Hank Roth, Israeli Apologist

Mon, 20 Jan 1997 15:38:01 -0600 (CST)

Provided here is a Zionist's version of the attack on the USS Liberty as published by Hank Roth, moderator of the CLOSED P-NEWS "pro Zionist" news list and the "pro Zionist" http://www.applicom.com/pnews web site.

Roth's newslist, please note, is a moderated list which publishes only views acceptable to Mr. Roth. Members whose views are objectionable to Mr. Roth are commonly removed or asked to leave, while Mr. Roth continues his arguments in their absence without providing opportunity for effective rebuttal.

Mr. Roth's essay is quoted here in its entirely as an example of the sort of argument Israel's defenders have presented on Israel's behalf for more than thirty years. While most of the assertions in Mr. Roth's account are consistent with the claims of the Israeli government and various official and semi-official spokesmen for Israel, few of the claims are consistent with the eyewitness accounts of Americans who survived the attack.

Roth's essay is an example of the classic defense:

It was an accident; the attack was a case of friendly fire not unlike other such incidents; those who say otherwise do so only because they wish to hurt Israel and to demean Jews and the Jewish people; they associate with crackpots and known anti-Semites; those who tell this story are in league with holocaust deniers and other crackpots; Liberty was mistaken for a rusted-out Egyptian horse transport a fraction of her size then in Alexandria waiting to be scrapped, all unknown to the Israeli Navy or Israeli military intellignece which still regarded the horse transport as a dangerous foe; Liberty was spying on Israel; Liberty flew no flag and refused to identify herself when asked; Liberty attempted to flee when spotted; "Friendly fire" accidents are common in wartime; this was not unlike the accidental shootdown of an Iranian civilian airbus by a US Navy ship; Israel apologized and paid millions in damages; the story told by Liberty survivors "has been discredited by the facts; Israel paid damages; the matter is closed."

We think Americans are capable of sorting fact from fiction and determining for itself which is fact and which is fiction.

For starters:

1. There is no such publication as "The Washington Mid East Report".

2. Ennes was not "the crypto officer" in USS Liberty. He was the ship's Electronic Materiel Officer.

3. There is no such organization as the "Naval Security Agency" which Roth cites as a source of some of his background in military intelligence.

4. Liberty flew the same standard American flag that all American Navy ships display.

5. When shot down, that flag was promptly replaced by oversize "holiday" colors, several times largers than standard, which flew throughout the attack.

6. The attackers examined that flag from their torpedo boats 50 feet away, read the ships name and markings on the hull, then continued to fire from close range for another 40 minutes.

7. The attacking pilots informed their headquarters that this was an American ship. They were told to attack anyway. Those messages were heard by US Ambassador to Lebanon Dwight Porter who has told his story in official briefing at the US National War College.

8. Like most defenders of the Israeli story, Mr. Roth pretends that Ennes is the only person calling the attack deliberate. He systematically ignores statements of other crewmembers and senior US officials, all calling the attack deliberate and all reporting that the Israeli versions of events are untrue.

9. One wonders why Mr. Roth never mentions that the US Secretary of State, JCS Chairman, directors of every major US intelligence organization and nearly every member of the Lyndon Johnson administration except Robert McNamara are on record saying that the attack was no accident.

The survivors ask:


If Mr. Roth has knowledge of the attack, we would be pleased to hear his sworn testimony.


USS Liberty:

ERRORS AND OMISSIONS of Israel's accusers

by Hank Roth

The allegation that Israel's attack on the USS Liberty in 1967 was "intentional" is a fabrication. It is a classic example of how the "extreme" Right woos the Left and is promulgated by publications like the Washington Mid-East Report, a far Right Wing pro-Arab publication, whose staff is comprised of ex- military and other foreign service types with an intense hatred for Israel. And that slander has been promulgated by Ennes, the Crypto and a Deck Officer on board the Liberty, who wrote a book about it, which has since been discredited by the facts, is currently out-of-print, but is still being SOLD BY the Washington Report Magazine. The magazine is frequently quoted in Left wing and racist forums, newsgroups and conferences.

