LIBERTYGATE Part Two It has been twenty-two years since the military forces of the State o

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LIBERTYGATE Part Two It has been twenty-two years since the military forces of the State of Israel attacked the U.S.S. Liberty. It has been 43 years since Hitler's atrocities. If Congress can spend our money chasing senile Nazis, after all these years, it's about time they spend a little money investigating the Liberty coverup. The only way it will ever happen is if YOU write your representatives and insist on a full investigation and tell them you want Jun 8 to be Liberty Memorial Day not Snow White Day. ------------------------------------------------------------ The following article appeared in *Defense Electronics*, October 1981. Part Two (If you missed Part One, email to arf for re-run.) By James M. Ennes, Jr., Deck Officer of the USS Liberty Fourteen years ago, the USS Liberty was attacked by Israeli Warplanes and ships, resulting in the deaths of 34 Americans and the wounding of 171 others. The attack lasted 2 and 1/2 hours and ended the Navy's program of dedicated electronic intelligence collection ships. --------------------------------------------------------- Fourteen years ago, one of the most serious peacetime American naval disasters occurred, and perhaps the most serious since the sinking of the battleship *Maine* in 1898. But while every bright schoolchild remembers some details of the explosion that led to the Spanish-American War, hardly anyone can recall the attack on the USS Liberty in 1967, which cost the lives of 34 Americans, wounded 171 others, and brought a premature end to the Navy's program of dedicated electronic collection ships. 1515 Hours When Liberty miraculously remained afloat with a 40-foot hole in her belly, the torpedomen methodically machine-gunned exposed fire fighters and medical personnel for much of the next 40 minutes while watching the ship slowly sink lower in the water. Finally, at 1515, after word came from the bridge to prepare to abandon ship, Liberty crewmen launched three rubber rafts and tied them astern. The torpedomen machine-gunned the empty rafts, plucked one out of the water, and set a course for their base at Ashdod. Liberty was alone, in flames, dead in the water, and sinking. Her radios were dead. Thirty-four men were dead or dying and 171 more were wounded. There was no sign of the Sixth Fleet, which only three days before had refused the ship's request for a destroyer escort and had promised to have air support overhead within ten minutes of any emergency. 1545 Hours At 1545, the Sixth Fleet, having received Liberty's call for help 96 minutes earlier, finally launched White House-authorized aircraft in Liberty's defense, advised pilots of their authority to use lethal force, and filled the airwaves with plain language traffic supporting and describing the mission. Almost instantly, the Israeli government summoned the U.S. Naval Attache to the foreign liaison office to report that Israeli forces had "erroneously attacked a U.S. ship" and to offer "abject apologies." 1632 Hours At 1632, the torpedo boats returned to Liberty to ask: "Do you need help?" The reply from the bridge was obscene. The attack, after more than two-and-one-hours, was over. Coverup Begins The coverup began a few hours later. First, the Secretary of Defense directed only his office could release information about the attack. The order was repeated, paraphrased, and reinforced throughout the chain of command. Soon, Liberty sailors were being reminded daily that they could say nothing about the attack to anyone, not even to members of their own families. A court of inquiry was to be held, the men were told, and nothing could be said until the court had completed its work. The court held hearings aboard the ship during emergency repair work at Malta, but the hearings were limited and some of the most important witnesses were not called at all. Lookouts who might have described pre-attack reconnaissance were not asked to testify. My own sworn statement as officer-of-the-deck was read to the court, but inexplicably failed to find its way into the transcript. Deck logs for my watch were rewritten in my absence and without my knowledge, and without reference to the reconnaissance noted during my watch. Quartermaster's Notebook entries during the reconnaissance were not filed with the record of the court. Photographs of reconnaisance aircraft and the ship's freely flying flag were presented in court but not filed in the record of the court. Despite the oversights, however, an abundance of evidence did find its way into the record, although the record is such a jumble that expert knowledge and deep study is needed to make sense of it. The record reflects reports from several officers and senior crewmen who told the court of extensive, low-level reconnaissance and described the ship's flag flying freely in a good breeze in plain sight of low-flying aircraft; the record includes descriptions of an extended, carefully coordinated attack that can only have been planned in advance; it includes reports from radiomen of sophisticated jamming, which was limited to frequencies needed to summon help. The record also includes a report of an Israeli excuse for the attack, which is so unlikely as to discrediteven furthor any claim that the attack was a mistake. Unfortunately, none of the evidence found its way to the American public; it was classified Top Secret and locked away from the prying eyes of the press. Instead, almost the only material declassified and released was that which supported the official claim that the attack was a mistake -- the rest remained locked up in the top secret vault of the Navy Judge Advocate General. Meanwhile, our government complained bitterly, but privately, to Israel that *Liberty was* identified before the attack, and characterized the affair officially as a "quite literally incomprehensible attack [which] must be condemned as a act of military recklessness reflecting wanton disregard for human life." Such candor, however, was only for diplomatic channels. Publically, the Johnson administration supported the premise that the attack was brief, spontaneous, casual and erroneous. Instead of describing repeated reconnaissance flights as low as 200 feet directly overhead, the U.S. government reported publically that the attack was an understandable case of mistaken identitity, which was preceeded by only three very distant and rather casual reconnaissance flights. The Johnson administration ignored the ship's logs and testimony of ship's officers and reported that the faulty identification was understandable because the flag hung limp at the mast on a windless day, despite evidence of a 12-knot wind. Instead of describing a prolonged and carefully coord- inated attack in which the ship was under heavy fire for 75 minutes and