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08.06.02

FACTUAL & ARTS TV


New evidence for American cover-up of Israeli attack on U.S. warship


Startling new evidence revealed in a BBC documentary shows that President Lyndon Johnson had no doubts that the Israeli attack on American spy ship USS Liberty, which left 34 American servicemen dead and 171 wounded, had been a deliberate attack.


The incident happened exactly 35 years ago this week, during the Arab-Israeli Six Day War, and brought the Western world to the brink of a nuclear exchange. Yet it has been shrouded in mystery ever since.


The USS Liberty


Dead In The Water (BBC Four, 9.00pm, Monday 10 June) tells a gripping and chilling story, with new access to crewmen, senior American figures including former US Defence Secretary Robert McNamara and CIA chief Richard Helms, and officers in the US and Israeli intelligence services, who give their version of events for the first time.


On 8 June 1967, on the fourth day of the Six Day War, unmarked Israeli planes attacked and nearly sank the USS Liberty, a spy ship belonging to its closest ally, the USA.


Israel has always claimed that the affair was a tragic accident based on mistaken identification of the ship. The government of President Lyndon Johnson publicly accepted this explanation.


In fact, as Dead In The Water reveals, those at the very top never believed the Israeli version - and for good reasons.


The picture that emerges is of a daring ploy by Israel to fake an Egyptian attack on the American spy ship, and thereby provide America with a reason to officially enter the war against Egypt.


Intercepts recorded during the incident reveal how America was convinced the attack was intentional, and the minutes of a White House meeting clearly suggest that President Johnson believed the attack had been deliberate.


For 35 years, the Liberty survivors have continued to argue that the attack was intentional and that the US government colluded in a cover-up.


Today, the veterans are still calling for a full investigation by Congress into the incident. It remains the only case of an attack on a US ship without a full Congressional enquiry.




Dead in the Water puts forward evidence that Israel deliberately attacked a ship belonging to its ally, intending to sink it as quickly as possible.


The film also reveals how the Liberty incident provoked the launch of nuclear-armed planes targeted against Cairo from a US aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean.


They were recalled only just in time, when it was clear the Liberty had not sunk with all hands, and that Israel was responsible.


The film also questions why the White House twice ordered the recall of further planes launched to rescue the Liberty during the attack, leaving the ship utterly defenceless.


Dead in the Water offers evidence of a secret collaboration between America and Israel before and during the war – a covert alliance of intelligence agencies that has always been denied by both sides.


As former US Ambassador Richard Parker says, if it were known that America were secretly in the war against Egypt, "it would have finished our relations with the Arab world for a long time to come."


Dead in the Water is a Source Films production for BBC FOUR.


Notes to Editors


More about the programme and the attack on the BBC Four website.


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