Transcript - Cristol Pushes
'Mother Of All Alibis'

By William Hughes

Place: NSA's National Cryptologic Museum, Fort Meade, MD.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2004.
Purpose: A Q&A Period with Author, Ahron Jay Cristol.
Commentary/Transcript Attached
Commentary on the Q&A Period
After a rambling introduction, Ahron Jay Cristol, the author of "The Liberty Incident," opened the program for "seven minutes" worth of questions. He had boasted of having "spent 16 years" researching his book. His conclusion, based on the worst kind of Israeli-serving and highly speculative evidence, was that the Israeli attack of June 8, 1967, on the USS Liberty, which took the lives of 34 brave Americans and wounded 172 others, was only "an accident."
To support his objective, Cristol wants us to believe that the Israelis, whose Jewish race gave the world Marx, Freud and Einstein, knew the Liberty was 14 miles off the Sinai Peninsula, near El Arish, on the morning of June 8th. That they had positively identified her "by name," and that a "wedge was put on the board," at the Naval Intelligence's control room at Haifa, indicating that critical fact. But, then, as a result of what Cristol labels a "series of blunders," an Israeli commander, "ordered it (the wedge) off the board," at 11 AM, just three hours before the Israelis launched their lethal attack on the vessel. And, furthermore, Cristol bellowed that all of this was just a "terrible mistake." Now, if you believe this MOTHER OF ALL ALIBIS, then there a guy in Brooklyn, New York, who has a bridge he wants to sell you!
At this book-hyping gig, I wasn't impressed by Cristol's alleged command of the relevant facts concerning the attack on the Liberty. I also found many of his Alice-in-Wonderland-like excuses for the Israelis, such as the repeated failures of its Army, Navy and Air Force personnel to communicate accurate information between themselves about the Liberty, to be beyond the pale of credulity.
This huge gap in Cristol's case became even wider, when he bragged about the successes of the Israelis' armed forces in the bloodstained 1967 War. For example, he became extremely animated, when he extolled how the brutal Israelis, by the 4th day of the war, (as related to him by a torpedo boat officer), had cruelly savaged its Arab neighbors. Cristol said, the Israeli "Air Force had destroyed all the Arab air forces in 80 minutes. The paratroopers had captured Jerusalem, the Western Wall, and the West Bank. The armor had zoomed across the Sinai and their infantry was about to dip their feet in the Suez Canal."
Really! Amazing, isn't it? Cristol wants us to recall how the Israelis unleashed the fury of their deadly War Machine, subsidized by American taxpayers to the tune of $3 trillion, (See WRMEA, June, 2003, Thomas R. Stauffer, "Cost to American Taxpayers of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict"), and completely vanquished their Arab enemies, in pre-emptive strikes, that gave no quarters. Yet, he then requires us to minimize, or totally ignore, how these same supposed military geniuses couldn't keep track of the Liberty. Military geniuses or incompetent clowns or war criminals! What are we, the spiritual heirs of Washington, Jefferson and Adams, to believe about these Israelis?
Cristol appeared reluctant to give direct answers to some of the questions that were put to him. This was especially so about his response to my query: "Who, in Israel, ordered the attack on the Liberty?" He was also very indirect in his response to Liberty crew member Mark Kram's comments about how the ship had been under close and constant Israeli surveillance, prior to the Israelis' murderous assault on the vessel.
I believe Liberty supporter, Doris Rausch, who participated in the questioning from the audience, was right when she accused the honchos of the State Department, at the Conference of Jan. 12, 2004, and Cristol, too, of "chopping off" what the Liberty survivors had to say about this premeditated attack. You can see from the transcript that follows, how Cristol attempted, at times, to cut Rausch's and Kram's questioning off.
Cristol also disparaged the scholarship of authors Lt. James Marquis Ennes, Jr., USNR, (a Liberty crew member and an eyewitness to that Israeli war crime), and James Bamford, the two leading authorities on the Liberty affair. Ennes wrote the dramatically compelling "Assault on the Liberty: The True Story of the Israeli Attack on an American Intelligence Ship," and Bamford is the best selling author of "The Puzzle Palace." He has recently penned another blockbuster of a tome, "Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency."
