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Ron Paul in perspective



Ron Paul speaks about liberty and safety

Over the weekend, another witness came forward that can help everyone put Ron Paul and his life and career into proper perspective. Sadly, that perspective does not flatter him.

Ron Paul the Libertarian

Ron Paul is not, and never has been, a conservative. He is a libertarian. Such a person emphasizes human liberty above all else. Thus if someone wants to drink raw milk, that is his right. So Ron Paul said, six days before Christmas, in fact. Ron Paul has also said that the government has no business prohibiting the manufacture, sale, consumption, or transport of any kind of drugs. He is likely, as is any libertarian, to campaign to sell off public roads to private owners and let them make whatever regulation they deem proper on the use of drugs (or alcohol) while driving on their roads.

Radical positions, to be sure. Not even Republicans are ready for that—yet. After four years of Barack Obama, they might become ready. Today, for the first time in decades, people are asking themselves what the proper role of government really is. Ron Paul, unique among Republicans, tells them not only that the best government is limited, but how limited.

But: libertarians do not agree on how far to limit government. And to be more specific, libertarians disagree on the role of the military in a free society. Does a free society have allies? Does one society come to the military aid of another? Ron Paul has caused his greatest rhetorical offense with his answers to those very questions. His answers seem to be: no and no. This is especially true of the American relationship with the Republic of Israel. Several groups, like Liberty Counsel Action, criticize Ron Paul on that ground. Mark Steyn of National Review accuses Paul of “stunted parochialism” and even of dabbling with “Nine-eleven Trutherism” (the notion that the attacks on September 11, 2001, were false-flag operations of the United States government). (Debbie Schlussel castigated Ron Paul in July for doing a very un-libertarian thing: voting to continue funding for the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS), this although he has since called for ending all foreign aid to all countries.) To be sure, Ron Paul is not alone in his view of limiting the military to territorial defense and occasionally retaliating against an enemy that has provoked you. But he is the only Republican candidate who says such things.

Now a witness has come forward to say that Ron Paul has an even more restrictive view of the military role than that.


Eric Dondero

Eric Dondero worked with and for Ron Paul for seventeen years. In a preface to his latest written statement about Ron Paul and where he stands, Dondero listed these jobs he did for Paul during that time:

  • Former Senior Aide, US Cong. Ron Paul, 1997 – 2003
  • Campaign Coordinator, Ron Paul for Congress, 1995/96
  • National Organizer, Draft Ron Paul for President, 1991/92
  • Travel Aide/Personal Assistant to Ron Paul, Libertarian for President, 1987/88

Today Eric Dondero publishes his own Web site, called Libertarian Republican. There he lays out his own version of libertarianism:

Fiscal Conservatism, Individual Liberty, National Defense.

Eric Dondero spoke out over the weekend, after the current flap began about the four newsletters from Ron Paul Associates, Inc., and an eight-page advertising letter for them. Dondero says that Ron Paul did write the letters that bear his name. But that is not what Dondero has against Paul. In fact, Dondero told KVUE-TV that:

This racist newsletter stuff is crazy and stupid. Ron made some silly remarks and wrote some silly things way back when, but it all pales in comparison to the real scandal.

What is the real Ron Paul scandal?

Ron Paul, official portrait

Representative Ron Paul (R-TX-14). Photo: US House of Representatives

That scandal is Ron Paul’s views on foreign policy. That is also what makes people like Liberty Counsel Action and Debbie Schlussel less than comfortable. According to Eric Dondero, Ron Paul is not racist, nor even anti-Jewish. But: Ron Paul despises the nation of Israel, and those who live there. More broadly, Ron Paul is indeed an isolationist, one who would never take military action against any perceived enemy until said enemy had killed people and broken things on American soil. And just possibly not even then.

Specifically, Eric Dondero says that Ron Paul would rather that the Republic of Israel had never come to exist. He has said that Israel is more trouble to America than it is worth, and that the Arabs ought to repossess the land totally. Once, in fact, he “berated” several Young Jewish Republicans in his Houston office over their support for Israel, so much that six of them left the office rather than suffer any more of his personal abuse.

Dondero also says that Ron Paul does not believe that the United States should ever have entered the Second World War. Paul told Dondero several times that “saving the Jews” was an unworthy motive. Of course, the real events leading to American involvement in that war took place in this order: the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The USA declared war on Japan. Hitler than declared war on the United States. Congress then declared that the United States had been in a state of war for the two days before Congress met to vote to go to war with Germany. That did not seem to matter to Ron Paul; Dondero quotes Paul as saying that President Roosevelt knew about the Pearl Harbor attack several days before it happened, and let it happen to have an excuse. In fact, of course, the Japanese gave an ultimatum to Secretary of State Cordell Hull, after the attack took place.

In all my experience with the Americans, I can think of nothing that would infuriate them more. I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve. (Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto)

On September 11, 2001, something happened that Admiral Yamamoto might have thought would infuriate the Americans more than his operation against Pearl Harbor. Three thousand people died on that day. But according to Dondero, Ron Paul was unmoved. Dondero told KVUE-TV:


I saw the parade of radical Islam, I saw that these people killed 3,000 of my fellow countrymen and I saw my boss sit there and just, shrug his shoulders. I can’t see any mainline Republican voter supporting Ron Paul at this point.

