Joe Lentini

Liberty survivor Joe Lentini replies to a critic
whose email is appended below

Dear Mr. Brown:

I was on board the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967, and I can tell you without any doubt, the recount of the attack in the Ennes book is accurate and that there is much more to this issue than you are obviously aware.

First, let me thank you for caring enough to even look into it. So many Americans know nothing about the attack because of the politics involved, and so many others have a dual allegiance to the US and Israel and, when it comes to any problems between the two countries, they always lean towards Israel and so cannot see what happened in 1967 or, for that matter, in more recent history (e.g., Pollard spy case and the slaughter of Palestinians).

There is an enormous amount of material which is considered documented and accurate by both this country and Israel which clearly brings into question the accidental attack claim by the State of Israel. There have been discoveries over the last 35 years that have revealed attacking Israeli pilots identifying our ship and being told to attack anyway, identified US military intelligence personnel who were privy to various messages and transcripts clearly indicating the attack was a coordinated effort, and the sworn testimony of the survivors who, after all, were there. You may locate much of this material, and see the documentation for yourself, by simply doing a search on the Internet for "USS Liberty" and following all links. You will see many sites with accurate information, and some with not so accurate information, and many with a clear bias towards protecting Israel's reputation.

As for Jay Cristol's book - have not read it totally yet, but I can tell you without any doubt that much of his information and argument for the attack being an accident is based on half truths and highly questionable Israeli reports.

Let me give you something to think about, I hope, and something that will encourage you to look deeper into this historical moment.

1. The ships logs clearly indicate tracking first the torpedo boats and then the high-speed aircraft passing over them, both on a direct line to the USS Liberty.

2. The planes did not circle the ship trying to identify the ship, but, instead, approached the ship bow-on and came in shooting.

3. The planes were flying well below their top speed and many survivors who were fighting fires from the napalm and otherwise were topside performing assigned damage control noted that these planes were unmarked - this at a time when Israel was in control of the skies and had no reason to paint out the Star of David and other clearly Israeli markings.

4. A high ranking Israeli officer was interviewed several years later and clear states that Israel had identified the USS Liberty by June 7, 1967. This is consistent with the several documented overflights by Israeli slow-flying aircraft on the day prior to the attack which were clearly taking our picture for identification purposes.

5. Our flag was flying until the jets shot it away. We then hoisted another, and that was also shot away. Finally, we ran up the huge holiday flag - one of these shot-up flags is on display at the museum at the NSA Cryptologic Museum at Ft. Meade, Maryland. We were slowly sailing into the wind so the flag was standing out at all times and, while the pilots might not have seen it in a bow-on or stern-on attack posture, they certainly saw it as they crisscrossed the ship, attacking from both port and starboard. Please note that these pilots saw well enough to hit the four 50 cal machine gun mounts with at least two rockets each, put at least one rocket through all topside hatches/doorways, hit all antenna pods with two or more rockets, blew up the two small boats on board, and hit the only gasoline drum on board. Again, their speed allowed this degree of accuracy and they obviously had knowledge of our strategic targets.

6. One of the Israeli torpedo boat captains was also interviewed several years later and he said that, after one of the five torpedoes had hit the ship, he saw the colors of our flag and thought he had hit a Russian ship. Kind of puts a kink in the Israeli claim of June 1967 that we had no flag, doesn't it.

7. Cristol and Israel both give credibility to the Israeli claim of 1967 that the torpedo boats misread their radar to the point that they thought the "unknown" ship off the Sinai Peninsula was traveling in excess of 20 knots and that local Israeli field commanders reported shelling of their position from that area of the Med. Possible? Sure! But take the time to look a little deeper please - The torpedo boats identified us as the El Quisar (sp?), an Egyptian troop and animal carrier 1)known to be in an Egyptian port at that time, 2) unable to make even 8 knots, and 3) with absolutely no armament whatsoever. It gets better! This ship is about 2/3 the size of the USS Liberty, and has none of the topside antenna equipment, did not have a huge satellite dish on its stern, and was not painted USN grey with US information on both sides of the bow. The ship they said they thought we were could not go the speed they say they mistakenly thought we were going and had no means to attack a nything. Further, the Liberty had only 4 50 cal machine and was also unable to shell anything from its position some 13 miles offshore.

8. There are documents available from the LBJ Library that clearly indicate that LBJ wanted to seek reelection, did not want to offend this country's Jewish lobby, and had specific recommendations from his political advisors to stay at arm's length from anything having to do with the USS Liberty.

9. There are a number of plausible reasons for the attack, and

1) the accurate time-line of that day indicate that, in fact, taking the Golan Heights was not known until it was accomplished.

2) You might also find it interesting that Moshe Dyan, the head of the IDF at that time, said in an on-camera interview that this expansion had nothing to do with state security, but was, in his words, executed to take this property solely to increase the power and financial wealth of the political and some of the military leaders of that day.

3) There is also the very real issue of the added US support that would come if the US and the world thought a US ship was sunk by the Arab States - and the attack came very close to accomplishing that very thing. We were silenced in the first minutes of the attack and only got word out because our technicians were able to rig a temporary antenna under fire, an antenna that had never worked before but was made usable by their efforts and by a partial roc ket hit that somehow "fixed" whatever the initial problem was. Without that "word" getting out, they would have sunk us with all hands and, I suppose, planted some evidence that the deed was done by Arab State vessels/planes.

