Thursday, July 30, 2009


[NATO Sneak-Behind Armies series]
Adam Larson / Caustic Logic
July 31 2009 - incomplete

Here I offer a general overview of key events tangled up, allegedly at least, in the epic tragedy of NATO’s “sneak-behind armies” – the manipulation of Europe’s Cold War politics by Right Wing violence to keep the West safely away from the Left. These activities are widely believed to emerge from NATO “stay-behind” resistance cadres – whose job was to wait for a Soviet invasion – activated by CIA schemes and allegedly kept quite busy in the meantime. For the moment, I’m relying on two primary resources from the same source: Dr. Daniele Ganser’s NATO’s Secret Armies [Frank Cass, London, 2005], for some details, and for the skeleton a timeline compiled by Ganser I believe, for the Zurich-based Parallel History Project on Cooperative Security (PHP), supported by International Relations and Security Network (ISN). ISN is, in turn, part of the Zurich-based Center for Security Studies, at which Dr. Ganser is a senior researcher.

Collectively, this Swiss analysis seems a well-researched and a reasonable take, if slanted a bit to the left and against the United States and NATO. This is fine by me, and probably closer to the truth than the official disavowals of all links to the terrorist stuff. This instinct leads to an inclusive approach to research, possibly providing some chaff with the wheat. This too is fine as I like information and have my own filters (whch are currently at work, not finished). Here then is a broad sweep, in three phases, of the related events of 1947 to 1990. My source is usually the timeline, with uncited supporting details from various parts of Ganser’s book, with a few other internet sources linked where they appear.

GROUND RULES: 1947-1960
The story’s roots go back well into World War II and even further back, but really started becoming clear in 1947, as President Truman laid out his containment doctrine in March and the National Security State emerged with the September act of that name. The resultant Central Intelligence Agency ushered in its covert action section called Office of Policy Coordination, which was soon organizing existing Conservative/Monarchist/Fascist activists in Europe. These would in strict secrecy form networks of trustworthy “religious” types overseen by the respective nation’s Secret Services, which in turn maintained links to the CIA and the British foreign intelligence service MI6. Hidden weapon and supply caches and radio communication systems were the primary infrastructure set up in each nation.

The Anglo-American Trans-Atlantic consensus rolled ahead, expanded to the concept of the Western Union with “Free” Europe, ranged against the Soviet Bloc. This pre-NATO union operated from Paris with its “Clandestine Committee” (WUCC) created in 1948 to oversee the continent-wide stay-behind system. The following year, the union solidified around the North Atlantic Treaty into NATO, still based in Paris, and the WUCC was absorbed and renamed Clandestine Planning Committee (CPC).

Ironically, it was in France that one of the earliest stay-behind armies was exposed in late June 1947, when Interior Minister Edouard Depreux revealed the existence of a secret army codenamed “Plan Bleu” (as in, opposite of Red). This had envisioned a military coup to bring DeGaulle to power and sideline all leftist tendencies, and planning was well-along, with American and British support, before it was busted up. The stay-behind army Rose De Vents, French for “compass rose,” which is of course NATO’s logo, was formed within the SDECE military police following the scandal, keeping the network alive and again concealed. The government continued on wobbling left and right as is natural, until in 1958 a similar “Operation Resurrection” was organized, with the support of Rose de Vents, to replace the soft Fourth Republic with a right-wing state under De Gaulle. This time the government quietly surrendered and invited the change, thus leaving the coup d’etat unrealized.

The post-war ideological battle was uniquely pitched in France at the time, as it was in Italy, where the US had been recruiting the likes of the Fascist “black prince” Borghese for years, and spent 1947-48 pumping tens of millions into manipulation and dirty tricks for the anti-Communist campaigns for the 1948 national elections. This succeeded and left Italy solidly in the Right/NATO camp, to be kept there by complex networks operating largely through the CIA-linked P2 faux-Masonic lodge. Italy would in the years ahead become the main battlefield of the Left-Right secret wars of the European Cold War; sometimes involving the Italian mafia and/or the Vatican among the usual suspects, it tops the heap for both mind-boggling intrigue and deadly violence.

With the full, cold weight of East Germany pressing next door, West Germany had no allowable possibility of Communist leaning, and so the West’s networks there pulled out the stops following World war II. Intelligence types made contacts with useful former Nazis, including Clause Barbie, Reinhard Gehlen, etc. among other measures, so that well before NATO membership in 1955, West Germany’s government was in no way neutral. The original German equivalent of Gladio was known as BDJ-TD (Bund Deutscher Jugend – technical division), set up by other former Nazis, including Col. Gunther Bernau. This was trained, equipped, funded, and at least indirectly commanded by the CIA, and promised full protection from domestic and international law to any of its members accused of illegal acts.