It was clear, too, that Cristol was looking by his comments, to marginalize any possible testimony from the surviving members of the Liberty. Cristol, a self-described "amateur historian," even dared, like some traffic court attorney, to compare the Israelis' malicious attack on the Liberty-which raised profound questions touching on Admiralty, Maritime and International Law, and the Laws of the Sea-to a common, run-of-the-mill, fender, bender automobile accident.
Incredibly, Cristol, also, went out of his way to mock the American people. He said that, "We love conspiracy." After that crack, he made a serious Freudian slip, he added, "UNFORTUNATELY, IT'S A FREE COUNTRY." Now, try to remember that this is a federal bankruptcy judge speaking, who has taken an oath to uphold our Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Cristol insisted that he isn't an "apologist for Israel," but he sure writes, acts, talks, dissembles and whines, like he is one. The Israelis put 821 shell holes in the Liberty. I suggest that Cristol's defense of their monstrous, criminal deeds of June 8, 1967, has 821 holes in it, too.
In conclusion, I was underwhelmed by Cristol's dubious arguments on Israel's behalf. If I were a judge on this case, based on what I have seen, heard and read to date, I would have no hesitation in granting a Motion for Summary Judgment on behalf of the Liberty.
However, you should all make up your own minds on this important issue. To that laudable end, I recommend, that you regularly consult the excellent web site, "USS Liberty Memorial," (, and the links, thereto. Finally, my fellow patriots, truth seekers, and lovers of the Republic, I urge you to swear, in honor of the sacred memory of 34 brave men and sons of America, to always, "Remember the Liberty!"
(Please, check out my "Notes" on the Q&A Period, at the end of this transcription. Some of the text that follows has been capitalized by this writer for emphasis purposes only.)
Question & Answer Period (TRANSCRIPT)
Q-William Hughes: Judge, I have a question. You were talking about the helicopter pilots, the Israeli helicopter pilots. And, you were talking about evidentiary value. What evidentiary value is there to their conversations, if they arrived AFTER THE ASSAULT, AND THEY DIDN'T PARTICIPATE IN IT?
A-Cristol: Well, the point is that the message is: You are ordered to go out to this point, to pick up survivors. This is a search and rescue mission. To pick up survivors from an Egyptian ship that has just been attacked. That is what they are told to do. Then, as the situation develops, as a matter of fact, it was really, there was really quite a bit of excitement in the world that day, because, I mean it wasn't just one monolithic situation. It was changing constantly.
Ah, there was, ah, the Air Force (Israeli) had already determined and STOPPED THE AIR ATTACK, because they saw the Roman markings on the ship (the Liberty) and knew that this wasn't an Arab ship. And the Air Force controller at 2:14 said-LEAVE HER.
And they go back to headquarters, and they are wondering, what, WHO IS THIS SHIP? And, at that time, the, THIS IS A BLUNDER. I attribute one of the FIRST BLUNDERS OF THE ISRAELIS. In 1956, when they moved the Air Force headquarters from (Can't Transcribe), to the main headquarters in the Kirya in Tel Aviv, they left the Navy 65 miles away, in Haifa, and communicating by telephone. Ah, so, the Air Force is trying to call the Navy and say, ah-We've got some DOUBT ABOUT THE IDENTIFICATION and the Navy is coming out there. And, they stop, and they are signaling the ship, WHO ARE YOU? And, TRAGICALLY, and you can read on the placard out there (on the wall, in the Museum hall), and that is when the Liberty started shooting at them. And that kind of, ah, settles things in time of wars is whether you are opposing A FRIEND OR A FOE.
Q-William Hughes: How do you explain, Judge, you said there was NO MALICE involved. How do you explain the MACHINE-GUNNING OF THE LIFE BOATS, THE LIFE RAFTS? isn't that A WAR CRIME under any circumstances?
