack it in international water. The same IDF had just defeated or was in the process the armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan. That was a mistake a 4th rate military might have made.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 2, 2007 at 6:53 am
While I would be happy to have MacNamara horsewhipped, and while I would like to know why our planes were called back, I am willing to ascribe the Liberty to the fog of war. I still remember that of the three times I was attacked from the air, two were by US aircraft.
Posted by Sarlat, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 2, 2007 at 7:56 am
The Israeli pilots who attacked and destroyed the Egyptian air force in a matter of hours on June 5, 1967, could differentiate between wooden dummy jets and real ones, not wasting any ammunition on the faked jets. The notion that this incredibly sophisticated air-force would mistake a ship having a unique trim and shape which the Egyptian navy didn't have, sailing in international waters and flying a US flag is totally insane. The Egyptian navy didn't even have intelligence ships in 1967 and the ship was obviously not a battle ship. This was a clear June day. Even the Albania air-force and navy wouldn't have made such a mistake on their worst day. The Israelis also jammed the Liberto radio frequencies. I don't know even one Israeli who doesn't work for the Israeli propaganda machine who will tell you it was an accident of mistaken identity. There can be a dispute on the reasons for the attack, but rational people can't doubt he attack was deliberate. deliberate. McNamara just added to his enormous crimes of being a Vietnam war enabler.
Posted by Amiram, a resident of Atherton, on Jun 2, 2007 at 9:30 am
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] I was a 22 year old active duty IDF navy leutenant at the time. Although I wasn't involved in the torpedo boats attack on the Liberty and found out about the attack only after it had occured, I can guarantee that not even one person I knew had any doubt that it was a deliberate attack. The debate over Israel's motives for the attack is legitimate and fascinating, but I find comments supporting the "mistaken identity" nonsense to be an insult to one's intelligence. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Posted by Sarlat, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 2, 2007 at 10:01 am
That's right, the Liberty couldn't defend herself. Unfortunately for the Israelis, she wouldn't sink, so after realizing she wouldn't go down, they started the charade of offering to help the damaged ship after their tragic "mistake". Attacking a vessel in international waters is a war crime of course. It was obvious that McNamara didn't have the courage to face the AIPAC pressure and make an issue out of it, so he became part of the cover-up.
Posted by Sarlat, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 2, 2007 at 10:34 am
The Israelis were trying to do what every criminal does:destroy evidence that could incriminate him. Only when they realized that even the torpedos and napalm bombing wouldn't sink the ship, they discontinued the attempts to sink the Liberty and started with their help offer charade. All the Liberty radio channels had been jammed before the attack began, so she couldn't radio in and identify the attackers. This was a carefully pre-conceived attack and the only thing the Israelis couldn't anticipate was that the ship just wouldn't sink.
Posted by Dave, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 2, 2007 at 10:44 am
It's pretty obvious what this was all about. Had the Israelis managed to sink the Liberty, knowing she was unable to notify the 6th Fleet of the identity of the attackers,on acount of her radio being jammed and radar destroyed, the Americans would have blamed the Egyptians, since no one in his right mind would suspect the Israelis. Since attacking a ship in international waters is an act of war as well as a war crime, Egypt would become the enemy of the USA, with Israel the great beneficiary. Like so well put by Sarlat, the only hitch was that the Liberty wouldn't go down.
Posted by Jeff, a resident of Portola Valley, on Jun 2, 2007 at 11:39 am
It is clear that the Johnson administration realized that it would be far less costly costly to go along with the cover-up than to engage in an open battle with AIPAC and risking the alienation of the most loyal and financially generous Democratic constituency-the Jewish vote. There's no other explanation to what McNamara did, since it would require an extremely naive child to buy the Israeli explanation that the incident was a mistake, and McNamara was a very smart man. This was a perfect demonstration of Machiavellian politics.
