WASHINGTON (Jun. 28)
A Navy Court of Inquiry held today that Israeli forces had "ample opportunity" to identify the U.S.S. Liberty prior to the June 8 attack but a Defense Department spokesman said the court had insufficient information to establish the reason for the incident.
Witnesses told the court that the Liberty’s flag might have been difficult for the Israelis to see. However, the ship was said to have been under Israeli aerial surveillance several times prior to the attack in which 34 crewmen were killed and 75 wounded. Israel formally apologized for the incident and offered compensation.
It was also disclosed that, on the morning of June 8. the Joint Chiefs of Staff ordered the Liberty to move further away from the Sinai coast but that the messages, the court learned, were "misrouted and delayed" and not received until after the incident.
The Navy failed to clarify the role of U.S. intelligence services in the occurrence. High naval officials charged previously that intelligence control of the Liberty was indirectly responsible for the incident.