The Iberian peninsula – Spain and Portugal – presented an unusual situation. Their long-running strong-man regimes were of the same Fascist camp as Germany and Italy had been, but they had managed to remain officially neutral during World War II. In the Cold War, context, onetime liabilities were suddenly clear assets, as in Germany and Italy. Spain’s surviving General Franco was given the blessing by NATO to keep ruling, and Spain was treated as a partner, but not allowed to join until 1982, after his death and a democratization process. Portugal however, under 36-year dictator Antonio Salazar, managed to become a NATO member immediately in 1949, but was never blessed with a domestic stay-behind army of the kind used elsewhere to keep governments in check. Spain’s president in 1981-82 Calvo Sotelo said after the 1990 revelations why there was no Spanish Gladio equivalent; "the regime itself was Gladio." This probably applies to Portugal as well, and thus Iberia had the trust to escape the leash and was used as a secure platform to support operations across the continent. The paths between violence-ridden Rome and Rightist safe-Haven Madrid is perhaps the heaviest trodden of the secret wars.

Not all the networks became violent or very disruptive, however; a Swedish stay-behind network was in operation by 1951 at latest, despite Sweden’s official neutrality and NATO non-member status. This was based on a Nazi-affiliated wartime model called Svealborg, operating under that same name and original director Otto Hallberg. William Colby, later CIA director, from Stockholm oversaw the training of stay-behind armies in neutrals Sweden and Finland, both of which were shut down early on, and the enduring branches for Norway and Denmark. By 1953, Swedish police arrested Sveaborg’s leader, and the network was partly unraveled, but Hallberg himself was let off the hook and it seems likely operations continued.

In a bizarre and devastating turn for the network’s fortune, in Germany, 1952, a former SS officer Hans Otto just walked into the police station in Frankfurt and ratted out the BDJ-TD network he’d become sickened with. He revealed all their secrets, their HQ location, their CIA links represented by a “Mr. Garwood.” Their bases raided and many arrested, it was found the Technical Division gang had been compiling lists of Leftists to exterminate on an unspecified “Day X.” The local government was furious, as many of its members were on the hit lists. The BDJ-TD was shut down, but apparently re-constituted, and ultimately those arrested were found not guilty, under pressure from the national government in Bonn. Likewise, operations apparently continued in some other name, spawning minor violence in the coming years.

In 1957, quieter troubles surfaced in Norway, where secret service director Vilhelm Evang, known as soft on the Left, protested to NATO about the “domestic subversion” of his country by this stay-behind system, and pulled his nation from the CPC until persuaded back. All these frictions in the stay-behind network’s first decade had the potential to bring it all down. The system remained intact though, simply re-forming where needed and hiding all new secrets. The friction may have contributed to the creation of a new system for managing the system, ushered in with NATO’s 1958 founding of the Allied Clandestine Committee (ACC) to coordinate their secret warfare under cover of doomsday planning. This system continued churning out the controversy over the following decades, but with renewed secrecy and then with a greater confidence, zeal, scope, and death toll.

In general NATO’s stay-behind system made steady gains in non-Atlantic Southern Europe in the 1960s. In Italy the Gladio network was heavily involved in “a silent coup d’état” called Piano (Plan) Solo - the military police persuaded all Socialist Ministers out of the government with a convincing show of military force. To the east of Italy, Greece and Turkey had their stay-behinds approved and were admitted to NATO in 1952. In Turkey, the CIA et al. Were impressed with the anti-communist potential of the imperialist/racist ideology of Pan-Turkism, as espoused by leaders of the 1960 military coup - supported by the secret army “Counter-Guerilla” - that had Prime Minister Adnan Menderes killed.

In 1964 In Greece Socialist George Pompandreous managed to take the Prime Minister slot despite being cheated of it in a 1961 CIA-supported vote-rigging operation. Soon he was trying to disassemble secret networks he found to be fused irremovably to the CIA. Instead he was removed in 1967, with a fierce and sweeping military coup d’état – involving the Greek stay-behind army Hellenic Raiding Force. The powerful Greek Left was punished for its intransigence in making Pompandreous possible with what Ganser describes as “a regime of imprisonment and torture, the like of which had not been seen in Western Europe since the end of the Second World War,” and which lasted for seven years before succumbing to a renewed revolt.

1966 also witnesses the creation, in Salazar’s Portugal, of “Aginter Press” which under the direction of French schemer Captain Yves Guerin Serac studied techniques of subversion, propaganda, bomb-making, network building to disseminate the skills to where needed. It was Aginter’s network that primarily solidified the overt notion of the “strategy of tension,” to disguise the acts of violence as Communist to turn the public against them and towards the real bombers. Within a few years they were killing resistance leaders in Portuguese Mozambique, working for Spain’s secret police, training Italians in bomb-making, liaising with their accomplished colleagues in rightist Greece, etc, thus raising the tension of the general political climate of Europe as the 60s slipped into the 70s.

