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Lyndon Johnson Administration: State Department Documents from the 1967 War

(June 8-10, 1967)

The following documents are declassified communications from the State Department during the first few days of the 1967 war.

206. Telegram From the Commander of the Sixth Fleet (Martin) to the U.S.S. America and U.S.S. Saratoga/1/

June 8, 1967, 1339Z.

/1/Source: Naval Security Group Files, Box 896, USS Liberty Pre-76 Inactive Files, Box 1, U.S.S. Liberty, 5750/4, Chronological Message File. Confidential; Flash. The message was repeated at 1349Z from COMSIXTHFLT to CNO, CINCUSNAVEUR, and CTF 60. Received in the Navy Department at 1402Z. A handwritten note on the telegram states that the message was cancelled by COMSIXTHFLT 081609Z. Prior to that, however, telegram 081440Z from COMSIXTHFLT to the America and the Saratoga directed: "Recall all strikes." (Naval Historical Center, Operational Archives Branch, U.S.S. Liberty Incident, Message File) Telegram 081645Z from COMSIXTHFLT to USCINCEUR reported that all aircraft from the America and the Saratoga had been recalled and were accounted for. (Ibid.)

081339Z. USS Liberty Incident.

1. IAW CINCUSNAVEUR inst P03611#SB forces attacking Liberty are declared hostile.

2. You are authorized to use force including destruction as necessary to control the situation. Do not use more force than required, do not pursue any unit towards land for reprisal purposes. Purpose of counterattack is to protect Liberty only./2/

/2/JCS telegram 7354 to UNCINCEUR, 081416Z Jun 67, reads as follows: "You are authorized to use whatever force required to defend USS Liberty from further attacks." (Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Histories, Middle East Crisis, Vol. 7, Appendix H) JCS telegram 7369 to USCINCEUR, 081529Z Jun 67, confirmed a telephone conversation from Vice Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Horacio Rivero to Deputy Commander in Chief, U.S. European Command General David A. Burchinal USAF, cancelling this authorization. (Ibid.)

3. Brief all pilots contents this msg.

4. In addition brief pilots that Egyptian territorial limit only 12 miles and Liberty right on edge. Do not fly between Liberty and shoreline except as required to carry out provisions para 2 above. Brief fighter cover that any attacks on attack aircraft, Liberty or they themselves is hostile act and para two above applies.

207. Telegram From the Commander of the Sixth Fleet (Martin) to the Commander in Chief, European Command (Lemnitzer)/1/

June 8, 1967, 1320Z.

/1/Source: National Security Agency, Center for Cryptologic History Historical Collection, Series VIII, Crisis Files, Box 16. Unclassified; Flash. Repeated to AIG 998, JCS, CNO, CTF 60, and CTG 60.2. Received at the National Military Command Center at 10:13 a.m.

081320Z. SITREP 06001. Attack on Liberty.


1. At 081252Z USS Liberty reported under attack at posit 31.23N 33.25E, was hit by torpedo and was listing badly. Attack forces hereby declared hostile by COMSIXTHFLT IAW CINCUSNAVEURINST P03120.5B. Liberty message authenticated.

2. Have directed TF 60 to proceed toward scene. Task Force 60 present posit 34.22N 24.28E.

3. Have directed America to launch four armed A4's and Saratoga to launch four armed A1's with fighter cover to defend USS Liberty. Pilots directed to remain clear of land. Tankers also will launch, will relieve on station./2/

/2/See Document 219.

4. ETA first ACFT on scene one hour and 30 mins after launch. Estimate launch at 1345Z.

208. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson/1/

Washington, June 8, 1967, 10:10 a.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis. Top Secret; [codeword not declassified].

Mr. President:

It looks as though Kosygin may have contemplated on June 6 sending additional aircraft to Egypt--but he is obviously reluctant and trying to use a cease-fire to avoid that move./2/

/2/Rostow's memorandum forwarded [text not declassified] report that [text not declassified] was working on sending aircraft as [text not declassified] had requested. [text not declassified] the Soviet Union would support the Security Council proposal for a cease-fire. [text not declassified] the Soviets were keeping a close watch on the movements of the U.S. and British forces and [text not declassified] U.S. and British aircraft had not taken part in the hostilities.


209. Message From Premier Kosygin to President Johnson/1/

Moscow, June 8, 1967, 9:48 a.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Head of State Correspondence, USSR, Washington-Moscow "Hot-Line" Exchange, 6/5-10/67. No classification marking. The message is labeled "Translation," with a typed notation indicating a sight translation was made at 10:28 a.m.; the message was received by the President at 10:31 a.m.; a rough translation was made at 10:34 a.m.; and a final, official translation was provided at 12:35 p.m. A typed notation on a copy of the message in Russian states that it was transmitted by Soviet Molink at 9:48 a.m. and received by U.S. Molink at 10:15 a.m. (Ibid.)

Dear Mr. President,

Two days have passed since the Security Council's Resolution concerning the cessation of military actions in the Near East. Facts show that Israel, after the Security Council's appeal, seized considerable territory of the Arab States-United Arab Republic and Jordan--ignoring the Security Council's Resolution. A situation has developed which, in connection with these Israeli actions, demands not simply a cease-fire, but also a withdrawal of Israeli troops behind the armistice line. Israel's actions have placed the Arab States in such a situation that they cannot but conduct a lawful defensive war against the aggressor, who has challenged the Security Council and all peace-loving states. Until complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the territory of the Arab States, in the situation that has developed, re-establishment of peace in the Near East cannot be ensured.

We have instructed the Soviet Representative in the UN to place this question before the Security Council for the adoption of an appropriate resolution.

We would like to express that hope, Mr. President, that you personally and your government will take a position which will respond to the interests of cessation of war in the Near East, and to the interests of peace in the Near East, as you have already stated.


A. Kosygin

210. Memorandum of Telephone Conversations/1/

Washington, June 8, 1967, 10:15 a.m. and 11 a.m.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret. Drafted by Kohler's Special Assistant Stephen Low and approved in S/S on June 9.

USS Liberty

Mr. Yuri N. Tcherniakov, Soviet Chargé d'Affaires a.i.
Mr. Foy D. Kohler, Deputy Under Secretary

Mr. Kohler informed the Chargés that he had an urgent message for the Soviet Government. An American ship, the USS Liberty, was torpedoed a few hours ago off Port Said. We are not sure of the exact location where the incident took place. It is an auxilliary ship. We are sending eight aircraft from the Carrier Saratoga to investigate. We wanted the Soviet Government to know that this was the purpose and the only purpose of those aircraft approaching in that direction. The Chargé said he assumed these would be military aircraft since they came from the Saratoga, and he repeated his understanding that their purpose was solely to investigate.

Mr. Kohler called the Chargé again at 11:00 a.m. to inform him that we have just received the information that it was the Israelis who attacked the vessel. He emphasized, however, that this did not change the import of the message he had given the Chargé earlier to the effect that our planes are going to the scene of the incident in connection with the vessel and not for any other purpose./2/

/2/Telegram 209218 to Moscow, June 8, sent at 11:36 a.m., informed the Embassy that the U.S.S. Liberty, an "auxiliary ship," had been torpedoed about 14 miles north of the UAR coast, that the Saratoga had been instructed to dispatch eight aircraft to the scene, and that the Soviet Chargé had been informed. It instructed the Embassy to inform the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the Israelis had acknowledged hitting the ship in error and had apologized, the Soviet Chargé had been informed, and as of 11:25 a.m., the planes had been recalled to the carrier. (Ibid.)

211. Telegram From the Defense Attaché Office in Israel to the White House/1/

Tel Aviv, June 8, 1967, 1414Z.

/1/Source: National Security Agency, Center for Cryptologic History Historical Collection, Series VIII, Box 16d, DIA (USDAO, Tel Aviv) re Liberty. Confidential; Flash. Sent also to OSD, CNO, the Department of State, COMSIXTHFLT, CINCSTRIKE, CINCNAVEUR, and JCS. Repeated to DIA, USUN, CINCEUR-USEUCOM, CTG 60, USAFE, and CINCUSAFEUR. The message was received at the National Military Command Center at 10:45 a.m.; see Document 219. An unsigned note on White House stationery, June 8, 11 a.m., states that the Defense Attaché in Tel Aviv "has informed us that the attack on the USS Liberty was a mistaken action of Israeli boats." (Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Histories, Middle East Crisis, Vol. 3)

0825. ALUSNA called to FLO to receive report./2/ Israeli aircraft and MTB's erroneously attacked U.S. ship at 081200Z position 3125Z 33-33E. May be navy ship. IDF helicopters in rescue operations. No other info. Israelis send abject apologies and request info of other US ships near war zone coasts.

