New revelations in attack on American spy ship (USS Liberty)

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[The anger of the sailors aboard the USS Liberty, the ship attacked by Israel during the 6 Day War (Israel has always said it was a mistake)] has been stoked by the declassification of government documents and the recollections of former military personnel, including some quoted in this article for the first time, which strengthen doubts about the U.S. National Security Agency's position that it never intercepted the communications of the attacking Israeli pilots -- communications, according to those who remember seeing them, that showed the Israelis knew they were attacking an American naval vessel.

The documents also suggest that the U.S. government, anxious to spare Israel's reputation and preserve its alliance with the U.S., closed the case with what even some of its participants now say was a hasty and seriously flawed investigation.

In declassifying the most recent and largest batch of materials last June 8, the 40th anniversary of the attack, the NSA, this country's chief U.S. electronic-intelligence-gatherer and code-breaker, acknowledged that the attack had "become the center of considerable controversy and debate." It was not the agency's intention, it said, "to prove or disprove any one set of conclusions, many of which can be drawn from a thorough review of this material," available at .

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Edwin Moise - 10/7/2007

Indeed three North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked the Maddox on 2 August 1964. President Johnson decided not to do anything about that, and publicly announced that decision.

Then two nights later, on 4 August, there was an imaginary incident, in which Americans mistakenly believed themselve under attack while they were in fact all alone in mid-ocean. After _that_ incident President Johnson ordered retaliatory airstrikes, and asked the Congress to pass what became known as the Tonkin Gulf Resolution.

It was the imaginary incident, not the real one, that constituted the primary basis for President Johnson's action.

Vernon Clayson - 10/6/2007

Apples to oranges, huh? Perhaps you are correct, no one on the Maddox died, 13 on the Cole died. LBJ used the Maddox incident, no matter how inconsequential it was, to escalate our involvement. I think he should have taken the more cautious Clinton route and sent the FBI. The Cole was disabled by an attack while one machine gun bullet struck the Maddox. "She took a hit", indeed.

Mike Weeks - 10/5/2007

In mid-1964 there was much beyond "advising" by US military personnel, to say nothing of others, such as CIA folks.

It certainly has been shown that the multiple NVM torpedo boats attacked the Maddox with "intent". She even took a hit. Multiple published material is available on the subject.

It's downright plain silly to compare the situation in SEA in 1964 to 2000 in Aden. Apples to Oranges as the saying goes.

Vernon Clayson - 10/4/2007

OK, Mr. Weeks, there was a war, albeit with little engagement on our part beyond "advisers", however the madman LBJ used the USS Maddox incident to engage us fully. It has never been explained and certainly not proven that the Vietnamese boats intended any danger to the Maddox, certainly not to the extent that the one small boat was to the USS Cole at Aden in 2000. Not to worry, though, your Bill Clinton didn't send B-52s or millions of our military as LBJ did, your Bill sent the FBI. That worked, didn't it?

Mike Weeks - 10/3/2007

"started a war"?? There was ALREADY a war taking place and it hadn't been started by LBJ ...

And it was no BS; multiple NVM torpedo boats (not "a") did in fact attack the USS Maddox (a single destroyer) in international waters, on purpose, on 2 August 1964.

The difference of intent is what makes a very big difference. The GOI has been very clear on that point from the very beginning, unlike the NVM, for example, as well as verifiable data, unlike these later-year unverifiable tales.

Vernon Clayson - 10/3/2007

Strange, don't you think, that LBJ started a war with a BS story about a small Vietnamese boat attacking one of our huge warships and overlooked a real attack on another of our ships. He really was a phony, wasn't he?

Mike Weeks - 10/3/2007

The source is the discredited Chapter 12 of the book by Loftus and Aarons "The Secret Wars Against the Jews".

That book is about as reliable as this latest bit of repeat story-telling -- which isn't saying much given the factual errors in both.

Stephen Cipolla - 10/3/2007

I thought nothing related to the US and Middle Eastern foreign policy would ever surprise me. Your account of US collusion with Egypt does. What are your sources?

Bob Martin - 10/3/2007

Missing in the polemics against Israel is the important fact that the USS Liberty was a spy ship, on a secret mission, and was relaying real-time battle info to the British, who were then relaying that information to the Egyptians. The USS Liberty was intentionally aiding Egypt in its attack on Israel and only when they got caught did they raise the US flag and start begging for mercy. This is the issue that the anti-Israel (anti-Zionist) cabal doesn't want to address.