But in NATO’s heartland – France – the decade went quite less smoothly. April 1961 had seen plotters within the French military with stay-behind-links and alleged CIA support, launch their concerted effort to alter president DeGaulle’s plans to surrender Algeria. The new Organisation Armee Secrete (OAS) takes over in Algiers in April, aiming for Paris next, the OAS insurgency brought the country near to civil war, but was gradually crushed by Paris and fully surrendered in March 1962; along with recognition of Algeria’s independence, the Algier Francaise scene faded, but its ideologues would carry on - like Guerin Serac (real name Guillou) who would help establish Aginter Press.

Perhaps aware of the American role in the networks that were plotting against him, or of other such interfere with France’s sovereignty DeGaulle started enacting policies that CIA felt were “paralyzing NATO” in Europe as early as 1961. Within five years it had come to a head, and in March 1966 the President dramatically canceled the country’s NATO membership, and ordered its headquarters to leave his soil. They complied and moved camp to neighboring Belgium. The stay-behind coordinating ACC was code-named SDRA 11, fused within the Belgian military secret service SGR based right next to NATO. They have never had to move again, thankfully. It must be quite embarrassing.

The mid-1960s saw secrets slipping as well, but compared to the gains, it seems the secret armies were running a tight ship. The timeline I’m citing here reports on NATO’s move to Brussels, “secret NATO protocols are revealed that allegedly protect right-wingers in anti-communist stay-behind armies.” In 1968 a British MI6 agent working with the stay-behind network in neutral Sweden willingly reveals secrets to the KGB. The first stay-behind arms caches in neutral Austria – 34 locations – were found by police in 1965, based on info they somehow forced from British MI6 agents who knew where they were.

Then one of the more ominous moments; on December 12 1969 a bank bombing at the Piazza Fontana in Milan killed sixteen ordinary people, mostly farmers; along with three other bombings in Italy the same day and an un-detonated fourth (C4, usually American) the brazen attack was quickly blamed on the Italian Left. During a 1990s trial, General Maletti, former head of Italian counter-intelligence, “claims that the massacre had been carried out by the Italian stay-behind army and right wing terrorists,” as the timeline puts it, “on the orders of the US secret service Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in order to discredit the Italian Communists.”

This was but the opening shot of the Italy’s nightmare, the fiercest years of the secret wars with an overall estimate of 490 killed between late 1969 and 1980. A year after the Piaza Fontana bombings, in December 1970 a coup d’etat led by Fascist luminary Valerio Borghese, supported by the Gladio networks, was only called off at the last minute under mysterious circumstances. On May 31 1972 a booby-trapped car exploded near the village Peteano killing three police officers; the terror fell on May Day, and insiders planted false leads implicating the local Communists, causing a crackdown and setbacks for their agendas. The crime was later traced, however, back to right-wing terrorists including Vincenzo Vinciguerra, who had fled to Spain with the help of the Italian secret services. He would be arrested, as such men often were, but he returns to our story in the 1980s. In 1974 two more massacres “during an anti-fascist demonstration" and "in the Rome to Munich train “Italicus Express”, kill 20 and wound well over 100, the timeline says. I’m not sure if these were also blamed on Communists but it was getting tense, resembling some kind of civil war.

It was in October 1974 that Italy’s legal system managed to push back at the right spot; General Vito Miceli, chief of the military secret service SID and prominent P2 member, was arrested in relation to the 1970 Borghese coup attempt. Perhaps intending to awe the court, he revealed that “it was the United States and NATO who asked me” to establish his “super SID,” which was involved in the coup. (The full quote varies, often a little misleading – later post). Miceli was acquitted in 1978 but at least one secret had slipped out, and the episode also spurred parliamentary moves to restructure and rein in the secret services. Gladio’s capabilities were thus limited, but the floating freelance terrorists beyond them were still at large.

In Denmark the secret stay-behind army Absalon tried in 1974 to block some Leftist academics from “becoming members of the directing body of the Danish Odense University,” but failed to do so, and somehow in the melee, “the secret army is exposed.” They never had much luck in the north, but in general the Iberian peninsula remained stable and strongly in NATO’s right hand. However in 1974 an unusual popular revolution (of the flowers) rocked Portugal and Salazar’s regime was overthrown. In the process Aginter Press and other NATO secret operations were shut down. Related operatives and operations moved to Spain before the new government could nab them, and from 1975 on cooperated with Franco against Basque separatists and Communists, as with the 1977 Atocha massacre.

In the mid-1970s, the Italian parliament, to smooth tensions with the large and permanently locked out Italian communist party, made moves to allow some Communists to join the government. This option unacceptable to the Italian Right, or to Washington and NATO, but it rolled ahead under MP and former President Aldo Moro. In 1978 Moro was taken hostage in Rome by “an armed secret unit” as the PHP timeline puts it, and killed 55 days later. The murder fits the motives of the secret armies, but the government enthusiastically blamed the Leftist Red Brigades, and cracked down hard. That story makes no sense, but fits perfectly with the Rightist “strategy of tension,” which was working.