That “parade” probably included the spectacle of “Palestinian” Arabs in Gaza City dancing in the streets when they heard about the attacks. It might also have included several rooftop parties in Jersey City, where, according to several witnesses, Arab men watched the towers fall and shouted with glee.

In his written statement, Dondero went further. Ron Paul held that President Bush and Vice-President Cheney would use the attacks as an excuse to attack their long-desired prize: Iraq. He forbade his staff to express any sympathy for those who lost friends, neighbors, or relatives in the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon, or aboard any of the four doomed flights. He almost did not vote for the Authorization for the Use of Military Force in Afghanistan in 2002. Why did he vote for it, literally in the last second? Because he knew that if he cast that vote, Republicans in Victoria, Texas, would revolt, and he would never get the Republican nomination for re-election to the House of Representatives. He did vote against the Iraq War resolution, and that finally prompted Dondero to leave his employ.

Two Kinds of Libertarianism

Why did Ron Paul think of voting against retaliating for the September 11 attacks? Because by then he had fully embraced the leftish libertarianism, that thinks the best of America’s enemies and the worst of America’s government and, to a lesser extent, its allies. True, Ron Paul does not explicitly embrace “Trutherism,” or the “inside job” theory, today. (Many of his followers do, however.) But he does say that America deserved to have this happen. Specifically, those who carried out the attack were temporarily insane, a state of mind due entirely to the history of American intervention in the Middle East. Ron Paul and his followers will sometimes say that this history began with the overthrow of Muhammad Mossadegh, the Iranian prime minister who nationalized British oil-drilling assets in his country. But Dondero’s evidence suggests that Ron Paul really dates that history with American entry into the Second World War, and definitely with the recognition of the Republic of Israel. (He might even blame America for letting a mustered-out Army Reserve officer go over to Israel to help train the future Israel Defense Forces, advise them on strategy, and in the end actually lead the relief army that broke the Siege of Jerusalem in 1948.)

Dondero traces Paul’s attitude to the influence of Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. Rockwell is not only libertarian but anarchistic in his thinking. An anarchist does not necessarily want chaos; he merely thinks that government is not necessary to avoid it. Rockwell’s libertarianism believes that good will is the default state of men’s attitudes, and that men will not resort to force unless other men provoke them. And according to Rockwell, and Ron Paul, the United States has provoked people at least since 1947 and arguably since 1941.

Dondero also drops this dark hint: that Rockwell and one of his allies embezzled large sums from Ron Paul’s 1988 Libertarian Party campaign for President, and shifted the blame onto another person.


There were rumors at the time, and long thereafter, that Lew [Rockwell] and Burt [Blumert] had pinned it all on Nadia [Hayes], and that they had their own reasons for the “coup.” For years afterwards, Rockwell, and Blumert had complete control of Ron’s enterprises through Jean McIver and (former J[ohn] B[irch] S[ociety]/Jesse Helms fundraiser) David “James” Mertz of northern Virginia.

Note that the suspect newsletters and eight-page advertising letter all date from the Lew Rockwell administration at Ron Paul Associates, Incorporated. Recall also that Reason Magazine accused Lew Rockwell of being Ron Paul’s ghostwriter.

Dondero espouses a different kind of libertarianism, one more in line with the late Ayn Rand’s thinking. Rand said that a government exists to manage force, and its proper functions were the police, the military, and courts of law. And Rand, unlike Rockwell, believed that positive military action to advance liberty was within the rights of any free society.

Just as the United States had the right to invade Nazi Germany, so also does the United States have the right to invade Soviet Russia, or any other slave pen.

Rand also supported the Republic of Israel, not for the traditional religious reason (she was an atheist), but because Israel was the only democratic society in all the Middle East, and America’s most consistent and unstinting ally.

Thus if Ayn Rand were alive today, she probably would hold Ron Paul’s foreign-policy views against him. She might even question his willingness to do his duty, should America come under another September 11-style attack.

Ron Paul responds

Ron Paul, or at least his staff, have this answer to Eric Dondero:


Eric Dondero is a disgruntled former staffer who was fired for performance issues. He has zero credibility and should not be taken seriously.

That statement rings hollow. Eric Dondero worked for Ron Paul, in four different capacities, for seventeen years. In all that time, did no one hold a performance review on Dondero? No employer would be so careless.

Ron Paul will probably win Iowa, for one reason only: bad weather will keep all but the most fanatical devotees to any candidate from going to the caucuses. And Ron Paul has the largest ground army in Iowa, all of them fanatics. As CNAV has said before: even the most fanatical devotion cannot substitute for the kind of sober discourse that a candidate must use to persuade people to cast a secret ballot for him.


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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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Terry – Excellent commentary!

As you relate, Ron Paul preaches limited government, but then attempts to define “how” the government should be limited [managed]. In another destructive way, RP would be the opposite extreme of Obama.

