212. Message From President Johnson to Premier Kosygin1

Dear Mr. Kosygin,

We have just learned that USS Liberty, an auxilliary ship, has apparently been torpedoed by Israel forces in error off Port Said. We have instructed our carrier, Saratoga, now in the Mediterranean to dispatch aircraft to the scene to investigate. We wish you to know that investigation is the sole purpose of this flight of aircraft, and hope that you will take appropriate steps to see that proper parties are informed.

We have passed this message to Chernyakov but feel that you should know of this development urgently.


Lyndon B. Johnson
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Head of State Correspondence, USSR, Washington-Moscow “Hot-Line” Exchange, 6/5–10/67. No classification marking. A typed notation on the message indicates it was approved by the President at 11 a.m.; transmitted by U.S. Molink at 11:17 a.m.; and received by Soviet Molink at 11:24 a.m. The message was apparently drafted by either Bundy or Walt Rostow in consultation with the President. Bundy telephoned Johnson at 10:20 a.m. and the President returned a call from Walt Rostow at 10:24 a.m. Johnson telephoned Rostow at 11 a.m., and Bundy called him immediately afterward. The President apparently approved the message in one of these conversations. (Johnson Library, President’s Daily Diary)