“What I know about the USS Liberty” re-published from October, 2007


Jim Ennes, who was a watch standing officer on the USS Liberty asked me for a statement as to what I knew of the transcripts of Israeil conversations and the ship.  This is what I sent him.  I was quoted about this in the Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun on Monday.  pl 

(Wednesday, 19 July 2017)  I have re-published this because people have written to me saying that the transcripts were not prublished before the recent Haaretz article.  pl


"Dear Jim

I was a student in the Military Intelligence Officer Advanced Course at Ft. Holabird, Maryland (Baltimore) in 1967-1968.  The course lasted about ten months.  We students were required to take several electives from a group offered and I took a course in Cryptology.  This was taught by people from the NSA School at nearby Ft. Meade.    This course was taught in the winter or early spring of 1967-1968.  There were several sub-courses, one of which had to do with voice intercepts.  In the course of this, the instructor introduced a booklet produced at Ft. Meade as material for the course.  It contained various course materials.  Among them were transcripts of the translated intercepts of radio conversations between the Israeli strike commander and his base before and during the attacks on USS Liberty.  The instructor, a retired cryptologic warrant officer or NCO identified the transcript as being of the Liberty incident.  It was also so marked in the booklet.

In the transcript, the flight leader spoke to his base to report that he had the ship in view, that it was the same ship that he had been briefed on and that it was clearly marked with the US flag.  I think he said that the ship was displaying the US flag on an upper deck, but my memory of that might be inexact.  He asked for confirmation of his orders to attack the ship and seemed reluctant (understandably) to attack the ship.  He asked more than once and was told to carry out his orders and attack the ship.

There was some further discussion of damage to the ship.

That is all I remember.


W. Patrick Lang
Colonel (Ret.)  US Army"





This entry was posted in USS Liberty. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to “What I know about the USS Liberty” re-published from October, 2007

  1. Cortes says:

    It’s dismaying how accurate memory of outrages against the hands that feed the rabid chihuahua gradually succumbs to the onslaught by the MSM. The Liberty case is a disgrace.
    Closer to home I’d be happy if even 2% of the UK population were aware of
    Posted for convenience sake; I have few illusions about the article’s editorial history and prefer to rely on stories told by elders and betters.
    No wish to distract from your topic, Colonel, so please delete as you think appropriate.

  2. Peter AU says:

    If this was in a training booklet, many others must be aware of what occurred?

  3. The Virginian says:

    Israel is its own country, and like any country should not be considered a “friend” that is fully aligned with US interests, and is at best an occasional ally only where a specific alignment occurs. It would be such a good thing for politicos in Washington to state this reality publicly. For their attack on the Liberty, they should have paid a price in American support. Washington should make them earn it, in a way that suits US interests. That the US has shed so much blood, wealth and political capital on the Israelis (and Palestinians) is – through the lens of US national interests – a shame and disservice to the American people. I do not deny the Israelis or others the right to put their interests first, but the US should never allow their interests to usurp its own.

  4. ToivoS says:

    A few months back I went through turcopolier archives looking at a number of threads concerning the USS Liberty. There were a number of commentators who claimed to be IAF personal who were involved directly in that attack. I took their testimony at face value. Yes they were there and their recollections seemed, to me, should be be considered as part of trying to understand what actually happened on that tragic day.
    After reading the Haaretz piece last week what really struck me hard was that those supposed Israeli pilots were simply lying, absolutely no way that they had some different perception from what was really going on. These guys were out and out lying. No other way to interpret their stories.
    Over time I began to consider the Israeli views on many issues as examples of dissembling, obfuscation, distraction, etc but not just out and out lying. I feel like a fool for having considered their stories were based on any facts to begin with. They simply lie. For me that should be assumed in the first place whenever an Israeli makes any kind of claim.

  5. Peter Reichard says:

    Can’t remember from where I first heard about this years ago but have always regarded this pilot/controller conversation as the most damning piece of evidence that the attack was deliberate though I wondered about its veracity and source. I wonder no more. A precursor to the Liberty was the Lavon affair, a failed Mossad false flag terrorist plot against Anglo-American property in Egypt designed to poison relations between our countries. The Liberty incident went far beyond even that as it targeted American lives in an attempt to drag the US into a war with Egypt. The word chutzpah doesn’t even begin to describe how outrageous it was and is the main reason so many cling to the idea that it was an accident, a deliberate attack being just too unbelievable. It is astonishing the Israelis thought they could get away with it. It is even more astonishing that for half a century they have gotten away with it. That’s just the way it goes in the “special relationship”.

  6. turcopolier says:

    Peter AU
    Some, but not many. This “booklet” was produced by the National SIGINT school for the training of colonels and above and the number would have been very small. My MI officer advanced course were lucky to see it. This happened IMO because the instructor didn’t feel like writing new material for this extra instruction at the MI school. My classmates were all SCI cleared at high levels. Only a dozen or so opted to take this particular elective in cryptology. I don’t remember the classification of this particular item in the booklet. I would expect that at some point this was withdrawn from use in the LBJ directed cover up. pl

  7. Youssef says:

    Col, in your opinion, what were the Israelis hoping to achieve from this attack? A false flag operation to draw the US into the conflict, doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. Since they already had the full support of the US, and they clearly did not make a lot of effort covering their tracks to make it look like an Egyptian attack. So what was their reasoning for this crime?