Posted by Amiram, a resident of Atherton, on Jun 2, 2007 at 12:13 pm
Normally, Iíd rather have root canal work than participate in an online discussion. In this case though, with the 40 year anniversary of this tragedy coming up, I feel that I must comment. As a former Israeli naval officer of that era, although we didnít have computers on board then, the way any military vessel has today, we had, as a standard equipment, in any single navy vessel, a book, updated frequently, of every single military ship operating anywhere in the world, as well as many civilian vessels. Every ship, boat or submarine had corresponding drawings or photos, done from at least 3 different angels. In case of any doubt as to a vesselís identity, the standing operating procedure was for the commanding office to look it up, or assign an underling to look it up and make a positive identification. In the Liberty case, since it was far from shore, not heading toward the Israeli coast, not firing on anybody, in international water and obviously not a battle or attack ship, there would have been plenty of time to ascertain itís type and origin. I looked it up in that very same book after hearing of the incident and found out within 3 minutes that it was a US navy intelligence ship. The fringe right wing true believers who will come up with irrational and implausible explanations and justifications for every single Bush blunder and crime, are in the habit of doing it as well when Israel is involved. They are at least as bad as cultists who will abide by and justify the craziest things coming from their cult leader. Just think of Jim Jones and Johnstown and of the Branch Davidians.
Posted by Dave, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 2, 2007 at 12:40 pm
One more thing. It was a clear spring day. The air force jets and torpedo boats could see very clearly that the Liberty was flying a US flag and had US Navy markings along the side. They all admitted such. Even if the Israelis suspected that the Egyptians somehow managed to make one of their ships look like a US navy vessel, a highly impropable proposition to begin with, the Israelis could have contacted the 6th fleet directly or through the US military attache in the US embassy in Tel Aviv to find out if a US navy ship had been in the area. Yet the Israelis never did that.
Posted by Amiram, a resident of Atherton, on Jun 2, 2007 at 3:45 pm
The prospect of IDF jets and naval torpedo boats attacking a vessel flying a US flag with US Navy markings in international waters by mistake are nil, then and now. The Liberty crew signaled with flags to the torpedo boats that they were a US ship. The boats would've radioed their command&control center in Stella Maris on Mt. Carmel in Haifa and asked for a verification that a US navy ship wasn't in that particular area. The US military attache would've been contacted and he would have contacted the 6th fleet. We in the Israeli navy were never authorized to attack any targets in international waters without clear orders from the chief of naval operations, period. It would've had to be a very unusual situation in which an enemy vessel of a destroyer or frigate type heading straight for the Israeli coast with guns at the reasy. Any person claiming that the Israelis could have made a mistake in the Liberty case is either totally out of his mind, insincere or worse.
Posted by Amiram, a resident of Atherton, on Jun 2, 2007 at 5:06 pm
The 'Did they do it' comments are typical of what I was referring to; The Israel fanatica supporters who will always claim that Israel had attacked the Liberty by mistake. There was a war situation at the time, but the Liberty had been in international water, flying a US flag, obviously not a combat class ship, not shooting at anybody and not sailing toward the Israeli coast. There was plenty of time to find out if the most unlikely and implausible event of the Egyptians masquerading one of their vessels as a US ship had occurred. Attacking a ship in international water was completely against the standard operating procedure of the Israeli navy. Trying to sink her repeatedly although the Liberty signal men were letting the Israeli sailors know, in broad daylight, that they were Americanss. On top of that, the Liberty didn't look like any ship the Egyptians navy might have. That was a clear indication that the orders had been to sink the Liberty at any cost and not communicate with her crew in any way. They just couldn't make her sink.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 2, 2007 at 5:20 pm
I suppose I just dreamed about that P-51 that strafed me at Kunu Ri and the B-26 that strafed me in Feb 51? It would not surprise me to find out that half the artillery landing around me was friendly.
I never flew a jet, but what little flying I did there was little room to open Jane's Fighting Ships in a single seat cockpit, and some things are not as obvious from the air. Flags are easy to buy, and if the US assured Israel none of our ships were in the area then a flag just might be a ploy. This was not the Navy's finest hour nor the IDFs. But you still have my permission to hang MacNamara.
Posted by Did they do it?, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 2, 2007 at 5:31 pm
Clearly my previous post was not read correctly--nowhere did I say that israel did not know that it was an american ship they were attacking. I am not that familiar with the incident and looking on the interent brings up websites saying it was a mistake and some websites saying that it was a deliberate attack. What is the real truth? Was there a coverup? is the Joint Chiefs of Staff investigation a bunch of crap? Who really knows the truth?
I asked two questions in my post--one regarding the comment that EVERYONE another poster knew knew had any doubt that it was a deliberate attack. i just found that a ridiculous statement which undermines the poster's arguments. I will take the poster at his word with regards to what he says. however, as I stated earlier, look on the web and you will find tons of sites with both sides of the story. therefore, I find it hard to believe that EVERYONE in Israel knew that it was a deliberate attack.
