On 8 June 1967 the electronic intelligence ship USS
Liberty (AGTR-5) was on station in international waters 13 miles
off the Sinai Peninsula in the eastern Mediterranean. The Arab-Israeli
War had wound down, the air was clear, and the seas were light. What
happened early that Thursday afternoon is well known. Without warning,
a furious attack on the ship commenced from Israeli Mirage and Mystere
jets, followed by Ayah-class motor torpedo boats (MTBs). Employed
were rockets, napalm, quick-firing 30-mm and 40-mm cannon, .50-caliber
machine guns, and torpedoes. Four unshielded .50-caliber machine guns
were the Liberty's only defense. The one Israeli torpedo hit of five
launched left a yawning 40-foot hole in the hull, devastating the
cryptological spaces below decks and killing 25 U.S. National Security
Agency (NSA) technicians instantly.
Later, 821 shell holes were counted in the ship's superstructure and
hull. A total of 34 men died, with another 172 wounded, many disfigured
for life, among the highest peacetime tolls for any noncombatant U.S.
Navy vessel and by far the worst single loss to the U.S. intelligence
community. It seems a miracle the ship did not go down.
COURTESY OF LIBERTY VETERANS' ASSOCIATION
Did Israel know the ship it was firing on 36 years ago-here, after the attack, listing from a deadly torpedo hit-was the USS Liberty? Today, top former U.S. intelligence officials are saying "Yes."
Revisiting the Incident
In December 2002, the Naval Historical Center hosted a presentation
on the still deeply controversial attack by Federal Judge and retired
U.S. Naval Reserve Captain A. Jay Cristol, on a promotional tour for
his recent book, The Liberty Incident: The 1967 Attack on the U.S.
Navy Spy Ship. Based on Judge Cristol's doctoral thesis, the book
relies heavily on newly declassified (or newly interpreted) documents
and more than 500 interviews with U.S. and Israeli political and military
leaders involved in the incident, including former Secretary of Defense
Robert S. McNamara, Admiral Isaac Kidd, and Yitzhak Rabin, who was
the Israeli Defense Force Chief of Staff at the time. Only seven of
the interviewees, however, were on board the Liberty during the attack.
At the Washington Navy Yard's Education Center, Judge Cristol addressed
a full house that included active-duty U.S. Navy personnel and surviving
Liberty crew members. He argued that the evidence "in totality" validated
Israel's long-standing position: namely, the catastrophe was the bitter
fruit of mistaken identity and communications gaffes by both sides.
 The U.S. government quickly accepted Israel's apology 36 years
ago, if not its explanation.  Israel also settled death and injury
claims, albeit reluctantly. And in 1980, the United States received
$6 million in compensation for the $40-million intelligence ship.
The Liberty Incident contains considerable, largely Israeli-sourced detail. It also includes a chapter called "Television's Perspective," in which the author surmises that most survivors-some of whom openly criticize Israel's domestic policies and its formidable Washington lobby-have a political ax to grind.
Judge Cristol, with 38 years' naval service, mourns the mens' deaths
and injuries, and his book honors their courage. But like the Israeli
government, the judge is dubious of the nay sayers. They rely on "conjecture,
hearsay and plain wishful thinking," flawed or traumatized memories,
and "various conspiracy theories," he says. 
Such characterizations, along with the linking of Liberty veterans
with Arab extremists and racist groups, sit poorly with the ship's
crew. Indeed, the Internet Web site of the Liberty Veterans' Association
(LVA) makes clear that all bigots' support is unwelcome.  The suggestion
of prejudice especially upsets Jewish survivors, such as the senior
engineering officer, George Golden, who received the Silver Star for
directing heroic efforts to keep the ship afloat. And James Ennes
Jr., the LVA historian and spokesman accused in Judge Cristol's book
of taking "an irrationally harsh line against Israel," refers to such
assertions as "just silly." 
Ennes, a retired Navy lieutenant commander, was officer of the deck before being badly wounded early in the attack. He devoted 13 years' research toward his own book, Assault on the Liberty. Some half-dozen major-and many minor-disagreements mark the dispute's two main schools: Judge Cristol's "mistaken identity" and Ennes's, the crew's, and several U.S. intelligence professionals' "deliberate attack."
Since 1967, survivors have pleaded for a more far-reaching government inquiry into the incident. But Judge Cristol argues that another would be a waste of time. Some 13 already have been conducted (five by Congress, one by the U.S. Navy, and several by Israel). And according to Cristol, while typically citing recklessness or inefficiency, all exonerate the Israeli attackers of deliberate intent.
