Author Archives: joanmellen

Manchester Union Leader’s John Koziol on “Blood in the Water: How the US and Israel Conspired to Ambush the USS Liberty”

The Manchester Union Leader, the daily newspaper of Manchester, the largest city in the U.S. state of New Hampshire has published a leader article on Joan Mellen’s new book, “Blood in the Water: How the US and Israel Conspired to Ambush the USS Liberty”. Written by John Koziol, the article delves into the forthcoming book’s explosive revelation that  then-President Lyndon Johnson ordered the Israeli Defense Forces to attack and sink, with no survivors, the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967 in an effort to promote regime change in Egypt.

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Synopsis of “Blood in the Water: How the US and Israel Conspired to Ambush the USS Liberty” by Joan Mellen

By Joan Mellen

In 2014 I was completing a book exposing dark truths about President Lyndon Johnson that had been suppressed by Johnson’s official biographers whose goal in recent years was to provide cover for an official whose actions not infrequently bordered on the criminal. One day I received an email from a fellow researcher who offered a challenging question: will you be including Johnson’s role in the attack on the USS Liberty? I had never heard of the USS Liberty. When I learned of the ambush of this unarmed USS Intelligence ship, and of Johnson’s role in planning it and then covering it up, I was at once committed to a course that resulted in a new book, “Blood in the Water,” whose subtitle is “How the US and Israel Conspired in the Ambush of the USS Liberty” devoted entirely to the events surrounding the LIBERTY. My goal was to discover who had planned the attack and what was their motive.

I had for more than a decade been writing books of investigative journalism, tackling historical issues about which the government had kept the public in the dark. The best known is called “A Farewell to Justice,” which tackled another unsolved case, the assassination of President Kennedy, and is set in New Orleans where Lee Harvey Oswald lived during the spring and summer of 1963. “A Farewell to Justice” became a biography of District Attorney Jim Garrison’s investigation and took seven years to complete.

By the time I committed to the Liberty story I had published 23 books. None focused on Israel or the Middle East. Nor had I written anything about the U.S. military.

When you begin a book whose issues are unfamiliar, the writer invariably hears an inner voice with the warning, “I can’t do this.” I knew nothing about the US Navy, its protocols and hierarchies. I knew a bit about the intelligence services whose activities figure in this story, CIA and the NSA, National Security Agency. There had been several books published about this attack on LIBERTY, an unarmed US intelligence ship, by Israeli commandos and ships, on June 8, 1967, in the middle of the Six-Day War. All insisted that Israel, who admitted to have attacked ship by planes and torpedo boats, was acting alone, but they made no sense to me: why would Israel attack a vessel belonging to its sole ally, for by now France had canceled its arrangements to offer Israel military support? None of the books or articles, and I read them all, could answer this question or entertain why Israel would engage in so foolhardy an operation. Israel had on the same day admitted that they had been behind the attack, but the “explanation”, that it was an “accident,” was flimsy and easily challenged.

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Coming in November: “Blood in the Water: How the US and Israel Conspired to ambush the USS Liberty”.

At left is Meir Amit, chief of the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence services, in 1967, the year of the attack on Liberty , at the right is John Hadden, chief of station for CIA in Tel Aviv, at the same time.

Joan Mellen’s new book, “Blood in the Water: How the US and Israel Conspired to ambush the USS Liberty”, will be published in November 2018 by Prometheus Books.

Joan Mellen will be launching the book in Colebrook, New Hampshire, on December 1 at the Colebrook Country Club.

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 About “Blood in the Water: How the US and Israel Conspired to ambush the USS Liberty”

Presents evidence of collaboration between the United States and Israel in an attack on a US naval surveillance vessel during the Six-Day War pointing to collusion between the US government and the Israeli Mossad.