A-Cristol: Well, sir, that is an interesting point. It's one of the myths that has grown up. Ah, that the testimony of Lloyd Painter (Lt. Lloyd Clyde Painter, USNR, wounded in action on the Liberty). I commend you to read the Court of Inquiry Report. It contains a 155 pages of sworn testimony of the survivors and in there is the testimony of Lloyd Painter. And four or five days after the attack, he is telling under oath to the Court of Inquiry, that life rafts were damaged by machine gun fired by the air planes. And, then, ten years later, he remembered that the life rafts were being shot at by the (Israeli torpedo) boats. And, then later still there is a story that ah evolved from the life rafts to life boats. And, then there were life boats full of people. The story that has developed over the years. But no one else, who was on the bridge or who was involved in an eyeball view of what happened that day, made any mention of that. And, ah, ah, memories change with time. And, ah, ah, I don't want to pick a fight with Lloyd Painter, but that is the source of that story. And, I think it is not accurate.
Q-Doris Rausch: I heard part of the hearing on Monday, (State Department Conference, in DC, of Jan. 12, 2004), and I was very upset that the testimony of the (Liberty) SURVIVORS WAS TOTALLY CHOPPED OFF. And I would think that the survivors would have THE ULTIMATE INFORMATION TO GIVE.
A-Cristol: The survivors certainly know as much or more than anyone else about some of the things that happened that day. If you are in an automobile as you drive into an intersection and a car smashes into you, you know that you drove through the intersection, that you had the right of way and that you were smashed into, and maybe your arm was broken. But as far as the car that smashed into you, you don't know if that driver was in a rush to get to a meeting, ah, or whether he or she didn't see the stop sign. Whether they were drunk. Ah, the facts about whether or not it was intentional or negligent or other act, that brought that car into you, that is a matter that is not known to the victim. And, no one disputes what the victim said. All I am saying is if any of the victims have any additional information, send it to me, ah...
Q-Unidentified Man No. 1: Judge Cristol, may I answer the question. The State Department put out a call to the papers. It was on the internet, it was sent out to their mailing list. Anyone who wanted to present a paper or position, was welcome to do so. The State Department as I recall, please correct me, Judge, if I am wrong on this, accepted every proposal that was sent in, with one exception that was not really a crew member. So, it was just an open forum for anyone who wanted to participate. It was on the internet, and as I say, they sent out mailings. I got two different ones from the State Dept. to anyone who wanted to write a paper, or make a presentation, that had to write a paper to do it, was invited to do so. In fact, it was in a professional magazine.
Q-Doris Rausch: Okay, but the people who got up to talk, THE SURVIVORS... (Rausch's question is cut off by Cristol.)
A-Cristol: To ask questions...
Q-Unidentified Man No. 1: Rise to ask questions, that is the issue.
Q-Doris Rausch: Well, why would they need to ask the questions, WHEN THEY HAD INFORMATION TO GIVE?
A-Cristol: THIS WASN'T THE TIME TO GIVE INFORMATION, MAAM. This was presentation of papers by the members of the panel, who had submitted papers and who were then asked to come and present them. And, then the program called for at the end of the presentation of the five papers, then there was a commentary from a moderator, a Professor Smith from Arizona, who commented on the five different papers that were presented: One by the CIA, one by the NSA historian, and others. And then, there was a discussion of the scholars, that they had about 27 professors, historians, government officials from all over the world that were sitting in the center. And, then, the procedure that was outlined in the program was those people would comment and then they would ask, they had two microphones, I said if anyone has questions, you may present a question.
Several people got up and began making speeches. Ah, ah, I'm sorry that they, I would like to talk for the rest of the afternoon, maybe I can answer some of your questions if you have any, but you see, we're out of time. The program was suppose to end at noon. Ah, the speeches continued to be made up until 5 or 6 minutes after noon, at which time the moderator said I'm sorry we're out of time, close the program because they had to move on so that the next panel would be on time. Any other questions?