/2/Telegram 900 from USDAO Tel Aviv, June 15, which provided a chronology of events surrounding the Liberty incident as observed and recorded by U.S. Naval Attaché Commander Ernest C. Castle, USN, states that Castle received the report from Assistant IDF Spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Michael Bloch. (Ibid., NSC Special Committee Files, Liberty)

212. Message From President Johnson to Premier Kosygin/1/

Washington, June 8, 1967, 11:17 a.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Head of State Correspondence, USSR, Washington-Moscow "Hot-Line" Exchange, 6/5-10/67. No classification marking. A typed notation on the message indicates it was approved by the President at 11 a.m.; transmitted by U.S. Molink at 11:17 a.m.; and received by Soviet Molink at 11:24 a.m. The message was apparently drafted by either Bundy or Walt Rostow in consultation with the President. Bundy telephoned Johnson at 10:20 a.m. and the President returned a call from Walt Rostow at 10:24 a.m. Johnson telephoned Rostow at 11 a.m., and Bundy called him immediately afterward. The President apparently approved the message in one of these conversations. (Johnson Library, President's Daily Diary)

Dear Mr. Kosygin,

We have just learned that USS Liberty, an auxilliary ship, has apparently been torpedoed by Israel forces in error off Port Said. We have instructed our carrier, Saratoga, now in the Mediterranean to dispatch aircraft to the scene to investigate. We wish you to know that investigation is the sole purpose of this flight of aircraft, and hope that you will take appropriate steps to see that proper parties are informed.

We have passed this message to Chernyakov but feel that you should know of this development urgently.


Lyndon B. Johnson

213. Message From President Johnson to Premier Kosygin/1/

Washington, June 8, 1967, 12:01 p.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Histories, Middle East Crisis, May 12-June 19, 1967, Vol. 7. No classification marking. A typed notation on the message indicates it was approved by the President at 11:35 a.m.; transmitted by U.S. Molink at 12:01 p.m.; and received by Soviet Molink at 12:05 p.m. According to the President's Daily Diary, he met with McNamara, Rusk, Clifford, Katzenbach, Thompson, Bundy, and Walt Rostow, from 11:06 to 11:45 a.m. in the White House Situation Room. (Ibid.)

Dear Mr. Kosygin,

In the light of our understanding of yesterday, we went to all the parties concerned and strongly urged immediate compliance with the cease-fire resolution which had been unanimously agreed in the Council.

The representative of Israel agreed to comply as soon as the other parties also agreed. Of the Arab States, only Jordan agreed to comply; and we are informed that an effective cease-fire is being achieved on that front.

Although we are trying, we doubt that the United States alone can effectively persuade both sides to cease fire.

I instructed Ambassador Goldberg last night to present a resolution today. This resolution calls on all parties in the strongest terms to cease fire immediately.

I am glad to have had your message and have instructed our Ambassador in New York to maintain close contact with the Ambassador of the Soviet Union and trust you will want to do likewise.


Lyndon B. Johnson

214. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Rusk and the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Solomon)/1/

Washington, June 8, 1967, 12:24 p.m.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192. No classification marking. Prepared by Carolyn J. Proctor.


Sec asked for a summary of the present oil situation. S asked if he had gotten his memo with letter to sign. Sec had signed letter/2/ but what is the practical situation. S said nothing from Iraq or Syria for anybody; Libya so far ports closed but govt has privately told people that waiting tankers should not go away, feel maybe they can open them shortly; Saudi Arabia, no oil to UK and US destinations but our companies can supply American forces in Southeast Asia; Kuwait, no shipments to UK-US destinations; Iran ok; Algeria, situation confused, most goes to France and it is flowing, no real problem for us there. S said Aramco itself had to close its refinery in Saudi Arabia and its loading facilities there for finished products because of labor troubles, and also the crude oil pipeline to Bahrein. Sec asked about supply to Western Europe. S said normally 9-1/2 million flows to Europe; now 1.3 from Iraq and 1.7 from Libya is out; Saudi 2.3, but that may not be meaningful; Kuwait 2.3, Algeria .7. Sec asked if situation should be characterized as serious, critical, disastrous. S said the most serious immediate impact is the closing of the Suez Canal; if oil producing govts do not escalate, we calculate that short fall will be somewhere for Europe and Japan only 5-15%, but so far the major oil producing govts are not extending the US-UK destination ban to US-UK flags, owners or companies./3/

/2/A letter of June 8 from Rusk to Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall stated that Algeria, Kuwait, and Bahrein had prohibited the export of petroleum to the United States and the United Kingdom; Iraq had ordered the Iraq Petroleum Company to cease operations; Aramco's Trans Arabian Pipeline had been closed, as had the Suez Canal; and Libya had ordered foreign oil companies to cease operations. Rusk stated that these developments created an oil supply emergency adversely affecting the capability of the United States and its allies to meet their security responsibilities. He called for the initiation of emergency procedures. For text of the letter, see Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, vol. XXXIV, Document 235.

/3/A paper titled "The Middle Eastern Oil Problem" that Solomon sent to Bundy on June 9 stated that the flow of Arab oil was about 40 percent of normal. Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Iraq were exporting no oil, Kuwait and Algeria were embargoing oil to the United States and Britain, Abadan was closed by a strike of Iraqi tanker pilots, and Bahrain was operating at reduced capacity. It stated that the flow might increase over the weekend, leaving a relatively limited shortfall of 1.5 million barrels/day, combined with a serious tanker problem as long as the Suez Canal remained closed, but if the Arab producers tried to use oil denials to pressure the United States into dislodging the Israelis from the West Bank, a major supply crisis could extend for a considerable time. (Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Special Committee Files, Economic)

215. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel/1/

Washington, June 8, 1967, 2 p.m.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Flash. Drafted by Wolle; cleared by Rusk's Special Assistant Harry W. Schlaudeman, and approved by Battle. Repeated Flash to CINCSTRIKE, Amman, Beirut, Cairo, USUN, Moscow, USCINCEUR, and CINCUSNAVEUR.

209253. 1. Secretary called in Israeli Ambassador Harman noon June 8. Said he had just spoken with President/2/ and was instructed express in very strong terms USG dismay at today's attack on US naval vessel by Israeli naval unit. Said 4 are dead, 53 are injured at latest report. Ship badly listing. Requested Harman convey at once to Prime Minister our real dismay at this very serious matter. Said we consider it amazing that GOI motor torpedo commander could be unable to identify a U.S. naval vessel. We want GOI to issue very explicit instructions in this regard to Israeli naval commanders for we cannot accept attacks on our vessels on high seas./3/

/2/The President met from 11:06 to 11:45 a.m. with Rusk, McNamara, Clifford, Katzenbach, Thompson, Bundy, and Rostow in the Situation Room. (Johnson Library, President's Daily Diary)

/3/In a telephone conversation with Goldberg, Rusk told him that the next time he saw Eban, he should "hit him hard on this attack; if Israeli torpedo boats are attacking international shipping in international waters that is very dangerous business; if they were to hit a Soviet vessel that is extremely explosive." (Notes of telephone conversation prepared by Carolyn J. Proctor, June 8, 12:51 p.m.; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Calls)

2. Secretary said we appreciate speed with which GOI informed us this action had been done by one of its craft. This speed of notification in itself may have avoided very serious consequences in many respects.

3. Harman promised inform his government immediately. Noted he had no information yet from GOI on this occurrence but had learned of it within the hour during call on Assistant Secretary Battle to whom he had expressed his great sorrow.


216. Message From Premier Kosygin to President Johnson/1/

Moscow, June 8, 1967, 12:20 p.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Head of State Correspondence, USSR, Washington-Moscow "Hot-Line" Exchange, 6/5-10/67. No classification marking. The message is labeled "Translation." A typed notation indicates a sight translation was made at 12:25 p.m.; the message was received by the President at 12:30 p.m.; a rough translation was made at 12:34 p.m.; and a final, official translation was provided at 1:15 p.m. A typed notation on a copy of the message in Russian states it was transmitted by Soviet Molink at 12:20 p.m. and received by U.S. Molink at 12:23 p.m. (Ibid.) Rostow forwarded the message to the President in a 12:45 p.m. memorandum, commenting that this exchange of messages was "one reason the link was created: to avoid misinterpretation of military moves and incidents during an intense crisis." (Ibid., Memos to the President, Walt Rostow, Vol. 30) For Ambassador Thompson's comments, see Document 245.