"False!" retorts Ennes. Of the 13 investigations cited by Judge Cristol,
Ennes observes, "Most were not investigations. . . . They were merely
reports to the boss from advisors . . . (and) mostly summaries and
excerpts of the Naval Court of Inquiry report." 
Clark Clifford, Chairman of President Lyndon B. Johnson's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, drafted one such inquiry. Judge Cristol characterizes Clifford as angry, but finding Israel innocent of murder. Ennes infers darker meanings from the same document.
"Something had gone terribly wrong," Clifford wrote the President,
"and then it had been covered up. I never felt the Israelis had made
adequate restitution or explanation for their . . . unprovoked actions."
Clifford also termed "unbelievable" the explanation that the attack
was accidental. The Liberty's spotters, for example, had picked out
the MTBs' small hull marks, yet the Israeli attackers claimed never
to have seen the U.S. ship's much larger ones. Clifford, an intimate
of Johnson's and champion of Israel, urged the attackers be "punished,"
as did U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, noting there was "every
reason to believe that the USS Liberty was identified, or at least
her nationality determined . . . one hour before the attack." 
But instead of punishing the attackers, Israel honors them in a museum.
Told of the display, retired Air Force Major General John Morrison,
NSA deputy director for operations at the time, commented, "I am offended
by that." And retired Army Lieutenant General William Odom, NSA director
from 1985 to 1988, and also unaware of the display, remarked, "I am
astonished that Israel should put glory on the people who killed my
SigInt-ers [signals intelligence personnel]."  The Liberty's blood-stained
flag is exhibited at the National Cryptologic Museum in Fort Meade,
Disputed Timelines and Communications
Although Liberty crew members insist the attack lasted about an hour
and a quarter, Judge Cristol's book asserts that the Israeli jets
and MTBs finished their grisly business in only 22 to 25 minutes.
Ennes recalls being unsettled by the numerous flights over the Liberty by Israeli reconnaissance planes, starting the previous night and continuing for a six-hour period preceding the assault. Trained U.S. Navy observers counted a dozen overflights. Some were made by a lumbering, Star-of-David-marked Nord Noratlas "flying boxcar," which pulled several times to within mast-clipping range-low enough for any Israeli pilot to see a vessel incapable of harming his country.
Melvin Smith, senior enlisted intercept chief, reassured Ennes when
he overheard the pilots several times identify the flag as U.S. and
the ship for what she was.  At that time, of course, Israel was
a friend. Later, despite jamming of the ship's distress frequencies,
and before all her transmitters were shot away, the Liberty's radio
operators managed again to hear the attackers make a positive identification
in the clear.  Judge Cristol, conceding his newly released Israeli
transcripts reveal one correct identification, states that they are
confusing and mutually contradictory-typical of the "fog of war."
 Further, citing Ennes, he states that no Hebrew linguists were
on board the spy ship, and that Israeli pilots would not have made
unencrypted transmissions. 
Ennes acknowledges that no "official" Hebrew linguists were on board,
but he points out that at least one of the doomed NSA men, Russian/Arabic
linguist Allen Blue, understood Hebrew.  As for the jamming, Ennes,
quoting Chief Radioman Wayne Smith and an article in Proceedings,
also notes that the ship could not have been misidentified, because
the frequencies jammed were peculiar to the U.S. Navy. Liberty Radioman
Richard "Rocky" Sturman also recalls that he and other technicians
heard the radio jamming.  Judge Cristol rejects such accounts
as "myth." 
The Flag Issue
Again echoing Israel and citing its reports, Judge Cristol declares
that no U.S. flag was visible. He points to film footage of the intact
Liberty, taken at an unknown time from a slow-flying helicopter, which
reveals no flag. He refers also to gun-camera stills from one of the
attacking Israeli jets. These grainy images show billowing smoke "going
straight up," indicating the flag was limp.  To Judge Cristol,
it is therefore unrealistic to think young, inexperienced pilots could
have seen any flag, especially at 600 miles per hour. 
An Israeli motor torpedo boat passes close alongside the Liberty during the attack.
Ennes, who maintained logs about such details, disagrees. He says
that even at the Liberty's slowest steaming speed of 5 knots, the
wind put 12 knots across Old Glory and kept it waving.  Since
the ship was near a combat zone, the crew also was ordered to keep
"head's-up" by then-Commander William McGonagle, the ship's captain.