Why anyone would want to tout Ron Paul’s praises, is beyond me. Common knowledge (word has it), that those who know the real Ron Paul, recognize him as a liberal who masquerades as a Libertarian. He also is said to have been endorsed by the Marxist, Noam Chomsky.

Ron Paul is not the peaches and cream candidate his rabid boot clicking followers would have everyone believe…..

Fergus Mason

“He has said that Israel is more trouble to America than it is worth”

The crew of the USS Liberty agree with him.

Fergus Mason

“Besides, the IAF could have sent Liberty to Davey Jones’ Locker very easily.”

Really? Looks to me like they tried very hard – repeated attacks by four aircraft, plus the launch of five torpedoes – and FAILED. I can only imagine the carnage if their victim had been a Soviet missile destroyer instead.

Fergus Mason

“You caught that out of five torpedoes fired, only one found its mark. But that wasn’t all they had.”

Indeed it wasn’t; the enemy boats were French-built Meulan 85 foot MTBs, each armed with two 17.7″ torpedos, so the attackers had a grand total of six. All but one were fired, and that sort of percentage suggests to me a launch failure on the sixth one. In other words they fired all or nearly all of the torpedos they could. As for the aircraft they’d expended all their ordnance; that’s why they broke off their attacks.

So basically, if you’re trying to suggest that the IDF somehow held back from trying to destroy USS Liberty, don’t bother. It won’t wash.

Fergus Mason

“Nor has anyone established a credible motive for the Israelis to take out Liberty.”

Actually two have been suggested; to prevent USS Liberty overhearing Israeli chatter about killing Egyptian POWs (which Israel formally apologised for in the 1990s, by the way, so don’t bother denying that it happened) or to prevent a leak of their plan to attack Syria the next day despite Syria having approved the regional ceasefire plan.

“The real cover-up, if any, might have been who ordered Liberty to go, lightly armed and incognito, into a hot zone and why.”

She wasn’t incognito, she was in INTERNATIONAL WATERS and there’s no mystery or cover-up about what she was doing there: she was eavesdropping on the Egyptians and Israelis. That was her job.

“The court of inquiry concluded that Liberty‘s flag didn’t have enough wind to be plainly visible and recognizable.”

The crewmen who escaped being murdered disagree, to a man.

“My idea is that someone told the presiding officer to hush it up, and not inquire too closely into why Liberty was where she was in order to get hit.”

Aren’t you getting this? There is NO SECRET about what she was doing there. Nobody’s even TRIED to hide it; she was eavesdropping.

Fergus Mason

“The court of inquiry concluded that Liberty‘s flag didn’t have enough wind to be plainly visible and recognizable.”

The flag was also recognisable to the Israelis, by the way. I just checked this and sure enough, while the attack was in progress (not after it) PO2 Michael Prostinak, an ELINT operator on an EC-121 patrol aircraft, picked up Hebrew air-to-ground chatter referring to the target flying an American flag.

Fergus Mason

“That was an accident.”

The IAF sent EIGHT reconnaisance flights over Liberty before attacking. Were all the pilots blind? Were the torpedo boat crews who claimed Liberty was a destroyer making 30 knots blind too? The IDF also admitted to having taken Liberty’s marker off their plot, which is strange to say the least. It was either a deliberate attack or shocking incompetence. Probably the latter; for all the myths the IDF are only a good military by Middle Eastern standards.

“lay the blame with ComSixthFleet”

No. Sixth Fleet are perfectly entitled to station their ships in international waters.

Fergus Mason

I notice, by the way, that you haven’t addressed even one of the examples of IDF incompetence I cited, and just keep on blaming the US Navy for daring to sail one of their ships in international waters.

Are you aware that the torpedo that hit USS Liberty was fired from a range of less than a mile, at a ship with a 13 foot US flag streaming from its mast and an eight foot high identification marking painted on its hull? Some “accident,” eh?

Fergus Mason

“Yes, and from an aircraft flying at high speed.”

No Terry, from a torpedo boat which had closed to within machine-gun range and was busy hosing down the Liberty’s decks.

Fergus Mason

“You fail to mention that Liberty was at the time obscured by smoke”

Yes – smoke from the fires started by Israeli aircraft.

“some sailor aboard Liberty, whose name is unrecorded, took it upon himself to fire on the T-204.”

Are you surprised? Three torpedo boats from a nation whose aircraft had just launched a sustained and unprovoked attack on his ship were approaching in an attack formation. OF COURSE he fired at them. It’s only a shame he didn’t have a bigger gun.

“What we have here is a tragic example of “fog of war.””

No. What we have here is a tragic example of either trigger-happy irresponsibility, utter incompetence or – just possibly – a deliberate attack. The IAF had positively identified Liberty HOURS before the attack.

Fergus Mason

“came the bombardment of an Israeli shore position”

Nope, never happened.

Fergus Mason

“took it upon himself to fire on the T-204”

Actually he didn’t “take it on himself,” although he’d have been fully justified in doing so; he was given permission to engage the enemy boats by Ensign Lucas.