calling desperately for help for another 75 minutes, the U.S. government reported that the air attack lasted only six minutes and that all firing ended when the torpedo boats drew close enough to see our flag. Our government repeated Israel's claim that the ship was mistaken for the Egyptian ship *El Quseir*, but failed to note that *El Quseir* was a 40-year-old cattle boat, then moored at Alexandria, in poor shape, soon to be sold for scrap, probably incapable of leaving her pier, and a most improbable candidate for a Liberty-look-alike. Crew's Speech Was Restricted The Liberty crew had been told early in the coverup that they would be free to talk to the press once the court of inquiry report was declassified and released. But this was not to be. The long-awaited freedom to speak was fraught with so many restrictions as to be no freedom at all. Men were told that they could say *only* what had been said by the court of inquery and that they must use exactly the same words that the court had used. "Therefore," men were told in the ship's Plan-of-the-Day and in warnings read to them at morning quarters, "there is nothing new that we would be able to tell them in an interview." The fact that the radios were jammed, that napalm was used, that life rafts were shot up in the water, that American forces failed to arrive during the 2 and 1/2-hour ordeal, or that most of the crew considered that attack deliberate, were all details omitted from our government's published version of the court of inquiry report, so those matters were not discussed. Such orders, I believe, were an overreaction to any legitimate concern for security, and perhaps they were not even legal orders, but they did serve to intimidate the crew, keeping the story under wraps for many years. What has been the cost of the Liberty coverup? One obvious costs has been a deeply shaken faith among the many who know the truth. Some Liberty survivors have told me that they abandoned a Navy career because of their dismay over the attack; a Liberty officer told me he would not want his son to serve in the military because he no longer feels confident that our country will support its forces in combat. But more important are the lessons that have not been learned. Seven months after the Liberty attack, Commander Lloyd Bucher sailed the USS *Pueblo* from Japan toward North Korea on an intelligence mission quite similar to Liberty's. Commander Bucher was refused gunfire training for his gun crews, he was limited to 100 rounds of ammunition for each of his puny deck-mounted machine guns, and he was required by his his seniors to wrap his guns in canvas "so as not to appear hostile." Like Liberty, he was assured that "in the unlikely event" he got in trouble, friendly fighter aircraft could be overhead in minutes. When he did get into trouble, the fighter cover failed to arrive -- just as with Liberty. The very forces that were to have protected him failed to perform-- just as with Liberty. Commander Bucher now believes that, had the full story of the Liberty attack had been known to planners and commanders involved with the Pueblo, the Pueblo tragedy might have ended differently. Instead, the Pueblo was attacked and captured under circumstances very similar to those seen so recently in the Liberty attack, and the American military response was the same: no visible reaction at all. Behind-the-Scene Efforts Even before the Pueblo capture, the government took some behind-the-scene steps to protect the intelligence ships: those operating in particularly dangerous waters, such as USNS Sergeant Muller near Cuba, were given destroyer escorts. Some consideration was given to flying oversize flags or to painting the American flag on the ships' deck. When it became clear that adequate protection would add tremendously to an already expensive operation, the ships were removed from service and the technical research ship program was dismantled. Loss of this nation's fleet of dedicated intelligence collecting ships was deeply felt in the intelligence community. No other platform can quite do the same job. Clearly, other sensors are available, but nonother platform can put 300 or more men within a few miles of an emitter for days or even weeks at a time, complete with many thousands of pounds of support equipment, and all with limitless technical resources instantly available by radio from home. So when the ships were lost, with them went much of their unique intelligence-gathering capability. Important among the abilities lost --beyond direct support of local commanders and SIGNIT support to national authorities -- was the ships' capacity to locate, collect, and report sophisticated foreign electromagnetic signals for additional to the national data base of known characteristics of electronic emmitters, where the knowledge could aid in the development of electronic warfare countermeasures. While other platforms can do much of this work, probably no other vehicle can do it as well, and certainly no other sensor can cover a target as thoroughly. The extent of loss may not be known until some distant commander is suddenly faced by a new and unknown electronic threat for which he has no effective defense. *Military Review*, in a recent review of *Assault on the Liberty*, aptly noted that "in its vital interest, a state must, on occasion be brutal ..." Perhaps that, too, is a lesson to be learned from the Liberty affair: the lesson that a state, no matter how seemingly friendly toward the United States, is, above all, a sovereign, independent, self-interested nation and will put its own national interests first if forced to make a choice; that we cannot depend upon the forbearance of a friendly state when that state perceives that we are doing something unfriendly, such as observing its secret war preparations from a neutral position; and that, if we do, we should be prepared to defend the observors. But because the friendly nation in this case is the nation of Israel, and because the nation of Israel is widely, passionately, and expensively supported in the United States, and perhaps also because a proper inquery would reveal a humiliating defeat of Command, Control, and Communications, an adequate investigation of the attack on the USS Liberty has yet to be politically palatable. An so the lessons of warfare, diplomacy, politics, and history remain unlearned. ------------------------------------------------- If you have had it with the "best congress money can buy", e-mail to arf and I will send you info on how to do something about it. DO IT NOW! ***************************** ARFNET: A Network of concerned Americans utilizing computer and ham radio communication links. Unix: arf@lopez Amateur Radio Forum (ARF) NR9Q Thurs 09:PM CST 3950 KHZ Jack Schmidling for County Commissioner NEVER VOTE FOR THE INCUMBENT! VOTE SOLIDARITY


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