With regard to Never Agains question regarding the pilfering of lifeboats by the Israels, I just want to know where this information came from or is it just poste dto be inflammatory.
With regard to his question to me, looking at one website, I see there are statements that the Israeli boat crew fired on the life boats that were launched. So I am not denying that--I see no reason for the sailors on the Liberty to lie about it,. But, again, I ask for a source regrading the statement that the Israeli soldiers "pilfered" life boats.
Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford, on Jun 2, 2007 at 6:04 pm
Walter, you make the most sense of all the posts.
What these guys don't realize is the very high percentage of deaths ( do you know it?) attributable to "errors" or "friendly fire" in any war, especially in the days of lack of instant communications and computers.
But, it is irrelevant. They will volunteer to learn first hand about war, and we don't have a draft. So, their minds are made up, and there is little chance of opening them up.
Posted by Never Again, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 2, 2007 at 6:24 pm
My exact words: "They even pilfered one of the life rafts, bringing it aboard one of their own boats as some sort of trophy or joke."
So to be clear: I reported ONE life raft was pilfered by Israelis.
The testimony regarding the pilfered life raft came directly from a witness who had survived the attack on the USS Liberty. The witness was speaking in one of several USS Liberty documentaries or in one of more than a dozen radio interviews, all of which have been available on the internet.
I don't recall whether or not the witness speculated as to why Israelis pilfered the life raft. For me, the trophy motive is the most likely explanation, because trophy-collecting practices are common in war and hunting.
And to further clarify, it's my understanding Israelis machine-gunned empty life rafts. Nevertheless, it's still a war crime, regardless if crew members were fleeing an enemy ship or not.
Posted by Amiram, a resident of Atherton, on Jun 2, 2007 at 7:54 pm
To begin with, we need to dispense with the absurd notion that somehow the Israelis would try to sink a ship sailing in international water flying a US flag because they believed it was an Egyptian ship masquerading as a US navy ship. There had been too many safeguards in place to prevent erranad attacks, and the possibility of an Arab ship pretending to be something else was never taken seriously and never happened. There was no battle going on in the area the Liberty was sailing in, and the IDF had all the time in the world to ensure that a ship fling a US flag was really a US navy ship. The Israelis never contacted the US military attache, who had a direct communication line to the 6th fleet. The Israelis knew very well that the Liberty was a US intelligence ship. Even a 4th rate military would've figured it out quickly, let alone one of the most sophisticated military forces in the world. Attacking a ship flying a US flag without an iron clad determination it was only masquerading as a US ship was totally out of line with standing military procedures and the tradition of the IDF, it would be unthinkable. It would've been very easy to find out that it was a US ship by just checking out the book every Israeli navy ship was provided with. As an old sailor, I know that even when you have to sink an enemy ship, you never murder enemy sailors once the ship is disabled. You save their lives. Solidarity among sailors runs higher than nationalist fervor. The possibility that it had been a mistake is non-existent once you know the circumstances, the sophistication and effectiveness of the IDf and its military intelligence in those days and the standard operating procedures of the Israeli navy and air force. Those, like me, who are convinced that O.J. Simpson murdered his wife, are aware that there's a much, much higher probability that he's innocent than that Israel made a mistake in attacking the Liberty.
Posted by Dave, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 2, 2007 at 7:59 pm
McNamara deserves jail time, not hanging, although his role as an enabler of the Vietnam war should make it a very long sentence. Bush/Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice deserve hanging in a public square as the worst war criminals of the post WW2 era.
Posted by Amiram, a resident of Atherton, on Jun 2, 2007 at 8:11 pm
Did they do it, you need to pay attention. I would never make an absurd statement claiming that everybody in Israel believed that the attack was deliberate. I was serving at the time in the Israeli navy, and every navy comrad I discussed the matter with, knowing the rules, regulations and standard operating procedure, was a 100 percent certain that the attack was deliberate. We all knew that it would have been absolutely impossible and out of character for the navy (and air force for that matter) to make such an absurd and deadly mistake. This was a fairly large ship flying a US flag in broad daylight, not a small patrol in bad visibility mistaken for the enemy from the air. We and the air force had photos and drawing of every single type of ship the Egyptians, Syrians, Russians and many ohers had, it would have taken seconds to ascertain that it could have been only a US intelligence ship. Zero chance that it was a mistake.