Ensuring unfurled colors was a given. And after the normal flag
was shot down early on, McGonagle ordered signalmen to hoist the
bright new holiday ensign, measuring 7-by-13 feet.
In a January 2003 radio interview, Signalman Joe Meadors described
the flag as fluttering each of several times he observed it during
the attack.  No survivor who glanced toward either flag at this
time remembers it otherwise. Regardless, Judge Cristol-whose book
offers "pilots' eye view" drawings-insists that even this gaudy
parade standard would have appeared "tiny" to high-speed jet pilots.
Retired Navy Commander Tom Schaaf is a combat-tested jet aviator.
He attended the Navy Yard lecture, and afterward queried Judge Cristol.
Schaaf disbelieves the claimed 600 mile-per-hour speed for the attacking
aircraft, adding in a written critique that pilots would have viewed
a lot more detail than disclosed in film clips. Post-lecture answers
suggest Judge Cristol flew the Navy's slowest propeller aircraft
and has not seen combat. "He has no competence to analyze or discuss
jet attack tactics," Schaaf concluded. 
The El Quseir
Since 1967, Israeli spoksmen have insisted the Israeli pilots had
confused the Liberty with the El Quseir, a 1920s-vintage Egyptian
horse cavalry transport said to have been in the area.  Judge
Cristol accepts this. Those same inexperienced airmen unable to
notice the ship's flag and unique hull markings, he maintains, easily
could have mistaken the Liberty for the Egyptian transport. Indeed,
before the attack, Israeli headquarters had wrongly reported that
some "enemy vessel" was shelling the coast from near the Liberty's
position.  To illustrate a resemblance, Cristol pairs the ships
in silhouette drawings. He shows them, however, as the same size.
(In fact, the El Quesir's length was 275 feet to the Liberty's 455.)
 Judge Cristol's text notes the actual difference, but opines
that in the heat of battle such mistakes are plausible.
The Liberty's crewmen deem insulting the notion that arguably the
world's most electronically advanced ship could be confused with
one of its most pedestrian vessels. In this, they join Dean Rusk,
Clark Clifford, and other senior U.S. officials, as well as author
and historian James Bamford, whose NSA history, Body of Secrets,
devotes a chapter to the Liberty. 
The skipperof the ship, Commander William McGonagle, who received
the Medal of Honor, surveys the damage.
Principally, the El Quseir lacked the U.S. ship's unique add-ons,
which included, both topside, an 18-foot-wide satellite dish nearly
as tall as the smokestack and a wading pool-sized microwave dish.
The ship bristled, as well, with video capture antennae and other
exotica found on no other vessel in the world, much less decrepit
Arab transport ships.  Ancillary reasons the "deliberate school"
rejects Judge Cristol's El Quseir defense are as follows:
Flew colors markedly dissimilar to the U.S. flag
of the Liberty's tonnage and just nearly half her length
out of service for many months
Was waiting to be scrapped in Alexandria
Was illustrated-along with the Liberty-in Jane's Fighting Ships,
to which Israel had access. 
In addition, the Egyptian Naval Attache's office in Washington says
El Quseir was painted silver, not the Liberty's battleship grey. 
It is highly unlikely, NSA officials on board and off explain, that
Israel's hypervigilant spy agencies would be unacquainted with these
facts.  This suggests a question: why assault so concertedly an
unthreatening old Egyptian transport (not to say an unarmed U.S. Navy
ship) when she could be escorted to Haifa as a war prize (and the
U.S. ship signaled to quit the area)?
Attack on the Life Rafts
After the attack, Commander McGonagle, his leg shredded and bleeding, yet still at the conn, gave the "prepare to abandon ship" order. (For his actions that day, he received the Medal of Honor. The award certificate does not mention Israel.) Concurrently, the MTBs circled to within 40 or 50 feet. Then, over a 40-minute span, according to U.S. Navy eyewitnesses, the boats' gunners loosed heavy automatic weapons at stretcher bearers, fire-control teams, and other men still upright on the decks.
The Liberty's motor whale boat had been destroyed, and few life rafts
survived. But Lieutenant Lloyd Painter (Ennes's relief as officer
of the deck) organized three undamaged ones and kicked them over the
gunwales. Two were shot to pieces immediately in the water, the third
hauled aboard one of the torpedo boats.  At this distance, Ennes
emphasizes, the large bow and stern marks on the freshly painted ship
were unmistakable. The designator number "5" was 6 1/2 feet high and
"GTR," four feet. Her name was in 18-inch lettering, in English. 
