The USS Liberty and U.S./Israeli Covert Cooperation
Today marks the 41st anniversary of the USS Liberty incident. Although perceived by many as a purely hostile attack on the part of Israel, recent documentaries make a strong case that the Liberty incident was a failed False Flag attempt, with the intent of drawing the U.S. into an attack on Egypt during the 6 Day War, which would have led to a massive bloodbath, and possibly a larger confrontation with the USSR. Further, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and President Lyndon B. Johnson were fully aware of what was going on that day, yet the Liberty was still not given air cover.* Proceeding from the possibility that the Liberty incident was a conscious, tandem act of deception, I offer a brief survey of U.S./Israeli covert cooperation.
What happened to the USS Liberty should not be looked upon as an isolated incident. It was preceded in 1964 with the infamous Tonkin+Gulf fabrication, which kicked off a major escalation in the Vietnam War. The Liberty incident was probably destined to be the capstone for Israel's covert war against Egypt, now in overt mode during the 6 Day War. Also, the Liberty incident was followed in 1968 by another incident involving North Korea and the USS Pueblo, another Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) ship, which also appears to have been a failed attempt at a provocation.(1) The intent: to provoke U.S. retaliaiton against North Korea, and get the North/South Korean standoff to heat up again.
The covert mission against the Liberty failed because the boat was not sunk, and the survivors were able to talk about what had happened to them. Had the U.S. launched an attack against Egypt, there would have been some serious problems explaining away the stories of the survivors, who knew they had been surveilled by Israeli aircraft.
In 2002, the BBC broadcast "Dead in the Water", a documentary by Christopher Mitchell which proposed the general theory that the Liberty incident was a False Flag failure to a broad (British) audience. Alex Jones came to the same conclusion in his 2006+film+"Terrorstorm", based mostly on his own original interview work.
If you have not seen Christopher Mitchell's film, I strongly encourage you to watch it, most visitors to this site have probably already seen Terrorstorm. It's just over an hour long, and it's a fine way to honor the casualties of the Liberty on this anniversary;
(article continues below the fold)
If the Liberty was meant to be the capstone, what was the cornerstone? As it turns out, another unsuccessful False Flag operation in 1954: the Lavon Affair. The "Lavon Affair" is named after the Israeli defense minister who was sacked when the operation blew up... literally. What the Lavon Affair is really about is Operation Susannah, a covert operation that took place in Egypt, conducted by Israel's military intelligence group, Aman. Aman's Unit 131 was tasked to conduct Susannah, which was a series of bombings, the last of which only blew up the pants of asset Philip Nathanson, which in turn led to the arrests of all involved.
Susannah was similar to the Liberty incident, in that American targets were involved. The last two bombing targets were libraries of the United States Information Center, in Cairo and Alexandria.(2) It differs however, in that the U.S. apparently had no operational awareness of Susannah, which is untrue of the attack on the Liberty. The intent, however, was basically the same, to place the blame for the attacks not on Israel, but on unidentified Arabs, eroding the relationship of the U.S. and Egypt.
In the Beginning..
Israel and the United States have worked together on intelligence issues for decades. The earliest connections come between Mossad and CIA in 1951** with a secret meeting between the fourth head of the CIA, General Walter Beddell Smith, his assistant, Allen Dulles, James Jesus Angleton, and the first head of Mossad, Reuven Shiloah.(3)
Had it been conducted strictly by Mossad, it's possible that Operation Susannah may have been activated with at least tacit knowledge by the CIA, but this is no guarantee that it would have been successful. This is because Allen Dulles was the CIA head in 1954, and Dulles was more inclined to cooperate with Nazis than Israelis.
In 1956, Shin Bet and Mossad made up for Aman's mess in Cairo by supplying the U.S. with a copy of Kruschev's speech for the Moscow congress, in which Kruschev denounced the excesses of Stalin's police state.(4) For this great gift, Dulles was willing to overlook any past prejudices, and not look a gift horse in the mouth.
