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Israeli State And Lyndon B Johnson Deliberately Murdered 34 US Sailors

Fabricated Massive Cover-Up Still in Effect After 55 Years.

Evidence Suggests That The Israelis Were Ordered To Attack The Ship As Part Of A False-Flag Operation Aimed At Provoking A U.S. Invasion Of Egypt That Was To Result In The Overthrow Of Gamal Abdel Nasser. The Johnson Administration Then Planned To Carry Out A Nuclear First Strike With The Aim Of “Clobbering Russia,” And Securing Unfettered Global Hegemony.

NOTE: In August, 2018, Clearing the FOG interviewed a survivor of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, Joe Meador, about what happened, the coverup and his ongoing solidarity work with Palestinians. Listen here.

On June 8, 1967, Israeli air and naval forces—with covered over insignia—fired rockets, torpedoes and napalm on a U.S. spy ship, the USS Liberty, in the Mediterranean Sea, killing 34 Americans and injuring 174 more. A secret congressional hearing revealed that two of the pilots were Americans—ex-Navy fliers.[1]

A survivor stated that the ship’s deck afterwards looked “like the floor of a slaughterhouse, with pieces of flesh, bone, hair, various organs and everything else…held in place by dried blood.”

In 2021, the CIA released three one-page information reports from June and October 1967, which quoted sources in Tel Aviv stating: “Israel’s forces knew exactly what flag the LIBERTY was flying” and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan “personally ordered the attack” on the USS Liberty “over the objections of senior military officers, one of whom characterized the attack as “pure murder.”

When an Israeli pilot, Ammon Tavni (aka Even Tov), radioed Israeli air command that the USS Liberty was an American naval vessel, he was ordered to attack it, and then arrested for disobeying orders after he refused.[2]

In 2001, it was disclosed that the National Security Agency (NSA) had a plane hovering overhead—a Navy EC-121 ferret—whose intercepts confirmed the Liberty attack was deliberate. NSA Director Marshall Carter was told by future Secretary of State Cyrus Vance to “keep his mouth shut” about this.

Highly suspicious also was a) the fact that the nearby U.S. submarine Amberjack did not signal for help, leaving the Russians to be the first to assist the Liberty survivors, and that b) when the Liberty came to port, the Israelis provided no help or medical aid and earlier machine-gunned three life boats launched by the Liberty’s captain in an attempt to save the wounded.

Prior warning messages from the office of the U.S. Defense attaché additionally were misrouted or delayed in convoluted channels through the Pentagon’s worldwide communications system which normally worked perfectly, and White House records were distorted to cover up the timing of when President Lyndon B. Johnson received notification of the attack.[3]

Commander David E. Lewis, who was temporarily blinded from torpedo blasts, learned later that Admiral Lawrence Geis, the Sixth Fleet’s carrier division commander, twice ordered the launching of aircraft to defend the USS Liberty and each time he received orders from the White House—Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara specifically—to recall them when they were already in the air.[4]

Ernest Gallo, a USS Liberty survivor and 28-year CIA veteran specializing in electronics, told CovertAction Magazine that, when Geis challenged one of McNamara’s orders, President Johnson came on the line and stated “I don’t care if the ship sinks; I won’t have my ally [Israel] embarrassed.”[5]

“Repeat Of The Tonkin Gulf Fabrication”

The motive for the USS Liberty attack and its cover-up remains the subject of speculation and debate reminiscent of the JFK assassination and other “deep political events.”

Many consider the attack as an example of the overwhelming power of the Israeli lobby and how the U.S. fealty toward Israel allows it to literally get away with murder.

The most convincing theory, however, is that the attack on the USS Liberty was part of a botched “false-flag” operation, whose aim was to blame the destruction of the ship on Egypt as a pretext for launching an attack that was designed to overthrow Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser, an Arab nationalist considered by the Johnson administration to be a Soviet stooge.

George Golden, the USS Liberty’s chief engineer and a Purple Heart recipient, told BBC journalist Peter Hounam “they didn’t want any survivors. I was told when we got to Malta—and I’m not going to mention any names—that their orders were to sink that ship and kill everyone on it….the crew all feel that McNamara and Johnson were looking for an excuse to jump in and help Israel.”[6]

The denouement of the plan was that, when Russia intervened to defend Egypt, the Johnson administration would launch a preemptive nuclear strike.

