The Liberty Incident

Central Intelligence Agency Documents

The Central Intelligence Agency completed an Intelligence Memorandum titled The Attack on the USS Liberty on 13 Jun 1967. It was declassified on 31 Aug 1977. On page 4, in paragraph 5, the report concludes that the Liberty could easily be mistaken for the Egyptian transport El Quesir.

The Intelligence Memorandum reflects the time the attack began at 3:05 PM (Sinai time) 8:05 AM (Washington time). The preparer apparently was not aware that while Washington was on daylight savings time, the Sinai was not. There is usually a seven hour difference between Washington and Sinai time but on 8 Jun 1967, there was only a six hour difference. This author has pointed out this discrepancy to the CIA but they have not taken corrective action. The Washington times in the Memorandum are correct but the Sinai times are all one hour late.

A CIA Intelligence Memorandum dated 21 Jun 1967 remains classified.

On 19 Sep 1977, the Director of Central Intelligence appeared on the ABC television program Good Morning America and stated it was the considered opinion of the CIA that the Israeli government had no knowledge of the USS Liberty prior to the attack. After being broadcast to about twenty million viewers, the CIA immediately classified their transcript of the interview and did not declassify it until 28 Jan 1985.

On 27 Feb 1978, the Director of Central Intelligence responded by letter to five questions put to the agency by Senator James Abourezk. In response to question 5:

Finally, could I have your judgment and that of the Agency you head, based on information acquired by the Agency from all sources, that the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty was deliberate or an honest mistake?

Admiral Stansfield Turner, Director of Central Intelligence, responded:

It remains our best judgment that the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty was not made in malice toward the United States and was a mistake.

Central Intelligence Agency Memorandum (13 Jun 1967)

CIA transcript of Good Morning America (19 Sep 1977)

Director Turner's reply to Senator Abourezk (27 Feb 1978)