276. Telegram From the Defense Attaché Office in Israel to the Defense Intelligence Agency1

0884. Ref DIAAP–5 7657 June 67.2

Have queried our primary source who says impossible at this time to go back to the secondary. Secondary source is not, in fact, a witting supplier of info but rather a knowledgeable person whose conversations occasionally reveal useful info. To ask direct questions would put him on guard and dry up the source.
Primary source states from context of original conversation he believes strong probability the reference transmissions took place prior to 080600Z.
Further information received from Embassy officer who spoke to young IDF Navy officer. The Navy officer claims he was aboard one of attacking MTBs. MTB saw a ship under air attack with smoke issuing from sides. Thought they saw guns on bow. They joined in attack and after torpedo launch at about one mile close to short distance at which time they saw US flag which had been obscured by smoke. Officer says CO of his MTB extremely remorseful and concerned.
From data available here ALUSNA reconstructs probable but not certain series of events.
IDF aircraft reported ship and identified her as US.
IDF AF HQ may or may not have broadcast info to all units, but probably uninformed aircraft returning from strike in Egypt with unused rounds attacked Liberty.
MTB’s saw aircraft attack and presumed Liberty to be Egyptian ship. Therefore they eagerly raced into action without waiting to identify our ship.
Coordinated with Embassy.
  1. Source: National Security Agency Files, Center for Cryptologic History Historical Collection, Series VIII, Box 16d, DIA (USDAO, Tel Aviv) re Liberty. Secret; Immediate; Noforn. Repeated to COMSIXTHFLT and CINCUSNAVEUR. Received at the National Military Command Center at 1411Z.
  2. Not found; it apparently requested additional information concerning telegram 0854 from USDAO Tel Aviv, June 10, which reported that an Israel Aircraft Industries official had told a U.S. Air Force representative that on the morning of June 8, he had heard transmissions on Israeli Air Force air-to-ground control frequencies of an aircraft that had sighted a ship and had identified it as having a U.S. flag. (Ibid.)