CIA officer Dick Thompson had in his possession a memoir by a Mossad agent named “Frank” who reported: “With no evidence other than that it had been sunk in view of the shore, it would be assumed that Egyptian warplanes had perpetuated the attack [on the USS Liberty]. This unprovoked attack on an American unarmed ship would legitimate the U.S. entering the [Six-Day] war. Arab oil would become the property of Israel and the USA. The presence of American ships in the area would be accepted and Russia could be clobbered without time for retaliation. China would present no threat, and the USA—or the 303 Committee [a top-secret government body that initiated covert operations] could rule the world.”[7]

Significantly, Jim Nanjo, an Air Force pilot with the Strategic Air Command (SAC), was awakened hours before the USS Liberty attack and told to wait on the runway of Beale Air Force base, north of Sacramento, California, on high alert to drop a thermonuclear bomb.[8]

David E. Lewis, who reported on Secretary McNamara’s recall of the rescue planes, said: “I’ve always thought [the sinking of the Liberty] was Johnson’s repeat of the Tonkin Gulf fabrication [which provided a pretext for the Americanization of the Vietnam War].”

The main difference was that the effects were to be even more far-reaching—with even more casualties than Vietnam.

Operation Cyanide

Peter Hounam details in his book, Operation Cyanide: Why the Bombing of the USS Liberty Nearly Caused World War III (2003), how close the world came to nuclear conflagration as a result of the USS Liberty attack.

According to Hounam, Operation Cyanide was approved by the top-secret 303 Committee—an elite top-secret government body founded by the Kennedy administration as the Special Group on Counterinsurgency, that approved clandestine operations.

The chair of the 303 Committee was Walt W. Rostow, Johnson’s National Security Adviser and a key architect of the Vietnam War.[9]

Fletcher Prouty said that, bypassing normal democratic channels, the 303 Committee was so powerful, they were “like the Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.” According to Prouty, there was “almost nothing in the world that cannot be done secretly by the might and money of the Government of the United States.”[10]

According to researcher Philip Nelson, Operation Cyanide was part of a broader plan, called “Frontier 615,” that called for Israeli provocations toward Egypt, Syria and Jordan to induce broader clashes that would then provoke a military conflict.[11]

Deputy Secretary of Defense Cyrus Vance and the 303 Committee were the ones to initiate movement of the USS Liberty to the eastern Mediterranean by way of Rota, Spain, where a CIA officer, Robert Wilson, joined the Liberty’s ship company.[12]

Joan Mellen reports that Operation Cyanide was authorized by President Johnson who signed documents so that he could “plausibly deny” he had been involved.[13]

After the Liberty’s SOS went out, Admiral William Inman Martin, Commander of the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, followed the plan by sending a telling message to the Pentagon through the Morocco station: “Liberty under attack by Egyptian forces.”[14]

John Hadden, the CIA’s Station Chief in Tel Aviv from 1963 to 1967—who had informed Washington the evening of June 7 that the Israelis would attack the USS Liberty if it continued on its course—said that he was given orders by Desmond Fitzgerald, the CIA chief of operations, after the USS Liberty attack to tell the chief of Israeli intelligence that “we think its OK to go ahead and bomb Cairo.”[15]

Admiral Martin, subsequently admitted that he had sent planes off the USS America—equipped with nuclear weapons—with instructions to bomb Cairo.[16]

The Acting Ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, David G. Nes, received warning to expect an imminent bombing attack on Cairo by U.S. planes, while Lyndon Johnson slipped and admitted to Alexei Kosygin, Chairman of the Soviet Union’s Council of Ministers, to U.S. planes crossing Egyptian territory.[17]

The Mossad agent “Frank” said that it was the 303 Committee that gave orders for the deployment of three strike aircraft to Cairo, which were less than an hour—perhaps as little as seven minutes according to Admiral Martin—from carrying out a nuclear attack if the USS Liberty had been sunk.

“Frank” wrote that “all Russian nuclear missiles were primed and pointed, and that the first mushroom in Egypt would be the signal for a Russian mass launch.”[18]

Achieving A Greater Israel

The Israeli army at the time of the Six-Day War was commanded by former members of the Palmach (the elite fighting unit of the Israeli War of Independence) who were eager to complete what was denied them in 1948: to take over the Palestinians’ remaining territories and, through the power of conquest, realize the true Greater Israel.

