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Home arrow Blog arrow January 2008 arrow January 4, 2008

January 4, 2008
WAWA Blog January 4, 2008: "There Can Be No Peace in the Middle East Until Israel Owns its Own Atrocities" 7th in the USS LIBERTY Series: "It was God that kept us afloat"  

"Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all... The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave...a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils."- George Washington, Farewell Address

In an email from USS LIBERTY survivor, Donald W Pageler, Seaman E-3 Communications Technician at the time of the attack on the USS LIBERTY [honorably discharged as an E5 2nd class] Petty Office wrote: "I was once in email contact with an ordained rabbi who was a professor in an Eastern University. He said he was of the belief that there could be no peace in the Middle East until Israel owned its own atrocities."

In a phone call interview with Don on December 31, 2007, I inquired who that rabbi was and Pageler responded, "I can't remember his name, but after Jim Bamford's, Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency, was released [2001] I read a review about it on by a rabbi. He included his email address so I wrote him to thank him and that was his reply."

Currently there are 141 customer reviews for that book on Amazon's site, but missing from them is one by Yomin Postelnik, dated May 22, 2001. LIBERTY supporter Richard Schmucker, who for years has been known as LIBERTY CENTRAL because he obtained hundreds of pounds of documentation about that day in infamy when the USA Government failed to support our troops, Congress went limp and the MSM went MIA. Schmucker had the foresight to copy and save the following review and filed it in a notebook labeled 'Bamford 2' which is now in this reporter's possession.

Yomin Postelnik wrote: "I am a religious Jew with rabbinical ordination. I have always felt that one must be fair in one's position towards Israel, not defending the indefensible. The Israeli military attack against the USS Liberty, has irrevocably been proven to have been deliberate and was completely unjustified, it being against Israel's long-standing ally. The Israelis didn't want information the ship had picked up concerning its plan to advance the war, [of 1967] pushing the Arab armies out of the West bank, Golan, etc., to reach the United States, as President Johnson had already warned Israel against such moves. That they bombed this ship, poured napalm on it, shot at and torpedoed it is reprehensible and gruesome to say the least. Even John Loftus, a man very sympathetic towards Israel, has written the attack was deliberate. He cites that Israel tried to spare as many lives as possible, but the act itself was nothing short of treacherous. Many refuse to believe anything bad of Israel and this book has therefore been subject to unfair criticism by those who know nothing of the incident, nor have they cared to find out. All American Jews should pressure Congress to reopen the investigation which President Johnson agreed to suppress when Israel apologized for the incident. Our loyalties must be to our country, not Israel."

Pageler was not sure if that was the review he had replied to, but stated, "It sure was written at the right time and sure sounds like it. But who I really blame more than anybody is the Media for failing to do its job by not investigating what happened to the LIBERTY on June 8, 1967.

"My grandparents were from Germany and the LIBERTY issue has made me even more sensitive to anti-Semitism. It's not the Jewish people or Judaism that is the problem, it's the governments of America and Israel that wanted to sweep this incident under the rug and cover it up that has caused the survivors and families much suffering.

"What June 8, 1967 did to me was a nightmare that I repressed for years and have suffered greatly from. As a kid I always kept things in; like my father I am quiet and reserved. I always internalized things and thought stuff was my fault, even though logically I knew that wasn't rational. Emotionally I felt responsible somehow about what happened on June 8, 1967 in the Mediterranean and since nobody was taking responsibility for what happened to the LIBERTY; not our government, not Israel and the media failed at their mandate to investigate, I felt responsible but I also suppressed it. When I was debriefed after the attack I was told to never talk about it."

Pageler had achieved Top Secret Crypto clearance which is the highest level of clearance and was a 'spook' which is what all CT's/Communication Technicians were called. CT's intercepted UHF, VHF, long and short wave communications in the air waves. CT's were Administrators, Linguists, Morse Code Operators, Communicators and Electronics specialists who all worked behind closed locked doors, so that the rest of the crew never knew what they were doing or hearing.

