Joan Mellen was interviewed by JFK Conversation’s Alan Dale on her recent book, “Blood in the Water”.
NOTE: 5:02 “The American ships had been called back…” CORRECTION: “The American planes had been called back…”
NOTE: 5:02 “The American ships had been called back…” CORRECTION: “The American planes had been called back…”
5.0 out of 5 stars
By Eileen Fleming
Despite this American’s eleven years of research regarding the USS Liberty cover-up, I had not been aware of the CIA connection beginning with John Hadden who Mellen ‘discovered’ when she uncovered a memorandum of a meeting between Hadden and Meir Amit, chief of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence services.
One of Hadden’s mantras was “never trust anyone” and the chapter introducing the then chief of CIA counterintelligence, James Jesus Angelton titled “Treason At The Top” exemplifies WHY Hadden’s mantra is also a warning for today.
Mellen’s scholarly yet easy to read historical account of the American Governments involvement in the attack on the USS LIBERTY should be a must read for Congress, the White House and CIA; and if it were, it would change the world as we now know it.
By 1954, James Jesus Angelton was the only person authorized to talk to Israeli intelligence and he began helping Israel build its atomic bomb soon thereafter. Mellen writes that during the 1960’s “Angleton handled the Israeli desk always within the Cold War anti-Soviet ideology that was his stock in trade. It was Angleton who would view Israel’s instigation of the Six Day War as necessary to protect Israel’s nuclear reactor at Dimona from a ‘grand Soviet design’ that included a nuclear attack on the United States.”
Mellen uncovered the fact that it was Angelton who “sabotaged John F. Kennedy’s policy to send international inspectors to Dimona, where false walls were erected, elevators hidden, and dummy installations built to conceal evidence of the nuclear weapons program just as nuclear whistle blower Mordechai Vanunu informed this writer a few weeks after his under-reported freedom of speech trial began in 2006.
As I read Mellen’s chilling historical insights, which continue to fuel USA foreign policies in the Middle East, I was reminded of George Washington’s warning: “Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all…and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave…a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils.”-George Washington’s Farewell Address – 1796
Joan Mellen appeared on DISCUSSIONS OF TRUTH, a Miami based weekly radio program hosted by Ian Trottier onNovember 7, 2018 to discuss her new book Blood in the Water: How the US and Israel Conspired to Ambush the USS Liberty
“Finally, the definitive reconstruction of the greatest moral and political scandal in American history, which demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt that the US government at its highest level conspired with Israel in 1967 to destroy a surveillance naval vessel, USS Liberty, and murder its own sailors to gain a pretext for launching an aggressive attack on Egypt. With this exposé, based on exhaustive research and extensive interviews, Joan Mellen has done an immense patriotic service. An extraordinary book that should be not only read but acted upon.”
—Richard Falk, Albert G. Milbank Professor of International Law, Emeritus, Princeton University
—Burton Hersh, Ted Kennedy’s primary biographer (“Edward Kennedy: An Intimate Biography”) and the author of “Bobby and J. Edgar”, often cited as the “breakthrough book” about the JFK and RFK assassinations. Hersh is also the author of The Old Boys: The American Elite and the Origins of the CIA, currently mandatory reading for incoming CIA officers.
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.
With a North Country native at its core, a book to be released this fall will argue 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.
“Blood in the Water: How the US and Israel Conspired to Ambush the USS Liberty” by Joan Mellen, a professor of English and creative writing at Temple University in Philadelphia, explores this tragic episode of an attack by one of America’s allies that resulted in dozen of American deaths and nearly 200 injuries.
Deep in the midst of the Cold War, the NSA wanted to hear everything that the then-Soviet Union and its allies or proxies were saying anywhere in the world. The 456-foot Liberty — whose specialty was gathering electronic communications — was accordingly sent around the world.