There are always a few who will buy into this sham, just as some will also question the holocaust, that it ever happened or that Jews and others were gassed and cremated. Some conferees, like Michael Herschede on P_news [FidoNet] raised the issue and those revisionist slanders have been widely disseminated on Usenet by Jack Schmiding who promulgated this canard and who also promotes the Washington Report. Jack Schmiding operates a Liberty Lobby net (ARF), the Amateur Radio Forum, on 75 meters (ham radio) where he regularly rants, raves and rails against the Jews and the blacks.

And there are those who innocently hear these conspiracy theories and believe them because they are uninformed or they have prejudices which make them vulnerable to such false allegations.

The left is quick to grab at anything that is antisemitic or anti-Israel. They supposedly oppose all nationalisms, except for the Arab brand of nationalism, because no matter how unprogressive it is, in their mind it is something that is also anti-American, and the self-hating Left loves to hate themselves, especially if American or Jewish..

It is the Left's desire to believe that Israel and Jews are major protagonists in a conspiracy to establish the New World Order. Even the Trilateralists who want to build one world that is safe for capitalism are not a conspiracy, just monied people who have made their intentions clear---but here again the Right-Wing [with plenty of company from the Left] takes this planning by the wealthy and creates out of it something that is seemingly "secret," and very "mysterious." It isn't. It is as plain as the nose on their faces and part and parcel of the "globalization of capital."

This lie about Israel being heartless and evil, being intentionaly culpable for the death of Americans is nothing less than a continued slander of a whole people.

The Liberty was on an intelligence gathering mission and Ennis, who wrote the book that damned Israel for the attack was also a crypto officer. That doesn't however, place him in a better position to know what was intended by the Israelis. That kind of intelligence was not available electronicly, but only through reconstructing the events that preceeded the attack.. The crew who were quoted in Ennis' book had their perceptions reinforced by their position as players in the drama. Their positions were emotional and reationary.

The attack on the USS Liberty was tragic, but the Liberty was mistakenly identified as an Egyptian supply vessel. The Liberty and the El-Quesir resembled each other. They had a similar deck line. the bridge structure was in mid-ship for both of them. A single smokestack was in mid-ship. The Liberty's antennae on the aft and fore decks resembled El-Quseir's masts. The antennae on the Liberty's fore deck also resembled a gun.

The following is a description of the event as published in THE BOATS OF CHERBOURG (pg 68-69) 1988, by Abraham Rabinovich, a senior feature writer for the JERUSALEM POST, and a foreign correspondent:

"Unknown to the Israelis, the vessel had sailed into the war zone on June 8, the fourth day of the war, to monitor battlefield communications. On that day, naval headquarters in Haifa ordered three torpedo boats to sail from Ashdod harbor to check reports that El Arish, captured by the army three days before was being shelled from the sea. The explosions and smoke in El Arish had in fact been caused by an Egyptian ammunition dump that detonated. However, as the torpedo boats approached the area, their radar picked up a target to the west, moving away from El Arish. Presuming it to be an Egyptian warship, naval headquarters called for an air strike to slow up the seemingly fleeing vessel."

"Two Mirages were directed the the area, and the lead pilot reported *seeing no flag*. The ship had two guns on the forecastle and was clearly not Israeli. Liberty crewmen would firmly maintain afterward that the American flag was being flown, but the Mirage pilot's report was taken at navy headquarters as confirmation that the ship was an Egyptian vessel trying to reach Port Said. Ordered to attack, the planes set the vessel afire with strafing runs. The smoke thickened when another plane dispatched to the scene dropped a napalm bomb on the Liberty's deck."

>From an article in THE JERUSALEM REPORT (November 1991), by Hirsh Goodman, "Yes, there was doubt as to the identify of the ship. One of the pilots identified it as a Russian vessel during the course of the attack, bringing the cabinet into emergency session. This fear was quickly dispelled. And yes, there still remains controversy about whether or not there was an American flag visible at the time of the attack. But while some mystery remains, the truth is now basically known: The incident was a tragic mistake marked by serious errors of judgement on both sides, complicated by the fog and urgency of war and compounded by an almost childish rivalry between the air force and the navy as to who would grab the prize: sinking what was genuinely thought to be an Egyptian ship shelling Israeli forces at El Arish from the sea."