Judge Cristol quotes Lieutenant Painter's testimony to the naval hearing
only on the rafts' casting away.  He ignores what came next. This
act alone, the U.S. sailors charge, proves deliberate intent to destroy
a U.S. ship and leave no witnesses.  (In 1986, Navy legal expert
Lieutenant Commander Walter Jacobsen agreed, arguing in The Naval
Law Review that it was also a war crime. ) Notwithstanding the
gravity of these accusations, Judge Cristol leaves aside both the
life raft matter and the attack's international legal ramifications.
Israel insists that all shooting ceased immediately after the torpedo
Explaining how either ship could have lobbed naval artillery shells
13-plus miles onto the war-wracked Sinai coast, Judge Cristol and
the Israeli government again cite "fog of war." They declare that
Israeli commanders had confused an exploding ammunition dump near
Sharm el Sheikh with a coastal bombardment. 
Judge Cristol points out other areas of confusion. For example, the Liberty was identified correctly early in the morning, but then the error cycle kicked in anew when the marker was moved from a plotting table in Tel Aviv. Liberty spokesmen bristle at such "excuses." Moved markers or no, Israeli intelligence would have charted every ship then in the eastern Mediterranean: Arab, Russian, and U.S. The Liberty was the region's only blue-water U.S. Navy vessel.
Weeks after the attack, this "mistaken identity" feature-along with
a half-dozen other disparities between the crewmens' and Israel's
positions-was outlined for the Legal Advisor's Office by State Department
lawyer Carl Salans.  As Judge Cristol points out, the Top Secret
report (released in 1983) drew no conclusions per se.  But Liberty
survivors see its stark comparisons as a refutation of Israel's position.
Ennes terms the report "devastating." 
Perhaps the widest chasm separating the "mistakens" from the "deliberates"
is the Naval Court of Inquiry. Ordered convened a week after the event
by Commander-in-Chief Naval Forces Europe, Admiral John McCain, and
headed by Rear Admiral Kidd, the hearing is dubbed "remarkably competent
(and) thorough" by Judge Cristol, "a doctored sham" by the veterans.
 The judge stresses that 14 seamen spoke at the hearing. But ship's
officers Ennes, Painter, Golden, and others charge that in dozens
of cases, sworn testimony damaging to Israel's case was not allowed
or, if allowed, not entered into evidence or made part of the transcript.
Thus, Ennes and the LVA charge, the court's Findings of Fact often
were unsupported by the evidence, contravening Navy rules of procedure.
Charles Rowley, electronic intelligence specialist and ship's photographer,
states that a photo he had made during the attack was seized by the
naval court without explanation and marked "Top Secret." It showed
the U.S. flag extended.  Ennes avers not only that his testimony
went unentered but also that deck and weather log entries in his hand
were altered. Written observations had correctly mirrored others'
to the time he was shot, he recounts, namely: multiple, close preattack
overflights by Israeli reconnaissance planes, the attack by unmarked
jets, and the U.S. flag standing out continually.  Rather than
adduce and document facts, former cryptologic technician Joe Lentini
stated recently, the naval hearing helped Israel "get away with murder."
Joe Meadors, Liberty signalman, observed at the Navy Yard gathering:
"The Navy cannot investigate itself." Meanwhile, survivors contest
Judge Cristol's statement that "some" had changed their minds after
the inquiry, noting that he fails to identify them or crew members
he claims agree the attack was an accident. Others also have changed
their minds, including Captain Ward Boston, the senior Navy lawyer
under pressure to give a peremptory evaluation of the Navy Board of
Inquiry. In 2002, Boston dropped a bombshell on Judge Cristol's thesis.
He informed Navy Times that Israel had knowingly assaulted the Liberty
and has worked ever since to "try to get out of it." As surprising,
he said, was that the court's president, Rear Admiral Kidd, shared
this view, but owing to political pressure from Washington announced
the opposite conclusion to the media. "Officers," Boston remarked,
"obey orders." Boston explained in the interview that he was speaking
now in part because "everyone else is shooting his mouth off." 