4) Israeli-documented slaughter of Arab prisoners at El Arish (sp?) that day could have contributed to the "justification" for the attack. Maybe not, but the fact that this slaughter occurred is documented by statements from Israeli soldiers, so, who knows. There may be other related possibilities, but the point is that reasons exist and there is much more than reasonable doubt that the attack was a pre-planned, coordinated air and sea attack which took 34 American lives.

By the way, if you wish to have any credibility in discussions about this subject, I suggest that you do not refer to sworn testimony of survivors who were there that day as "hearsay!" As for Jim Ennes being wounded so everything he said must have been second hand, simply not so, and to suggest that does him and other survivors a great dis-service and indicates that you have not researched this very well. Remember, the Captain was also wounded and I can personally promise you, his story was not "hearsay" and was very accurate.

Oh yes, there are many men present that day who saw for themselves the Israeli torpedo boats deliberately machine gun the life rafts and we have pictures taken just after the attack ended (about the same time as it became known we got word out to the fleet about the attack)which clearly show all life raft positions empty or with destroyed rafts clearly visible.

One other fact you might find interesting which relates back to the jets - their speed that day allowed them to target fire hoses in use by damage control personnel, and the men using them, during the attack. Again, multiple eyewitness accounts are documented concerning this and the use of "burning jelly" canisters dropped on our decks.

If you truly care about the truth, take the time to look into this more deeply. Consider the growing number of senior military and political people who publicly denounce this attack as deliberate. Consider the document facts, many of which are agreed to by both sides. Consider the contradictions in the "official" story over these many years, and consider Israel's history, short though it may be, which is full of examples of drastic military actions against friend and foe alike, military and civilian, in the name of Israel's security.

Finally, although it has nothing to do directly with the attack on the USS Liberty, I mention the Pollard case. Strange that you seem to be defending him when it is documented fact that Israel paid him to spy against his country. Let me put it another way, Israel, our "friend," paid him to spy against their claimed ally, the US. Is it really so hard to believe that this same "ally" found it to be in their best interests to attempt to sink a US intelligence ship with all hands back in 1967?

Cristol's book, and several others by Israeli writers or friends of Israel, reaches the wrong conclusions. It does not take much more that a quick look at the documented facts of this case to realize that the Israeli claim of an "accident" fails to hold up. I hope you will take the time to dig deeper and, keeping an open mind about this subject, consider all possibilities.

Again, thank you for your interest in this historical event.

Joseph C. Lentini CTOC
USN-ret USS Liberty Survivor


Original Message:


From: Maxwell Brown
Date: Tue, 27 Aug 2002 22:02:05 -0700
Subject: Another opinion

I have just completed reading the book by A. Jay Cristol, The Liberty Incident and I have to frankly say he beyond any doubt shows the attack on the Liberty to be mistaken identity. He also shows how Jim Ennes's book was based on hearsay.

Mr. Ennes has made some wild claims and outright lies. One lie is how the Israeli motor torpedo boats did not have any identification. However William McGonagle testified he ordered the gunners not to fire on the boat as he saw the Israeli flag. Also he says the attack jets were flying so fast it would have been impossible to detect any markings on it, such as the Star of David. He also shows how to see the American flag, you have to have been within a certain distance and not flying past a certain speed. yet you continue to claim that they "Must" have seen the flag.

Also Ennes claims that then US Senator William Fullbright said that Lyndon Johnson ordered him to cover up the attack. One problem. Fullbright denies this and Ennes hears it 3rd party.

Ennes was injured at the beginning of the attack, thus relies on full hearsay.

Your theories on why the ship was attacked are nonexistent. The theory that Israel didn't want the US to know about their imminent invasion of Syria is dead and confirmed by John Borne, as proof is shown that Israel told the US they were invading Syria hours before the Liberty was attacked. The NEW theory, and their appears to be a new one every week is the alleged Israeli massacre of Egyptian POW's. Considering that Egypt NEVER accused Israeli of this and has had the Sinai for 20 years and yet has found no mass graves, makes that theory useless. Also it was said that the Liberty intercepted messages of Israeli killing those POW's. One problem, the claim of a POW massacre was that it took place on June 7, one day BEFORE the Liberty reached Alpha Point. Do you have any other theories to propagate?

Lastly, Mr. Ennes is now in full anti-Jewish conspiracy mode. He said he has friends in Teheran, Iran. What a shock. Iran, a nation that hates Jews, a nations that blew up the Israeli embassy in Argentina and has executed Jews on alleged spying charges, is pro-Liberty. Also have we forgotten on how Iran financed the attack of the US Marines in Lebanon in 1983? Also the interviewer mentions how Pollard gave away the identity of US agents in Eastern Europe. This is a lie. It never happened. Ennes will associate with anyone who hates Israel. Anyone.

I am still waiting for your "dissection" of the Cristol book. One has to wonder what excuse you'll use this time.

Max Brown

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Jim Ennes and Joe Meadors

USS Liberty