Goodman goes on to write: "Mistakes are not uncommon in war. The day before the Liberty was attacked, Israeli warplanes bombed and strafed an Israeli armored column near Jenin in the West Bank. During the Lebanese war, in June 1982, over 20 Israeli servicemen were killed when a Phantom jet pilot mistakenly identified Israeli tanks as Syrian. In May 1987, in the Gulf, the USS Stark was accidentally hit by Iraqi warplanes, killing 37 servicemen. An Iranian civilian airliner was shot down by an over-anxious American battleship crew in May 1988, killing all 290 passengers on board. So it was with the Liberty, an American spy ship, that should not have been where it was, when it was."

Goodman says, "there are many open questions: Why a message from the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS message 072230Z) directing the ship to remain at least 20 miles off the Egyptian coast was delayed for 14 hours and why, when it was finally transmitted, it was sent in error to the Naval Communication Center in the Philippines. Why a second crucial message from the Joint Chiefs drafted at 2.00 a.m. on the morning of June 8, exactly 12 hours before the ship was attacked, ordering the Liberty to steam at least 100 miles from the coast was lost as well." He says had the message (080917) "been received, there would have been no Liberty incident."

James M. Ennes, Jr, the crypto specialist and Deck Officer of the USS Liberty wrote an article for Electronics Defense Magazine in 1981. The title of his article was: " Israeli Attack on U.S. Ship Reveals Failure of C3" in which he says: The United States made several serious, almost frantic attempts to move the ship. As the Liberty approached Gaza, the Joint Chiefs of Staff first sent a priority message ordering the ship to move 20 miles from the coast; the message was swamped by higher precedence traffic and was not processed until long after the crisis had ended. Hours later, a JCS duty officer phoned naval headquarters in London to relay an urgent JCS order to move the ship 100 miles from the coast; the telephone call was ignored, and Liberty's copy of the confirming message was misrouted to the Philipines before being returned to the Pentagon, where it was again misrouted, this time to Fort Meade in Maryland, where it was lost."

In that article he goes on to say, "Eventually, at least six critical messages were lost, delayed, or otherwise mishandled. Any one of those messages might have saved Liberty. None reached the ship."

Rabinovich writes: "The son of Admiral Erell, Udi was an ensign aboard one of the torpedo boats. He could see the smoke from a long distance as the boats raced at top speed toward the scene. As the vessel came into view, Erell's skipper scanned an identification book containing pictures of the ships in the Arab fleets and consulted with the commanders on the other boats. The squadron commander concluded that the ship was the Egyptian supply vessel EL QUSEIR. Ensign Erell, looking over his skipper's shoulder at the picture and glancing up at the burning vessel, fully agreed, even though he would later recall that the mast in the picture was not positioned identically with the mast of the target vessel...."

"Nevertheless, the squadron commander sought to confirm the vessel's identity before attacking. When the Israeli signalman flashed the message "What ship?" Udi Erell saw the response flickering through the smoke four miles away---"AAA", the signal meaning "Identify yourself first." The same signal had been flashed, the Israelis were aware, by the Egyuptian destroyer challenged off Haifa during the Sinai Campaign in 1956. Americans on the bridge of the Liberty would later state that the signals flashed were the ship's name and its international call sign, not what the Israelis believed they saw. Even with binoculars, Erell could make out *no flag*. The sqaudron commander ordered his boats to commence torpedo attacks. The vessels peeled off to make their runs and fired five torpedos. Only one hit home. The boats raked the burning ship, now dead in the water, with their guns."

"Fire was halted when one of the officers reported seeing the identification markings CTR-5 on the ship's hull, markings that were not those of an Arab vessel. Notified of this, Haifa ordered the sqaudron commander to pick up survivors and definitely establish the ship's identity......Drawing closer to the burning vessel, they were able to make out a flag. It was not opened by a breeze and could not immediately be identified, but it was clearly not Egyptian...."

"Udi saw a splash of red on the flag and heard a report being sent back to Haifa that the vessel might be Russian. The report caused shock and consternation when passed on to General Staff headquarters. The shock was not abated when the torpedo-spadron commander reported half an hour later that he had identified the vessel as American."

Mitchell G. Bard and Joel Himelbarb in "MYTHS AND FACTS: A Concise Record of the Arab-Israeli Conflict" write: "None of Israel's accusers has been able to explain adequately why Israel would have deliberately attacked an American ship. Confusion in a long line of communications, which occurred in a tense atmosphere on both the American and Israeli sides (a message from the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the ship to remain at least 20 miles off the Egyptian coast never arrived) is a more probable explanation."