Fergus Mason

“They had every reason to believe that Liberty would sail away after the IAF first spotted them.”

Why? What part of international law says that ships should immediately sail away after being seen by the IDF?

“And ComSixth should have gotten its ship out of what was certain to be no-man’s land.”

Why? USS Liberty was in INTERNATIONAL WATERS carrying out its mission. Israel doesn’t own international waters, even if they seem to frequently forget that fact.

Fergus Mason

“Common sense would have dictated that as soon as that zone got the least bit “hot,” you wouldn’t leave a lightly-armed ELINT ship standing that close.”

Liberty’s patrol area didn’t get hot until the IAF started dropping napalm on it. In any case the ship’s armament or lack of was irrelevant,, as she wasn’t a participant in the war and could reasonably expect not to be attacked.

“In fact, the orders to Liberty to stand away from the coast were already en route.”

Irrelevant. She was still a neutral ship in international waters, just like the Lusitania was when she was torpedoed.

“what does an anti-war guy like you even care about what happens to the crew of an American ELINT ship, anyway?”

One of the worst things about war is the loss of innocent lives. It just becomes worse when a cover-up is carried out on behalf of a so-called “ally” whose actions reveal it to be either treacherous, indiscriminate or incompetent.

Fergus Mason

“Would you walk down a gang-disputed street in the middle of a rumble?”

International waters weren’t actually disputed, you know.

“anti-Israel, no matter what”

Far from it; I think they were quite right to kidnap Eichmann, for example, and the Entebbe raid was fully justified and extremely well carried out (although the commander, Yoni Netanyahu, must be spinning in his grave at the antics of his idiot brother.) I’m just anti-Israel when they act like murderous renegades.

Fergus Mason

“Simple prudence dictated that the Navy get that ship out of there.”

Still irrelevant. The Liberty was quite entitled to be where it was and the IDF had no right to attack it – or any other ship in international waters – without taking reasonable steps to identify it first.

Fergus Mason

““Entitlement” doesn’t vitiate common sense.”

Common sense says that when you’re in a very distinctive, prominently marked US Navy ship in international waters, the forces of supposedly friendly countries aren’t going to launch a sustained air attack on you then send in torpedo boats to finish you off.

Fergus Mason

Anyway, is it your contention that any Middle Eastern fleapit with a few fighters and patrol craft should be able to frighten major NATO navies out of waters where they have every right to be? The only failing of the US Navy in the incident was not launching a full Alpha strike from 6th Fleet’s two carriers to destroy the torpedo boats and the IAF bases that the fighters flew from. That would have been an appropriate response.

Fergus Mason

“Liberty was running toward Egyptian waters”

No, she was steaming parallel to the coast (at 5 knots, not the 30 knots the IDF claimed.) In any case this is irrelevant; she was in international waters and should not have been attacked.

“A nearby Israeli base had just suffered a bombardment.”

No, an IDF unit had reported a POSSIBLE bombardment some distance away, which was probably the Egyptians blowing up one of their own ammo dumps. In any case this is irrelevant; Liberty was very obviously not equipped for shore bombardment, having only four M2 machineguns.

“They saw a ship that looked suspiciously like an Egyptian vessel”

They saw a ship that looked exactly like a US ELINT ship and not even remotely like anything else.

“fleeing to its home port”

At five knots? What was it fleeing from, snails?

Fergus Mason

“left her alone when they finally realized the nature of the target.”

Or, alternatively, left her alone when their radar saw that USS America had just launched a flight of attack aircraft towards the fight.

“If they wanted that ship gone, it would have been gone.”

So you’re saying that they weren’t really trying to sink her? In that case why attack at all? The fact is they DID try to sink her – there are no other reasons I can think of for launching FIVE torpedoes – and failed.

Fergus Mason

“the fog of war gets pretty thick”

How would you know?

“especially when you’re fighting for your national life”

As I recall, Israel STARTED the 1967 war by attacking four nations – only one of which, the USA, never retaliated.

“Why didn’t ComSixthFleet send a destroyer escort?”

Because ships in international waters generally don’t need one. However I wish they had, because the escort could have destroyed the attackers.

“What mission was Liberty on, anyway? That’s something that the US Navy should have looked into, but never did.”

Why did they need to look into it? They KNEW what mission she was on. They SENT her on it. In any case it’s irrelevant; she was in international waters and clearly marked, and should not have been attacked.

Fergus Mason

“who gave orders for Liberty to be steaming that close to a hot zone after hostilities had been raging for a full day?”

Probably someone who was interested in the take from a ship that was not only capable of recording the frequencies, pulse rates etc of Soviet-made air defence radars, but also carried Arabic and Hebrew linguists who could intercept and analyse traffic from both sides in the war and gain a whole lot of useful intelligence in the process.

Frankly I don’t see why you have a problem with USS Liberty being there; that’s exactly what she was designed for.

Fergus Mason

“some sailor aboard Liberty, whose name is unrecorded, took it upon himself to fire on the T-204.”