Q-Unidentified Man No. 2: Why was Al Blue listed on the placard out here (in the lobby, on a wall) as a civilian employee? .
A-Cristol: He was a civilian employee of the NSA, (Allen M. Blue), and not a Navy person. The NSA department was staffed by a navy security group, ah, but they were tenants aboard the host ship, the Liberty. The ship's crew ran the ship. They ran the NSA compartment only. I could be wrong on this, but as far as I know, only the captain, Captain McGonagle, (Commander William Loren McGonagle, USN), and the executive officer, Commander Armstrong, (Lt. Commander Philip McCutcheon Armstrong, Jr., USN), had authority to even go in that compartment on the ship. And, ah, they had a certain direct communication back here (NSA) that didn't go through the regular Navy system. And, there were I believe three civilian NSA employees, a gentleman named Blalock, (Donald L. Blalock), who was wounded but survived, and I believe, sadly, has passed on some time ago. And then there was a third NSA employee, (Robert L. Wilson), whose name is on the plaque, but I don't' remember. I don't think he was wounded. I think he survived, whether he is still alive or not, I don't know. And, yes sir!
Q-Unidentified Man No. 3: I'm wondering about the credibility at all of anything that you would see from James Bamford. In his 'Body of Secrets,' he brings up a subject called, 'Codenamed Operation Northwoods.' Perhaps, you can look at the book to see, its page 82. Ah, the concept is bizarre, that the Joint Chiefs had a plot to go to war with Cuba. And the way Bamford expresses it, I said let me find out something about 'Operation Northwoods.' I went onto the Web...
A-Cristol: I don't mean to cut you off sir, but I happen to agree with you that I don't think that Bamford is a particularly reliable source. And if you read my paper, which the State Dept. is about to print, I cite specifically a series of inaccurate reports which he made. For example, the report that he made and that Nowicki contradicted-he said he got it wrong and the NSA was quoted in the Baltimore Times, (It's the Baltimore Sun), on I believe the 21st of April, 2002. But that information is available, saying that the NSA seldom makes press releases, but what Mr. Bamford said yesterday about the NSA is simply not true. So, I mean, ah, ah, I agree with you...
Q-Unidentified Man No. 3: There is one final point I would like to make. When you go on the web to find 'Operation Northwoods,' you will find all of the conspiracy crazies listed. And some of these sites would turn your stomach.
A-Cristol: Well, ah, there is no question that, ah, PEOPLE IN THE U.S. LOVE CONSPIRACY. People that would like to tell you that the earth is flat, that we never sent a man to the moon, ah, ah, that people from outer space come in-in flying saucers, and ah who killed Diana, the JFK assassination theories. America loves that, but ah UNFORTUNATELY, IT'S A FREE COUNTRY. if you want to have a conspiracy theory, you are welcome to it.
Q-William Hughes: Judge, in your book, ('The Liberty Incident'), you mentioned that you didn't think that General Dayan (Moshe Dayan, Israeli Defense Minister, June, 1967), ordered this attack on the Liberty. Who do you think did from the Israeli point of view. WHO ORDERED THE ATTACK ON THE LIBERTY?
A-Cristol: Ah, ah if you read the book, I mean, it's not just who ordered the attack, IT WAS A SEQUENCE OF EVENTS. On the 7th of June, there is a report to the U.S. Defense Attaché, Col. Anthony (Can't Transcribe) sent back to Washington says ah there is a report that the Israelis in the Sinai, near El Arish, are being shelled by the sea from an Egyptian ship on the 7th of June.
On the 8th of June, at about 10:30 in the morning, the Israelis owned the ground, they owned the air and explosions are occurring. You will read about them in the Liberty log, the log itself. They are sailing off the shore reporting seeing these explosions at El Arish. And the (Israeli) army reports to headquarters, we are being shelled from the sea like yesterday. Now, that happened TO BE WRONG. They weren't being shelled from the sea, ah, it was some Egyptian people behind their lines blowing up some stuff. But ah they passed the message to the Navy-INVESTIGATE. The Navy comes, sends down a note for a torpedo boat to where the Liberty, ah, TRAGICALLY, there are some events THAT JUST FIT IN PLACE TERRIBLY.