In 1966, Mossad head Meir Amit advised the CIA that Israel had captured a Soviet MIG-21 fighter.(5) In turn, the CIA invested millions of dollars in a project called "KK Mountain" which was basically an Israeli human intelligence (HUMINT) network that operated in Third World countries where the U.S. had no HUMINT.(6) Under Amit, CIA and Mossad also cooperated to arrange meetings with King Hussein of Jordan and Israeli leaders.(7)
What has happened with U.S./Israeli covert operations since the 1960's? I think these paragraphs from William H. Schaap and Ellen Ray summarize where we've been, and where we're at;
"For more than 35 years, the violent and bitter history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflicts have centered around a history of collaboration between U.S. and Israeli military and intelligence services and their coincidence of interests. Israeli covert operations have backed up U.S. clandestine schemes, especially in the Middle East, but also in Central America, southern Africa, and elsewhere in a global conquest in which U.S. domination has reached its apex under George W. Bush.
Ever since the discovery of vast, unimaginable oil reserves in the region, the overriding strategic objective of the United States in the Middle East has been access to an eventual control over that resource. And since its 1967 victory in the six-day war, when Israel established itself as the regional military superpower capable of aiding in this primary U.S. objective, massive U.S. foreign aid and subsidized weapons of war have ensured an Israeli-U.S. alliance with mutually expansionaist agendas. Both want unfettered access to Arab oil and more.
The second U.S. imperative is its strategic partnership with Israel, a function of the power of the pro-Israel lobby in the United States, exemplified by the ability of the American-Israel Political Action Committee to influence congressional and even presidential elections. And the White House, State Department and Pentagon are riddled with insiders with dual loyalties, the belief that U.S. and Israeli interests are, and should be, identical."(8)
The Liberty Incident as Escalation, and the Bay of Pigs as Example of Deception
The sharing of HUMINT, raw intelligence, and American dollars in the 50s, 60s and presumably 70s, (though less is known publicly about specifics in the 70s), between the U.S. and Israel, seem to have set the stage for the Liberty incident. It can be speculated that President Johnson and Israel's Prime Minister, Levi Eshkol, may have teamed up on a covert operation. A fabricated event, (I hesitate to say 'False Flag', because the second Tonkin Gulf incident never even happened), was certainly not beyond the pale for the U.S. covert op planners at the time.
Consider the so-called Bay of Pigs debacle;
"THE STARS sparkled against the blue-black tropical sky overhead and the warm night air carried as yet no hint of dawn. Mario Zuniga edged his B-26 bomber onto the runway at the edge of the Caribbean Sea.
Only the sound of the twin engines broke the stillness of the darkened airfield at Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. The tall, thirty-five-year-old Cuban exile pilot sat alone in the cockpit of the big bomber. He would have no co-pilot for this mission. On the nose of his plane the number 933 had been painted in black letters. On the tail, the letters FAR -- the markings of Fidel Castro's air force, the "Fuerza Aerea Revolucionaria."
But Mario Zuniga was not a Castro pilot. He was flying on an extraordinary top-secret mission for the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States Government.
Earlier, the CIA had trundled the bomber out onto the runway and fired a machine gun at it. There were bullet holes in the fuselage now. These were some of the stage props for Zuniga's masquerade. In his pocket he carried a pack of Cuban cigarettes, borrowed from a fellow pilot at the last moment to lend a final authentic touch. In his mind was a carefully memorized story. His destination was Miami International Airport, 834 miles and more than four hours to the northeast.
At a signal, Zuniga took off, his bomber roaring down the 6,000-foot runway. It was April 15, 1961, and perfect flying weather. His mission, upon which hinged the success or failure of the most ambitious operation in the history of the Central Intelligence Agency, was underway.
Beginning at 1:40 A.M., shortly before Zuniga's take-off, eight other CIA B-26s had roared into the night from the same airstrip, their engines straining with the weight of extra fuel and the ten 260- pound bombs they each carried. Their pilots were Cuban exiles, trained and employed by the CIA. Their target was Cuba, and their mission -- to smash Castro's air force before it could get off the ground.
These planes, too, bore a replica of the FAR insignia of Castro's air force. Flying in three formations, under the code names of "Linda," "Puma" and "Gorilla," the eight B-26s were to strike at dawn in a surprise raid. It was to be the first of two strikes at Castro's air bases, to pave the way for the secret invasion of Cuba scheduled to take place forty-eight hours later at the Bahia de Cochinos, the Bay of Pigs. The operation had the approval of the CIA, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the President of the United States.