Nor is his name unrecorded; it was Seaman Thomas A Quintero, who was wounded in the initial air attacks. Despite his wounds, testimony from survivors says that by opening fire on the enemy boats Quintero caused one of them to swerve just as it launched its torpedoes; in swerving it forced a second boat to swerve too. This was likely responsible for the fact that four of the five torpedoes missed their target. If one or two more had hit, USS Liberty would probably have sunk and many more men would have died.


Do you want someone to follow the Constitution for a change? Maybe, just maybe, if we stopped trying to force democracy (I thought we were a republic?) down the throats of the world, and tried diplomacy and free and fair trade, we could kick this insane war habit.

Any of the neocons that the repugs put forth are mirror images of the dumcrats, just the two sides of the same evil coin. Your elected just recently violated their oath to OBEY and protect the Constitution en mass with the 2012 NDAA atrocity. Notice that party made no difference, they are all either traitors or cowards.

No one is perfect, but if anyone can come up with more consistent, moral and ethical candidates than Ron Paul, trot them out. I see nothing but neocons and perpetrators of fraud, lies, war for the profits of the oligarchy of banksters and big corporate monopolists that own most of the crooks in office.

Ron Paul 2012 End the Fed Stop the wars Restore Constitution and inalienable rights and freedoms

Fergus Mason

“I repeat: fog of war.”

Purely out of interest, would you be equally defensive of the Egyptians if THEY had strafed and torpedoed USS Liberty, which was after all off THEIR coast?

Fergus Mason

“when you consider that the Egyptians started the Six-day War”

Actually they didn’t. Both sides had large forces pushed up to the border, although the Egyptians were in a defensive posture and if you know anything at all about 1960s Soviet operational art (and the limitations of Arab troops) you’ll understand that they’d have taken a couple of days to transition to the offensive. It’s certainly possible that the Egyptians PLANNED to attack, but we’ll never know because the Israelis DID attack, then went on to attack Jordan, Syria and the US Navy.

“they insist on moral equivalency between free and non-free countries.”

Actually I don’t; far from it, in fact. However that’s not relevant, because your argument is that the Israelis made an understandable mistake rather than a display of shocking incompetence, irresponsible trigger-happiness or (just possibly) deliberate malice. The “fog of war” isn’t affected by the political system which pays the wages of the attack pilot or torpedo boat commander, so my question is this: if the fighters and MTBs had been Egyptian would you accept that their attack was a forgiveable mistake?

A further question is, do you think that 6th Fleet would have been justified in launching strikes to destroy the MTBs and the bases that launched the fighters? I do.

Fergus Mason

“The Egyptians closed the Straits of Tiran”

Yes, they did – partly, at least. The Straits of Tiran are in Egyptian and Saudi territorial waters and no concern of Israel’s.

“and moved their forces right to the border.”

So what? The US Army in the same period was routinely and justifiably moving huge formations up to the borders of East Germany, Czechoslovakia, North Korea and various other countries, as were the British Army and Bundeswehr. Moving forces up to your own borders isn’t actually against any rules.

“You have not shown that the attack on Liberty was anything but a mistake.”

It most certainly wasn’t a mistake and only a fool would argue otherwise; it was a sustained and deliberate attack. Was it an attack on a known American target? Probably not, but at the very best it was either madly irresponsible or criminally incompetent.

“And by the way: I’m not buying any of that mass-execution-of-POWs story.”

I don’t care if you’re buying it or not, but I’d suggest you take it up with former Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Eli Dayan; in 1995 he apologised to the relatives of the murdered POWs and offered them compensation.

“You act as though “friendly fire” never occurs without a nefarious scheme from the higher-ups.”

Oh, of course it does; it’s estimated to cause 5% of friendly casualties unless the USA is involved, in which case it’s 10-15% (I accept that Gulf War I, where the USAF killed more British troops than the Iraqis did, was an understandable exception.) It’s just that it rarely happens aganst such a clearly identifiable target and is NEVER pursued with such persistency over such a long period. “Friendly fire” (actually called a blue on blue) is typically a burst of MG fire at a returning friendly patrol, a misplaced aerial bomb or an over-enthusiastic missile shot – NOT a coordinated and sustained attack by multiple units over a two-hour period.

Fergus Mason

“you know perfectly well that the Soviet Union had ships in the Mediterranean, same as we had”

Yes, I do. Tell me, how many of tehm were aircraft carriers or MTBs?

“That they might have been the attackers was a reasonable assumption for the Sixth Fleet to make.”

Not really; the Soviets (like the British and USA) were very good about only attacking reconnaisance intruders inside their own territory. In any case it’s an assumption that Sixth Fleet DIDN’T make; they assumed that the attackers were Egyptian.

“their planes were running an exercise with tactical nuclear ordnance at the time”

No they weren’t. That claim was made by Lt Cdr (Ret’d) James Ennes, a Liberty veteran (who, by the way, firmly believes that the attackers had full knowledge of their target) and he’s withdrawn it; he admits that his witness for the claim mistook conventional Bullpup missiles for nuclear bombs.

“You certainly haven’t demonstrated murderous intent”

You mean apart from five torpedoes, four canisters of napalm, several dozen Zuni rockets and a few hundred rounds of cannon fire?