Perhaps due to this encouragement, he terror continued to escalate into the worst single atrocity of the decades-long secret war; in August 1980 a massive bomb ripped apart a waiting room at the Bologna railway station, killing 85 and seriously injuring and maiming a further 200. It remains unknown, and one of the biggest questions, what full links Gladio had to the Bologna massacre. A later Italian Senate investigation found some evidence the explosives were from a cache established for the secret army. Perhaps for a bit of camouflage, this one was not blamed on Leftists but on less favored Right-Wing extremists, who probably had no access to Gladio’s stocks, and in turn claimed to be framed by Licio Gelli of the CIA-linked P2 Masonic Lodge, but were jailed anyway and remain there now. Aginter co-founder Delle Chiaie had been charged with association, but the charges were dropped. An Italian judge decades later charged Gelli with criminal diversion is the case.

Following the 1971 Turkish military coup d’état against Demirel’s center-Right regime, with the help of the stay-behind army Counter-Guerrilla. This network continued under state tutelage to kill hundreds in domestic terrorism; for example, in 1977 their gunmen killed 38 at a demonstration in Istanbul. Somewhere in there things were deemed to have slid into softness and in 1980 the commander of Counter-Guerrilla launched a successful coup to re-gain tighter control. Just as the violence against actual Communists in actual Europe was dying down things continued to stay brutal here; during the mid-1980s the stay behind army worked on answers to Turkey’s “Kurdish question,” killing and torturing thousands of suspected separatists.

The late 70s and early 80s saw revelations of the network increasing; In 1976 the German secret service BND secretary Heidrun Hofer was arrested for sharing secrets of the German stay-behind army with her husband. Her husband was apparently a spy for the KGB. Oops. The Norwegian police discover a stay-behind arms ache in 1978, leading to the arrest of Hans Otto Meyer who reveals the Norwegian secret army. In 1983 Dutch hikers near the village of Velp discover a large arms cache, a finding that led to the government admitting that the arms were related to NATO “unorthodox warfare” plans for the Netherlands. Other such remote arsenals were being used before X-day - In October 1980 gunmen at a Munich festival killed 13 and wounded hundreds of German civilians; a large weapons cache allegedly used by the right-wing assailants – later believed of the Gladio network - was discovered the following year near the village of Uelzen.

In 1984 Italy right-wing terrorist Vincenzo Vinciguerra, on trial for the Peteano bombing of ‘72, reveals the Gladio secret army and its networks in great detail to Judge Felice Casson. Vinciguerra’s testimony remains perhaps the most vivid single summation of the alleged patterns of NATO/CIA manipulation: "You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game,” and convince them the danger came from the Left and the Right was their only salvation. After so describing the “strategy of tension,” Vinciguera was successfully sentenced to life and imprisoned. This time, the charges were NOT dropped. By 1984 the violence in Italy had mellowed from previous years, though not quite stopped for another year or two.

From 1982-1985, a series of brutal and terrifying armed attacks shocked NATO HQ’s host nation Belgium. The usual target was a supermarket in the Brabant region near Brussels, where supremely confident masked men started strafing shoppers, and freely engaging any police who dared show up. They usually targeted the same store chain (Delhaize) always escaped and were never caught, but sparked a heightened state of security and associated mindsets across the nation. The worst was November 9, 1985 – a pre-Christmas holiday there - in which 28 were killed and scores injured. The PHP timeline explains "investigations link the terror to a conspiracy among the Belgian stay-behind SDRA8, the Belgian Gendarmerie SDRA6, the Belgian right-wing group Westland New Post, and the Pentagon secret service Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).” Wow. This one I’ll have to look into. Whatever the case, the tough mindset adopted after the St. Martin’s Day massacre apparently caused the terror to go away, and no more attacks followed.

As Cold War tensions relaxed in the latter 1980s amid reforms in the USSR and Warsaw Pact, the PHP timeline shows no entries at all for years 1986, 87, 88, or 89. Things were certainly happening, but it was subtle, perhaps just sleep and maintenance mode. The ACC was still meeting in Brussels, and no one can say just what they were thinking, there had to be more uncertainty than before just how needed they would remain. In the autumn of 1989, the majority of Eastern Europe went through a string of revolutions, shaking off the Soviet cloak and toppling the iron curtain. Borders were re-drawn, countries re-named, and NATO given massive room for expansion as the Warsaw Pact dissolved. The wave of reform somehow echoed back on the Soviet Union itself in tsunami proportions – Gorbachev’s hope for New World Order was eclipsed by the end of the USSR itself, creating fifteen new nations and yet more room for the “North Atlantic” gang’s grasp.