Dear Mr. President,

Your telegram concerning the incident with the American Liberty Type Ship torpedoed near Port Said has been received by us and immediately transmitted for information to President Nasser./2/

/2/Kohler telephoned Chernyakov at 12:45 p.m. to tell him of the exchange of hot line messages and to thank him for his cooperation. He also noted that Kosygin had described the vessel as a "Liberty-type ship," but that in fact, U.S.S Liberty was the name of the ship. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR)


A. Kosygin

217. Telegram From the Commander in Chief, Naval Forces, Europe (McCain), to the Commander in Chief, European Command (Lemnitzer)/1/

June 8, 1967, 1903Z.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis, Vol. V. Secret. The telegram does not indicate precedence, but another copy shows that it was sent Immediate. (National Security Agency Archives, Accession No. 45981, U.S.S. Liberty Correspondence and Messages, 1965-1968) Repeated to CNO, COMSIXTHFLT, CINCLANTFLT, and JCS.

081903Z. Movements and position of Liberty.

A. JCS CFWP JA3 sends DTG 011545Z Jun 67/2/
B. CINCUSNAVEUR 061357Z Jun 67/3/
C. COMSIXTHFLT 071503Z Jun 67 PASEP/4/
D. JCS 7347 DTG 080110Z Jun 67/5/
G. COMSIXTHFLT 080917Z Jun 67
H. USS Liberty 021330Z Jun 67

/2/Document 118.

/3/References B, E, F, G, and H are tabs 30, 48, 49, 53, and 23 to the "Report of the JCS Fact Finding Team," cited in footnote 2, Document 337.

/4/Document 192.

/5/Document 199.

1. By Ref A JCS directed Liberty to proceed to posit 32-00N 33-00E.

2. By Ref B CINCUSNAVEUR passed OPCON to COMSIXTHFLT. Movements of Liberty were still guided by Ref A.

3. At 072350Z CINCUSNAVEUR duty officer received phone call from Major Breedlove, JRC Washington, directing that USS Liberty comply with new COMSIXTHFLT OP area restrictions delineated in last sentence paragraph two of Ref C and not to proceed closer than 100 miles to Israel, Syria or UAR. This was verbal directive with no DTG of message available. Necessary messages were then prepared.

4. At 080140Z and prior to release of any messages, the USCINCEUR duty officer, Lt Col Wagner, was called and advised of JRC phone call. In view of no written directive at this time, he was requested to obtain DTG of message from JCS because a previous JCS directive was being modified.

5. At 080325Z USCINCEUR duty officer, Lt Col Russell, was contacted to see what results had been achieved on previous phone call. He called JRC Washington and obtained Reference D, which modified Reference A. (i.e. JCS 011545Z) This was read to CINCUSNAVEUR duty officer.

6. At 080410Z CINCUSNAVEUR established teletype conference with COMSIXTHFLT duty officer, CDR Slusser, and relayed Reference D, and told him "take FORAC/6/ official message follows."

/6/A handwritten note in the margin reads: "Forac means: For action."

7. At 080455Z CINCUSNAVEUR sent immediate message to COMSIXTHFLT directing him to take Ref D FORAC.

8. At 080914Z CINCUSNAVEUR received USCINCEUR msg, Reference F, directing CINCUSNAVEUR to take Ref D FORAC.

9. At 080917Z COMSIXTHFLT sent a message, Ref G, directing Liberty to comply with Ref D and remain 100 miles from coasts UAR, Israel, Lebanon, and Syria. Liberty was also info addee on Ref D, sent at 080110Z which directed her to remain 100 miles from belligerent coasts.

10. Am directing COMSIXTHFLT to investigate reason for non-receipt or non-compliance by Liberty to respond to two messages, Refs D and G directing her to proceed 100 miles from coast./7/

/7/The Liberty did not receive these messages. The reasons for the communications failure are discussed extensively in the "Report of the JCS Fact Finding Team," cited in footnote 2, Document 337. See also Review of Department of Defense Worldwide Communications, Phase 1: Report of the Armed Services Investigating Subcommittee of the Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives, Ninety-second Congress, First Session, May 10, 1971 (Washington, 1971), and Chronology of Events, Naval Security Group File on U.S.S. Liberty in Naval Security Group Files, Box 702, CNSG Pre-76 Inactive Files 168, NAVSECGRU File or USS Liberty.

11. Liberty's movement report Ref H (of Jun second) indicated she would arrive at position directed in Ref A (posit 32-00N 33-00E) at 080300Z.

218. Telegram From the U.S.S. Liberty to the Chief of Naval Operations (McDonald)/1/

June 8, 1967, 1715Z.

/1/Source: Naval Security Group Records, Box 896, USS Liberty Pre-76 Inactive Files, Box 1, U.S.S. Liberty, 5750/4, Chronological Message File. Unclassified; Immediate. Repeated to CINCUSNAVEUR, CINCEUR, JCS (JRC), CINCLANTFLT, COMSIXTHFLT, and COMSERVLANT. Received at 1916Z.

081715Z. Situation following air attack.

1. At 081205Z while ship on course 283 deg speed 05 knots position 31 deg 35.5 min north 33 deg 29 min east ship attacked by unidentified jet fighters, believed to be Israeli. Approximately six strafing runs made on ship. Approximately 081225Z three torpedo boats one identified as Israeli approached ship on stbd qtr at high speed. Hull number of one boat was 206-17. Approximately 081227Z took torpedo under fire with 50 caliber machine guns have range of 2000 yards. Torpedo boat launched torpedo and straffing attack. One torpedo passed approx 25 yards astern approximately one minute later ship sustained torpedo hit stbd side. Ship is 10 deg stbd list water tight boundaries established and holding after attack torpedo boat cleared to east about five miles. Clearing area at 10 knots.

2. Photos of aircraft and boats taken. After attack completed two Israeli helicopters orbited ship at about 081255Z range 500 yards. Israeli insignia clearly visible. Photos taken. Several projectiles have been recovered from topside areas. Number dead is estimated at 10, number seriously wounded at 15. Total wounded 75, number missing currently undetermined.

3. Ship unable to carry out mission, will submit personnel casreps as soon as possible separately.

4. Extensive superficial damage topside. Lower deck spaces forward destroyed.

5. Comm capabilities limited. Will provide film and projectiles recovered as directed. Ship will require drydock and extensive refitting.

219. Memorandum for the Record/1/

Washington, June 8, 1967, 3:30 p.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Special Committee Files, Liberty. Top Secret. Prepared in the National Military Command Center.

The USS Liberty (AGTR-5) Struck by Torpedo

1. At 080911 EDT June, USCINCEUR notified the NMCC by phone that the USS Liberty was under attack, had been hit by a torpedo and was listing to starboard. The ship was operating in the Mediterranean Sea approximately 60-70 miles east-northeast of Port Said.

2. The oral report of the incident was confirmed by a COMSIXTHFLT message reporting the USS Liberty had been hit by a torpedo on the starboard side at 080830 EDT. Three unidentified gunboats were reported to be approaching the vessel with the USS Liberty listing badly.

3. At 081013 EDT a message from COMSIXTHFLT/2/ stated the attack forces were declared hostile. COMSIXTHFLT also reported the following actions: the USS America had been directed to launch four armed A-4s and the USS Saratoga to launch four A-1s with fighter cover to defend Liberty. The pilots were directed to remain clear of land. In addition, TF-60 was directed to proceed toward the scene. Air refueling tankers were also ordered to launch, the first aircraft were on the scene at approximately 0945 EDT./3/

/2/Document 207.

/3/The Commander of the Sixth Fleet estimated that the aircraft would be launched at 1345Z, or 0945 EDT, and would arrive on the scene 1 hour and 30 minutes later (see Document 207).

4. At 081045 EDT, a message was received from the USDAO in Tel Aviv/4/ stating that Israeli aircraft and motor torpedo boats had erroneously attacked a vessel in the Mediterranean Sea at 080800 EDT, which was thought to be a US Navy ship. Israeli helicopters were conducting rescue operations. The Israeli government sent abject apologies and requested information on other US ships near the war zone.

/4/Document 211.

5. Late information discloses ten US killed and 75 wounded of whom 15 are in serious condition.

6. Two destroyers from TF-60 have been directed to proceed at full speed to the USS Liberty, now underway north on a northwesterly course at 8 knots. The rendezvous is estimated for 0001 EDT 9 June.

7. Liberty declined the aid offered by the Israeli helicopters; the status of evacuation of wounded is unknown at this time, however, helicopter evacuation is not feasible.

8. A late report reveals that Liberty was subject to six aircraft strafing passes in addition to the attacks of the gunboats cited in paragraph 2, above.

Charles M. Gettys
Brigadier General, USA
Deputy Director for
Operations (NMCC)

220. Message From President Johnson to Premier Kosygin/1/

Washington, June 8, 1967, 3:58 p.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Head of State Correspondence, USSR, Washington-Moscow "Hot-Line" Exchange, 6/5-10/67. No classification marking. A typed notation on the message indicates it was approved by the President at 3:36 p.m.; transmitted by U.S. Molink at 3:58 p.m.; and received by Soviet Molink at 4 p.m.