In a letter released after his death, Israeli General Moshe Dayan acknowledged that at least 80% of clashes that occurred in the build-up to the Six-Day War were the result of Israeli provocations.[19] Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin stated frankly in 1982: “In June 1967, we had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches did not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”

Territorial gains achieved in the Six-Day War—the West Bank, Gaza, and Golan Heights—proved particularly valuable in solving Israel’s water problems for the rest of the century.[20]

At the end of the Six-Day War, Israeli General Dayan was not prepared to continue to Cairo to unseat Nasser—as Israel may have promised—because Israel was satisfied with its success.[21]

The USS Liberty attack was thus needed as a pretext for the U.S. to be able to finish the job it had been planning since early 1966—that is to get rid of Nasser, with nuclear weapons if necessary.

CIA Operation Designed To Get Nasser

The U.S. president at the time of the Six-Day War, Lyndon B. Johnson, was a Texan whose political career had been financed by wealthy Texas oilmen. He feared that the Soviet Union would ally with Nasser to take control of the Middle East’s oil reserves.

Beloved through the Arab world, Nasser was a pan-Arab socialist who a) preached an anti-colonial message; b) had nationalized the Suez Canal; c) inspired other Arab nationalist leaders like Muammar Qaddafi in Libya and Karim Qassem in Iraq; and d) formed the United Arab Republic (UAR), a loose confederation merging Egypt, Syria and the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen.

When President Dwight Eisenhower had commented that he hoped “the Nasser problem” could be eliminated, Allen Dulles and James J. Angleton of the CIA took that as a signal to begin to concoct plans to overthrow and assassinate Nasser, which the Israelis were plotting as well.[22]

A National Security Agency official told authors Andrew and Leslie Cockburn that “Jim Angleton and the Israelis spent a year cooking up the ’67 war. It was a CIA operation designed to get Nasser,” exactly as the attack on the USS Liberty would be.[23]

LBJ And The Israelis

Johnson was an ardent Zionist who surrounded himself with Jewish advisers who were zealously pro-Israel. In 1956, Johnson—who allegedly helped Jews escape Nazi persecution during the Holocaust by getting them false passports—ran a campaign against what he saw as President Eisenhower’s anti-Israeli policies.[24]

Then in 1966, Johnson entered into an agreement with Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol that allowed for significant purchases of American artillery, communications and electronics equipment, 48 A-4 Skyhawk planes and 250 Sherman tanks.[25]

The $92 million in military assistance provided to Israel in 1966 was greater than the total of all official military aid provided to Israel cumulatively in all the years going back to the foundation of that nation in 1948.[26]

Egyptian journalist Mohamed Heikal blamed the Egyptian rout in the Six-Day War on covert U.S. and British involvement. He claimed that, between March and May 1967, the Johnson administration supplied Israel with 400 new tanks, 200 planes and 1,000 military pilots and navigators from U.S. units.

He also said that Egypt’s radars were rendered useless because of sophisticated jamming of their receivers from, it was thought, equipment on the USS Liberty.

Nasser had read in the U.S. papers that, when Walt Rostow had told Johnson Israel had attacked Egypt on June 5, 1967, Johnson turned to his wife Lady Bird and said: “We have war on our hands,” the operative words being “we” and “our.”[27]

Secret Team And Operation Cyanide

Joe Sorrels reported being part of a secret unit of intelligence and communications specialists who operated in the Negev Desert as part of Operation Cyanide, which helped the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to distort or cook signals received by the Egyptians with the goal of provoking a war and drawing in the Jordanians.[28]

Sorrels, who worked for what he said was the equivalent of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), said that his unit a) made Egypt believe that Jordan had carried out a successful attack on Hebron; b) helped initiate a provocative attack in Samu, Jordan, in order to engender retaliation; and c) convinced King Hussein of Jordan that Egypt had destroyed 75% of the Israeli Air Force and had penetrated the Negev in order to get him to join the war so Israel could takeover the West Bank and prized parts of Jerusalem that belonged to Jordan (which Israeli leaders believed should have been taken by Israel in the war for independence).[29]

Sorrels said that he worked directly with Mossad Director Meir Amit. Israel’s motive was to grab territory, nothing more, and it was elements in the U.S. who were pushing it to invade Egypt.