Fergus Mason

“What you never demonstrated, was the intent to attack an American target because it was an American target. You finally admitted that earlier.”

No, I just said I think that’s PROBABLY not what happened, but I’m not ruling it out. It’s far more plausible than “mistaken identity.”

“When they launched their attack, they thought they were moving against an Egyptian vessel”

Not at all; they had no grounds whatsoever to think that. USS Liberty didn’t even remotely resemble any Egyptian vessel. I think they just saw a target and brassed it up because they could.

“Before Vice-Admiral Martin could send them anywhere near Liberty, he had to recall them, rearm them with conventional bombs, and then send them south.”

No, the aircraft were launched directly towards USS Liberty then recalled. Ennes was informed by a crewman on USS America that they were nuclear-armed; as I said, he later retracted this.

“After the Israelis realized what they’d done (or rather, to whom), they did offer compensation to the families of the men that Liberty lost.”

Did they agree to the full compensation demanded by the US government, or did they quibble over it and finally pay a lesser sum 13 years later?

Fergus Mason

“you’re walking back your admission”

What admission? At what point did I reject the possibility that USS Liberty was deliberately attacked in full knowledge of what she was? I think it’s UNLIKELY, but I certainly don’t think it’s IMPOSSIBLE.

“my source is The Six-Day War by Ambassador Michael B. Oren. You will doubtless declare him biased”

And he was the US Ambassador to where, exactly?

“I don’t even know your sources.”

Really? Sorry, you only had to ask. Lt Cdr (Ret’d) James Ennes (USS Liberty,) Lt Gen (Ret’d) Marshall Carter (former NSA Director,) Louis Tordella (former NSA Deputy Director,) former Signalman Joe Meaders (USS Liberty – he hoisted the second flag after the first was shot down by the IAF, and was also a passenger on the 2010 Gaza Flotilla,) former US Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Rear Admiral (Ret’d) Isaac Kidd Jr are the main ones.

Fergus Mason

“As to “not having any grounds”: you have no grounds to determine that.”

Of course I do. There were no vessels in the Egyptian Navy that even vaguely resembled a standard Victory Ship, let alone a highly modified Belmont-class ELINT ship like USS Liberty. The Israelis first claimed she was a 30-knot destroyer, then a horse transport half her size and lacking all her VERY distinctive masts. They were quite obviously so full of it their eyes were brown.

Fergus Mason

“Your admission that the Israelis did not deliberately seek out to attack an American ship”

I don’t THINK they did that, although it’s definitely possible; the MTB crews certainly made no effort to identify the target before attacking and their operational logs definitely contain lies.

“Actually, Ambassador Oren is today the Israeli Ambassador to the United States.”

Is he? Amazing. Now why do you think I’d call him biased?

“Now: what records do you have?”

It’s all open source. Rusk, for example, published an autobiography – “As I Saw It” – in 1990. It contains the statement “I was never satisfied with the Israeli explanation. Their sustained attack to disable and sink Liberty precluded an assault by accident or some trigger-happy local commander. Through diplomatic channels we refused to accept their explanations. I didn’t believe them then, and I don’t believe them to this day. The attack was outrageous.”

“I could say that Michael Oren cited many of these as his primary sources.”

Perhaps you could, but all of them would vigorously disagree with his interpretation of their statements.

“As an adult, the former twelve-year-old Brooklyn Jew “made aliyah” and completed his education in Israel, majoring in history.”

As you seem interested in utterly irrelevant trivia, I have two pounds of mature Red Leicester cheese in my fridge. Oh yes, and if I had a hamster I’d call him Hammy. But I don’t; I hate hamsters.

Fergus Mason

“And just what is your state of training in ship identification”

Extensive, as is my training in aircraft, AFV and artillery recognition.

“or war-room communications procedure?”

Even more extensive.

Fergus Mason

“By virtue of what investigative acumen or evidence do you state so positively that the operational logs of the MTB squadron involved contained false entries?”

Oh, that’s not even difficult. The MTB squadron’s logs state that the target (USS Liberty, as it turned out) was steaming at either 28 or 30 knots. She was steaming at FIVE knots. When the first IDF helicopter arrived after the attacks the pilot immediately read Liberty’s pennant number (through the smoke that had so baffled the poor MTB crewmen…) and asked the MTBs, “She has AGTR-5 on her hull. Does it mean anything?” The reply was “No, it doesn’t mean anything.”

Of course it DID mean something. It meant she was a US Navy ship.

Fergus Mason

“I thought you said that you were at Sandhurst for only a year?”

No, I said I was at Sandhurst for only a TERM, which is 14 weeks; a year would have got me commissioned, because Sandhurst awards commissions, not degrees.

In any case I didn’t do my recognition training at Sandhurst; all I did there was drill, basic fieldcraft, Oily Qs and a PhD in polishing things to destruction. I did my recognition training at the depot of the cap badge I joined as a soldier.

Fergus Mason

“And by virtue of what investigative acumen or evidence do you even state the speed at which Liberty was steaming?”