The Liberty is sailing along the coast of Sinai. It is a gray ship, 14 miles out so that all you can see is a gray war ship color and you can't tell much more about it other than that from the land. And it is heading 283 degrees and its got its bow on Port Said. The (Israeli) Navy starts approaching. They make ANOTHER MISTAKE. They figure it is going TOO FAST and they can't catch it and, of course, their MINDSET IS THAT IT IS AN EGYPTIAN destroyer because ah that is who they are fighting-the Egyptians. The Egyptians had (Can't Transcribe) fast destroyers and (Can't Transcribe) fast destroyers. And, who else could be bombarding from the sea and who else could be making it high speeds? So they ah called back, ah, to headquarters and say we can't ACHIEVE THE TARGET. We need air. Now, if you knew the situation between the Israeli Air Force ah and the Israeli Navy and I go into that in the book. I wish I could tell you the whole story, but there was a terrible rivalry there.
A young fellow, who was on one of the torpedo boats, so I will just take an extra minute and tell you, the story he tells. I put it in the book. Because he points out that on the first day of the war, the Israelis sent out their Naval commandos to, I think, five Egyptian ports. In Alexandria, there was a disaster. Some were captured, some were killed. Up in the north in the port of (Can't Transcribe), they put their people in and the mission totally failed. And this motor boat torpedo division 914, was sent up to extract them. And they picked them up and got them out safely.
But, in the milling around, (Cristol makes a sound), one boat hit another and made a hole about that big, (Cristol describes the hole), in one of the boats. So get back to Ashdod, down in the south, repair it within 10 or 12 hours, and now this motor torpedo boat division is zooming down towards where ah a ship has been reported shelling on their troops. And as he says, here we are on the 4th day of the war, the Air Force had destroyed all the Arab air forces in 80 minutes. The paratroopers had captured Jerusalem, the Western Wall, and the West Bank. The armor had zoomed across the Sinai and their infantry was about to dip their feet in the Suez Canal. And, the Navy, we've made a hole in one of our own boats! We were ANXIOUS TO GET INTO THE ACTION.
So, that some of the documents that you will read is questioning whether they were TRIGGER HAPPY is correct or not, but there is no question, one: the Navy if they could have gotten there first, they would have never had called the Air Force in my opinion. But the Air Force gets the message. The Navy is chasing A TARGET. There are a lot of details. It is a very complicated matter to do with a lot of other interesting stories about it and what CREATED MINDSETS.
But, nevertheless, ah the Air Force ah they have been ah they felt ah used by the Navy the night before on a mission that was ah a false mission. Ah, there were no TARGET there they were sent out for and then they said we're not sending planes to you tell us you have A TARGET. So the Navy said okay, WE'VE GOT A TARGET.
So then, they ordered a flight that was coming back from combat at air patrol over the Suez Canal-And said on your way home, which is in fact-that was the way home. You know, it's an elbow there, and the planes that fly across that elbow. And the Liberty saw many planes flying back and forth. And just as from their perception, you know, the world revolves around us, many of the Liberty people thought, oh well, all those planes are there looking at us. I mean, there were many planes on many other missions.
But ah, in any event these people were told go to El Arish. There is an ENEMY SHIP THERE, If you find that enemy war ship, HIT IT. But be careful we've got three ships in the area. So, the plane went over with that much authority and even so he found the ships, HE SORTED THEM OUT. And he called back to headquarters and he talked to and make sure the three ships who are the Israeli ships and then when he was sure he wasn't attacking his own ships, which incidentally, in that 67 War, the Israeli forces attacked their own forces 18 times, in addition to this tragic incident. But ah then he began HIS ATTACK, AH, 12 TO 14 MINUTES INTO THE ATTACK, ah, as I mentioned, they called it off and developed the DOUBTS ABOUT THE IDENTIFICATION.