According to Sorrels, Operation Cyanide was a “joint plan by elements of military intelligence in Israel and the U.S. to engineer a war with Egypt and depose its leader Gamal Abdel Nasser, who the U.S. believed was a dangerous puppet of Moscow.”

Sorrels confirmed that the sinking of the Liberty was part of the overall plan, and that a nuclear attack on Egypt was its culmination.[30]

Maurice “Moe” Shafer, a wounded Liberty veteran who believes that there was a “malicious deliberate attack on the USS Liberty, with the intent to make us think we were under attack by the Arabs,” said that he was visited the day after the attack on the USS Davis by Vice Admiral William I. Martin who confirmed to him that there were four jets loaded with both conventional and nuclear weapons directed toward Egypt.

According to Martin, the U.S. was “three minutes from bombing them [the Egyptians].”[31]

Johnson Rigs The Naval Court Of Inquiry

According to Ernest Gallo, the Naval Court of Inquiry that was established after the Liberty attack was a “farce.”[32] Sailor Jack Beattie called it “the most dishonest investigation in naval history.”[33]

Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., appointed Admiral Isaac Kidd, Jr., to head the inquiry whose integrity was compromised when President Johnson[34]—who claimed in his 1971 memoir that only ten of the ship’s crew were killed—gave orders for it to come to the conclusion that the Liberty attack was accidental.

In 2004, Admiral Kidd’s legal counsel, Captain Ward Boston, Jr., provided a sworn affidavit attesting to the fact that LBJ had fixed the Navy Court of Inquiry, which covered up war crimes.[35] Kidd had told Boston: “Ward, they aren’t interested in the facts of what happened. It’s a political issue. They want to cover it up.”[36]

Leading Racist In Congress Warns About False-Flag

Almost the entire U.S. Congress and media promoted the official whitewash—extending to the present day. When some Liberty veterans approached Senator Bernie Sanders in the early 2000s in the hopes of reopening an official investigation into what happened, Sanders ignored them.[37]

The one skeptic in Congress who expressed his belief that the Liberty incident was a false-flag operation was Louisiana Congressman John Rarick (D), a decorated veteran of the Battle of the Bulge who was branded by Charles Diggs of Detroit as “the leading racist in Congress.”

On September 19, 1967, Rarick stood up on the House floor and asked: “Who planned the attack on the Liberty, and why was it made?” Rarick then noted the similarity between the blaming of Egypt and the 1898 blaming of Spain for the sinking of the Maine in Havana Harbor [the pretext behind the so-called Spanish-American War], warning that another such incident “could be made to serve as a Pearl Harbor for World War III.”[38]

What The Russians Said

Rarick’s view coincided with that of Georgiy Kornienko, head of the American Affairs Department in the Russian Foreign Ministry, who said that the Six-Day War “wasn’t a surprise. In the Russian Foreign Ministry, there was talk of the possibility that the Israelis had decided to involve the U.S. in military actions against Egypt by pretending that the USS Liberty was attacked by the Egyptians.”

Fleet Admiral Ivan Matveyevich Kapitanets, commander of a Soviet naval squadron in the Mediterranean, said that it “served someone’s interest to aggravate the situation in order to provoke the Sixth Fleet to attack either Syria or Egypt.”

This he believed was the reason for the USS Liberty attack—Egypt and the Soviet Union would have been framed if it were totally destroyed.

“It was an attempt to pull the Sixth Fleet and its allies into the military conflict. Of course it was a provocation. We were patrolling to the north, evaluating what was happening around us; we could have also been the victim of a provocation. The Nastoichev [Soviet naval ship] could have been sunk, and nobody would have done anything about it.”[39]

These words were prescient as a Russian ship, the Turkestan, was attacked by U.S. jet planes off the North Vietnamese port of Cam Pha around the same time as the USS Liberty attack.

The attack bore some uncanny parallels to that on the USS Liberty as a likely provocation, and was one of several jolts to U.S.-Soviet relations in 1967.

Peter Hounam suggests that the Turkestan attack may have been intended to make allegations of a Soviet attack against the USS Liberty seem more plausible as retaliation.

A Diversion?

John McNaughton was one of Robert S. McNamara’s whiz kids, a Pentagon ideas man with the thankless job of trying to extract the U.S. from Vietnam.