Posted by Never Again, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 2, 2007 at 8:42 pm
I'm 100% certain the ability to cover-up this massacre encouraged the criminal cabal in USA and Israel to perpetrate even more crimes against USA and others.
Who knows, but this cabal could easily be responsible for decades of attacks, including the Munich Olympics, Beirut Marine barracks bombing, Lockerbie, Estonia sinking (1000 murdered), the USS Cole attack, Khobar Towers bombing, Murrah Building bombing, 9/11 attack, Anthrax attack, Bali nightclub bombing, Madrid train station bombing, the 7/7 attack in London's Tube, the Hariri assassination, the on-going Hamas-Fatah civil war, and even those high-tech, electronically triggered, shape-charge bombs currently used to penetrate US tanks in Iraq.
Just this weekend, word is out that a just-released British document indicates Israel staged the Entebbe hijacking in 1976.
Posted by Did they do it?, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 2, 2007 at 9:10 pm
Amiram--so all the comrades you spoke to agree that the attack on the Liberty had to be deliberate. How many of these comrades took part in the attack? Did you speak with any of the IDF personnal that took part in the attack to find out what they thought the Liberty was?
As Mr Wallis has mentioned during a war, mistakes and bad things happen, including frinedly fire incidents.
It is easy, not being part of the battle, to look back at events and speculate on what they were. Basically all of your speculation and it is speculation is coming from someone who heard about the attack hours/days after it happened and now 40 years later is doling out an analysis of what happened, based not on speaking with those involved, but based on recalling conversations with others, like yourself, who became aware of the incident well after the fact.
i am not saying that Israel did not deliberately attack the Liberty. i do not know and you do not know either.
Never Again--your last post sounds like th old the "jews are running world and are behind everything" conspiracy. you forgott o mention that they control all the money and killed christ.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) may have been involved in the hijacking of an Air France plane in 1976 by Palestinian terrorists, according to newly declassified British government documents released Friday.
Some 100 passengers were held by hijackers at Entebbe airport in Uganda during an eight-day ordeal that concluded when General Staff Reconnaissance Unit (Sayeret Matkal) troops stormed the building where the captives were held.
Twenty-four people died in the shoot-out, including three hostages, 20 Ugandans and the commander of the rescue team, Yoni Netanyahu, brother of current opposition head Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud).
The hijackers, from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the German Baader-Meinhof gang, demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners.
But according to the newly released documents, the Shin Bet and the PFLP are alleged to have teamed up in an "unholy alliance" in an attempt to change foreign policy in the Middle East.
The allegation appeared in a document written by official DH Colvin at the British embassy in Paris, quoting a contact at the Euro-Arab Parliamentary Association, as the crisis unfolded.
"According to his information, the hijack was the work of the PFLP, with help from the Israeli Secret Service, the Shin Bet," he wrote.
"The operation was designed to torpedo the PLO's (Palestine Liberation Organization) standing in France and to prevent what they see as a growing rapprochement between the PLO and the Americans.
"Their nightmare is that... one will witness the imposition in the Middle East of a Pax Americana, which will be to the advantage of the PLO (who will gain international respectability and perhaps the right to establish a state on evacuated territories) and to the disadvantage of the Refusal Front (who will be squeezed right out in any overall peace settlement and will lose their raison d'etre) and Israel who will be forced to evacuate occupied territory. Hence the unholy alliance of the hijacking."
The document also suggested that then Ugandan president Idi Amin may have been collaborating with the hijackers.
The document was released by the National Archives in London.
Shimon Peres, who was defense minister at the time of the hijacking and Entebbe rescue, said over the weekend that the claims were so outrageously baseless that they did not merit comment.
During the Six-Day War, Israel attacked and nearly sank the USS Liberty belonging to its closest ally, the USA. Thirty-four American servicemen were killed in the two-hour assault by Israeli warplanes and torpedo boats. Israel claimed that the whole affair had been a tragic accident based on mistaken identification of the ship. The American government accepted the explanation.
For more than 30 years many people have disbelieved the official explanation but have been unable to rebut it convincingly. Now, Dead in the Water uses startling new evidence to reveal the truth behind the seemingly inexplicable attack. The film combines dramatic reconstruction of the events, with new access to former officers in the US and Israeli armed forces and intelligence services who have decided to give their own version of events.
