LIBERTY AND THE NSA
James Bamford has written extensively about the National Security Agency (NSA). His first one was a humdinger called Body of Secrets — Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency, Doubleday, New York; 2001. In that book (chapter 7, Blood) he relates the tragedy of the U.S.S. Liberty, a vessel of the U.S Navy. In June 1967, it was on a signals reconnaissance mission in the lower Mediterranean, about 20 miles off the coast of North Africa. Many of the non-crew persons on board were either with the Naval Security Group (the naval arm of the NSA), or civilian employees of the NSA.
The intercept operators, both voice and Morse code, were monitoring traffic among Israeli forces that were slaughtering Arabs — Egyptians, mostly. The captain of the Liberty maintained a course in international waters, well away from the continent (not the country) of Africa.
ATTACKED BY ALLIES
Suddenly, the Liberty, flying the U.S. Colors, was strafed, torpedoed, and bombed repeatedly by Israeli forces. In an attack that lasted over an hour, the Israelis killed 34 Americans and severely wounded over 170 more Americans. In James Scott’s book Attack on the Liberty: The Untold Story of Israel’s Deadly 1967 Assault on a U.S. Spy Ship (Simon & Shuster, look it up on www.Amazon.com), he presents the carefully researched results of his in-depth investigation. That investigation included interviews with survivors of the attack. Some of those survivors have read the book, and left their comments on Amazon.com.
No one has ever believed that the attack was an accident. Fighter pilots of all countries can identify with unerring accuracy the naval vessels of most, if not all countries that launch navies. The surface boat commanders could not have failed to see the U.S. flag displayed aboard the Liberty. So why did Israel attack that ship? In the U.S. intelligence community, the answer was clear to us. Israel knew the ship’s signals collection capabilities, and wanted no record made of its activities during the Six-Day War.
DISHONORING THE DEAD
So why did the United States not take action against Israel? And what action did Israel take against the perpetrators? Read Scott’s book. (No, we are not personally acquainted.)