224. Memorandum From Peter Jessup of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow)1


  • Why the USS Liberty Was Where It Was

Attachment 1 shows the JRC forecast for June with the approved mission of the USS Liberty.2

This was changed by a routine submission on 2 June. These are normally noted by Jessup for the White House, McAfee for State, and Chapin for CIA. Being proposed by DOD, it is assumed this had full Pentagon approval, in this case Vance.

Routine changes without specific indications as to number of nautical miles off shore are merely noted and entered in the book.

It is assumed that such a ship will operate under the discretion of COMSIXTH FLEET and USCINCEUR.

It would seem to have been unnecessary at the time to submit this particular track change to the principals at the date submitted.

Let me make myself clear. There is no doubt in my mind that JRC is in the clear, having submitted this change in plans in good faith and on a timely basis.

Whether the actual nautical distance of the USS Liberty from the UAR coast on 8 June was unwise in view of the hostilities or whether this should be gauged as an accident of war is for others to judge.

[Omitted here is a paragraph unrelated to the Liberty.]

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Special Committee Files, Liberty. Top Secret. Also sent to Bundy and Bromley Smith.
  2. Not attached.