In a memo to McGeorge Bundy, Rostow’s predecessor as National Security Adviser, McNaughton suggested that, “to recover its standing and divert attention while it retreated [from Vietnam], America might launch ‘diversionary offensives’ elsewhere in the world.”[40]

The primary diversionary offensive McNaughton appears to have been referring to was Egypt, which would have been set up by the black-flag operation involving the USS Liberty.

Another motive would have been to send a message to Ho Chi Minh; to try to coerce him into accepting a peace deal out of fear that Vietnam could be a target of a nuclear attack—like Egypt if it did not acquiesce.

Why Was The USS Liberty Attack Aborted?

Operation Cyanide failed because the USS Liberty was not sunk and survivors recognized that the ship was attacked by the Israelis—and not by mistake.

The reason that Israel did not destroy the ship is uncertain, but there are a number of plausible scenarios. One is that the Israelis may have thought a second flight of planes was heading to the scene so it stopped attacking the USS Liberty. Another possibility is that Admiral Shlomo Erell or his subordinate Captain Rahav aborted the attack after it was plain the ship was American, as both independently claimed they had done.[41]

It is also possible that the IDF ran into insurmountable logistical difficulties: Ernest Gallo says that he and other crew members saw two Israeli helicopters arrive after the ship had already been struck by bombs and torpedoes, but that they had no place to land, and so left. These helicopters, he believes, were sent to “finish the job” and completely destroy the USS Liberty.[42]

Yet another possibility is that, at the last minute, IDF Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin and/or General Moshe Dayan changed their minds about dragging the U.S. into the war, out of fear that Johnson might drop an atomic bomb on Cairo, which would mean that the radioactive clouds would kill as many Israelis as Egyptians.

If the U.S. and Israel attacked Egypt, the Soviets might have retaliated—which could have meant that the next target might be Tel Aviv, or Israel’s nuclear weapons plant at Dimona.

“Frank,” the Mossad officer, suggested in his memoir that an unnamed U.S. submarine commander defied orders to sink the USS Liberty, refusing to kill the innocent American crew.[43] Others believe that the ship’s crew fought to save it.[44]

Johnson’s Personal Motive

The numerous proofs of Lyndon Johnson’s central role in the USS Liberty attack include his own words: “I want that ship going to the bottom. No help. Recall the wings,” he said.[45]

Johnson was a Machiavellian schemer with psychopathic tendencies that caused him to act more like a dictator than the leader of a modern democracy. He admitted to Colonel John Downie that he could not get out of Vietnam because “my friends [in Texas] are making too much money [off the war].”[46]

Facing bleak electoral prospects in 1968, Johnson may have calculated that his only hope was to engineer a crisis that could divert the public’s attention from Vietnam and make him appear as a hero.[47]

The Middle East was the perfect venue because of a deep public prejudice toward the Arabs and infatuation with Israel amongst wide sectors of the American public at that time.

A Gallup poll found that only 4% of Americans sympathized with Egypt in the Six-Day War. Moshe Dayan and his customary eye-patch donned all the major magazine covers, symbolizing the masculine prowess and military astuteness seemingly lacking among American generals in Vietnam. Democratic Representative Wayne Hays of Ohio stated that the U.S. should trade 400 fighter jets for Dayan.

These comments captured the wide adulation for Dayan and Israel at the time, on which Johnson sought to capitalize.

A Shameful Betrayal…By Psychopaths

The 1967 attack on the USS Liberty is a tragedy that exposes our supposed ally, the Israeli government, as cynical murderers, and our supposed guardian of American lives, President Lyndon B. Johnson, as its willing and no-less-cynical accomplice.

It has been suggested that only sociopaths possess the necessary overweening self-regard—and total lack of regard for everyone else—to rise to the top of a nation, or indeed to the top of any hierarchical social order from chair of the local Parent-Teacher Association to head of a multi-billion-dollar international corporation.

No more forceful confirmation of that proposition can be imagined than the shameful betrayal of national and personal trust involved in the planning and execution of the murderous attack on the USS Liberty.

The author wishes to thank Stephen Brown and Robert Morrow for their assistance with this article.