Judge Cristol could not explain what might have inspired such candor,
although he writes that the late Admiral Kidd had told him that the
attack was in error. That is the opposite of what Ennes maintains
concerning his "many talks" with Admiral Kidd. Ennes also says that
Admiral Kidd urged him and his group to keep pressing for an open
congressional probe. Meanwhile, Judge Cristol has Boston recanting
his Navy Times statements. In reality, Boston stands firmly behind
When the Liberty's technicians finally found an unjammed frequency,
they sent a last desperate message to the Sixth Fleet: "Flash Flash
Flash. I pass in the blind." Jet fighters launched from the carriers
America (CVA-66) and Saratoga
(CVA-60). It was too late. Here, a dispute hinges on several related,
much-argued elements: how many launches, from which aircraft carrier,
and when? But most important, why did the President issue an order
recalling the aircraft? Whether some planes had nuclear bombs is hotly
Survivors speak of the turn-around orders being radio-telephoned direct
from the White House and Defense Secretary McNamara to the carrier
group in the Mediterranean Sea. Judge Cristol answers that such "secure"
communications were impossible in 1967. This is misleading, the head
of the Liberty's 94-man NSA contingent says. Clear -not secure-voice
transmissions were used in the recall order, patched through the Naval
Security Group relay station in Morocco. 
Otherwise, speculation is rife in this area. Some say President Johnson recalled the planes out of fear the attackers were Russian and a military response could trigger World War III. Others say the President, who at one stage believed Egypt had attacked the Liberty, was prepared to "nuke" Cairo. Still others believe LBJ, on learning the culprits were Israeli, would not retaliate for political reasons.
A final aspect of the Judge Cristol treatise, although not part of
the point/counterpoint, has engendered the survivors' special disdain.
The judge all but ignores them. Of 500-plus interviews conducted over
more than a decade, only seven were with crewmen.  "If he spoke
to us," says Ennes, "it would blow his thesis out of the water-as
the Israelis tried to do with our ship." He adds, "Not a single one
of us agrees with Cristol."  Judge Cristol replies that survivor/witnesses
are not objective. And, unlike Ennes, he "writes history, not memoirs."
None of this may matter, because official support for the crew remains
nonexistent. But growing numbers of former senior government and military
officials have begun speaking out. Among those in support of the ship's
200-plus survivors, in addition to those mentioned previously and
in the accompanying sidebar, are: former Chief of Naval Operations
and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Thomas Moorer, then CIA
Director Richard Helms, then-NSA Director Marshall Carter, Carter's
Deputy Louis Tordella (who wrote on the Israeli Navy's report, "A
nice whitewash!"), NSA "Liberty incident" analyst Walter Deeley, and
Hayden Peake, professor of intelligence history at the Joint Military
Intelligence College and retired CIA officer. 
Why, Judge Cristol was asked at the Navy Yard, did his conclusions
run so afoul of such seniors? He answered that although they were
respectable men, their contradictions baffled him. In general, he
suggests that because theirs are not firsthand knowledge, contrarian
officials' statements may, like the survivors', be dismissed. 
Judge Cristol is not without his admirers. He counts (besides numerous
Israeli officials, Israeli Defense Force officers, and other partisans)
former CIA Director Admiral Stansfied Turner and the carrier America's
captain, late Vice Admiral Donald Engen.  But the supernova in
this galaxy is Secretary McNamara. Quoted by Judge Cristol as seeing
only "tragic error," McNamara's stock answer when queried by other
Liberty researchers is, "I remember nothing about the incident."
Will the Liberty remain a sort of "Flying Dutchman," sailing forever around her poor men's souls? Until survivors get what they call "justice"-that elusive open forum-it seems her restless ghost will do just that.
1. Background on the attack is largely from James Ennes Jr., Assault
on the Liberty: The True Story of the Israeli Attack on an American
Intelligence Ship (New York: Random House, 1979, updated version,
Gathersburg, MD: Reintree Press Ed., Signature Books, 2002).
2. A. Jay Cristol, The Liberty Incident: The 1967 Israeli Attack on
the U.S. Navy Spy Ship (Dulles, VA: Brassey's, 2002).
3. Cristol lecture, Education Center, Washington Navy Yard, Washington,
DC, 17 February 2002.
6. Web site: ussliberty.com. Since the Liberty Veterans' Association's
founding in 1982, survivors have petitioned Congress and successive
administrations to probe the attack, invite them to testify openly
on what they witnessed, then publicly release the full text. The government
7. Cristol, Incident, p. 97, and radio interview, Cristol, Ennes,
Joe Meadors, Pacifica Radio KPFK, Los Angeles, 29 January 2003.