On June 5, 1967, when Israel launched a strike against Egypt, Jordan and Syria — the so-called Six-Day War — she was ordered to proceed “at best speed” to the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
While Cmdr. William McGonagle, the ship’s captain, and his crew of 99 sailors directed the Liberty toward the Sinai Peninsula, inside the vessel, then-Lt. Cmdr. David Edwin Lewis, the Liberty’s chief intelligence officer and a 1949 graduate of Colebrook Academy, received a terse order for himself and the 194 other communications gatherers under his command: “Find out who’s doing what to whom.”
“But Israel,” said Lewis, during an interview last Wednesday at his Colebrook home, “didn’t want that” and on June 8, 1967, its military attacked the Liberty with the intent of sending her to the bottom with all hands.
Israel has repeatedly said the incident was a tragic error caused by the fog of war during which the Liberty was confused with an Egyptian vessel. Israel quickly apologized for the attack that killed 34 crew members, including a civilian, and injured 173 others, and it also paid financial compensation to the victims and the U.S. government.
The day of the attack was “a beautiful day,” recalled Lewis. Israeli planes had flown over the Liberty nine times prior to the strike, including once that was so close that sailors were able to see and wave to the pilots, Lewis said. It was apparent that Israel knew who the Liberty was.
In the attack,McGonagle was able to dodge four torpedoes before the fifth struck the Liberty midship, ripping a hole in her side, and covering Lewis, who had been applying a tourniquet to a sailor’s bleeding leg, in a quarter-inch of heavy, burnt naval paint. The impact of the blast destroyed both of Lewis’ eardrums while the heat seared his eyes shut.
“I was one of the very, very lucky ones,” Lewis said. “Everybody around me was killed instantly.”
Lewis said he feels personally responsible for what happened to the Liberty, explaining that the day before the attack McGonagle asked him whether moving the Liberty further out to sea would affect communications-gathering. Lewis said it would.
As he recuperated, Lewis learned that James Terry Halbardier, an electronics technician 3rd Class, saved the heavily damaged Liberty from more destruction.
Although under fire, Halbardier, who later received the Silver Star, ran a coaxial cable across the deck to the sixth Liberty antenna, which had been inactive at the time of the attack, allowing an SOS to be sent to the Sixth Fleet. The message was seemingly also heard by the Israelis, who immediately ceased their attack.
But help for the Liberty did not arrive with equal alacrity and, as Lewis later learned, there was a nefarious reason for the delay.
While recovering aboard the carrier USS America, Lewis said he had a conversation with Adm. Lawrence R. Geis, the Sixth Fleet’s carrier division commander, who “swore me to secrecy for his lifetime” and then shared that the Fleet had twice launched relief aircraft to the Liberty and that each time they had been recalled by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.
When Geis challenged the second recall, Johnson came on the phone himself, the admiral told Lewis, who remembered Geis quoting the President saying that “I don’t give a damn if the ship sinks and all the Americans are killed. I will not embarrass my ally.”
In 2003, an independent commission released the Moorer Report that took a hard look at the incident.
The commission wrote that on June 8, 1967, the Israelis had aerially surveilled the Liberty for eight hours before launching an attack that lasted about 25 minutes “during which time unmarked Israeli aircraft dropped napalm canisters on USS Liberty’s bridge, and fired 30mm cannons and rockets into our ship, causing 821 holes, more than 100 of which were rocket-size; survivors estimate 30 or more sorties were flown over the ship by a minimum of 12 attacking Israeli planes, which were jamming all five American emergency radio channels.”
Now 87 and the oldest survivor of the Liberty, Lewis keeps trying to understand why Israel did what it did 51 years ago Friday and he comes to some of the same conclusions that others, including Mellen, have reached: that the U.S. and Johnson had decided to destabilize Egyptian President Gamal Abel Nasser by blaming his country for the attack.
Asked what he hopes will happen when “Blood in the Water” is released, Lewis replied that he’d be happy if the book educated more people about what happened to the USS Liberty and why.
“It’s frustrating that the American people know nothing about this and that the U.S. perpetrated it,” he said.
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.