"Assault on the Liberty"
by James Ennes - New Edition
30 July 2002
"Assault on the Liberty" by James Ennes, the true story
of the attack on the USS Liberty by Israeli forces. Thirty-four
men died in the attack and 172 were wounded. The attack has been
a matter of controversy ever since, with Israel and its defenders
staunchly insisting that it was a tragic accident while survivors
and many senior American officials say it was deliberate.
I have now completed arrangements to reprint the book with a new
addendum that will update the story. I can now accept orders for
books which will start shipping in a few days.
All books ordered directly from me will be signed and will include
the new addendum and notes updating the story.
To order, please send $30 ($25 plus $5 for Priority Mail shipping)
Woodinville, Washington 98072
Review: "Assault on the Liberty"
Assault on the Liberty, By James M. Ennes, Jr.
New York, N.Y.: Random House, 1986 (5th Edition). 299 pp. $14.95.
Book Review by John N. Gatch, Jr.
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
April 21, 1986, Page 11
Random House has just brought out a new edition (its fifth) of
James M. Ennes's Assault on the Liberty, this one with a foreword
by Thomas H. Moorer, U.S. Navy (Ret.). Admiral Moorer was Commander
of the Atlantic Fleet when Israeli planes and torpedo boats attacked
the electronic intelligence gathering ship USS Liberty in June 1967,
killing 34 and wounding 171 American sailors. He later served as
Chief of Naval Operations and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
He's had time, circumstance and reason to consider every aspect
of the assault, and his judgment here is unequivocal and disturbing:
The ship was clearly identified, not only by its unique configuration
but by a very large U.S. flag that was flown at the time. The weather
was calm and the visibility was excellent. During this unprovoked
attack 34 U.S. Navy men were killed and 171 wounded. Nevertheless,
to this day the American public does not know why the attack took
place and who was involved overall.
In my opinion the United States government and the Israeli government
must share responsibility for this cover up. I cannot accept the
claim by the Israelis that this was a case of mistaken identity.
I have flown for years in both peace and war on surveillance flights
over the ocean, and my opinion is supported by a full career of
locating and identifying ships at sea. Based on the way this situation
was handled both in the United States and in Israel, one must conclude
that there is much information that has not been made available
to the public.
Author James Ennes was a communications lieutenant on board the
Liberty. He experienced the full horror of the Israeli rocket, torpedo
and machine gun attacks on the virtually defenseless vessel. He
was severely wounded, but recovered to spend another I I years in
the service as a cryptographer. During this period, angered by what
seemed to him an obvious cover up, he pieced together the story
contained in this book, which was first published in 1979 after
his departure from the U.S. Navy.
A Fistful of Loose Ends
Neither Ennes nor Admiral Moorer seem to have a particularly pro
or anti Israeli bias as they view the terrible events unfolding.
They share, however, a sense of outrage at what happened, and even
more at the official U.S. reaction to what to them was a clear case
Apart from the gripping and vivid description of the attack and
its aftermath, Assault on the Liberty really boils down to a series
of questions which have never been satisfactorily answered by U.S.
* Why was the Liberty sent to the Eastern Mediterranean in the
* Why was the Joint Chiefs' decision to pull the Liberty back 100
miles from the coast undelivered?
* Why was the first F 4 Phantom flight from the aircraft carrier
America in aid of the Liberty cancelled at the direct order of Defense
Secretary McNamara emphatically backed up by Commander of Naval
Operations McDonald? 0 After the Liberty was torpedoed by Israeli
PT boats, why was the flight from the aircraft carrier Saratoga
* Why was the report of the initial assault handled in such a desultory
fashion in Washington? (The Pentagon had the news for 40 minutes
before informing Walt Rostow in the White House, who in turn informed
President Johnson. The President called for an emergency meeting
"within the hour.")
* Why was the Israeli explanation immediately accepted at face
* Why has the elaborate media cover up which followed on the heels
of the assault remained in effect until today? (When the captain
of the Liberty was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the
citation did not even mention that his ship had been attacked by
Ennes tentatively ventures answers to these and other questions
but admits his deep frustration at their inadequacy. He presents
a good hypothetical case for the assault being motivated by Israel's
desire to keep the United States in the dark about her imminent
attack on the Golan Heights. Yet, even this explanation is unsatisfactory,
since it is known that U.N. Ambassador Goldberg in New York delayed
consideration of a cease fire until after Israel had captured the
Heights, thereby clearly implying that the United States supported
Israeli seizure of Syrian territory.
This reviewer, too, shares the author's frustration, realizing
that it's unlikely we'll ever get to know the full story of this
affair. A nagging thought keeps coming to mind, though, as I read
the headlines day after day if we are so determined to uphold the
principle of freedom of the seas in the Gulf of Sidra why do we
supinely accept the fact that the Israeli air force and navy brutally
and successfully challenged that principle in the eastern Mediterranean?
John N. Gatch, Jr., a former U.S. foreign service officer with
many years experience in the Middle East, is currently president
of a Washington, D.C. consulting firm.
The importance of James Ennes book is perhaps better appreciated
once we read the following:
Israel Controls What You Read
CAMERA, a pro-Israeli activist group, has sent out an email to
their associates asking them to promote the book "The Liberty
Incident: The 1967 Israeli Attack on the U.S. Navy Spy Ship."
This book is written by a man who simply asked Israeli officials
for their version of what happened to the USS Liberty and write
it up as an "objective" report without bothering to even
talk to any of the surviving crewmembers of the USS Liberty itself.
Israel obviously has a vested interest in promoting this book ahead
of the many other books which DO deal with the actual facts and
the survivors of the attack.
To that end, in the CAMERA communication the followers are urged
to not only talk up the book but to post glowing reviews far and
wide. This is an example of how well organized the Israeli propaganda
machine is in this nation, and why people who desire the truth to
come out must be equally as organized, and equally as dedicated.
We haven't reproduced the long CAMERA email here, but for one short
extract (in order to raise an unrelated point)::
"You can buy the book from Wordsworth: www.wordsworth.com
[Wordsworth's owner is a CAMERA board member who, with some risk
to his business, stopped underwriting (donating to) his local
NPR affiliate and made public statements about their unfair reporting
about Israel. ] "
Perhaps we need to investigate Wordsworth as a possible candidate