I can categorically state that the Israeli logs are false because she wasn’t capable of 28 knots; she could only do 21, and given that she was built as a throwaway freighter for the North Atlantic convoy run in 1945 even that would probably have shaken her guts out. I state that she was doing five knots because that’s what USS Liberty’s own logs say.

Do you trust the IDF over your own Navy?

Fergus Mason

“Considering that you actually had the face, and the brass, and the gall, to suggest that Academy cadets retained jurisdiction over retired officers, or even active duty superior officers, I remain deeply skeptical, to say the least.”

Well, there may be a misunderstanding there and it may be my fault. What I meant was that if a cadet Honor Division decided that a retired (or even serving) officer had behaved dishonourably then that officer is liable to get a decidedly unfriendly reception the next time they lecture or attend a social function at the Academy in question.

British military academies don’t have honour systems; it’s not felt necessary. Therefore I have no personal experience of such a system, only what I’ve been told by friends in the US military. Any errors I may have made are down to a misunderstanding of what they described to me.

Fergus Mason

“That’s not relevant.”

What’s not relevant? That you’re calling the US Navy liars on the basis of an Israeli officer who couldn’t tell a 7,000 ton ELINT ship from a horse transporter less than half her size at a range of under a mile, or that USS Liberty was physically incapable of doing anywhere near the speed the Israelis said she was?

“What’s relevant is that no one has ever shown a motive for the deliberate removal of Liberty from the scene.”

Scroll up a bit and you’ll see that I gave you two already. In fact you already rejected one – the murder of Egyptian POWs – despite it having been admitted and apologised for by the Israeli government.

Fergus Mason

“Oren’s work is dated 2002 and 2003, or twelve to thirteen years after the event you cite, and he never mentions it. Indeed he says that no evidence exists that any mass execution took place.”

Actually that would make it 35 or 36 years after the event, and seven or eight years after the Israeli government formally apologised for it and offered compensation to the victims’ families.

Out of interest, do you think ambassadors always tell the truth, or is “diplomacy” at least partly a polite synonym for “lying”?

Fergus Mason

“Seeing as how Ambassador Oren was not an ambassador at the time he wrote his book, that question would not seem relevant.”

As I said, I only asked out of interest. However do you think a book that doesn’t mention any such atrocities carries more weight than an official Israeli government apology and offer of compensation? Because they DID apologise and they DID offer compensation; as I said, Deputy Foreign Minister Dayan did that in 1995.

Fergus Mason

“Funny—I missed that news item when it happened. I suppose I’ll have to look that up, to see (a) whether it occurred as you say, and (b) whether it was as atrocious as you make it out.”

I don’t suppose it was very prominently reported in the US media. Do feel free to look it up; it DID happen. As to how atrocious it is, well, how can the murder of POWs NOT be atrocious? Kampfgruppe Peiper had all sorts of logistical reasons to shoot US POWs at Malmedy, and may well have been provoked by an escape attempt that involved the attempted killing of guards, but it was still a war crime and was deservedly prosecuted as such (although I note that no statute of limitations was invoked, as was done by Dayan with the Egyptians.)

I’m pleasantly surprised at your willingness to hold a (relatively) uncensored discussion on this topic; my opinion of you has risen quite sharply from its Walt-inspired low. So, if I may, can I ask how you’d feel about Israel if they carried out terrorist IED attacks against US targets with the intention of blaming an Arab country?

Fergus Mason

“First of all, I don’t accept everything you say”

I don’t expect you to. Still, you have the facts – Eli Dayan, 1995 – and you’re free to check them yourself.

“If you think that the US media uniformly love Israel, please disabuse yourself of that notion.”

I have no such notion.

“So, no, I’m not going to comment on your latest allegation.”

What allegation? It was a question: what would you think of Israel if they bombed US targets and tried to blame Arabs?

“I suppose that your next allegation will be that Mossad, and not Al-Qa’ida, ran the operation that destroyed the World Trade Center.”

Not at all. Al Qaeda’s guilt is clearly established, by none other than bin Laden himself. It’s not even like it was their first attempt at the WTC, is it? “Truthers,” in my opinion, are plumbing the depths of malevolent idiocy.

Fergus Mason

“I suppose that your next allegation will be that Mossad, and not Al-Qa’ida, ran the operation that destroyed the World Trade Center.”

Besides, given Mossad’s track record (Google “Lillehammer Affair,) they’d probably have accidentally blown up the Eifel Tower instead.

Fergus Mason

“I would ask myself just what extremity did the Israelis feel that they had come to, to (a) do such a thing, and (b) ever think that they could gain anything by it.”

Genuinely interesting questions, but may I add (c); under what circumstances is it morally acceptable to launch terrorist IED attacks against a supposed ally?

“I seriously doubt that, for example, Ha’Aretz would hesitate to print such an explosive allegation”

Oh, me too…

“Since I have actually visited Israel”

So have I, although following their recent shenanigans with false British documents I’ve had to get a new passport on security grounds; I even had to pay for it myself, much to my disgust.

“I regard that question as extremely hypothetical”

That’s fine. So, HYPOTHETICALLY, how would you feel about Israel if they carried out terrorist attacks on US targets?