  8. turcopolier says:

    At the time of the attack the Israelis were in the midst of the maneuver operations that defeated the Egyptian Army. IMO and that of others, Dayan, who was running things, thought that the ship might be intercepting Israeli as well as Egyptian communications and decided to eliminate that risk. I am told by Israelis who were involved that several seniors argued against the attack but he rejected their advice. In fact the ship had no Hebrew linguists in the Naval Cryptologic Service (NSA tasked) cell on board and was only doing Egyptian intercepts. This may have reflected LBJ’s pro-Israeli proclivities. Among the Arabic intercept operators there was one sailor who knew some Hebrew because he was Jewish. pl

  9. Pat, Although you have banned me, I hope you read this comment before discarding. According to NSA oral history interview transcripts and official memorandums, there were several Jewish sailors in Liberty who knew “Brooklynese” Hebrew. Additionally, NSA civilian employee and Arab linguist Allen Blue was self-trained in Hebrew. And Navy Petty Officer Richard Baker had received 24 weeks Hebrew training at NSA 10 years prior to the attack, but was serving as a Spanish linguist. Baker was assigned temporary duty to Liberty due to someone confusing his listed ‘Special Arabic’ (i.e., Hebrew) training with Arabic. See the following for details: https://sites.google.com/site/usslibertyinquiry/essay18

  10. Russ Wagenfeld says:

    Hi Pat,
    Our friend Harry K. kept the
    file on the attack when he was in DIA’s Mid East 0B shop. None of the analysts in that office
    (myself included) would doubt your account.

  11. Lefty says:

    Bastard. Would that his other eye had been put out too.

  12. turcopolier says:

    Russ W.
    I guess you mean that Harry K. was less than forthcoming with the file. pl

  13. turcopolier says:

    So far as I know there were no “soldiers” on the ship when she was attacked. Sailors and NSA civilians are not soldiers. The casualties can hardly be called “collateral damage” since the multiple attacks on the ship were quite deliberate. I suppose this is not a big deal in Europe but for us to have been crassly and deliberately attacked by a close ally is very much a big deal. pl

  14. turcopolier says:

    Ken Halliwell
    I have not banned you yet. Was the ship collecting Israeli signals or not? pl

  15. John Minnerath says:

    I was aboard the drill ship Glomar Tasman off the coast of Dubai during the 6 Day War.
    Although we were quite some distance south of the main action, we were affected.
    Our helicopter was grounded so we couldn’t get off the ship. We had to isolate the indigenous crew from our end of the ship and from most of the compartments by welding bulkhead doors shut.There was some damage done and about all we could do was observe the main deck from the bridge. We did have an arms room and weapons were in place on the bridge.
    In Dubai a pro Egypt faction went so far as taking over the school for the westerners children. A detachment of TOS from an RAF base in nearby Sharja took that back without any problems.
    News of what was happening to the Liberty of course filtered down to us. All of us at that time were pretty much pro Israeli and there was a great deal of confusion about how that could be happening.Plans were moving to evacuate American and European families, but the war ended suddenly and that was the end of it. Afterwards the Sheik of Dubai rounded up trouble makers and everything for us soon returned to normal.
    The Israeli attack on the Liberty remained a topic of discussion and none of us ever heard any decent explanations.

  16. Babak Makkinejad says:

    They lie about everything – they lie that the Israeli Government supports religious sites of Christians, for example.

  17. Pat, No evidence for Israeli COMINT or ELINT targeting. NSA Oral history transcripts, and official reports, messages and memorandums say that any recordings of Israeli intercepts — some did occur — were not planned or intentional; i.e., purely incidental to scanning for Arab or Russian language transmissions.
    Liberty’s intercept cases were tasked before the Six Day War started, and were focused on determining degree of active Russian involvement in UAR military missions — specifically UAR Air Force.
    There was a UAR Air Force base immediately south of El Arish, a likely VHF/UHF intercept target. Also, there is evidence of HF Russian transmission intercepts from airbase(s) near Cairo.
    When Liberty arrived on station, the war was in its 4th day and El Arish airbase was under IDF control. So, from IDF’s perspective, it appeared that Liberty’s was sent to monitor IDF activity.

  18. turcopolier says:

    That confirms the lack of SIGINT collection targeting of Israel. As for the rest I read the transcripts. pl

  19. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Here’s the thing that always astonished me about the USS Liberty incident.
    Even assuming, contrary to historical facts, that the Liberty was surveying on the Israelis, it does not seem to make much moral sense that the military of a country should wantonly attack a vessel operated by a friendly neutral (and I should think US, even in 1967, was more than just a friendly neutral to Israel). If Israelis think that that sort of stuff is justified (and it’s even more problematic since we were NOT surveying on them), they are not exactly sane people.

  20. On the other side of the fence, the IDF’s “evidence” is a tangled mess and, at best, reveals a prima facie case of multiple counts of criminal gross negligence — primarily by the lead pilot and his controller. See the following for details: https://sites.google.com/site/usslibertyinquiry/essay28

  21. Any truth to Operation Cyanide ?

  22. turcopolier says:

    Harlan Easley
    IMO, no. the truth of Dayan’s order to attack the ship as a matter of military necessity is bad enough. pl

  23. Chris Chuba says:

    I wonder if the intercepted SIGINT was recorded by the USS Liberty itself.
    I would think that even if the Israelis were paranoid and thought the U.S. flag was an Egyptian ruse that the appropriate response would be to contact the U.S. or try to contact the ship itself to confirm the target before continuing with the attack. It’s hard to find a justification for their failure to do so.

  24. Ante says:

    Several of my father’s friends died on the USS Liberty. That the attack is brushed under the rug, despite all the evidence, despite the attempts to kill survivors on the water, turns my stomach.

Comments are closed.