So that, who gave the order? It was sort of at A TACTICAL LEVEL, very operational level. Of course, the initial approval for the target was approved by the chief of the Air Force-send some planes over. And then it fell to the chief Air Controller. The chief of the Air Force was Mordechai Hod, and I mentioned him in the conclusion of my paper which I hope you'll read from the State Dept. He passed it over to Shmuel Kislev, who was the Chief Air Controller. The second Air Controller, I mean IT IS HARD TO SAY, THIS WAS A LUCKY DAY. But, if the Liberty had any luck that day, it was that Kislev took over from his deputy. The deputy said I got a flight of four Mirage 3 IIIs, armed with iron bombs heading south to bomb SAM sites along the canal. And, shall I send them TO THIS TARGET?
Now, you all probably recall the battle of Midway, when iron bombs of the U.S. Navy sank three Japanese air craft carriers in ten minutes, the fourth went down the following day. That is what iron bombs do to a ship. But Kislev said no, it is more important that you attack the SAM sites. Ah, if you have someone coming home to look at this. And, they found the flight that was running low on fuel and was ready to go home and sent them over. And, they were armed only with 30 caliber machine guns and ah a few 8 or 9 missiles as I understand it. The second flight that they called in from attacking armor in the Sinai. Did I say 30 caliber? I mean 30 millimeter cannon. The Super Mysteres, that came in were also armed with 30 millimeter cannon and each had two napalm canisters. Not the stuff you send out to sink a ship. And so I say if they had any luck that day it was that they didn't get attacked by iron bombs. It would have been a much worse tragedy than The terrible thing that happened, as it was. I don't know how much more time I have, ah, one more question.
Q-Unidentified Woman: May I ask a question? (Her voice was too low to pick up her exact question. It had to do with a Russian ship.)
A-Cristol: I've never heard that allegation. I'll be happy to if someone could send it to me. I'll be happy to research that. I do know that in the Liberty log at about 12:45 in the morning, after the Liberty had sailed away and was heading initially to (Can't Transcribe) Bay and ultimately diverted to Malta, where, ah, the Court of Inquiry was held. That, ah, the Liberty log, ah, that they passed a Russian merchant ship in the night and they couldn't positively identify it. They believe its name was 'Proletariat.' I can't pronounce the Russian.
And from that has grown stories that a Soviet destroyer came up to the Liberty offered help and said we will stand by with you, until more help arrives. Ah, that story identifies, I believe it is a Russian frigate no. 626. The problem with that story is that Russian frigate 626 is reported being along side the Sixth Fleet off of Crete on the day that the event occurred. And if that ship had got there at the time that it is reported to have come and offered help, it would have probably have been sailing about 120 knots which destroyers don't do. So that ship was there, but the (Can't Transcribe) got there at six in the morning. Even if they left all at the same time, they wouldn't have got there much before six in the morning. So, I have nothing to indicate that there is any substance to that story I would like to... Pardon, Mr. Kram, Mr. Kram is a survivor of the Liberty crew.
Q-Mark Kram (William M. Kram, a Petty Officer, USN, who survived the Liberty attack): One of the complaints of many of the crew members is that when we came off that ship WE COULD NOT TALK. AND THAT WENT ON FOR YEARS, UNTIL JIM ENNES WROTE HIS BOOK. And, at that time, we started to get together. NOBODY SEEMS TO WANT TO TALK TO US. NOBODY WANTED TO TAKE, AH, YOU KNOW, OUR... (Kram's question is cut off by Cristol.)
A-Cristol: I have been wanting to talk to anyone from the crew. Ah, ah, I, in spite of some popular announcements, I actually have some friends in the Liberty crew. Ah, not everyone there disagrees with me. Some people totally agree with me. Others violently disagree with me and think I'm their enemy. I'm not the crew's enemy. I tried to be AN AMATEUR HISTORIAN and call it as I saw it. But, I'm willing to talk any crew member, who wants to talk to me. I am willing to receive any piece of evidence. But normally Jim Ennes's pitch is- I'll march 50 people out there who will, 50 crew members who will swear that the attack was intentional. Well, that is a conclusion. I asked Ennes initially and he has never answered that letter. What evidence supports that conclusion? Tell Jim to send me some evidence.
