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Declassified documents show Israel´s 1967 attack on USS Liberty was accidental (ISRAEL INSIDER) By Ellis Shuman 07/09/03) Source: http://web.israelinsider.com/bin/en.jsp?enPage=ArticlePage&enDisplay=view&enDispWhat=object&enDispWho=Article%5El2492&enZone=Security&enVersion=0&
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New documents released this week by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) prove that Israel´s 1967 attack on the USS Liberty was accidental. The Israeli attack on the American surveillance ship during the Six Day War, which killed 34 U.S. servicemen and wounded 172, has been a controversial and disputed chapter in Israel´s relations with the United States.
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Last week, the NSA released additional information relative to the June 8, 1967 attack on the U.S.S. Liberty. The information included three audio recordings, transcripts (in English), three follow-up reports, and a U.S. Cryptologic History Report entitled "Attack on a Sigint Collector, the U.S.S. Liberty."
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The documents, originally classified as "top secret," were made public according to the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and at the request of Florida Federal Judge Jay Cristol, who has been investigating the Liberty incident for years and published a book on the subject last year, Haaretz reported.
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The NSA stated that it did not have recorded communications from the Israeli Air Force jets or missile boats that were directly involved in the attack on the USS Liberty. The information released is voice conversations between two Israeli helicopter pilots and the control tower at Hatzor Airfield following the attack on the Liberty.
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The helicopter pilots were summoned from their base to assess the damage caused to the unidentified ship off the Sinai coast. The transcript includes the following dialogue between the pilots:
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"PAY ATTN: THERE WAS A SHIP THERE... A WARSHIP WHICH WE ATTACKED. PEOPLE JUMPED INTO THE WATER FROM IT. TRY TO PULL THEM OUT."
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And a few minutes later:
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"PAY ATTN: THE SHIP HAS NOW BEEN IDENTIFIED AS AN EGYPTIAN SHIP. YOU ARE NOW RETURNING HOME."
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The information indicated, therefore, that the Israeli Air Force presumed the ship to be Egyptian, and that the attack did not deliberately target an American intelligence ship.
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According to the NSA information, "the Israeli helicopter apparently informed the Hatzor on a different frequency that it had sighted an American flag on the ship. Hatzor then asked the helicopter to make another pass to check ´if this was really an American flag.´"
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Conspiracy theorists have stated frequently that the USS Liberty was openly flying the American flag and the Israeli Air Force pilots knew this at the time of the attack.
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In an article published in the Spring 2000 issue of Azure, author Michael B. Oren provided additional information, based on declassified Israeli military reports, that proved that the Israeli Mirage pilots did not see an American flag flying on the USS Liberty.
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"The pilot then spoke with Air Force commander Gen. Motti Hod, who asked him repeatedly whether he could see a flag. The answer was ´Negative.´ Nor were there any distinguishing marks other than some "black letters" painted on the hull."
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According to Haaretz, the release of the tapes by the NSA last week was not the first time that they were made available to the public. The Israeli government presented them to the Thames television network in 1987. Conspiracy theorists charged, however, that Israel had doctored the tapes. This is the first time that the Americans have released information supporting Israel´s claim that it had attacked a ship presumed to be Egyptian.
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"It´s the last piece of intelligence that remained classified, and every rational person that will read it will understand that there is no truth in these conspiracy theories against Israel," Cristol told Haaretz yesterday. "Those who hate Israel, who hate Jews, and those who believe in conspiracy will not be convinced by anything," he added. (© 2001-2003 Koret Communications Ltd. 07/09/03)
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