9. Clifford Report to the White House, July 1967, and Dean Rusk demarche
to Israeli Ambassador Avraham Harmon, 10 June 1967, in Ennes, Assault,
Appendix S. Clifford Report, cited in Cristol, Incident, notes, p.
10. Cristol, "The Liberty Incident," Ph.D. diss., University of Miami,
1997, p. 331, photo and caption. The wheel and bell of MTB-203, which
launched the fatal torpedo, are displayed in Haifa's Clandestine Immigration
and Naval Museum. Interview, MGen. John Morrison, USAF (Ret.), 3 March
2003. Interview, former NSA Director LGen. William Odom, USA (Ret.),
26 March 2003.
14. Cristol, Incident, p. 88. Judge Cristol also writes (p. 181) that
the Israelis had "little knowledge" of warships they were not encountering
in battle. He says if anything, the U.S. ship more likely would have
been (and at one stage was) confused with a Russian electronic intelligence
"trawler" (see pp. 49-50). The implications of an Israeli attack on
a Soviet vessel in peacetime require no elucidation.
15. Cristol, Incident, pp. 25, 109, 118. Ennes, e-mail, 13 March 2003:
"Israeli and American pilots routinely broadcast in the clear. I don't
believe there was (any) airborne encryption capability in 1967."
16. Ennes, e-mail, 3 March and 9 March 2003. Cristol, Incident, p.
137, citing a letter to him from an unnamed NSA Hebrew linguist on
board an EC-121, which James Bamford's NSA history-Body of Secrets:
Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency (Garden City,
NY: Doubleday, 2001)-first revealed was circling overhead.
17. Richard Sturman, e-mail, 8 March 2003. See also Ennes, Assault,
Addendum, p. 10, and Richard Smith, "The Violation of the Liberty,"
U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, June 1978, note 10. Ennes e-mail,
13 March 2003 also notes that the Naval Court of Inquiry documented
the radio frequencies' jamming.
26. Cristol, Incident, p. 154. Two detailed diagrams (pp. 49, 56)
show the sun, azimuth references, MTB positions and other indicia,
but the Liberty's bow marks are backward, and her stern's are absent
34. Cristol, Incident, pp. 57, 180. The book notes only that a "damaged"
raft was "recovered" by an MTB.
35. Lentini, Painter, et, al., interviews, "Dead in the Water," BBC-4
television documentary, 2001.
36. LCdr. Walter Jacobsen, USN, "A Juridical Examination of the Israeli
Attack on the USS Liberty," Naval Law Review, Winter 1986, p. 51.
Cristol lecture, 17 Dec. 2002. Answering a question about life raft
witness Lt. Lloyd Painter: "It's a new story from 10 years after the
attack." He added, "I believe what Painter said in the (naval court)
37. Ennes, Assault, p. 158, note 10, quoting Israeli Commission of
Inquiry of 16 June 1967, the so-called Ram Ron Report.
46. Television documentary, "Dead in the Water." No shipmate is known
to contest Lentini's view.
47. Navy Times, 26 June 2002. The same article quotes then-CIA Director
Richard Helms on 29 May telling the reporter the attack "was no mistake."
This directly contradicts Judge Cristol and an agency report from
13 June 1967, backing Israel's mistaken-identity claim.
48. Ennes, e-mail, 21 March 2003. No evidence exists that Boston went
public until he talked to Navy Times and no sign of a reversal.
49. Cristol, Incident, p. 98. Interview with LCdr. David Lewis, USN
(Ret.), head of the Liberty's 195-man NSA contingent, 28 February
2003. Despite Lewis's senior rank and position, "No one asked me to
testify" at the naval hearing. Lewis was among the wounded.
50. Ennes, e-mail, 3 February 2003. Most of these were perfunctory
exchanges at a 1992 veterans' happy hour and not interviews, Ennes
52. Bamford, Secrets, and Ennes, Assault. The skipper had always held
his tongue. But besides the "deliberate" remark in 1998 in an oral
history (see Bamford, p. 233) a few months before dying in 2001 he
asked President George W. Bush to look into the attack. Retired Captain
William McGonagle was ignored. Peake quoted in The Intelligencer,
Summer 2001, that "common sense" ruled out an accident.
Mr. Walsh is a freelance writer and photographer headquartered
in the Washington, D.C., area. He has worked as a consultant on segments
concerning the USS Liberty for CBS News's "60 Minutes" and Britain's
the Naval Institute, a membership association for Navy,
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