At this point, any reason for the stay-behind network to exist should have been seriously reviewed, to say the least. Those who knew the Gladiators were there in the shadows may have wondered if the network would die in secret or grow and fester there in some different form. The question was most acute in Italy, where the worst violence was but a decade past. Judge Casson, who was already thinking along Gladio lines after dealing with Vinciguera in 1984, was again perusing military intelligence archives when his luck changed, due to a decision at Italy’s highest level. In January 1990, Casson applied to search a previousy top-secret military archive in Rome. Perhaps well-knowing the danger, Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti granted the request in July. Casson quickly found a document naming Gladio as the network, givng clues to its NATO sponsorship, and the existence of other armies in across Europe.

With specifics in hand, Judge Casson was set to blow it all up. He passed this on to a parliament committee looking into the origins of the terrorism, and they in turn persuaded PM Andreoti to announce the news publicly. Having previously lied to cover up Gladio operations in the 1970s, he stood before the parliament on August 3 and explained the basic clean version of Gladio’s existence. He denied any link to the terrorist stuff – they only waited for war, he said. In Belgium the Allied Clandestine Committee met for the last time on October 23 and 24 to discuss the new realities of their loss of mission and of cover. As the meeting was happening, Andreotti repeated his revelation and explained they were still active and in congress at that moment in Brussels. NATO denied any stay-behind networks on November 5, then shifted back to their usual “neither confirm nor deny mode.”

The world media was immediately distracted with the Gulf War, but eventually pursued the story, searching out answers in the capitols of Europe in the last months of 1990 and to a lesser extent over the following years. Various public and private investigations turned up many clues, forming much of the timeline preceding . Many gaps remain. The program in neutral (non-NATO) countries of Finland, Sweden, Austria, and Switzerland is especially sensitive. Colonel Herbert Alboth promised to tell “the whole truth” of the Swiss secret stay-behind army P26 he once commanded, but instead fell on his own sword – repeatedly - and was found dead “stabbed with his own military bayonet.”

Within the year, based on whatever evidence, hunches, and common sense, the parliament of the European Union issued a resolution sharply condemning NATO and the United States for steering European politics with the stay-behind network. Of the involved nations, the US and UK remain the tightest-lipped. NATO continued to say nothing, the CIA refused to cooperate either with the National Security Archive’s FOIA requests or those of Dr. Ganser, or anyone else. Additional clues continued to surface from time to time. London’s Imperial War Museum in 1995 did ackowledge in an exhibit ("Secret Wars") MI6 and SAS involvement in forming stay-behinds across Western Europe following World War II. But officially, nothing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Adam Larson / Caustic Logic
[USS Liberty series]
July 21 2009
last update 7/29/09

As a side-note to my little investigation, and a cautionary note about double-checking your sources, I’ll relate an episode surrounding IDF transcripts of the air attack on USS Liberty<>, as published in the Jerusalem Post in 2004. Writer Arieh O’Sullivan had been granted a special session to hear the tapes as well as keep and publish paper transcripts, a privilege shared with but a few others, like Miami judge A. Jay Cristol. The article is only openly available on the internet in places like this discussion forum post, where I first found it. I had first relied on this version but found – as is common in fruit - the juiciest spot was also the most rotten. The placement of a key quote seemed to support the fighters at the scene spotting and reporting the US flag on Liberty - it emerged as a discrepancy when I was comparing Judge Cristol’s transcript to the Post’s and found two major differences about two minutes apart, graphed out below.






L.K.: What is that? Americans?

LK What is this? Americans?


Shimon: What Americans?

X[not included]X


Kislev: Robert, what did you say?

KISLEV Robert, what are you saying?


[No one answers]

(quickly disregarding the comment, Kislev moves on)







Shimon: Robert, have Royal call us on 19.

SHIMON Robert, have Royal call us on 19.


Robert: Royal to you on 19.

ROBERT Royal to you on 19.


X[not included]X

SHOMON Where are Americans?


Shimon: Just a minute Kislev, we see the ship [on radar]. That’s one hell of a ship.

SHIMON Just a second, Kislev, we see the ship. (on radar) That's one hell of a ship.


The obvious point to note up-front here is that each transcript is missing exactly one line that’s in the other, and the two lines are quite similar – “what” compared to “where are” Americans. It’s quite possible this is just some error or misplacement of a line that fits better earlier in response to LK’s “hunch,” which I’ve pondered on elsewhere. O’Sullivan’s entry there has Shimon misspelled as “Shomon,” for what it’s worth. A sign of sloppy tampering?

Once I had thought out the implications, this lead became so exciting I included it in the oiginal Telex and Tapes part III. I never felt right about taking this at face value, and my main point was to just explain what the IDF’s evidence shows, vis-a-vis the flag. They insist it shows they had no such report, but it seemed the opposite was true! So I got a bit gung-ho as I was actually writing the post and went ahead and included the point so:
[the quote comes] immediately after talking to Royal flight, the second wave attackers at the scene, in an unheard exchange. […] I already noted no flag reports unless they were on another line. And here is just such a moment, about a minute into the air attack when the pilots first got up close, and the first response is “where are Americans?” According to one of the versions, at least.