On the morning of June 8, at 6 AM, the lightly armed spy ship, the USS LIBERTY was in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea, about 15 miles north of the Sinai Peninsula. Until noon, the LIBERTY was over flown by propeller aircraft and flying boxcars with the Star of David emblazoned on them. The LIBERTY was one of the most easily identifiable ships in the world because of its many antennas, her name and call numbers adorned her sides and she was flying the Ensign/American flag traveling at five knots in a good position to intercept radio messages from throughout the war zone during the Six Day War.

Around 2 PM, jet aircraft with heat seeking missiles attacked and blew up all but the one cold antenna-which had never worked well-but miraculously, became the one that enabled the LIBERTY to get the SOS message out. Jets also dropped napalm and one torpedo boat made contact and ripped a hole in LIBERTY'S starboard side, immediately killing twenty-five crewmen. The boats then encircled the LIBERTY, and commenced machine gun fire at the firefighters on the deck and the water line, in an attempt to explode the ship’s boilers. The torpedo boats also blew apart every one of the ship’s life rafts.

The LIBERTY was a spy ship and was not built or trained for combat. She was armed with only .50 caliber machine guns, which were totally inadequate and ineffective against the brutal barrage of missile fire and napalm that engulfed the LIBERTY and she became a flaming inferno.

Not until June 9th, did the Sixth Fleet arrive with helicopters to transfer the most severely of the 171 wounded and at 11:30 AM on that day, Israel invaded Syria. Records reveal that the Israeli attack on Syria was scheduled for 11:30 AM on June 8, 1967, but the spy ship, the USS LIBERTY had arrived less than three hours before that scheduled assault on the Syrian Heights. Israel postponed their invasion of Syria until the next day and instead cold bloodily attacked Americans instead.

"Word of the attack reached President Johnson in the White House about two hours after it all began. Pentagon officials had apparently been aware of the situation for nearly forty minutes when NSA Advisor Walt Rostow telephoned the President to tell him that a U.S. Navy ship was in trouble…ready aircraft, which normally carry nuclear weapons, were launched toward Liberty, and the Pentagon reacted to the launch with anger bordering on hysteria…"Help is on the way!" [COMSIXTHFLT message 081305Z]…was received by a Liberty radioman and quickly passed to every man aboard…Navy radio operators at the Naval Communications Center in Morocco worked to establish communications for the emergency…they could hear USS Liberty, her operators still pleading for help, and in the background the exploding rockets…through the Morocco communications relay station, destined for the Pentagon, State Department and the White House…Every man recognized the voice [of] Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara, and he spoke with authority: "Tell the Sixth Fleet to get those aircraft back immediately," he barked…A few minutes later the Chief of Naval Operations himself came on the air. The circuit was patched to the Sixth Fleet flagship and Admiral David L. McDonald bellowed: "You get those fucking airplanes back on deck, and you get them back now!" [ASSAULT ON THE LIBERTY, James M. Ennis, Jr. pages 97, 98, 76, 77, and 78]     

Every LIBERTY survivor this reporter has spoken with have all affirmed that : "It was God that kept us afloat."

One of them was Dave Ed Lewis who spoke with me on the phone on November 3, 2007. In 1967, Lt. Commander David Ed Lewis was the officer in charge of 195 men out of the total crew of 294 on the US LIBERTY. Lewis told me, "Rear Admiral Lawrence Geiss was in charge of the USS Saratoga and USS America. He swore me to secrecy until his death, which happened about nineteen years later. What he told me I kept secret until I learned of his death at the first reunion and twenty year anniversary of the veterans of the USS LIBERTY. He told me that as soon as he got the word of our distress he launched aircraft and notified D.C. Immediately he heard from McNamara to recall the aircraft. He said he assumed it was because some idiots in Washington thought that he was launching nuclear weaponry. He reconfigured and then re-launched aircraft without nuclear capabilities. Admiral Geiss notified Washington of this and once again the immediate response that came from McNamara was the order to recall the aircraft. Admiral Geiss challenged the order and pleaded that people are dieing! LBJ was heard to say, 'I don't give a damn! I won't embarrass an ally."

Every survivor of the brutal attack upon the LIBERTY that this reporter has so far spoken with who did not speak about it immediately after afterwards *
have also expressed either feelings of guilt for surviving or symptoms of post traumatic stress syndrome.