Dear Mr. Kosygin,

I deeply appreciate your transmitting the message to President Nasser. We lost 10 men, 16 critically wounded, and 65 wounded, as a result of Israeli attack, for which they have apologized.


Lyndon B. Johnson

221. Memorandum From the President's Special Consultant (Bundy) to the Special Committee of the National Security Council/1/

Washington, June 8, 1967.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Special Committee Files, Special Committee Meetings. Secret. No drafter is indicated on the memorandum, which was prepared June 9. Present for the entire meeting were Rusk, McNamara, Fowler, Katzenbach, Wheeler, Helms, Clifford, Eugene Rostow, Battle, Walt Rostow, Bundy, and Saunders. The President attended from 7:10 to 7:45 p.m. (Ibid., President's Daily Diary)

Minutes of NSC Special Committee 6:30 p.m., Thursday, June 8, 1967

The President expressed in the strongest terms his view that too many officers talking with foreign diplomats about US policy are going beyond what the President or the Secretary of State has seen or approved. He ordered that all diplomatic contacts involving policy questions be carried out only by the Secretary or by another officer specifically delegated by him in specific cases, and that there should be discussion of major policy positions only after the President himself has approved them.

The President also stated that providing press guidance on policy questions is the direct responsibility of the President or the Cabinet officer concerned. He instructed the Cabinet level members of the Committee to handle such press discussions themselves, except as they may specifically authorize senior officers of their departments on particular topics. He expects the Information Subcommittee of the NSC Special Committee to provide routine guidance. But he insists that each Cabinet officer put a stop to the present situation in which other officers discuss their own personal ideas as if they were the position of the U.S. Government.

The President has asked me to emphasize that this guidance is intended to apply to all members of the Government, including the Special Committee./2/

/2/Bundy had suggested that the President might want to make these points at the meeting in a memorandum that he sent to the President at 5:25 p.m. (Ibid.)

McGeorge Bundy

222. Memorandum by Harold Saunders of the National Security Council Staff/1/

Washington, June 8, 1967.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Special Committee Files, Suspense. Secret. Saunders sent this memorandum to Bundy on June 8 with a note saying that he would give him each morning, in addition to the minutes, a checklist like this of pending items that he would want to consider for the evening's agenda. The memorandum was based on Saunders' notes of the meeting. Neither Saunders' nor Helms' notes of the meeting indicate any discussion of the attack that day on the Liberty.


Actions and Policy Questions Pending from
Meeting of Thursday, 8 June


1. Visit by King Hassan of Morocco./2/ Committee agreed we should tell him politely not to come. The President agreed. Action: Mr. Battle (a) to send an interim reply to Ambassador Tasca tonight and (b) to draft a substantive reply for consideration tomorrow.

/2/Telegram 5439 from Rabat, June 8, reported that King Hassan had asked the Ambassador to inform President Johnson that Nasser and other Arab leaders wanted to send Hassan to Washington to discuss the next steps in the Arab-Israel crisis and to determine whether the United States and the Soviet Union were serious about seeking a "real solution" to the Arab-Israeli problem. The King had not decided whether to accept this mission and did not want to do so unless he would be able to report back something of substantive importance. (Ibid., NSC Histories, Middle East Crisis, Vol. 3)

2. Report on aid going to the Middle East. The President asked for a report on all aid, including Ex-Im and IBRD, flowing to the area. Action: Report already requested, due tomorrow.

3. Arms moving to the Middle East.

a. Preventing Arab resupply. The Committee discussed how to preclude Soviet use of the cease-fire to re-equip Arab air forces to make a first strike next time and yet to handle Israeli requests for replacement equipment. Action: Mr. Battle to draft a telegram to Paris, London and Moscow to surface issues that must be resolved (a) to get a grip on resupply over the next 30 days and (b) to lay the basis for a longer run attack on Middle East arms limitation.

b. Handling Israeli requests. Secretary McNamara reported Ambassador Harman's request for 48 A-4 aircraft. The Committee agreed that we should ask the Israelis for precise figures on their losses and remaining inventory. Action: Defense to ask Harman.

c. US sales and grants to Arab countries. The Committee discussed how to avoid the political repercussions that arms shipments to Arab countries would trigger. Action: The Committee will hear a report tomorrow.


223. Circular Telegram to All Posts/1/

Washington, June 8, 1967, 9:53 p.m.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Lambrakis, cleared by Officer in Charge of UN Political Affairs Betty-Jane Jones and William D. Wolle (NEA/IAI), and approved by Davies.

209525. Subject: Middle East Sitrep as of June 7 [8].

1. Day marked by heavy fighting in Sinai, where by-passed Egyptian units attempted to fight way back to west side of Suez Canal. During course of day, Israelis claim to have closed off all possibility escape of Egyptian units except on foot. Also stated they intend stop few miles short of Canal in order avoid getting entangled in Canal's problems. By end of day UAR Government notified SYG Thant it accepts cease-fire provided Israel does too. (Israel has already signified it would.) We have unconfirmed report from some Washington Embassy sources that Canal has been open today to shipping of various nations, though not US or UK.

2. Artillery and air bombardment of Syrian positions on heights overlooking Israeli border settlements commenced today. Syrians have been pounding Israeli settlements steadily since June 5, having reportedly leveled some of them, although settlers protected by shelters. Action expected to continue through night into tomorrow. Syrians have so far refused accept cease-fire.

3. Jordanian front fairly quiet. Israelis have not penetrated in any force east of Jordan River and have stated intention keep to West Bank. They may have bombed Mafraq airfield to prevent its further use by Iraqi planes. Jordan Government puts number of refugees streaming out of West Bank to outskirts Amman at 20-30,000.

4. U.S. Navy technical research vessel Liberty attacked by Israeli torpedo boats and aircraft today. Israelis immediately apologized for error to Embassy Tel Aviv. Secretary called in Israeli Ambassador Washington to protest in very strong terms, while also expressing appreciation for quick Israeli notification. Latest count dead at 10, with 50 or 60 injured. Crippled ship limping away under Sixth Fleet air escort.

5. In surprise propaganda coup, Israeli radio reportedly has been broadcasting what it describes as taped radiophone conversation between Nasser and Hussein June 6 which clearly indicates they fabricated story that US and UK aircraft assisting Israelis.

6. Tunisians have informed us they do not intend to break relations. Nor will they send any military assistance to Nasser if war does not drag on much longer. Sudan has interpreted its break of diplomatic relations not to include consular, commercial, economic, or cultural relations.

7. At UN this afternoon, US and Soviet resolutions introduced. US resolution calls for cease-fire to be put into effect by all parties, after which discussions to begin promptly among the parties concerned, using third party or UN assistance if they wish, looking toward establishment of viable arrangements on withdrawal of armed personnel, renunciation of force regardless of its nature, maintenance of vital international rights, and establishment of stable and durable peace in ME./2/ Soviet resolution seeks to condemn Israel as aggressor and demands Israeli withdrawal behind Armistice Lines./3/ Security Council recessed for day without vote on either resolution.

/2/UN document S/7952; the text of the resolution as subsequently revised is printed in Department of State Bulletin, June 26, 1967, pp. 948-949.

3 UN document S/7951.


224. Memorandum From Peter Jessup of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Special Assistant (Rostow)/1/

Washington, June 8, 1967.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Special Committee Files, Liberty. Top Secret. Also sent to Bundy and Bromley Smith.

Why the USS Liberty Was Where It Was

Attachment 1 shows the JRC forecast for June with the approved mission of the USS Liberty./2/

/2/Not attached.

This was changed by a routine submission on 2 June. These are normally noted by Jessup for the White House, McAfee for State, and Chapin for CIA. Being proposed by DOD, it is assumed this had full Pentagon approval, in this case Vance.

Routine changes without specific indications as to number of nautical miles off shore are merely noted and entered in the book.

It is assumed that such a ship will operate under the discretion of COMSIXTH FLEET and USCINCEUR.

It would seem to have been unnecessary at the time to submit this particular track change to the principals at the date submitted.

Let me make myself clear. There is no doubt in my mind that JRC is in the clear, having submitted this change in plans in good faith and on a timely basis.

Whether the actual nautical distance of the USS Liberty from the UAR coast on 8 June was unwise in view of the hostilities or whether this should be gauged as an accident of war is for others to judge.

[Omitted here is a paragraph unrelated to the Liberty.]


225. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense McNamara to the President's Special Consultant (Bundy)/1/

Washington, June 8, 1967.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Special Committee, Military Aid. No classification marking.