With the proper qualifiers it went up and then I checked it out. Good thing, since the evidence was false. Other on-line postings of the article from Free Republic and United Jerusalem do not have the “error” - the line is in the right spot at 13:54, and not at 56. The misspelled “Shomomn” label, however, is attached to the entry in this version as well.

In each case the story’s title is given as “Exclusive: Liberty attack tapes revealed,” credited to Arieh O'Sullivan and dated Jun. 3, 2004. When I finally took the time and a few bucks to get a direct copy from the Jpost archive, I found no article of that title. The archive is supposed to have everything they’ve printed, but this version is missing. In its place is a slightly different article, by O’Sullivan, under a different name and published the next day. "Liberty revisited: the attack," published June 4, 2004 (partial re-post here).

I didn’t compare them top-to-bottom, but intro wording is slightly different, the all-caps labels were dropped, and “Shomon” has been changed to the correct spelling. I didn’t compare the transcripts closely, but my main question was answered. Apparently the first article had a typo that was fixed, along with other minor tweaks, with a second printing the next day.

And some jackass switched the order of certain potent lines in the first version to create some fake evidence for someone to latch onto. Forum member big80a2, or someone he/she trusts, got this important line scrambled to just the right wrong spot in what cannot be considered a plausible accident. This poster specifically felt that despite this curiously potent line “these tapes prove it was a onfurtune mistake.” I don’t know how widely this ruse worked, but it got me for a bit. Sort of.

By placing Shimon’s question in the right spot, all the non-altered versions leave no audible record on Shimon’s talk with Royal flight or responses. A remaining point still stands about this transaction. Cristol noted: “At this time Royal is on another channel (frequency). Royal is arguing with his controller about the fact that he is carrying napalm, not iron bombs.] It’s not clear how he knows that’s what the argument was about. As far as we know, Mr Shimon really did hear about a flag and ask about Americans, or conspicuously ignore the info and demand attack. We don’t know what was said, as there’s been no evidence revealed, that channel was either not recorded or not included in these tapes, for some reason.

Update 7/29: I was just looking at my link to the erred posting, as provided at top, and it is not in error now. I searched and found another posting of the same article by a different member at the same forum, thinking maybe that's the one I cited, but it too is correct. I know the one I copied had the error, and it was still there as i was writing my article, but now I'm not sure which one it was - the second actually looks more familiar. Whatever the case, it was changed back just recently after five years of being wrong, so probably due to this exposure.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


THE FINAL WORD: 2001-2007
Adam Larson / Caustic Logic
[USS Liberty series]
July 8 2009, last update 7/31

Apparently spurred by the Bamford/Nowicki revalations about recorded intercepts of the Liberty attack (as covered in part two), Judge A. Jay Cristol moved to have any such tapes declassified, He was probably confident they would show what he knew the IDF communications to show (as covered in part three) – the attackers had no idea they were attacking an American vessel, and all IDF parties missed the U.S. flag until well after they had stopped “screwing her.” Cristol filed a FOIA request with the National Security Agency (NSA) in April 2001 for release of any transmissions, on the day of the attack, to or from USS Liberty, USS Amberjack (submarine, long story), or the EC-121 everyone was talking about at the time. [1]

The judge gave them nearly two years before deciding the agency had “failed to comply” and he launched a lawsuit, via the U.S. District Court for Southern Florida, in January 2003. [2] This was sufficient to jar things loose; after a brief back-and-forth over details of the request, successful declassification was announced by the NSA’s Director of Policy on July 2 2003. Searches for the first two, anything from the ephemeral Amberjack or from spy ship Liberty (verified to be near the attack) revealed “no records responsive.” However the then-secret agency did manage to gather some intel from the plane, on tapes they still had around. These were declassified, and sent to Cristol in original audio and translated transcripts. [3] These amazing primary source materials arrived only after his book had been printed, but he was missing less than you might think - the 2003 release is far more noteworthy for what it doesn’t clarify than what it does.

The tapes are of voice communications, in Hebrew, and cover the time frame 1429 to 1519 local time. The start point of 2:29pm is about 15 minutes after the air attackers left, and six minutes before the MTBs fired their torpedoes. Thus it starts within “the attack” time span, and ends at 15:19, a few minutes after the flag was reported by the helicopters. The 50 minutes of audio between is only of talk between the “Super Frelon” helicopters and their IAF controllers at Hazor Airfield. These two birds were never involved in the attack and only arrived well after it was done to assess the situation and offer any help needed (opinions on the type of "help" intended differ). Most of the intercept is long, dull stretches of “are we there yet?” “Where are you?” “We’re over here” type chatter. Both audio (.wav) and transcripts (.pdf) are available for download here.