Q-Mark Kram: You've just talked about planes flying back and forth. Yea, there were a lot of planes flying back and forth. But I can tell you there were planes that flew-MASTHEAD HEIGHT-over that ship, two or three times. I saw those planes. YOU COULD ALMOST SEE THE GUYS IN THE COCKPIT. I THINK WE WAVED TO THEM AND I BELIEVE THEY WAVED TO US. WELL, THERE WAS RECONNAISSANCE OF THAT SHIP... (Kram is again cut off by Cristol.)
A-Cristol: Well, that is a whole detailed SERIES OF BLUNDERS. There is no question that Israel identified it at 5:55 in the morning AS AN AMERICAN SHIP. THEY EVEN IDENTIFIED IT BY NAME later in the morning. That information got to Haifa, where it was down the hall from the ah command and control room in Naval Intelligence. A WEDGE WAS PUT ON THE BOARD IDENTIFYING THE LIBERTY.
AH, AT 11 AM, ah, Commander (Can't Transcribe), ORDERED IT OFF THE BOARD. He was brought before a court of inquiry on that question. Why did you do that? His answer was, ah, by the time I ordered it off, the information was five hours old. The ship was reported on a heading of 123 degrees, 70 miles west of ah Sinai, ah, I mean Gaza, doing 15 knots. Ah, if, ah, ships don't stay still and I thought it was proper to take it off the board.
And my research in Israel now, I find that in their computer system, once they put something on board, it can't come off. The computer won't allow anything that is on the board to come off. But, I mean that is good hindsight. BUT MISTAKES WERE MADE. THEY MADE SOME TERRIBLE MISTAKES. The examining judge issued a report detailing all of the facts and that report was sent to C&O and a personal copy was delivered by (Israeli) Ambassador (Can't Transcribe) to the number two man in the State Dept., Nicholas KATZENBACH. He read the report in (Can't Transcribe) presence. And, he said, it is really an excellent report, except for the last sentence.
And, the last sentence said that in consideration of the foregoing in time of war and the circumstances-We-while we were careless- perhaps not to have done a better job in identification-that it doesn't rise to the level of, ah, a criminal act for which there should be a court martial.
Ah, when in 1995, you may recall, we shot down with our F 15s, two Black Hawk helicopters in the Iraq No-Fly Zone. It was a clear day. They each had U.S. flags painted on them as big or bigger than the flags on the Liberty. And they were using the most modern identification friend and foe and they were being controlled by an AWAC aircraft-state of the art. And, still we killed 27. Ah, a Lt. Wang, who is up in the AWAC plane was court martialed for that event. And, after a very short court martial, he was acquitted. Ah, I mean in time of war, terrible, terrible things happen. As you may recall, in this campaign, we shot down two of our own planes and one British Tornado. Ah, just a short time ago, in Afghanistan, we killed a number of our Canadian friends for which they are still not happy with us.
Q-Doris Rausch: Why not let him say WHAT HIS EXPERIENCES WERE?
A-Cristol: Well, I though he just did!
Q-Mark Kram: Well, I was on the radio with the ah, Judge the other night. It would take a long time to tell you my experiences...
A-Cristol: We spent two hours on that program. Didn't we?