You have asked what action we are taking to control deliveries of military equipment to Middle Eastern states./2/ The following rules are in effect:

/2/A June 8 memorandum from McNamara to the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force and to the Assistant Secretaries of Defense for Installations and Logistics and for International Security Affairs directed the immediate suspension of all matériel shipments, whether grant aid or military sales, from depots, manufacturers' facilities, or other sources, to Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, and Kuwait. Matériel already shipped was to be delivered. It directed that new sales agreements and related commitments should not be signed but that on-going negotiations should not be broken off. All supply actions of either a grant or sales character to Algeria, Mauritania, the UAR, Sudan, Yemen, Iraq, and Syria were to be suspended. (Ibid., Minutes, Control Group Meetings)

1. No additional matériel can be released for delivery to any Middle Eastern state under either a military assistance program or a Defense Department controlled sale, without the approval of a representative of the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense.

2. Military equipment, previously released for shipment to Arab states which have broken relations with us, is being repossessed to the extent that it remains under our control. Today we are tracing a shipment of 134 radios to Iraq, the only remaining shipment in this category.

Both the Arab states and Israel have purchased directly from manufacturers substantial quantities of ammunition, military vehicles, and military spare parts. The manufacturers apply to the Munitions Control Board for licenses to export such equipment. A number of such licenses are outstanding. The Department of State's policy concerning exports of such arms is as follows:

a. Licenses issued for shipments to Arab states which have broken diplomatic relations with the United States have been suspended. United States Customs is refusing clearance of munitions destined for those countries. (This action has gone as far as unloading shipments to Iraq from a Dutch vessel in New York on June 7.)

b. No new munitions licenses are being approved for shipments to Israel or any Arab nation at war with Israel.

c. Existing approved licenses for munitions shipments to Israel and Arab countries which have not broken relations with the United States have not been suspended.

We anticipate Israel will request assistance in procuring substantial quantities of ammunition, spare parts, and replacement equipment. Any such requests for items under U.S. control will be personally reviewed by Messrs. Vance and Katzenbach, and their recommendations will be submitted for approval to the National Security Council Subcommittee of which you are Executive Secretary.

Robert S. McNamara

226. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Hoopes) to Secretary of Defense McNamara/1/


Washington, June 8, 1967.

/1/Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330 72 A 2468, Middle East, 092. Secret. A notation on the memorandum indicates it was seen by the Secretary of Defense on June 9.

Fundamental Problems Relating to an Armistice/Political Settlement in the Near East

While the political and military situations remain highly fluid, making comment upon them necessarily speculative, I believe we can now see the outlines of several central problems and opportunities. What follows here is a distillation of current thinking in ISA, and of certain views expressed in recent discussions of the Interdepartmental Control Group. My purpose is to provide you with an interim assessment, in terms of three or four factors that will, I believe, underlie the wide range of problems and papers you are likely to be addressing.

Whether the Middle East is on the verge of a fresh start (based upon Arab acceptance of Israeli legitimacy) turns vitally on (1) whether Nasser survives politically and (2) whether the Soviets attempt resuscitation of Nasser personally or a successor regime. The destruction of Nasser as an effective Pan-Arabist is fundamental to our hopes for gaining a reasonably quick settlement and for thus avoiding a protracted political impasse with all its dangers of further military action, polarization of the US behind Israel, or both. With Nasser removed (or discredited to the point where the Soviets deny him support), the Middle East would probably be relieved, for some years, of the intense and effective extremism that has been constantly stimulated by the Nasser charisma and the UAR political propaganda apparatus. With those removed or seriously discredited, reasonable dealings with individual Arab states on the basis of practical mutual interest would be far more likely for Israel, and also for the US.

Assistant Secretary Battle's best assessment at the moment is that Nasser has less than a 50-50 chance of political survival. He thinks the nature of the succession depends on whether the group around him holds together. If it does, the successor will come from one of the top military leaders; if the Army splits, the successor regime will be faction-ridden and much weaker. A period of political chaos and impotence might follow. Battle estimates that the Soviets will probably not be willing to recapitalize Nasser on the scale required for his genuine resurrection; but he thinks they might encourage any UAR regime to oppose Israeli claims through lower scale assistance, while seeking a new Arab instrument through which to work. The most likely new instrument is Iraq, which has rather interestingly kept its political and military forces intact and relatively uncommitted during the current fighting.

ISA believes it is quite clear that the Israelis will hold fast to all of the territory gained during their remarkable military victory and will yield this up only in exchange for a political settlement which is far more substantial and basic than the armistice agreements under which they have been living since 1948. At a minimum, their demands will be assured access to the Gulf of Aqaba and the Suez Canal and an absolute guarantee of established frontiers. This last requirement clearly implies peace treaties (as opposed to an armistice) either guaranteed by the four major powers or resting on continued Israeli military dominance.

If Nasser is politically destroyed, it is possible that an agreement embodying most of Israel's demands can be achieved in a reasonably short time. However, it seems more likely that any UAR regime (with or without Nasser) will try hard to drag out negotiations and especially to refuse the signing of an actual peace treaty. If there is no prompt settlement, we thus face either further Israeli military action against the UAR designed to assure the destruction of any intransigent regime, or a protracted period of inconclusive political maneuver during which the Israeli armed forces hold their ground. In either case, but particularly in the latter, Israeli stamina will depend importantly on large infusions of economic aid and military resupply; the US will be under great pressure, generated by our real interest in creating the preconditions for a fresh start in the Middle East and by our domestic political situation--to provide this.

Our principal hope of avoiding this kind of situation lies in achieving Soviet cooperation. We would want them to press the UAR into a basic settlement embodying most of Israel's demands (or at least to avoid the kind of salvage operation that would encourage intransigence). The likelihood, however, is that the Soviets will not cooperate. They will probably continue to espouse the Arab cause in an effort further to polarize the political situation, putting the US behind Israel and the USSR behind the Arab world. The way to keep them from such a spoiling operation lies (1) in persuading them of the real dangers to world peace of a continuing military conflict, (2) clear indications that other Arab countries are not enthusiastic about being rearmed by the USSR, and (3) quick political settlements between Israel and other Arab states (e.g., Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia). Realization of the latter two courses are by no means out of the question. Soviet prestige is being severely damaged by the UAR debacle and the more moderate countries may find it prudent to acknowledge a new relationship with Israel. The US could be a vital influence in either case, pointing out the benefits of a new stability on the one hand, and working to moderate Israeli demands on the other.

With respect to the outcome in Jordan, there is great doubt as to Hussein's ability to survive politically. If he should be forced to flee (which seems at the moment less likely than it did yesterday; there is apparently an effective Israeli-Jordanian cease-fire), this could mean the end of Jordan as a national entity. If Hussein departs, Deputy Under Secretary Kohler believes it quite possible that Saudi Arabia and Iraq would move in to carve up the Jordanian territory east of the Jordan River. If this happened, it would mean a drastic realignment of national boundaries in the Middle East and would greatly strengthen an Israeli claim to retention of the territory on the West Bank (which has now been gained by military means).

The Soviets are continuing military resupply to the UAR. We might usefully test the Soviet attitude on Arab support generally by probing them on the matter of continued arms aid, for it would be in the US interest to achieve an arms limitation agreement with respect to the Middle East (with UK and France also participating). This is true, in my judgment, because neither Nasser nor any likely successor regime could long resist a settlement with Israel if it did not have assurances of substantial economic and military aid from outside. Thus a Soviet agreement to arms restraint would be a signal that they were liquidating their UAR investment. The UAR would then have to settle essentially on Israeli terms in order to remove Israeli troops from the Sinai, etc. If, on the other hand, the Soviets continue to supply arms to the UAR (and perhaps also to Syria and Iraq), it will be difficult for the United States to avoid becoming a major military supplier of Israel and more closely identified with Israeli goals.

If there is a protracted period of uncertainty following the heavy fighting (characterized by far-reaching Israeli demands and Arab refusal to meet them), serious breakdown of social organization could occur in parts of the Middle East (especially in the remnant of Jordan and perhaps also in the UAR). This would be aggravated if the oil-producing countries felt compelled to withhold oil (their principal source of revenue) for political reasons. The situation might require a new effort, by the US or an international body, to organize relief services--food, medicines, the handling of prisoners and refugees, etc. Several alternative approaches are being considered by the State Department. While such an enterprise would be essentially humanitarian, it could be a powerful means of restoring US influence and good standing among the Arabs. On that reasoning, an organization with the US clearly in the lead would be desirable.

Townsend Hoopes

227. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State/1/

New York, June 9, 1967, 2256Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret: Priority; Exdis. Received at 7:49 p.m and passed to the White House at 8:05 p.m.

5675. Goldberg talk with Eban.

In conversation with Eban June 8, Goldberg stressed that at present moment, when Israel enjoying mil victories, it very important to work for genuine political settlement. Eban said Israel not seeking territorial aggrandizement and had no "colonial" aspirations.