The tapes do show, on this limited level, an apparent confusion about the nationality of the crew, perhaps reflecting the back-and-forth between the "hunches" of some and the heedlessness of others. En route Hazor tells them the target is an Egyptian warship, and then and Egyptian supply ship. Then some doubt becomes evident just before they got on the scene; since there was supposedly “no flag on her!” it was to imperative to figure out where they came from. It was decided that only pulling survivors from the water or landing on the ship and interrogating them would do, and both options were discussed. English or Arabic were the specified languages to listen for. Someone was always wondering about "Americans," even though they supposedly had no reason to (see hunch link and part three) until after the flag was seen. But here it starts just before.

Upon arrival, the first helicopter reports the hull number again as “CTR-5” (which still meant "noting") and no visible flag, while the second apparently reported the American flag. This must occur somewhere a little before 15:12 (around 22:50 in the audio of tape 105). Although he’s present earlier describing the scene, and does seem to confirm with the controller after this, the pilot is not to be heard actually reporting a flag, on the audio or paper versions. Preceding the flag talk is at least two minutes of the controller talking one-way with no audible input from the helicopters. At 13:10:06 he warns the pilots to “watch out for the mast there,” which is where the flag should be seen. No response. Twenty seconds later he tells the lead pilot “take 810 with you, you’re both returning home.” Again no pilot response is heard. Thirty-six seconds later Hazor says, per the transcript:

13:12:03 Hazor: RGR, QSL, I understand.
13:12:08 Hazor: RGR, understand. Did you clearly identify an American flag?
13:12:13 Hazor: Thanks (Toda), stay over the area for now.

After an eight-second pause, the pilots finally pipe in, with the distinctive “choppy” chopper signal.
13:12:21 Pilot: [unknown statement, 3 sec, transcribed as “(CL)”]
13:12:31 Pilot: [unknown question, 1.5 sec, as “(CL)”]
13:12:36 Hazor: [answer, question, as “(CL)”]
13:12:40 Pilot: [short answer, not transcribed]
13:12:41 Hazor: They request that you make another pass and check once again whether it is really an American flag.
13:12:45 Pilot: RGR.

As on paper, the question in voce “did you clearly identify an American flag?” (22:59 in the wav audio) seems to come from nowhere. He was already aware that English might be spoken on the ship, and had seemingly heard nothing about such a sign, or anything at all, from the birds on the scene. Was he asking them to go ahead and verify the question scrawled on a napkin and slipped to him, after switching their channel back on? Sometimes these tapes sound more like ritual than reality.

This release by NSA at the least failed to specifically contradict the IDF’s story that only the helicopter pilots spotted the flag. It supports it indirectly, in that the Hazor controller was certainly privy to no conclusive American ID, although he had the notion. However, the public had yet to see the rest of the recordings, the parts with the actual attack, during which the flag was also mentioned (according to the preponderance of American witnesses). Left hanging, different people drew different conclusions.

One side claimed, as they always have, that the issue was now closed. Judge Cristol told CNN in July "I don't think there's any question that anyone who reads these tapes would be absolutely convinced there was the fog of war out there […] I think this is probably the most important link in the evidence that ought to bring closure to this matter," Cristol said. [5] Somewhat more mildly, Israeli Embassy spokesman Mark Regev told CNN the tapes served as "further evidence that the Liberty incident was a terrible and tragic case of mistaken identity." [6] A July 9 Ha'aretz article, widely re-printed, was poorly titled "U.S. agency confirms sinking of USS Liberty was accident." [7]

Proof that it wasn’t fully sunk, Liberty survivor and early revisionist James Ennes, wrote in September that the ship’s crew “were pleased when we learned in June that apologists for our attackers had asked the federal courts to order the release of key intercept transcripts compiled during the attack.” He was confident that such tapes “would prove our case and disprove that of the apologists,” but “instead of releasing transcripts of the attack itself,” the NSA only put out tapes of the helicopters that “came afterward to clean up,” as he ambiguously describes their mission. [8]

Ennes finds that “nothing in the documents released suggests that [the attack] was an accident.” [9] To be fair, the tapes do show apparent confusion vis-a-vis the ship’s nationality, and other IDF records generally line up on the same confusion, with Soviet thrown into the mix at least at one point. [10] To me it’s exactly this confusion that makes no sense, given the broad sweep of ignorance required, making it less “fog of war” than “super-dense thunderhead of war.” Far more blinding, that, but it requires special conditions to form.

Even accepting the confusion in these tapes as genuine, characterizing it as proving the accidental attack theory is both misleading and common. “To our astonishment,” Ennes wrote, perhaps sarcastically, “the pro-Israel PR team put their own false spin on what was released. […] This false account was […] repeated as established fact - often with quotes from Chief Apologist A. Jay Cristol, proclaiming victory.” [11] A Baltimore Sun article from July 16 published some Cristol’s triumphant proclamations:
“[Cristol] says the recordings support his conclusion that the Israeli attackers had no idea they were targeting a U.S. vessel. […] "these tapes contain nothing showing that the attack was deliberate […] to me at least, they show it was a mistake […] nothing more of significance [remains] to be found. I think it will settle the matter for all but that 2 percent of die-hard conspiracy theorists.”” [12]

I suspect his math is wrong here on the numbers who would refuse to be distracted, it’s true that the “die-hards” (they survived rockets, napalm, torpedoes) were among them. So was Steve Forslund, who responded to these “only and final "tapes" that the NSA has released” in his statement to the Liberty Survivors' Assn. “Parties state that these are the only tapes of intercepts that exist. That may very well be true, now.” [13] But he apparently remains as steadfast as ever that the actual attack traffic was intercepted, transcribed in English and printed at his station at Offutt AFB, and showed an assault proceeding despite flag reports and pilot protests (see part one). The Agency disagrees.