Q-Mark Kram: Clyde is here (Petty Officer Clyde W. Way, USN). He has different experiences. We worked in different places on the ship. I can tell you steadfastly that since the very beginning, THE ONLY GROUP WHO HAS STUCK TO THEIR STORY, IS THE LIBERTY CREW. THE LIBERTY CREW FOR THE MOST PART BELIEVES IT (THE ATTACK) WAS DELIBERATE and has steadfastly said that and has facts about the attack, things that were happening that tend, that make us believe so. For instance, you talk about shelling. Well, we had four 50 caliber machine guns-THOSE MACHINE GUNS WERE TAKEN OUT IN ON THE VERY FIRST FLIGHT OVER. THEY KNEW WHERE THE GUNS WERE WHEN THEY ATTACKED US, BUT THEY SAY THEY COULDN'T SEE OUR FLAG. I KNEW THE FLAG WAS THERE. I SAW THE FLAG THERE... (Cristol cuts Kram off.)
A-Cristol: Mark, well if you read on the board out there, (in the hallway outside of the auditorium), Captain McGonagle, ordered the guns to fire on the Liberty and he had a video tape explaining that he did make that order. But, I would say this, ah that I had an interesting two hours with you and I'm willing to answer any more of your questions that you want to submit. And, I believe, I think, I
believe I'm way over time...
Q-Mark Kram. Can I say one more thing? Mr. Oren on Monday, (Jan. 12th at the State Dept.) who certainly believes as stated, who the Israelis state, that it was an accident. And at the very end, he said let's have an investigation. Stafford said let's have an investigation. Would you be willing to say, LET'S HAVE AN INVESTIGATION?
A-Cristol: Well, if you look on my web site, you can see seven investigations scanned in- in their original form. If you look at them and you think they are not adequate, then, if there is someone who wants to do another one, ah, ah, the point is its 36 years later. Ah, President Bush, our present President Bush, in a letter, dated Oct. 2, of last year said that he thought the investigations were, it was signed by Christopher (Can't Transcribe) on his staff, for the president, said that he thought that the investigations were adequate. And, that no further investigations were necessary.
And then, thereafter, Rumsfeld (Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense), was questioned at a press conference, and he said, ah, to that question- Well, it really is too late for an additional investigation, since many of the people are deceased. All the evidence is really here and it is really now a matter for the...
In any event, I have to concur with Gen. Hod as a closing remark. General Hod, when I first approached him to talk about this, he said I don't want to talk about it. I said, why not? He said the families and the survivors have suffered enough. I don't want to disturb an old wound.
Q-Mark Kram: We're still suffering...
A-Cristol: You do and you have my sympathy, respect and honor. But, I said, General, let me tell you some of the stories that are being told. And he listened. He said, why they are gross distortions of the truth. All right, I will talk with you. I can make it available to you. And so, I agree with General Hod, If it gives any comfort to you to believe that it was an intentional attack, then accept that comfort and make your life easier. But if you're a historian, who wants to look at the facts, than look at all the facts they are available: They are in my book, in my dissertation in the library of Congress. They are on my web site. They are in the State Dept. volume.
And, ah, read all the facts and come to your own conclusion. And, ah, I hope that some day THERE WILL BE KOSHER AND PEACE, but some people say, ah, ah, that it may never happen.
1. The above was transcribed by William Hughes from an audio tape.
2. In some instances, Cristol's words couldn't be heard and/or clearly understood, and an explanation to that effect, "Can't Transcribe," was inserted into the record.
4. One question from a woman in the audience, dealing with a Russian ship, couldn't be transcribed at all, since her voice was too low.
5. Additional information was provided by this writer, in parenthesis, when Cristol only used the last name of an individual in his remarks, if he was referring to a USS Liberty crew member or an NSA civilian. This technique was also used when Cristol, or a party asking a question, referred to things outside the auditorium room or to the proceedings at the State Department Conference, in DC, which were held, on Monday, Jan. 12, 2004, or, when Cristol made an obvious mistake, like when he called the "Baltimore Sun" newspaper, the "Baltimore Times."
6. In some situations, upper case type was used by this writer for emphasis purposes only.
© William Hughes 2004
William Hughes is the author of "Saying 'No' to the War Party" (Iuniverse, Inc.), which is available at For descriptive purposes only, he is a former Associate City Solicitor for Baltimore and Chief of its Litigation Division. Hughes can be reached at:




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