Interviews include President Lyndon Johnson's Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara, former head of the Israeli navy Admiral Shlomo Errell and members of the USS Liberty crew.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 3, 2007 at 7:26 am
It is routine after action to recover wreckage to confirm identity. To suggest this is collecting souvenirs poisons the well of understanding. The machine gunning of life rafts would imply that there were no other targets in the vicinity or the life rafts. Automatic weapon fire has a cone of dispersion, not pin point accuracy.
I suspect there was CYA on all sides that make direct statements less reliable than inferences to be drawn from those statements.
Posted by Amiram, a resident of Atherton, on Jun 3, 2007 at 9:47 am
Did they do it?Firstly, yes, I can't remember even one of my fellow navy comrads believing that it would've been possible for torpedo boats to get that close to the Liberty and mistake her for an Egyptian ship-not being pilots, we couldn't speak for the air force. My best friend served on one of the attacking torpedo boats. He told me shortly after the 67 war about what had transpired on June 8. He was extremely distraught, I thought he was going to desert or suffer a breakdown. He felt like a murderer. He was by nature a very composed, tough and calm person. He said that their orders were to sink a ship flying a US flag, not ask any questions about the reasons and that those caught speaking about it to anyone would be charged with treason, court-martialled and spend many years in military prison. They got very close to the Liberty and that every single crew member knew they were hitting a US navy ship. After the war he was re-assigned to the destroyer Eilat. In October of 1967, Eilat was sunk by an Egyptian small missile carrier boat off the shore of Port Said and my friend was one of the sailors killed, age 21. Now that both of my friend's parents are dead and don't have to be afraid of losing the military pension they had been receiving, I can reveal his name. Dov(Boris)Soschin. People who want to believe in the implausible and fantastic theory that the Israelis could have somehow mistake the identity of the Liberty are people who insist on being deceived in order to hold on to their political views, their fantasy that Israel is a benign friend or that Israel can do no wrong.
Posted by Did they do it?, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 3, 2007 at 1:06 pm
Amiram--so it is possible then, that the air force did accidentally attack the Liberty during the fog of battle. The mistake or tragedy could have then been that certain people in the IDF tried to cover it up by ordering torpedo boats to destroy the Liberty.
So it could be that a tragic error was turned into a crime by people trying to cover their asses.
So unlike the way you put it, in such a certain manner--"implausible and fantastic theory that the Israelis could have somehow mistake the identity of the Liberty"--is a possibility, would you not agree?
Finally based on this one incident 40 years ago, I would hesitate to claim that Israel is not a friend to the US.
Posted by Amiram, a resident of Atherton, on Jun 3, 2007 at 3:50 pm
As chance encounters go, I ran into a former IDF combat pilot while traveling in Brazil back in 1980. During the course of our conversation, it turend out that he had been in active duty during the 67 war and that in the course of his air force career, flew the 2 types of planes used to attack the Liberty, the French fighterjet Mirage and the US made bomber Skyhawk. He hadn't participated in the attack on the Liberty, but I asked him if, based on his experience and professional opinion, a mistaken identity could have been possible. He just laughed. He said that with the standard operating procedures they had and under the condition that existed that day-perfect visibility, a fairly large ship as opposed to a small craft in choppy water, sailing in international water and the tremendous ability of the pilots to identify a hostile target under such perfect conditions, it could have happened only if the orders had been to sink the ship regardless of her nationality. By the way, the incident took place on the 4th day of the war when the Egyptian military had already collapsed completely and no Egyptian vessel dared go out in the open sea. They were all laying in their ports, next to Soviet ships, knowing perfectly well that the Israelis would never attack them because an hot on a Soviet ship would have gotten the USSR involved in a war the Israelis had already won, the very last thing the Israelis would've wanted. It's pretty pointless to speculate on why the Israeli high command, possibly defense minister Dayan wanted to sink the Liberty, but one would have to have a burning desire to be deceived and led down the garden path to believe that it was a case of "mistaken identity during the fog of war".