Eban made no specific commitments and was seldom specific on details. Implied Israel really seeking peace treaty with Jordan. While not mentioning status of Jerusalem per se, Eban stressed Israel would make every effort to assure all religious groups concerning holy places. Similarly, Israel had no designs on UAR terr; merely seeking adequate security arrangements to protect Israeli terr. Re Sharm el Sheikh, however, Eban suggested Israel might want some sort of international controls on strait. At no point did Eban refer to Syria or Syrian frontier.

Goldberg strongly emphasized it necessary for American as well as world public opinion that Israel should not emerge from current situation as power with designs to infringe on territorial integrity of other countries.

Eban said Israelis had hoped to avoid any mil activity in areas where refugees congregated (presumably Gaza), but forced by mil action of other side to change battle plan to include these areas.

Goldberg urged Eban to contact Bundy on how peace might best be brought about and rancor and humiliation felt by Arabs overcome. Eban welcomed suggestion. Rafael later told Goldberg Eban had been in touch with Bundy June 8 and would meet with him on his next trip to US.


228. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Arab Republic to the Department of State/1/

Cairo, June 9, 1967, 0443Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Flash; Handled as Exdis. Received at 1:58 a.m.

8711. 1. Emboff met Salah Nasir at 0330 local 9 June at latter's request. Salah Nasir said that he wished convey his personal thinking to USG at critical time for Egypt. He stated this action undertaken entirely on his own initiative and emphasized that if it became known to those elements in Egypt which oppose him because of his basically pro-Western attitude, the result could be his ouster as head of intelligence.

2. In essence, he assesses balance of "influence on Nasir" as between Western oriented and Soviet oriented elements in UAR Government to be dangerously even and judges his own position to be precarious. The pro-Soviet extreme leftist elements are gathering strength from the present situation in which Egypt's plight, as it becomes increasingly evident, will have been so successfully portrayed--by Egypt itself--as the result of U.S. connivance with and direct support of Israel. He feels it imperative therefore that the U.S. take an initiative in UN and elsewhere which is, in his words, "pro-Arab". He understands that there are limits to the extent of U.S. pro-Arabism or pro-UARism, but feels that it is of vital importance that the Soviets be prevented from assuming the role of defender of the Arab position in negotiations or proceedings in UN forum which will follow present cease-fire. If the Soviets are successful in so doing, it may well be impossible for him and likeminded others to arrest and modify the forces in Egypt working toward Sovietization.

3. Comment: It is, of course, extremely difficult to judge what proportion of this presentation is correctly attributable to the concern expressed and what to the objective of obtaining support of Arab position versus Israel. To what extent is the spectre of Sovietization a ploy? To what extent is Salah Nasir concerned to protect himself and to what extent is he concerned for Egypt? Emboff judges that while all these considerations are present in some degree, there is in fact--in Salah Nasir's view--a very precarious balance of forces within Egypt, which, if not tipped toward the West by U.S. action, will probably fall in the opposite direction within a fairly short time./2/

/2/In telegram 8727 from Cairo, June 9, Nolte transmitted his suggestions on steps that might be taken toward establishing a "pro-Arab" position to tip the balance described in telegram 8711. (Ibid.)

4. Footnote: Our leased line, which has been out for past two days with total lack of cooperation from UAR control, is now working perfectly on the send side result Emboff statement he had no communication with Washington.


229. Telegram From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State/1/

Tel Aviv, June 9, 1967, 0810Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Limited Official Use; Immediate. Received at 5:14 a.m. Passed to the White House, DOD, CIA, USIA, NSA, COMAC for POLAD, CINCSTRIKE, and USUN at 5:35 a.m.

4024. 1. Prime Minister Eshkol asks that the following message be transmitted to the President:

2. "Dear Mr. President: I was deeply grieved by the tragic loss of life on the U.S. Naval ship Liberty. Please accept my deep condolences and convey my sympathy to all the bereaved families./2/

/2/Telegram 4028 from Tel Aviv, June 9, reported that Eshkol had asked the Embassy to inform the U.S. Government that the Israeli Government was "willing to make retribution to the families of the victims of the Liberty naval incident" and inquired whether such retribution would be acceptable. (Ibid.) Letters of condolence from Eban and Harman to President Johnson and Secretary Rusk, June 8, are in the Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Histories, Middle East Crisis, Vol. 3, and the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR.

3. May all bloodshed come to an end and may our God grant us peace evermore. Sincerely, Levi Eshkol."


230. President's Daily Brief/1/

Washington, June 9, 1967.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Histories, Middle East Crisis, Vol. 6, Appendix A. Top Secret; [codeword not declassified]. Regarding the release of this PDB, see footnote 1, Document 151.

1. Arab States-Israel

The ceasefire was observed on all fronts during the night. Further Israeli action is still possible against Iraqi forces in Jordan, however, since Baghdad has yet to accept the ceasefire.

The Israeli commander in Sinai reported that his forces were camping on the banks of the Suez Canal and the Red Sea.

Tel Aviv is beginning to discuss the terms it hopes to achieve in a permanent settlement with the Arab states. These include the establishment of an autonomous province of Jordan on the West Bank in which all Arab refugees could hopefully be settled.

The Israelis also intend to insist on the demilitarization of the Gaza strip and the Sinai border, guaranteed access to the Gulf of Aqaba, and an as yet undefined "new status" for a unified Jerusalem. The latter would guarantee people of all religions access to the holy places.

As for the Arab side, attention is now turning to what can be salvaged in post-ceasefire negotiations. Nasir, after earlier proposing an Arab summit as a means of preserving Arab unity, is now proposing the publication of a ten-point joint resolution to be signed by all Arab chiefs of state. The proposed statement trots out all of Nasir's propaganda attacks on the US and other "colonialist forces supporting Israel." On balance, it looks like a rather feeble effort to save face.

Signs are growing that Egypt's defeat has badly damaged Nasir's prestige in the Arab world. He will have trouble getting many other chiefs of state to adhere to his "joint resolution."

2. Arab States

Arab resentment against the West continues to threaten US facilities. Libya appears to be a particularly dangerous spot at the moment.

3. Soviet Union

The Soviets are finding it hard to conceal their shock over the rapid Egyptian military collapse. A Soviet [2-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] could not understand "how our intelligence could have been so wrong." He asked despairingly, "How could we have gotten into such a mess?" Comments from other Soviets, while more restrained, reflect a similar state of mind.

[Omitted here are sections on unrelated subjects.]


Arab States-Israel

Israeli spokesmen told the press this morning that Egyptian troops had launched an attack on Israeli troops near the Canal, thus violating the ceasefire.

231. Telegram From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State/1/

Tel Aviv, June 9, 1967, 1505Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. The date-time group on the telegram, 071505Z, is in error. Received on June 9 at 11:47 a.m. and passed to the White House at 12:10 p.m.

4039. Ref: Tel Aviv 4026./2/

/2/Telegram 4026 from Tel Aviv, June 9, sent at 1014Z, reported that the Syrians had shelled Israeli settlements near the border and that Israeli forces were taking action to silence the guns, which they expected to complete in an hour or so. (Ibid.)

1. It is difficult to obtain information on how fighting along Syrian border is going. Best we can get is statement by Argov as of 1630 local time that it was "necessary to weed out the people who had been shelling our settlements for the last two years. This effort is now under way and is proceeding satisfactorily. However, Haon is still being constantly hammered by Syrian artillery fire."

2. The operation may indeed by progressing "satisfactorily" but it is obviously taking longer than had been anticipated and Syrians are still able to fight. DATT estimates IDF AF making maximum air support effort.


232. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson/1/

Washington, June 9, 1967, 12:55 p.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis, Vol. V. Confidential. A copy was sent to McGeorge Bundy. A handwritten notation on the memorandum states that it was received at 1:30 p.m., and a handwritten "L" indicates the President saw it.

Mr. President:

After reading the UPI 080A ticker,/2/ Evron asked to come in. He said that he and Harman were as deeply troubled as you must be and as I clearly was, by what he called "this nonsense." He said that there were three ways in which it might be turned to some advantage:

/2/Presumably the ticker described in telegram 209662 to Tel Aviv, June 9, which states that a UPI ticker was reporting that Eshkol had made a series of highly disparaging remarks on the U.S. Government attitude before the outbreak of the war. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR)

--as further evidence to the Arabs and Moscow that there was no collusion between the U.S. and Israel; and

--as the occasion for the Israeli Embassy and Government to work even harder on the Jewish community here to explain that President Johnson's policy has been correct and fundamentally helpful to Israel. He said that Finance Minister Sapir has been working on the West coast to this end.

Following your instructions, I was passive and simply reiterated your concern--which I had expressed yesterday--that there was great danger in Israel overplaying its hand, talking too much, and permitting the emotions of victory in the field to prevent them from doing what was wise for their own long-term interests.