On June 8, 1967, the USS Liberty, an unarmed intelligence ship reporting to the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the auspices of the National Security Agency, was positioned in international waters off the coast of Egypt when it was attacked with deadly violence by unmarked jet planes firing rockets and machine guns and throwing napalm onto its deck. This ambush was followed by a torpedo strike that blew a forty-foot hole in the starboard side of the ship. Lacking the capacity to defend themselves, thirty-four sailors were killed and 174 wounded, many for life. By the end of the day, Israel had confessed to having been the aggressor, simultaneously arguing that the attack had been an “accident” and a “mistake.”
The facts said otherwise. So intense and sustained was the attack – it lasted for nearly an hour and a half – so specific was the aiming for the antennae and satellite dish on deck, that it was scarcely credible that Israel’s aggression was not deliberate; such was the view of Marshall Carter, the director of the National Security Agency, his deputy director Louis Tordella, and Richard Helms, the Director of Central Intelligence.
Based on interviews with more than forty survivors, knowledgeable political insiders, and Soviet archives of the period, investigative writer Joan Mellen presents evidence suggesting complicity between US and Israeli intelligence in the attack on Liberty and the more than fifty-year long cover-up. What were the underlying motives? Was this a false flag operation conducted in the midst of the Six-Day War? Was it conceivable that Israel would have initiated such an operation without a green light from the United States?
For the sake of justice, truth and the murdered and surviving sailors, this is a story demanding to be told.

“Faustian Bargains” Review: American History Magazine

american-history-magazine-reviewIn the 20th book of a diverse oeuvre of biographies, cinema, and literature, Joan Mellen documents Lyndon B. Johnson’s career in cronyism, mainly in his home state but also on the international stage. The title reflects LBJ’s penchant for obscuring his personal and financial affairs and his membership in a cadre of pols and business types given to enriching themselves at voters’ expense. The subtitle might well have mentioned Billie Sol Estes, who, after serving his king, tried unsuccessfully to drag him into disgrace.

Citing recently released FBI files, interviews, books, newspaper and magazine articles, and diaries, Mellen traces Johnson’s lifelong dance with power and infamy. Analyzing the 1948 campaign, she shows how Johnson, ever the clever puppeteer, had marionettes falsify records and destroy ballots at arm’s length from their boss to defeat Coke Stevenson by 87 votes in a Democratic primary runoff that assured Johnson of a U.S. Senate seat. “Johnson was not elected to the United States Senate, and so should not have served there,” Mellen writes.

In the Senate, as he had in the House, Johnson toadied to his betters, engineering profitable arrangements that Mellen illuminates using sources well-known but in this context previously untapped–Estes, influence peddler Bobby Baker, and federal contractors willing to kick back dough to a frenemy they mostly feared. Mellen establishes Johnson’s corruption by showing that he directly awarded government work that was worth millions to cronies.

As LBJ was amassing paydays and political clout, men and women in his circle were dying under mysterious circumstances. The fallen included Johnson’s loose-lipped younger sister Josefa, who expired at 49 only hours after leaving a Christmas party at her brother’s home in 1961. As Lyndon Johnson rose, so did Mac Wallace, one of Josefa’s beaus. LBJ counted Wallace among his elves in the 1948 campaign. Wallace later worked for the U.S. Agriculture Department and a military contractor favored by Johnson. A 1952 murder conviction seemed no bar to advancement.

Wondering whether Johnson pondered which, if any, of many dangerous secrets Wallace knew, and whether LBJ did anything about that, Mellen plunges into Wallace’s self-destructive story: college corner, weapons merchant, holder of a controversial security clearance, convicted but unpunished murderer, chronic drunk, dead in a one-vehicle accident for which all official reports disappeared.

Faustian Bargains stands apart from the latter-day run of LBJ books by distinguishing fact from opinion and primary from hearsay evidence, conscientiously not vaulting to conclusions and satisfying the author–and this reader–that Lyndon Johnson was a killer more than metaphorically.

–Richard Culyer is a writer in Hartsville, South Carolina

Joan Mellen Discusses New Book “Faustian Bargains” at “November In Dallas”

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The full title of my book is FAUSTIAN BARGAINS: LYNDON JOHNSON AND MAC WALLACE IN THE ROBBER BARON CULTURE OF TEXAS. The “robber barons” are represented by Herman and George Brown, who funded Lyndon Johnson’s political career from the 1930s on, and D. H. Byrd. Byrd not only supported Johnson politically, but he employed Johnson acolyte Mac Wallace at his company, TEMCO, an aircraft production company, following Mac Wallace’s conviction for murder with malice aforethought – what we could call “first degree murder.”

nora-ann-carroll-and-mac-wallace

Nora Ann Carroll and Mac Wallace

Johnson probably was instrumental in obtaining Mac Wallace’s security clearance at the level of “SECRET”, which was required for him to work at TEMCO. This was no small feat since the recipient was a convicted murderer. I say “probably” because I could uncover no document suggesting that Lyndon Johnson was involved in obtaining Mac Wallace’s security clearance. The evidence is circumstantial, which only partially diminishes its importance.      

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