Fergus Mason

“Such behavior would be irreconcilable with the character of the people I met over there.”

Then you might be interested to know about Operation Susannah, conducted by Mossad in 1954. One of the targets they bombed was the US Information Agency in Cairo. Fortunately their bombs failed to detonate properly and the gang were caught by the Egyptians, who hanged two of them.

Again there’s no way to deny this, as Israel publicly honoured the surviving bombers in 2005.


OK… some points here.

The pre-emptive strike by Israel against the Arab nations in 1967 was fully justified as a matter of self-defense. Nations may not close a restricted strait to international waters even when that strait is completely within their territorial waters. Doing so was clearly hostile, if not an act of war.

The massing of armies on Israel’s borders took place in a very different context than such exercises conducted by the US in places like Korea and Germany. The Arab nations had expressed a specific (and long term) desire to destroy the nation of Israel. Isreal could not survive if it allowed the Arabs the first strike. However, they could largely incapacitate the opposing militaries with a pre-emptive strike. That would not be the case for a nation like North Korea (for example).

As Fergus points out, ships like the Liberty were not capable of 25-30 knots. (The USS Range Sentinel on which I served was a similar ship and could make about 19-20.) Interestingly, in a calm sea, that speed would cause really severe vibrations but with a 3 or 4 foot sea, it would be pretty smooth. Further, there is a big difference in the wake of a ship making 25-30 knots and one making only 5. This would be OBVIOUS to any seaman and (probably) any pilot.

The Liberty did not have the kind of weapons that would make it capable of a significant shore bombardment. It’s appearance was pretty much that of a conventional freighter with lots of antennae.

The Liberty was clearly identified with LARGE letters on the bow. It is inconceivable that multiple pilots and patrol boat skippers could ALL have missed that identification. In other words, a first strike may have been a mistake…. not a sustained attack.

A motive? How about keeping the US from collecting intelligence about Israeli military activities duing combat?

What could the Isreali’s get by it….. survival.

My conclusion then, and now, is that the Liberty was deliberately attacked by the Isreali military with full knowledge it was a US “spy” ship.


Oh yeah …. 5 knots is enough to unfurl a flag except in the (unlikely) situation in which the ship is sailing with the wind.


Fergus wrote:
Well, there may be a misunderstanding there and it may be my fault. What I meant was that if a cadet Honor Division decided that a retired (or even serving) officer had behaved dishonourably then that officer is liable to get a decidedly unfriendly reception the next time they lecture or attend a social function at the Academy in question.

Geno points out:
In the US, cadets are not allowed to review in any way, shape, or form, the actions of officers. The purpose of whatever cadet review/honor boards that exist is to evaluate the behavior of cadets.

British military academies don’t have honour systems; it’s not felt necessary. Therefore I have no personal experience of such a system, only what I’ve been told by friends in the US military. Any errors I may have made are down to a misunderstanding of what they described to me.

US military officers have not been described as be “gentlemen” since (at least) the late 1960’s…. and they are not required to adhere to a code of honor (except as cadets). I have good reason to know this on a V-E-R-Y personal basis.


A couple other points regarding the Israeli attack on the Liberty….

Even if the flag was not flying, it’s pretty hard to mistake a US flag for an Egyptian flag. Look up the Egyptian flag and you’ll see what I mean.

In order to fire torpedoes, it is necessary to know the speed of the target. Navies have been doing that since World War I. Also, you do not fire torpedoes at ships you do not intend to sink.

The Liberty presented little or no immediate danger. The Isreali air force was among the top 3 or 4 in the world. Target identification is key. The Liberty was not in a position where it presented any immediate risk to Israeli forces. One flyby of the ship and a message asking for the hull number identification would have taken less than 10 minutes. Even at 30 knots, that’s only about 5 miles.

If they had intended to merely warn the ship, a straffing run ahead of the bow would have made the point. There can be no question it was the intent of the aircraft to sink the ship.

Finally, the Israelis knew there was a US intelligence gathering ship in the area.

In summary:
The Isrealis knew (or should have known) the identity of the ship before the attack. They engaged the ship with full intent of sinking it. The attack was intended as a warning to the US to “butt out.”

If Terry disagrees with this assessment, I’d be interested to hear what his military expert, Dr. Brown, has to say about the matter….

Fergus Mason

“The Isreali air force was among the top 3 or 4 in the world.”

Perhaps slightly over-generous. However their performance against the Egyptians during their initial attack suggests that they shouldn’t have had any trouble identifying a ship as distinctive as USS Liberty.

“In order to fire torpedoes, it is necessary to know the speed of the target.”

A very good point. If they’d REALLY thought Liberty was doing 30 knots none of their torpedoes would have gone anywhere near her; they’d have been aimed so far ahead that the chances of even one hit would have been nil.

Fergus Mason

“One flyby of the ship and a message asking for the hull number identification would have taken less than 10 minutes.”

In actual fact EIGHT flybys were made, one of them so low that sailors on deck could see the aircrew waving at them and feel the propwash.


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