Zuniga was to land in Miami shortly after the bombing raid. He was to announce to the world that the attack had been carried out from bases inside Cuba by himself and other pilots who had defected from Castro's air force. In reality, of course, all nine planes had left from Happy Valley, the CIA code name for the air base at Puerto Cabezas. The Nicaraguan Government had secretly agreed to let the United States use the air base and port as a staging area for the invasion..." - (source)
Despite the total failure of the Bay of Pigs, the Joint Chiefs were only emboldened to draw up Operation Northwoods in 1962. Later that year, the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred, which probably inspired the most paranoid thinkers in the Washington think tanks to draw up ever more paranoid conspiracies against the Red menace.
Perhaps there was a sense that things were getting out of hand in the East and West, but there appears to not have been a replay of the Liberty incident in the 70s or 80s... at least, not at home.
Instead, covert guns were aimed abroad.
1986: The Berlin Disco Bombing
On April 5, 1986, the La Belle Discotheque in West Berlin was bombed, and the culprit was quickly identified as Libya. What the media never told us was that the leader of the alleged terror cell, Abu Jaber had CIA ties, and his "right-hand man" was a full-fledged MOSSAD agent. Another man, Musbah Eter, heavily involved in the bombing also allegedly had CIA ties.
It gets worse.
The prima facie evidence used to justify the attacks on Libya were signals intercepted and deciphered by the NSA. The problem is that the signals were transmitted by a device called "the Trojan", set up by Mossad in Tripoli. This information was included in Victor Ostrovsky's book, "The Other Side of Deception";
"By the end of March, the Americans were already intercepting messages broadcast by the Trojan, which was only activated during heavy communication traffic hours. Using the Trojan, the Mossad tried to make it appear that a long series of terrorist orders were being transmitted to various Libyan embassies around the world (or, as they were called by the Libyans, Peoples' Bureaus). As the Mossad had hoped, the transmissions were deciphered by the Americans and construed as ample proof that the Libyans were active sponsors of terrorism. What's more, the Americans pointed out, Mossad reports confirmed it.
The French and the Spanish, though, were not buying into the new stream of information. To them, it seemed suspicious that suddenly, out of the blue, the Libyans, who'd been extremely careful in the past, would start advertising their future actions. They also found it suspicious that in several instances Mossad reports were worded similarly to coded Libyan communications. They argued further that, had there truly been after-the-fact Libyan communications regarding the attack, then the terrorist attack on the La Belle discotheque ... could have been prevented, since surely there would have been communications before, enabling intelligence agencies listening in to prevent it. Since the attack wasn't prevented, they reasoned that it must not be the Libyans who did it, and the "new communications" must be bogus.
Heads of the Mossad were counting on the American promise to retaliate with vengeance against any country that could be proven to support terrorism. The Trojan gave the Americans the proof they needed.
Operation Trojan was one of the Mossad's greatest successes. It brought about the air strike on Libya that President Reagan had promised - a strike that had three important consequences. First, it derailed a deal for the release of the American hostages in Lebanon, thus preserving the Hizballah (sic) (Party of God) as the number one enemy in the eyes of the West. Second, it sent a message to the entire Arab world, telling them exactly where the United States stood regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict. Third, it boosted the Mossad's image of itself, since it was they who, by ingenious sleight of hand, had prodded the United States to do what was right."(9)
Note that "The Other Side of Deception" was published prior to the revelations that the CIA and Mossad were both directly linked to the actual bombing event. Considering the hand-in-glove nature of other joint U.S.-Israeli covert operations, is it straying too far off the reservation to suggest that there was more than luck involved with the intercepts of these signals? Considering that both agencies had men in the field, it doesn't seem that unlikely. (Ostrovsky also supplied his information under oath in the Lockerbie trial.)
2001: The Israeli DEA Groups
"Spies infest a land to the extent to which it is, again in the vernacular of espionage, "a fever spot"; that is, any place where military or other equally drastic developments are likely to take place within twenty-four months."(10)
In December of 2001, Carl Cameron of FOX News reported on Israelis that were "arrested or detained" after 9/11, and the links that some of them had to Israel's military. However, prior to 9/11, over "100+Israelis+were+stopped+and+questioned+by+DEA+agents" according to an internal DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) report that was leaked to the press. The report was dated June, 2001, and virtually ignored by most of the world's news agencies.