He said that he had persuaded Eban to go back and go to work on planning the future settlement, including refugees, rather than stay in New York and enjoy the glory of the television cameras.


233. Telegram From the Defense Attaché Office in Israel to the White House/1/

Tel Aviv, June 9, 1967, 1520Z.

/1/Source: Naval Security Group Files, Box 896, USS Liberty Pre-76 Inactive Files, Box 1, U.S.S. Liberty, 5750/4, Chronological Message File. Secret; Immediate; Priority. Sent also to OSD, CNO, DEPT STATE, COMSIXTHFLT, CINCSTRIKE, CINCNAVEUR, and JCS. Repeated to DIA, USUN, CINCEUR-USEUCOM, CTG SIX ZERO PT TWO, USAFE, CINCUSAREUR, and CTG SIX ZERO. Received at the Department of the Navy at 1925Z.

0845. At 09/1300Z the IDF Assistant Army Spokesman Lt Col Michael Bloch telephoned to ALUSNA following seven points as "Further information on yesterday's incident with the American ship."

1. Ship was sighted and recognized as a naval ship 13 miles from coast.

2. Presence in a fighting area is against international custom.

3. The area is not a common passage for ships.

4. Egypt had declared the area closed to neutrals.

5. Liberty resembles the Egyptian supply ship El Quseir.

6. Ship was not flying flag when sighted. She moved at "high speed" westward toward enemy coast.

7. IDF Navy had earlier reports of bombardment of El-Arish from sea.

Comment: 1. At first Col Bloch merely read off seven points. ALUSNA pressed him for a label for the statement asking if this were an official explanation of incident. Col Bloch could not supply a preamble on his own and ALUSNA requested he consult with some authority who could. Bloch called back in two minutes with the above quoted heading.

2. While El Quseir bears a highly superficial resemblance to Liberty, ALUSNA can not understand how trained professional naval officers could be so inept to carry out yesterday's attack. Certainly IDF Navy must be well drilled in identification of Egyptian ships. El Quseir is less than half the size; is many years older, and lacks the elaborate antenna array and hull markings of Liberty.

3. ALUSNA evaluates yesterday's erroneous attack resulted from trigger happy eagerness to glean some portion of the great victory being shared by IDF Army and Air Force and in which Navy was not sharing.

234. Memorandum for the Record/1/

Washington, June 9, 1967, 3:26 p.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis, Vol. IV. Top Secret; Trine. Prepared in the National Military Command Center. A handwritten note on the memorandum indicates a copy was sent to Clifford.

Attack on USS Liberty (AGTR-5)

1. This memorandum updates and supplements memoranda, same subject, of 1530 EDT 8 June and 0600 EDT 9 June 1967./2/

/2/Document 219; the June 9 memorandum was not found.

2. USS Liberty had been directed by JCS to proceed to 32-00N; 33-00E, a point 39 nautical miles north of the UAR coast. She was authorized to conduct operations south of 32-00N and between 33 and 34E, approaching no closer than 12-1/2 nautical miles of the UAR coast and 6-1/2 nautical miles from the Israeli coast. At 1950 EDT 7 June

CINCUSNAVEUR was notified by telephone by JRC to modify these instructions and to ensure that Liberty would operate no closer than 100 nautical miles to Israel, Syria and Egypt. This was confirmed by message dispatched at 072110 EDT. CINCUSNAVEUR passed this information to COMSIXTHFLT at 080010 EDT by teletype conference and by immediate message at 080055 EDT. At 080517 EDT, COMSIXTHFLT directed Liberty to operate within a 25 nautical mile radius of 33-40N, 32-30E until further notice, and to approach no closer than 100 nautical miles to the coasts of the UAR and Israel and 25 nautical miles to the coast of Cyprus.

3. At 080250 EDT, Liberty reported she was being orbited by two jet aircraft while at 31-27N, 34-00E,/3/ a point 14 nautical miles from the coast and 22 nautical miles northeast of El Arish.

/3/A June 10 memorandum for the record by Rear Admiral Raymond A. Moore, USN, Deputy Director for Operations at the National Military Command Center, states that the correct position had been established as 31-23N, 33-25E. (National Security Agency, Center for Cryptologic History Historical Collection, Series VIII, Crisis Files, Box 16a, NMCC re Liberty)

4. Liberty reported being under attack by jet fighters at 080805 EDT at position 31-35.5N, 33-29.0E, a point 25 nautical miles northeast of nearest land, and 3 nautical miles outside the 100 fathom (600-foot) curve. She was subjected to about six strafing passes and at 080825. EDT three torpedo boats approached the ship at high speed. The torpedo boats attacked and at 080828 EDT, Liberty suffered a torpedo hit on the starboard side and took a 10* list.

5. At 08050 EDT, COMSIXTHFLT ordered USS America to launch four armed A-4s and USS Saratoga to launch four armed A-1s and for America to provide fighter cover. However, before reaching Liberty, the aircraft were recalled following COMSIXTHFLT's receipt of the Israeli acknowledgment of the attack./4/ At this time, Liberty reported she had departed the area and was underway on a northwesterly course at 8 knots. At the same time, two destroyers were dispatched at best possible speed to rendezvous with the damaged ship.

/4/See Document 284.

6. USS Massey and USS Davis joined Liberty in position 33-01N, 31-59E at 090025 EDT, and transferred medical personnel to assist Liberty's doctor. At this time America was 138 nautical miles from Liberty and estimated a closure speed of 30 knots.

7. Casualties from the attack were 10 killed, 90 wounded, and 22 missing, reported believed to be trapped in flooded compartments near the torpedo hit. However, an intercept of the Israeli pilots transmissions indicates they sighted men jumping into the water from the vessel they had attacked./5/ The Captain of Liberty was wounded and the ship's Executive Officer was killed.

/5/See Documents 284, 285, and 319.

8. Liberty reported carrying out her emergency destruction bill, which includes the destruction of tapes, technical publications and specialized equipment.

9. The helicopter transfer of wounded and dead to America is proceeding and a fleet tug will join the formation this afternoon to escort Liberty to Souda Bay, Crete. Arrival is estimated at 1800 EDT 10 June.

10. Additional information on this incident will be provided as received.

Raymond A. Moore
Rear Admiral, USN
Deputy Director for
Operations (NMCC)

235. Memorandum From the President's Special Consultant (Bundy) to President Johnson/1/

Washington, June 9, 1967, 6:15 p.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Special Committee Files, Special Committee Meetings. No classification marking.

The 6:30 Meeting

The main business at the Special Committee meeting tonight will be the tough immediate tactical question of arms and economic shipments to crisis areas. There is a clear division of opinion on the strategy--most of the professionals in the government would keep existing commitments (except arms) to Arab countries that have not broken relations. Clark Clifford takes a harder view. David Ginsburg, somewhat to my surprise, thinks there is merit in distinguishing between the good and bad Arabs. The detailed facts and figures are quite complex and you may wish to stay out of the meeting and let us give you a clear-cut paper for consideration tonight. Alternatively, you may want to come in between quarter of 7 and 7 and let me summarize the situation after we have had a whack at it. I have asked Francis Bator to come because he has such a good quick grasp of economic facts, and the Secretary of State is bringing his usual group, which is a bit too big for comfort but apparently necessary while we are trying to sort out relations with that bureaucracy.

The other items which are up for discussion are listed in the attached agenda/2/ and I think that they can all be handled without your help unless you choose to come.

/2/Attached but not printed.

My conversations with the Secretary make me doubtful that his back grounder/3/ will meet the need you feel before the weekend. But I am more and more persuaded that the only real answer will be a serious public statement./4/ But I think we can and should wait until the actual situation is somewhat clearer. I also think we need time to prepare such a statement. If I had to guess, I think it ought to be from your own mouth and that it should be a calm historic review with basic guidelines and not specific commitments toward the future, and I would hope you might consider doing it about Wednesday of next week unless the situation changes.

/3/The text of a background press briefing given by Rusk at 5:05 p.m. is in the Johnson Library, National Security File, Appointment File, June 1967 Middle East Crisis.

/4/That morning Bundy sent the President a page of possible background comments with a note saying they were "some first thoughts on the way we should react now to all the noises about who did and who did not help Israel." (Note from Bundy to the President, June 9, 10:30 a.m.; ibid., NSC Special Committee Files, U.S. Position--Discussion)

[1.] The materials that various subcommittees are gathering can be drawn on for your speech on fairly short notice when you are ready. In essence what it would do is define and describe exactly what we have done since the middle of May--a most creditable record.

2. Report our own view of what has in fact happened and pin a rose or two on Nasser as a liar and others who have slandered the U.S.