The chief NSA linguist aboard the EC-121 in question, Marvin Nowicki, had to be disappointed. Like Forslund and others, he felt the transmissions he captured were of the attack and featured the stars and stripes. In his version, of course, this stops the attack. Judging by his past advocacy for release of the exculpatory recordings he remembered, Nowicki likely did something about this snub, quietly and respectfully. But there would be no more; in early June of 2007 the NSA “finalized the review of all material relative to the 08 June 1967 attack on the USS Liberty. This additional release adds to the collection of documents and audio recordings and transcripts previously posted to the site on 02 July 2003.” What was added was fairly minor, and included no additional intercepts. Again, they clearly affirmed that all they got was "voice conversations between two Israeli helicopter pilots [...] following the attack on the Liberty." "No communications were available [...] that might reflect the attack or reaction," they regretted to inform the pubic. [14] that June 8, the exact 40th anniversary of the attack, was selected for this statement served to amplify the deliberate finality of it.

The telex witnesses of part one, and Nowicki and his teammate all maintained the tapes “reflected the attack” quite clearly, as well as the U.S. flag. The NSA acknowledges only recordings that mention the ensign but well after the attack. This is noteworthy in that it offers a plausible explanation – all these men simply heard this helicopter talk and read in that the helicopters were involved in a vicious attack. For comparison, the man who captured these signals for the NSA has said:
“For the record, we (my teammate and I) both heard and recorded the references to the U.S. flag made by the pilots and captains of the motor torpedo boats.” [15] “[O]nly later in the afternoon did we hear references to [the] flag during the attacks. [16] ”As I recall, we recorded most, if not all, of the attack.” [17]

There is little in these distinctive helicopter communications about seeing a ship and flying survivors to shore that could be construed as a two-phase air-sea attack being either carried out or called off. Nonetheless, many rational people will now conclude, however odd such a widespread embellishment seems, that they simply must have been confused.

So, Nowicki’s last chance had come and gone; the NSA decided everything it recorded can be released publicly, and his tapes weren’t on this last bus either. To mix metaphors, he was in fact left beneath this last bus as it rolled away into the night over his previous credibility. His tapes were never to return, obliviated down the memory hole. There’s been no comment since then, but his teammate – named as Michael Prostinak - was interviewed after this final thud, and told Chicago Tribune’s John Crewdson "I can tell you there were more tapes than just the three on the Internet," he said, referring to the NSA’s 2003 releases. "No doubt in my mind, more than three tapes." After inspecting these, “Prostinak said it was clear from the sequence in which they were numbered that at least two tapes that had once existed were not there.” These other tapes, unlike those released, contained clear language indicating an attack; Prostinak told Crewdson the people he heard “were not just tranquil or taking care of business as normal. We knew that something was being attacked." [18]

The agency disagrees.
[1, 2] US District Court, Southern District of Florida. A. Jat Cristol v. National Security Agency. Case No. 03-20123. Stamped 21 Januart 2003. Accessed via:
[4] Hanley, Delinda. Those Not Invited to Speak Steal the Show at State Department Liberty Discussion. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. March 2004.
[5, 6] Ensor, David. “USS Liberty attack tapes released.” July 10, 2003.
[7] Guttman, Nathan. “U.S. agency confirms sinking of USS Liberty was accident.” Haaretz. July 9 2003. Last Update: 09/07/2003. Found via:
[8, 9, 11] Ennes, James M. “National Security Agency Documents on Attack on USS Liberty Prove What?” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, September 2003, page 25. By James M. Ennes
[10] See Division 914 War Log, 1451 entry.
[12] Shane, Scott. NSA tapes offer clues in '67 attack on U.S. spy ship. Baltimore Sun. July 16 2003. Found via:
[13] Forslund, Steve. Statement to USS Liberty Survivor’s Association. Undated (apparently 2003 or 2004).
[14] National Security Agency. Declassification initiatives: USS Liberty: What’s New? Posted January 15 2009.
[15] Nowicki, letter to the Editor, Wall Street Journal. Published May 16 2001.
[16] Nowicki. Exculpatory evidence supporting a mistaken attack
[17] Nowicki. E-mail to James Bamforth [sic] March 3 2000.
[18] Crewdson, John. "New revelations in attack on American spy ship." Chicago Tribune. October 2 2007. Page 6.,0,1050179.story