They write: "Accidents caused by "friendly fire" are not uncommon in wartime. In 1988, the U.S. Navy mistakenly downed an Iranian passenger plane, killing 290 civilians. During the Gulf War, 35 of the 148 Americans who died in battle were killed by "friendly fire." In fact, only the day before the Liberty was attacked, Israeli pilots accidentally bombed one of their own armored columns south of Jenin on the West Bank."

As a former high-ranking Israeli naval officer, Shlomo Erell, told the Associated Press (June 5, 1977): "No one would ever have dreamt that an American ship would be there. Even the United States didn't know where its ship was. We were advised by the proper authorities that there was no American ship within 100 miles."

Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara told Congress on July 26, 1967: "It was the conclusion of the investigatory body, headed by an admiral of the navy in whom we have great confidence, that the attack was not intentional."

Israel did apologize for the tragedy and paid millions of dollars in reparations to the United States and to the families of the victims.

Several claims have been made after the fact Rowland Evans and Robert Novak have written that there was a key witness in Dwight Porter, the U.S. ambassador to Beirut in June of 67, who according to Evans and Novak saw a transcript of a conversation, interecepted by his embassy, in which an Israeli pilot told his controller that the Liberty was an American vessel and received orders to attack. This is a fabrication. Porter admits the document was immediately destroyed after he read it. However, the truth it, it could hardly have been a transcript of a radio conversation intercepted by the embassy in Beirut, BECAUSE the piolots used [UHF] ultra-high frequencies. These signals are only good for short distances and could NOT possibly have been intercepted in the Lebanese capital, which was 205 miles away. His recollection and the technical impossibility of of interception completely discredited their so-called witness.

Evans and Novak also claimed a second witness. Ennes has also eluded to that witness in some correspondance he has had with me. The witness is a "Major" Seth Mintz, the so-called "mystery man," the inside witness in the Israeli War Room.. It turns out that the major wasn't a major at all, but a sargeant, who was a truck driver in the Israeli army, who was unlikely to have ever been in the War Room. He simply didn't have a "need-to-know" or occupational speciality which would require it or make it possible. When queried by Evans and Novak, Mintz told them that General Danny Matt brought him into the War Room. Danny Matt wasn't a General, he was a colonel who commanded paratroopers in the Rafah sector at the time of the attack, so that story doesn't hold up either. Mintz was an American-born Israeli, who now lives in Maine. His story changed and he said it was his "friend and mentor" General Benni Matti, who was with him at the time of the incident in the War Room. There never has been anyone by that name in the Israeli army. After the scoop by Evans and Novak, Mintz told reporters that what he said was "distorted into a lie" but it turns out that Mintz was less than credible with other stories. Rex Bloomstein, a British award-winning film maker spent months researching the Liberty and discarded his interview with Mintz because of all the discrepancies and said the man "was less than convincing." It appears that Mintz was a glory hound, looking for some kind of recognition. Whatever motivates someone like this is not within the purview of this article to make that kind of analysis.

It is sufficient to say that Evans and Novak made many other material mistakes in their so-called scoop. They claimed missiles were used, and that this was the worst disaster in military history. Hardly, but it is not for nothing that Evans and Novak have often been referred to as "Errors and No Facts" by other investigative journalists.

None of those claiming Israel's complicity in a conspiracy to murder Americans has been meticulous in their observance of truth and accuracy. It must be emphasized also that if the INTENT of the Israeli military was to destroy the Liberty, then the aircraft would have been so-armed with anti-ship ordnance. It wasn't. If it had been, there would not have been anything left of the Liberty.



See the "CRYPT" at: http://www.applicom.com/pnews for a complete description of the attack and other information about how Israel won the Six-Day War. See also discussion in the "Discussion Digests," also posted to the above WEB site and see other articles in the "ARCHIVES" being constructed at: http://www.netline.net/~odin.. My military occupational specialist was "voice security crypt" and "operations security." I worked in the War Room for the Chiefs of Staff and at the White House [See bio at the above web site.].



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Jim Ennes and Joe Meadors

USS Liberty