  1. Philip Nelson, Remember the Liberty! Almost Sunk by Treason on the High Seas (Walterville, OR: Trine Day, 2017), 81. Israel routinely recruited American ex-pilots who emigrated to Israel.
  2. Jeffrey St. Clair, “Israel’s Attack on the USS Liberty: A Half Century Later, Still No Justice,” CounterPunch, June 8, 2018, https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/06/08/israels-attack-on-the-uss-liberty-a-half-century-later-still-no-justice/; Nelson, Remember the Liberty! 133; Joan Mellen, Blood in the Water: How the US and Israel Conspired to Ambush the USS Liberty (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2018), 199, 200. Because of an outstanding military record, Tavni was not sent to prison. Later, he moved to the U.S. and was arrested in New York on a bank fraud scheme. He told Pete McCloskey (R-CA) that he feared being assassinated by the Mossad if they determined his whereabouts. Seth Mintz, who had been in the Israeli war room on the morning of the Liberty attack, said that two other Israeli pilots received sentences of 18 years at hard labor for refusing to take part in the Liberty attack.
  3. White House Counsel Clark Clifford had been called into the White House suspiciously two hours before Johnson received notification of the USS Liberty attack. Johnson’s social adviser first telephoned Johnson allegedly at 9:49 a.m. about the attack, though the Pentagon claimed to have learned about the attack at 9 a.m., while records indicate that Robert S. McNamara ordered the recall of the rescue aircraft at 8:24 a.m. Nelson, Remember the Liberty! 104. Hours before the attack, Robert Schnell’s section of the USS Liberty picked up an Israeli signal warning that their ship would become a target if it remained in the area. To his surprise and concern, the ship stayed on course, sailing slowly along a route beyond the 12-mile Egyptian territorial limit.
  4. Peter Hounam, Operation Cyanide: Why the Bombing of the USS Liberty Nearly Caused World War III (London: Vision, 2003), 175; Mellen, Blood in the Water, 226.
  5. Interview with Ernest Gallo, October 26, 2022; Mellen, Blood in the Water, 227.
  6. Nelson, Remember the Liberty! 81. Golden had survived two torpedo attacks in World War II and was a naval officer in the Korean and Vietnam Wars who, because of the USS Liberty incident, soured on Judaism and became a Baptist. He said that the alleged messages to warn the USS Liberty to stay 100 miles away from the danger zone were deliberately blocked, and not simply misrouted as the cover-up story alleged. One of the officers sent to Malta to investigate the attack told Golden: “George, they really did it to you, old boy…you were a damned guinea pig.”
  7. Mellen, Blood in the Water, 152, 158. Frank worked at one time in the Himalayas doing covert checking on Chinese military action and coordinated assessment of the Middle East political situation because he had extensive knowledge of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Syria.
  8. Hounam, Operation Cyanide, 175, 176, 177. Lewis’s story was confirmed by Justin “Tony” Hart, a watch supervisor at the U.S. Navy’s primary communications center at Sidi Yahia, Morocco. Hart worked for the naval security group in Morocco relaying classified naval traffic to the Sixth Fleet and other vessels in the Middle East and was on duty on the afternoon of June 8. He handled signals from the Liberty and from two or three other U.S. intelligence ships in the region. Hart said that Admiral Geis talked to Robert S. McNamara after the USS Liberty was fired upon and asked for permission to relaunch the ready aircraft—relaunch any aircraft—and McNamara said no, that no aircraft were to be launched. Both of the aircraft carriers had also sent teletype traffic through the Commander of the Sixth Fleet back to Washington, requesting authority to at least investigate what was going on; and this was denied. McNamara directed the Commander of the Sixth Fleet to recall the aircraft and the Commander of the Sixth Fleet said “are you sure,” and he said: ‘absolutely certain.” Hart also had wondered why McNamara was so promptly available so early that day. When the call came through from Washington, he quickly responded. Frank said that three strike aircraft were standing air ready, which meant they were carrying nuclear, not conventional, weapons. Mellen, Blood in the Water, 155. Aware of the plan, the Soviets responded by readying their nuclear submarine in the eastern Mediterranean.