Pageler told me, "I married my first wife in March 1967 and we divorced in 1987, just after I began seeking help for what I learned was delayed Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. In 1985 I began to lose my vision and learned my blood pressure was sky high. I then underwent a psychological inventory examination and the Dr. told me my self esteem was zero. I had a good job and all, but one day I just began balling my head off and it took me about ten minutes to realize I was crying about what happened on June 8, 1967 and the aftermath I endured.

"Days after the attack when we got to Malta and into dry dock, the first people to go down below, where the equipment was classified were those with Top secret Crypto Clearance the highest security clearance there was. I went down and picked up a piece of equipment and underneath was a guy’s arm. We had a lot of body bags with a lot of pieces of bodies, not just arms and legs, but pieces of bodies and all sorts of stuff. I remember finding this guy’s arm, and after five days in the ocean, a body swells up when it’s in salt water, and even though that was the case, I looked at the muscle structure, and I knew whose arm it was. He was a communications technician. I can remember that I was sun bathing with him just a couple of days before when I was off—duty. I remember picking up his arm, and at that point, I remember thinking it was like there was two of me, like an out of body experience. My first instinct was I was one person saying, 'You gotta run around and find the rest of the pieces of his body and make sure they all get in the same body bag so they all get buried together.'

"But also, I am this other guy saying, 'You dumb shit-stupid son of a bitch, he’s all blown apart. It doesn’t make any difference. Just throw it in a body bag and get on with it', which seems really callous, but was probably much more rational.

"My life after June 8, 1967 was a life dissociated from my emotions. My first wife left me, my father was in a car crash and died 6 months later, and I was just totally numb about it all. I was put on blood pressure medicine but my pressure remained dangerously high until I began talking about what happened on the LIBERTY, and only then did it come down. Until 1985 I was drinking five martinis and a couple of bottles of wine a day.

"I married Eva in 1993 and drink socially today. My blood pressure is normal, but I have Type II Diabetes, which my doctor told me is due to being under such severe stress at such a young age that my pancreas over worked and gave out by the time I hit 50.

"I am 61 now, but it wasn't until four years after I began therapy and this Vietnam Veteran says to me, 'You LIBERTY guys got screwed worse than any of us Viet Vets. But, what are you going to do with all your anger?'

"What I wanted to do with my anger was get rid of it! I wrote my congress people and had a face to face with a California house rep who told me, 'No way was that attack on the LIBERTY a mistake! But nobody in Congress will do anything about it, until there first is peace in the Middle East.''

"Three years ago, Eva and I were in Taos, New Mexico and I was wearing a LIBERTY t-shirt. This guy out of nowhere appears and sheepishly says to me, "I was an officer in the Israeli army when the LIBERTY was attacked. I never could figure out why the USA government covered it all up when Moshe Dayan made no bones about it that we attacked the LIBERTY because we didn't want America to find out our plans."

On July 25, 2001, James Bamford wrote a response to the attacks upon his book, Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency:

"The time for secrecy has long passed on the USS LIBERTY incident, in both Israel and the United States…there is more than enough probable cause to conduct a serious investigation into what really happened-and why."

"There was no other answer than it was deliberate."-Lieutenant Marshall S. Carter, Director National Security Agency/NSA 1965-1969.

"Dr. Louis Tordella, Deputy Director of NSA, 1958 -1974 stated, "I believed the attack might have been ordered by some senior commander on the Sinai Peninsula who wrongly suspected that the LIBERTY was monitoring his activities." Tordella also scrawled across the top page of the formal Israel 'mistake' report: "A nice whitewash."

"Nobody believes the [Israeli] explanation. The only conjecture that we ever made that made any sense is that the Israelis did not want us to intercept their communications at that time." Major General John Morrison, NSA Deputy Director of Operations, 1963-1967.

"There is no way that they didn't know that the LIBERTY was American."-Walter Deeley, Senior NSA official who conducted an internal NSA investigation of the incident.

"I don't think that there's any doubt that it was deliberate… [It is] one of the greatest cover-ups of our military history."-David G. Nes, the deputy head of the American mission in Cairo, 1967.