Posted by Amiram, a resident of Atherton, on Jun 3, 2007 at 5:10 pm
I just remembered another detail from my conversation in Brazil all those years ago with that former Israeli pilot. In their briefings before and during the war, his quadrom and every other in the Israeli air force had been warned warned over and over again about the danger of hitting a Soviet target by mistake. The Israelis greatest fear was of giving the Soviets an excuse to enter the war on the Arab side. The Israeli perception had been that in such a case, the Soviet might use nuclear weapons to attack Israel. Even in Dayan's memoirs he writes about receiving Soviet warnings through a foreign ambassador that the Soviets might use nuclear weapons against israel if any of their ships are attacked by Israel. An unidentified ship in international water could have very well been a Soviet intelligence ship as far as Israel was concerned. The pilot said that the Israelis would've made sure there was a million percent certainty that the ship wasn't Soviet before attacking it from the air. Since the Israeli claimed all along that for over 2 hours of attack they couldn't figure out the ship's nationality, it could have very well been Soviet for all they knew at he time if they were telling the truth. They would never take that kind of a chance when the ship wasn't firing on anybody and not moving toward the Israeli shore.
As far as Israel as a friend of the US;would you stay friends with someone who killed some of your family members? I know I wouldn't.
Posted by Did they do it?, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 3, 2007 at 5:58 pm
Amiram--it is clear now that you have other issues with Israel--you are just using the Liberty incident to vent your anger on your country of birth. i am not sure these meetings that you had really happened or whether the sailor who died on the Eilat really existed or if this "chance" encounter in Brazil really happened. Regardless this so-called pilot was not involved in the attack on the Liberty, so had no knowledge of what brought about the attack.
As for your comment "one would have to have a burning desire to be deceived and led down the garden path to believe that it was a case of "mistaken identity during the fog of war"."--we have heard on this thread of incidents of friendly fire during war and since you really have no real first hand knowledge of what happened that day--just the speculation of a bunch of "jobniks" after the fact and "chance" encounters that cannot be verified (bit which you seem to recall just in time to refute any argument that the attack was an accident).
i am not sure what the issue is, but it is ridiculous to suggest that the US not have friendly relations with a country becuase of an incident over 40 years ago. the US is good friends with the British now an dthey burned our capital in the war of 1812. The US is on good terms with Italy, Germany and Japan now and they killed thousands of our soldiers during WWII. Maybe Pat Tillmasn's family should declare their hatred for all of the US. based on your argument.
Posted by Amiram, a resident of Atherton, on Jun 3, 2007 at 7:31 pm
I know that it's a total waste of time having a conversation with you, so I will close this out with the following comments: of course you would cast doubt on the authenticity of my information, this is the pattern of people who insist on being deceived in order not to have to question their ideology and allegiance. None of the people I discussed the Liberty incident while serving in the navy had been "jobniks". They all served on combat ships, destroyers, torpedo boats, patrol boats or the lone frigate, as did I. They just weren't involved in the Liberty attack. The sailors and officers involved wouldn't talk about it,refused to say a word about their experience and I know why. The only one of them to ever speak to me about it was my closest friend, he trusted me and I never betrayed his trust until I found out that both his parents were dead. Had you applied any common sense, rational thinking and fairness to your attitude toward this tragedy, you would realize that not even one angle in the Israeli version makes any sense. Israel would never attack in international water a ship it couldn't identify, a ship that was clearly not an attack ship and that could have very well been a Soviet ship. There are numerous facts in this incident that dispute the Israeli version and not even one that would makes any rational person believe that the Israeli version could have been true. I won't repeat any of the facts or aruments that strongly favor a premeditated Israeli attack and I believe thT I know why the Liberty was attacked. If you bother to read Admiral's Moorer's report you would realize that no one in the US navy believed the Israeli version either. That shouldn't bother you however as a propagandist and apologist for Israel. Don't let the truth get in the way of your ideology.
Posted by Did they do it?, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2007 at 5:57 am
AS I have stated many times before, I do not know the facts about the reason for the Liberty attack ( and neither do you, really). Obviously it was not Israel's finest hour. However I fail to see how it makes me a "propagandist and apologist for Israel" when I ask the same questions that people have been asking for years.
So as I asked many times before--what do you suggest be done about it now?
Posted by Never Again, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2007 at 7:32 am
Did The Do It:
Perhaps the Simon Wiesenthal Center could help Americans track down and gather information on fugitive Israeli criminals so that they could be brought to justice for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2007 at 7:56 am
There is a name for people who wait for positive ID before taking action in war - dead.
Why did the US go to all the trouble of sortying a P51 and an A26 just to kill an 18 year old infantryman in 1950 and 1951? Did they know back then what my politics might become? Was it something I said?
War is not a game of Simon Says, it is a real time interaction where the reward is staying alive. Hindsight is 20-20.