The report was studied carefully by a lawyer named Gerald Shea, and transformed into a memorandum that was given to the 9/11 Commission, unfortunately, his memo was completed too late to have been included in the final report. Shea's memo was in turn reported on by reporter Keith Phucas at the Norristown, PA, "Times+New+Herald", and also by Justin Raimondo of antiwar.com.
Shea's memo is a valuable study, because it exposes a gross failure in fulfillment of the Commission's mandate, and is a very thorough document. The Israelis that were detained and questioned reveal not just a military relationship, but "Backgrounds in Intelligence, Electronic Intercept And Communications Units";(11)
"...for example, Lior Baram of Plantation (near Hollywood), Florida, questioned by the DEA on January 22, 2001, had served two years in Israeli intelligence working with classified information; Dilka Borenstein, questioned by INS at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (“DFW Airport”) on March 27, 2001, was a “recently discharged” military intelligence officer; Marina Glikman, questioned at DFW Airport on or about May 1, 2001, worked for an Israeli software company with expertise in hand-held computer technology and had served as an Israeli military intelligence officer; Tomer Ben Dor, also questioned at DFW Airport on that day, worked for an Israeli wiretapping company and had served in an Israeli military unit that was “responsible for” Patriot missile defense.
The DEA’s Office of Security concluded that the Israelis “may well be engaged in organized intelligence gathering.” A spokesman for the Immigration & Naturalization Service (the “INS”) stated that dozens of these Israelis were expelled from the United States (from California, the Midwest, Florida and other states). “No one has tallied the total,” he said. The expulsions were usually for visa violations.
The leaders of the Israeli DEA Groups included Itay Simon (arrested on April 14, 2001 in Irving, Texas), recently discharged from the Israeli army where he had done classified work for the Israeli military. Mr. Simon coordinated recruiting for the groups and served as an intermediary between five individuals in Israel and the U.S. operation. Another leader was Michael Calmanovic (also arrested in Irving on that day), who rented a number of apartments in Irving, Texas occupied by 25 Israelis. Mr. Calmanovic was a recently discharged electronic intercept operator for the Israeli military...
A third principal was Hanan Serfaty (or Sarfati), a team leader residing in Hollywood, Florida. When questioned by the DEA in Tampa, Florida, on March 1, 2001, he had in his possession bank deposit slips amounting to more than $100,000 from December 2000 through the first quarter of 2001, and withdrawal slips for slightly less than that amount during the period. Mr. Serfaty served in the Israeli military between the ages of 18 and 21, but refused to disclose to the DEA his activities between the ages of 21 and 24, including his activities since his U.S. arrival at age 23 in 2000. Another was Peer Segalovitz of Tamarac, Florida (about 20 miles west of Hollywood—see MAP 1), an active officer in an Israeli special forces battalion who commanded 80 men in the Golan Heights. He was detained in Orlando on May 3, 2001.
Tomer Ben Dor (mentioned above), another Israeli of interest to the DEA, was an employee of Nice-Systems Ltd., an Israeli company specializing in systems and solutions for detecting, locating, monitoring, evaluating and analyzing voice communications and other transmissions from a variety of sources--activities commonly known as wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping. Nice-Systems’ U.S. subsidiary, Nice Systems Inc., is located in Rutherford, New Jersey, adjacent to East Rutherford where five members of the Israeli New Jersey group were arrested on September 11. When Mr. Ben Dor was interrogated by the INS at the DFW Airport in May 2001, an inspection of his bags revealed a printout containing a reference to a file entitled “DEA Groups.” - pp.6-8 Shea memo.
At least two of the Israelis detained in New Jersey were Mossad agents. This was confirmed by the FBI, according to reporter Marc Perelman on Democracy Now!, February 8, 2007. In an extra segment that was broadcast to satellite TV subscribers on the same day, independent journalist Christopher Ketcham claims that ADL Chairman, Abraham Foxman, was the main source of pressure that resulted in FOX News pulling Carl Cameron's post-9/11 report off the internet. I have stitched Perelman's statement and Ketcham's statement together for review;
Precisely how the Commission "missed" the fact that Mossad agents were detained on 9/11 is a mystery. Because the Commission "missed" these agents, what they were doing precisely, remains a mystery.(12)
Shea's memo makes it clear that in the months leading to 9/11, where there were alleged hijackers, there were "Israeli DEA Groups". The following 4 diagrams plot the proximity of Israelis and alleged hijackers;
So What Now?