"American leaders did not have the courage to punish Israel for the blatant murder of its citizens."-George Ball, Under Secretary of State 1961-1966."

"I never believed that the attack on the USS Liberty was a case of mistaken identity. That is ridiculous. I have flown over the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, thousands of hours searching for ships and identifying all types of ships at sea. The Liberty was the ugliest, strangest-looking ship in the US Navy. As a communications intelligence ship, it was sprouting every kind of antenna. It looked like a lobster with all those projections moving every which way. Israel knew perfectly well that the ship was American."-Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, former Chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff. [Operation Cyanide, by Peter Hounam, pages 244-245,]

A wise American rabbi once wrote that there will be no peace in the Middle East until Israel owns its own atrocities. May we the people rise up and demand the American government also own theirs.


* Dr. Kiepfer did speak openly about the attack while the LIBERTY was being repaired in Malta and did not suffer survivors guilt or from PTSS. Read more about Dr. Kiepfer:
December 22, 2007: "July 4th in Hell without the ice cream"
Part 5 in a Series on the USS LIBERTY: "It was God that kept us afloat"

In an email from a LIBERTY supporter with eagle eyes, Ken wrote:

    I found the following technical errors in your most recent article:

    a) First you state that USS Liberty was "unarmed".  Then, later, you state that she was equipped with four 0.50 caliber machine guns.  Either the ship was "unarmed" or it was not.  I do not equate four 0.50 machine guns with being "unarmed" -- lightly armed, but not unarmed. correction made

    b) There is no such thing as "LHF" radio frequencies; based on your statement's context, I believe you meant to write "VHF". ops! typo corrected

    c) USS Liberty's "call letters" (NIRY) were not on her bow.  The letters and number on her bow were her US Navy ship identification code.  The letters and numbers (GTR-5) literally meant: General Technical Research (ship number) five. this civilian has much to learn about Navy lingo.

    d) The use of the term "spy ship" is misleading.  The USS Liberty and her sister ships did not engage in illegal activities (i.e., spying is an illegal activity).  It's perfectly legal for anybody to monitor and record radio signals emitted from a foreign country ( i.e., signal intelligence collection), when not within the country's territorial boundaries (i.e., in international waters).  USS Liberty was a signal intelligence collector, not a "spy ship." I am sticking to my 'guns' on this and I call 'intelligence collecting' spying.

    e) It's purely a myth that heat-seeking missiles were fired at USS Liberty.  If such missiles, of that era, were used, their targeting system would have been confused by heat reflected from the sea, or locked-on to the hot gases from the ship's stack.  In other words, the missiles would have likely hit the sea or the top-part of USS Liberty's stack.  There is no photographic evidence that indicates the use of heat-seeking missiles. I am sure it was one of the survivors who explained it to me the way I reported, perhaps to make it easier for a civilian to comprehend, but greatly appreciate Ken's depth of understanding.

    f) A "cold" antenna means an antenna that's not radiating radio waves; i.e., the antenna is not physically hot -- at least no hotter than any other part of a steel ship with the sun beating down on it.  In this respect, all of the forward antennas were "cold", most of the superstructure and central mast antennas were "cold", and several aft antennas (starboard side HF verticals and TRSSCOMM) were "hot". I chose to use the word 'cold' to mean the antenna was not operating when the missiles came. e

 OTHER Articles in this series:

Here's to Seconding Captain McGonagle's Two Word Epithet: And the Fourth in the Series: "It was God that kept us afloat"

Veteran's Day: Part 3 in the series: "It was God that kept us afloat."
The Torpedo that Hit the USS LIBERTY: Made in the USA?

November 6, 2007: Honoring LIBERTY and Calling for a Second American Revolution!

Veterans Day is a week away, Remember LIBERTY


December 22, 2007: "July 4th in Hell without the ice cream"
Part 5 in a Series on the USS LIBERTY: "It was God that kept us afloat"

WAWA Blog January 1, 2008: The Blow Back from "My nightmare in the Mediterranean" : 6th in the LIBERTY series "It was God that kept us afloat"



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People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
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