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Interview With Liberty Intercept Supervisor

(June 8, 1980)

This document is an interview conducted by officials from the National Security Agency (NSA) in 1980 with Clyde May who was the intercept supervisor on the USS Liberty when it was attacked by Israeli forces during the Six-Day War. The interviewers were interested in the ship’s movements and tasking. May believed the ship was sent to Israel in case Americans needed to be evacuated.

One of the issues regarding the attack was whether the ship was sent to gather intelligence on Israel. May believed that Israel was an ally, so they were more concerned with Egypt; nevertheless, he acknowledges that there was an intercept of Israeli communications. He also mentions that signal intelligence officers from the NSA were on board.

The interviewers refer to an NSA directive for the ship to “maintain a high state of readiness because of the unpredictability of UAR actions and to report by flash any threatening or suspicious actions.” May said he did not see a message like that.

Besides seeming to confirm the ship was gathering intelligence, the interview does not shed much light on the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Source: National Security Agency.