Posted by Never Again, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2007 at 8:19 am
Did They Do It:
I'm serious: we can do this:
In October 1983, Israel issued an extradition request for John "Ivan the Terrible" Demjanjuk to stand trial on Israeli soil under the Nazis and Nazi Collaborators Law of 1950. Demjanjuk was deported to Israel on February 28, 1986. He was put on trial between February 16, 1987 and April 18, 1988.
FYI: John Demjanjuk was on April 3, 1920 in USSR. He is a retired auto worker who emigrated to the United States from Europe in 1951. He was later exonerated by Israel's highest court of crimes against humanity after new evidence came to light.
Posted by Did they do it?, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2007 at 8:30 am
You left out the rest of the story:
, Federal District Court Judge Paul Matia ruled that Demjanjuk's citizenship could be restored. On May 20, 1999, the Justice Department filed a new civil complaint against Demjanjuk.
No mention was made in the new complaint of the previous allegations that Demjanjuk was Ivan the Terrible. Instead, the complaint alleged that Demjanjuk served as a guard at the Sobibůr and Majdanek camps in Poland and at the Flossenburg camp in Germany. It additionally accused Demjanjuk of being a member of an SS-run unit that took part in capturing nearly two million Jews in the General Government of Poland. Demjanjuk was put on trial again in 2001, and in February 2002, Matia ruled that Demjanjuk had not produced any credible evidence of his whereabouts during the war and that the Justice Department had proved its case against him.
On May 1, 2004, a three-judge panel of the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Demjanjuk could be again stripped of his US citizenship because the Justice Department had presented "clear, unequivocal, and convincing evidence" of Demjanjuk's service in Nazi death camps. Demjanjuk vowed to appeal the ruling.
On December 28, 2005, an immigration judge ordered Demjanjuk deported to Ukraine. "Having marked Mr. Demjanjuk with blood scent, the government wants to drop him into a shark tank," his lawyer, John Broadley, said during the hearing. Chief U.S. Immigration Judge Michael Creppy ruled that there is no evidence to substantiate Demjanjuk's claim that he would be mistreated if deported.
On December 22, 2006, the Board of Immigration Appeals upheld the deportation order, stating "Simply put, the respondent's arguments regarding the likelihood of torture are speculative and not based on evidence in record".
Even if Demjanuk loses all appeals, he would remain in the United States if no other country is willing to accept him. This is a likely outcome, according to his attorneys, since European countries are reluctant to accept the aged and infamous. In that case, Demjanjuk would become a stateless alien and would lose all Social Security benefits.
Posted by Never Again, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2007 at 12:47 pm
Draw the Line:
You totally missed the point.
I'm talking about hunting down and extraditing hundreds of Israeli criminal fugitives who massacred 34 brave American servicemen when these Israeli thugs attacked the U.S.S. Liberty and attempted to sink her.
If Demjanjuk can be extradited 41 years after the end of WW2, we can extradite hundreds of Israeli war criminals, too.
Posted by Did they do it?, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2007 at 12:56 pm
Never again-- [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Go ahead and try to get extradition--as far as the US government is concerned this issue is closed. This was done by an exchange of diplomatic notes between the US and Israel.
None of the posts above actually provide any information about what really happened (and who knows if we ever will). What we have is speculation, 20-20 hindsight, but no real evidence on what actually happened
Posted by Gerald, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2007 at 5:10 pm
There are so many holes in the Israeli version of events regarding the attack on the Liberty, it boggles the mind. They claimed that all through the attack, which consisted I believe of 30 minutes of air attack and about two hours of torpedo boats attacks, they couldn't identify the ships nationality and that's why they continued the assault. Even according to the Israeli version, their boats got very close up to the Liberty. How in the world couldn't they see that the was flying a US flag and how couldn't they read the USS Liberty writing on the sides? How couldn't they read the signal flags the crew was hoisting? It was daylight, weather was good, and even back in 1967 every Israeli naval boat had a few pairs of high powered binoculars. We were born with brains for a reason. If it snowed last night and in the morning I see footprints in the snow covering my front yard, i know that somebody walked in my backyard between the time it started to snow and the present. I'm not going to say that since I wasn't there and I didn't see anybody, I have no proof that somebody was in my front yard. Many defendents have received the death penalty with only circumstantial sentences. This case isn't even very difficult. A US navy ship flying a US flag is attacked in broad daylight, Israeli boats get up close, can easily see the flag and interpret the signals, but continue trying to sink the ship. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]