The Pentagon's intelligence service, the Defense Intelligence Agency, was receiving highly classified information from knowledgeable Israeli sources, including senior officials in the defense establishment, throughout the 1967 Six-Day War, according to just released U.S. documents dating from the era of Lyndon Johnson's administration.
The documents relate to the entire 1967 crisis, from when Egypt sent troops into Sinai in the spring, sparking the crisis, all the way through the passage of UN Security Resolution 242 in November that year.
The language of the cables indicates that at least one "primary source" in the Israeli armed forces was aware that he was providing information to the DIA, and that the DIA also had "secondary sources," including one who was "not, in fact, a witting supplier of info but rather a knowledgeable person whose conversations occasionally reveal useful info. To ask direct questions would put him on guard and dry up the source."
According to the document, an embassy officer spoke to a young Israeli naval officer who said that he was aboard one of the ships that attacked an American spy ship, the Liberty, when it was already under air attack, with smoke issuing from the sides. That junior officer said they "thought they saw guns on bow. They joined in attack and after torpedo launch at about one mile close to short distance at which time they saw US flag which had been obscured by smoke." According to the DIA report, the young Israeli officer reported that his commanding officer was "extremely remorseful and concerned" once he realized that they had fired at an American ship.
The document includes an imprecise chronology of events leading to the Israeli attack on the Liberty, a ship that was collecting electronic transmissions in the area. The chronology corresponds to Israel's version of the events, despite some minor inaccuracies. According to the American document, the Liberty incident began with an Israel Defense Forces aircraft spotting the ship and identifying it as American. "IDF Air Force Headquarters may or may not have broadcast info to all units, but probably uninformed aircraft returning from strike in Egypt with unused rounds attacked Liberty," the document continued.
Israeli missile boats in the area saw the aircraft attack "and presumed Liberty to be Egyptian ship. Therefore they eagerly raced into action without waiting to identify our ship."
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