FEATURE: Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty

New revelations in attack on American spy ship

The Johnson administration did not publicly dispute Israel’s claim that the attack [on June 8, 1967, the fourth day of what would become known as the Six-Day War,] had been nothing more than a disastrous mistake. But internal White House documents obtained from the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library show that the Israelis’ explanation of how the mistake had occurred was not believed.

Except for McNamara, most senior administration officials from Secretary of State Dean Rusk on down privately agreed with Johnson’s intelligence adviser, Clark Clifford, who was quoted in minutes of a National Security Council staff meeting as saying it was “inconceivable” that the attack had been a case of mistaken identity.

The attack “couldn’t be anything else but deliberate,” the NSA’s director, Lt. Gen. Marshall Carter, later told Congress.

“I don’t think you’ll find many people at NSA who believe it was accidental,” Benson Buffham, a former deputy NSA director, said in an interview.

“I just always assumed that the Israeli pilots knew what they were doing,” said Harold Saunders, then a member of the National Security Council staff and later assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs.

“So for me, the question really is who issued the order to do that and why? That’s the really interesting thing.” [complete article]

See also, USS Liberty Memorial.

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