Now the Neocons stand poised to go to war with Iran. They have proven that they bear no allegiance to the Truth, or the U.S. Constitution, or the citizens of the United States. U.S. military and intelligence agencies have a proven track record of deception under their belts, and seem to have no problems working with the Mossad and deceiving the general public on the subject of terrorism. More formally, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under Chertoff is forging tighter links with Israel, and Canada has signed a declaration of cooperation with Israel.
The CIA and Mossad's working relationship is now a matter of public record.
Were they working together on 9/11?
American and Israeli citizens have a right to demand answers from their governments about the conduct of their intelligence agencies. 9/11 Truthers have a right to ask questions about the involvement of any intelligence agencies linked to 9/11, whether they are British+MI6+assets, Saudi+GID+assets, or American+CIA+assets.
American and Israeli citizens should be more cognizant of the working relationship of CIA and Mossad, and their willingness to deceive. At the same time, 9/11 Truthers and other concerned citizens should construct their arguments and research into these agencies in a forthright and open manner. Rely on sourceable documentation where possible, and try to minimize speculation. Make a conscious attempt to refrain from scapegoating entire categories of people, such as "Jews", or "Zionists".(13) We want to bring intelligent, open-minded people on board the search for truth, not turn them off with the perception that 9/11 Truthers are a pack of racists. Simple terms like these may not seem so significant to non-Jewish people, but to some Jewish people that I speak to, these terms can trigger an emotional response that short-circuits anything further you may have to say about covert operations, or indeed, 9/11.
Raising the awareness of the average person to the reality of False Flag operations is a long and arduous task. Proceed with the best information, and try not to proceed from a conclusion. When speculating, make it clear that you are speculating, and not stating a fact.
Getting to the Truth of 9/11 might take a while... but unlike the researchers of the past, we are in the digital age, and we can share data on a much broader, and faster platform.
We actually have a chance.
1. Watch for the re-publication of Peter Dale Scott's "The War Conspiracy" later this summer for more detail about the USS Pueblo.
2. Melman, Yossi and Raviv, Dan. Every Spy a Prince, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990), p.57.
3. Ibid. pp. 77-78.
4. Ibid. pp. 85-90.
5. Ibid. p. 142.
6. Ibid. p. 153.
7. Ibid. p. 213.
8. Ray, Ellen and Schaap, William H. Introduction; U.S.-Israeli Terror, in Covert Action: The Roots of Terrorism, (New York: Ocean Press, 2003), pp. 123-124.
9. Ostrovsky, Victor. The Other Side of Deception, (New York: Harper Collins, 1994), pp.115-116.
10. Gollomb, Joseph. Armies of Spies, (New York: MacMillan, 1939), p.35.
11. Shea, Gerald. MEMORANDUM TO THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON TERRORIST ATTACKS UPON THE UNITED STATES. (Shea's memorandum has been in the public domain for nearly 4 years. You can dowload it from antiwar.com: http://antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=7127 ).
12. This short article is not intended to clear up any mysteries either. I'm pointing to the specific presence of Mossad agents on 9/11, and the fact that the Mossad and CIA often work together. I have not linked to every anomaly or report about the Israeli agents, and guess what, it's not my job. That's why we had a Commission. They failed us.
13. Zionism is a word often bandied about, but seldom understood. I recommend any of Alfred M. Lilienthal's books on the subject for a comprehensive review. Also helpful is Mearsheimer and Walt's "The Israel Lobby".
* In James Bamford's Body of Secrets, (New York: Anchor Books, 2002), Bamford confirms that Johnson was in the loop on June 8, 1967, and even after the Liberty was a smoking wreck, recalled fighters dispatched to the Liberty through the Joint Chiefs, and said that, "he didn't care if the ship sunk, he would not embarass his allies." (p.226) Bamford also reveals that the Liberty was on a mission directly for the the JCS. (p.188) The JCS, at this period in American history, were practically deranged.
** In Gordon Thomas' book, Gideon's Spies, (New York: Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's Press, 2000), he says, "Contact was also established with the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Washington through the agency's head of counterintelligence in Italy, James Jesus Angleton. His bonding with Israel's fledgling spies would play a crucial role in the eventual bridge building between the two intelligence communities." (p.39). -- So, theoretically, Haganah spies laid the groundwork for Ben Gurion's later more formal connections, no later than 1945.