  9. Foy Kohler, a former ambassador to the Soviet Union whose career bore close CIA affiliations, Cyrus Vance, future Secretary of State and stepson of the 1924 Democratic Party candidate for president, John W. Davis, CIA Director Richard Helms, and Admiral Rufus Taylor, the Deputy Director of the CIA, were other members of the 303 Committee. The 303 Committee was briefed by General Ralph Stearley, an Air Force officer in World War II who had been involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis and, subsequently, the Pueblo incident off North Korea.
  10. Hounam, Operation Cyanide, 123.
  11. Nelson, Remember the Liberty! 34, 35. As part of the campaign to bring down Nasser, the 303 Committee had approved covert support of paramilitary operations by dissident groups in Yemen with the purpose of increasing Nasser’s difficulties in Yemen and South Arabia.
  12. Mellen, Blood in the Water, 110, 111. It has never emerged why the CIA needed to be a presence on a ship reporting to NSA and the Joint Chief, unless it was one agency watching another on the precipice of a false-flag operation.
  13. Mellen, Blood in the Water, 88. Operation Cyanide was the subject of an April 6, 1967, 303 Committee meeting that referenced a submarine in UAR waters.
  14. Mellen, Blood in the Water, 238.
  15. Mellen, Blood in the Water, 102, 165. Hadden, who worked for James J. Angleton, said that he dropped the orders in the burn bag as he was not going to be responsible for the death of civilians in Cairo. Later, Hadden would speak of the attack on the USS Liberty as an “incredible blunder because of rivalry between the Israeli Air Force and Israeli intelligence, by which one group knew and the other didn’t, and the other blew up the ship.”
  16. Mellen, Blood in the Water, 105, 214, 218, 219. A navy aviator named Brad Knickerbocker, who was stationed on the USS Saratoga, recounted being briefed by officers using large maps of Egypt. They highlighted surface-to-air missile sites, anti-aircraft emplacements, port facilities and other military targets—all evidence that the U.S. had indeed been prepared to bomb Cairo.
  17. Mellen, Blood in the Water, 238. Johnson lied to Kosygin when he claimed he had instructed the carrier Saratoga “to dispatch aircraft on the scene to investigate the attack on the USS Liberty.” The truth was the reverse: Johnson and McNamara twice canceled aircraft on their way to the scene of the attack.
  18. Mellen, Blood in the Water, 155.
  19. Nelson, Remember the Liberty! 34, 35.
  20. Hounam, Operation Cyanide, 70, 74.
  21. Hounam, Operation Cyanide, 271.
  22. Mellen, Blood in the Water, 63, 64, 65. Under Operation Susannah (1954-1955), the Israelis plotted terrorist attacks targeting the USIA Library and the Rio Cinema in Cairo that could be blamed on Egypt and provide a pretext for an Israeli invasion and heightened U.S. support for Israel.
  23. Mellen, Blood in the Water, 87; Andrew and Leslie Cockburn, Dangerous Liaisons: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship (New York: HarperCollins, 1991), 146, 147.
  24. In 1940 when Johnson was a U.S. congressman, he allegedly helped Jews escape Nazi persecution in Germany by getting them false passports and bringing them to National Youth Association (NYA) training camps—in violation of the law because only a U.S. citizen could be legally trained and housed there. D. Jablow Hershman, with a preface by Gerald Tolchin, Ph.D., Power Beyond Reason: The Mental Collapse of Lyndon Johnson (Fort Lee, NJ: Barricade Books, 2002), 64. Johnson was also reportedly involved in sending weapons to Jewish forces in Palestine in the 1940s—illegally. Johnson’s Jewish/Zionist Cabinet members, allies and supporters included: Walt Rostow, Eugene Rostow, Arthur Goldberg, ambassador to the UN; Abe Fortas, Supreme Court Justice; Abraham Feinberg, Democratic Party fundraiser; Arthur Krim, a wealthy Hollywood studio owner who bought a ranch next to the LBJ ranch and whose wife Matilde was in the Irgun (a Zionist terrorist organization) during World War II; Henry Crown, CEO of General Dynamics; White House counsels Leo White and Jake Jacobsen; White House writers Richard Goodwin and Ben Wattenberg; and aides Larry Levinson and John P. Roche, Johnson’s intellectual in residence and an avid supporter of Israel. Hounam, Operation Cyanide, 133.
  25. Nelson, Remember the Liberty! 19.
  26. Stephen Green, Taking Sides: America’s Secret Relations with Militant Israel (New York: William Morrow, 1984), 186, 187, 261. Following the Six-Day War, U.S. aid to Israel shot up by 450%. On the eve of the Six-Day War, U.S. reconnaissance F-4 aircraft provided aerial surveillance in the form of high-tech photographs to the Israelis, using cameras that were not available to Israel at the time. The cover for those involved was that they were civilian employees, Americans, contracted to the Aero-Tec Corporation in Dallas-Fort Worth. The planes were painted over so as to obscure their U.S. identity. Mellen, Blood in the Water, 126.
  27. Hounam, Operation Cyanide, 186, 224. Rafi Eitan, Israeli spymaster; said that U.S. help to Israel in the Six-Day War came in three ways: a) gathering surveillance and intelligence information on the Egyptians; b) providing equipment; and c) helping with communications, with jamming, and with training for special military operations.
  28. Hounam, Operation Cyanide. 212; Nelson, Remember the Liberty! 38. Greg Reight, who had worked at a U.S. air base in Northampton, England, at the end of the war, said that he set up a photo lab at an abandoned French airstrip in the Negev that filmed bomb damage assessment during the Six-Day War. The U.S. insignia on transport planes in the Negev, he said, were all painted over.
  29. Hounam, Operation Cyanide, 212. William Goodwin, a British expert in aviation radio and eyewitness to covert operations that may have been part of the Cyanide project, was in charge of communications at Amman Airport in 1967. He said that, on March 7, two Americans, Mr. Maxwell and Mr. Brown, came to visit him. The two men were interested in the position of a telephone cable running under the runway through which the airport connected to the outside world, and where the Dakota DC3 aircraft belonging to Norwegian General Odd Bull, Chief of Staff of the UN Truce Supervision Organization, was normally parked when he was in town. Goodwin was certain that the men were from the CIA and reported the meeting to the British embassy. When the Six-Day War broke out, the Amman Airport where he worked was attacked, and the UN’s Dakota became a burned out shell. The two Americans were likely spying on behalf of Israel and the destruction of the UN’s Dakota was planned with the intention of ensuring that General Odd Bull could not intervene in the crisis. (Hounam, Operation Cyanide, 202).
  30. Hounam, Operation Cyanide. 212. USS Liberty veteran George Golden stated: “We were hearing we were the guinea pigs to get shot up, to make it look like Egypt was doing this so the United States could step in. Our country thought the Russians were going to cross the canal to help them [the Egyptians] out…we were told that the attack was supposed to have looked like it was the Egyptians and that was going to give our country an excuse to get in there to help Israel.”
  31. Hounam, Operation Cyanide, 224. The Chargé d’affaires at the U.S. embassy in Cairo, David Nes, said he was told directly that a bombing raid had been ordered in reprisal for the attack on the USS Liberty. Charles “Chuck” Rowley, a communications technician and photographer who survived the Liberty attack, said significantly that he had talked with a pilot on the USS America, which was sailing in Mediterranean waters, who told him a) he had flown one of the jets launched that day; b) that he had been carrying nuclear weapons; and c) that he had been ordered to target Cairo. Johnson correspondence with Kosygin indicates that some U.S. planes traveled much nearer to Egyptian territory than has ever been officially admitted.
  32. Interview Ernest Gallo, October 26, 2022.
  33. Mellen, Blood in the Water, 256.
  34. Lyndon B. Johnson, The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency, 1963-1969 (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1971).
  35. Interview Ernest Gallo, October 26, 2022.
  36. Mellen, Blood in the Water, 256.
  37. Mellen, Blood in the Water.
  38. Mellen, Blood in the Water, 281. In 1991, Rarick, a lawyer by profession and state district judge, supported David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, during his campaign in the 1991 Louisiana gubernatorial election, speaking at Duke campaign rallies.
  39. Hounam, Operation Cyanide, 258. See also Mellen, Blood in the Water, 236. An ex-KGB officer says that Moscow regarded the Liberty attack as a “deliberate provocation,” a pretext to precipitate open U.S. involvement in the Six-Day War.
  40. Hounam, Operation Cyanide, 272.
  41. Hounam, Operation Cyanide, 268.
  42. Interview Ernest Gallo, October 26, 2022.
  43. Mellen, Blood in the Water, 155.
  44. Mellen, Blood in the Water, 189.
  45. Nelson, Remember the Liberty! 103.
  46. Nelson, Remember the Liberty! 9.
  47. Nelson, Remember the Liberty!
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