3. Make clear that we have now seen a historical event which necessarily changes the landscape.

4. Project a positive picture of our hope for a strong and secure Israel in a prosperous and stable Middle East.

5. Emphasize that this task is in the first instance a task for the nations in the area. This is good LBJ doctrine and good Israeli doctrine, and therefore a good doctrine to get out in public.

6. Warn of the dangers of a new arms race and express our readiness to join with all in arrangements which will avoid the terrible waste of the arms race of the last ten years. (We are assembling detailed facts and figures on all the Soviets have wasted and all that these races have cost all concerned.) This comment should not be surfaced now but should come after we have begun diplomatic efforts--perhaps tomorrow--with the Soviet Union directly.

7. Make clear the U.S. view that this time there must be a peace and not simply a set of fragmentary armistice agreements.

8. Put us on record in favor of a real attack on the refugee problem--again by the parties concerned.

9. The general effect of such a speech in my judgment should be to show mastery of the factual situation, clarity in the purpose of the U.S. sympathy for the legitimate goals of Israel in a radically new situation, discriminating sympathy for good Arabs as against bad Arabs, and a clear sense of what the role of the U.S. is and is not in this area.

McG. B/5/

/5/Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.

236. Notes of a Meeting of the Special Committee of the National Security Council/1/

Washington, June 9, 1967, 6:30 p.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Special Committee Files, Minutes and Notes. No classification marking. The President, Vice President, and Senator Joseph S. Clark of Pennsylvania were present from 6:53 to 6:59 p.m. The President returned to the meeting at 7:12 p.m. Except for a brief absence from 7:34 to 7:38 p.m., he was present until 7:53 p.m. (Ibid., President's Daily Diary) The notes are Saunders' handwritten notes of the meeting. A June 9 memorandum for the record by Bundy, headed "Minutes of NSC Special Committee," records three decisions by the committee. It states that the committee approved telling King Hassan "that now is not the time for a visit to Washington", approved acceding to a request by King Faisal that no U.S. naval vessels visit Saudi Arabian ports in the immediate future, and agreed that Helms' rejection of an offer [text not declassified] was the right response but that the matter might be reconsidered. (Ibid., National Security File, NSC Special Committee Files, Minutes and Notes)

Those Present
E.V. Rostow
W.W. Rostow
VP in at 6:50

DR: Not proceed now on basis that Nasser is out./2/ Khalifa-Wayne Hays-Lodge-Battle

/2/Nasser announced his resignation in a radio and television address on June 9 but withdrew it the following day after massive demonstrations in Cairo. Battle told Rusk in a telephone conversation at 4:58 p.m. on June 9 that he did not think Nasser was "out of the scene" yet. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Calls) For text of Nasser's June 9 speech, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967, pp. 520-523.

Battle: to phone Lodge; to see Hays

DR: Telegram to Hassan: Cleared./3/

/3/In telegram 209982 to Rabat, June 9, Rusk instructed Ambassador Tasca to tell the King that Rusk and the President appreciated his offer and attached great importance to his advice but doubted that a visit at that time could achieve much of a substantive nature. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Office of the Executive Secretatiat, Middle East Crisis Files, 1967, Entry 5190, Box 17, Middle East Crisis Material)

Helms: [1 line of source text not declassified] Put if off for several days.

USS Liberty

DR: Senate For. Relats: Put in a bill for damages to USS Liberty.

Senators outraged.

McGB: Respond to offer.

Battle: Israel make offer of damages public. Then we'll take posture of responding and figure out bill.

Clifford: My concern is that we're not tough enough. Handle as if Arabs or USSR had done it. Manner egregious. Inconceivable that it was accident. 3 strafing passes, 3 torpedo boats.

Set forth facts.

Punish Israelis responsible./4/

/4/Saunders' marginal notation next to Clifford's remarks reads: "President subscribed 100%."

DR: Do what is normal.

1) Reparation.
2) Punish.
3) No repetition.

Battle: action.

"This incomprehensible attack."

DR: US Naval vessels not visit Saudi ports. Approved.

Sen. Clark: You have once-in-lifetime to pull out of this situation a disarmament agreement that goes pretty far.

Negotiation: Israelis diminish. Russians back in business/5/

/5/A marginal notation next to Clark's comments reads, "6:50-6:56."


McGB: We have a subcommittee. Pres. said full steam ahead. Agenda today: arms shipments. Sovs promising resupply./6/

/6/A page inserted at this point, between the 2 pages of Saunders' notes, contains the following note in an unknown hand: "Pres. view that it is not appropriate to treat all the Arab countries [alike?]".

McGB proposal: Interim order: We will do everything we can to stop everything to contiguous countries (Leb & Jor) and to those that have broken relations. Look at rest on Monday.

McGB: Stop talking about "the Arab world." Help them come apart. Say this in appropriate committees. We're going to start sorting these people out a bit./7/

/7/A marginal notation at this point reads: "Pres. out. 7:30."

Economic Problems:


1. How to stop AID, Ex-Im, CCC. To countries that have broken relations.
2. Magnitudes.
3. How to locate./8/

/8/A marginal notation next to Bator's comments reads: "Pres back." A note boxed off next to this line reads: "Israel: leaves stuff in pipeline. Not putting anything in."

Central point. We have legal auth. to stop everything that is not on the high seas. By Monday, be in position to stop.

Alg. $100,000/9/
on high seas.

UAR $85,000
on high seas.

Saud $1,000,000
on high seas.

/9/A boxed note next to the figures reads: "McGB formula: Moving as fast to stop as banks being open permit."

Title II & III
II--int'l agencies
III--US agencies, easier to stop.
7 ships 9,600 tons--CRS
8 ships to Alg.

DR: Not consistent with dignity of US.

DR: Backgrounder. Steer questions to participants. US-USSR./10/

/10/A marginal notation at this point reads: "Pres. left at 7:50 p.m."

Message to Eshkol:

Turk amb--Syrians had come to him.

Call Harman again.

DR: Message from LBJ to Eshkol to be read in UNSC by Amb. Goldberg./11/

/11/This comment by Rusk appears at the top of the second page of Saunders' notes. In a box just below it is:

Pres: "I had a firm commitment from Eshkol & he blew it.

"Now he says he did it all himself.

"That old coot isn't going to pay any attention to any imperialist pressures."

A suggested draft letter from the President to Eshkol stressing the importance of immediate compliance with the latest Security Council resolution, which Goldberg had suggested, is in the Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis, Vol. V.

237. Memorandum From the President's Special Consultant (Bundy) to the Special Committee of the National Security Council/1/

Washington, June 9, 1967.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Special Committee No. 1, 6/7/67-6/30/67. Secret.

I. Interim Policy on Military and Economic Pipelines to the Middle East

1. Military

No materials that we can still control will be allowed to get to any country which has broken relations with us, or to Lebanon or Jordan, until further notice. Materials already authorized for delivery to other Middle Eastern countries are not to be interrupted at this time.

2. Economic Assistance

The same rules will apply as for military goods except that economic assistance shipments to Jordan and Lebanon will not be interrupted for the present.

3. PL 480 Shipments

Foods shipped under Title II and Title III will not be interrupted at all. It is understood that there are no shipments under Title I or Title IV to any countries that have broken relations with us.

4. The Departments of State and Defense will be ready to offer further recommendations, if necessary, for consideration by the Special Committee on Monday together with a simple and more general public statement for public use when necessary.

II. Members of the Special Committee may wish to take note of the President's judgment that in the current situation it is wise not to treat all the Arab countries as if they were identical in behavior or policy.

III. It was agreed that the Department of State will take the strong and firm line which is appropriate in requesting adequate explanation, restitution, and disciplinary action by Israel for the destruction of lives and property on USS Liberty.

McGeorge Bundy

238. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel/1/

Washington, June 9, 1967, 7:31 p.m.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Immediate. Drafted by Marshall W. Wiley (NEA/ARN); cleared by Wolle, Houghton, and Grey; and approved by Davies. Repeated Immediate to USUN, Amman, and Jerusalem.

209890. Amman's 4180./2/

/2/Telegram 4180 from Amman, June 9, reported that the Jordanian Foreign Minister had appealed to the four big power ambassadors in Amman to use their influence with the Israelis to let the West Bank population stay where it was and "not send them out of the West Bank to be refugees." The British Ambassador said the Foreign Minister had told him the Israelis were going around Palestinian villages with loud-speaker trucks offering safe conduct through the lines for villagers who wanted to leave. (Ibid.)

Dept deeply concerned over reported Israeli attempts encourage West Bank residents to flee to East Bank of Jordan. Marked increase in refugee population on East Bank will exacerbate already dangerous internal security situation existing in that area. It will also complicate our efforts to find a solution of the overall refugee problem which is now being seriously addressed. You should convey our concern ASAP to appropriate level of GOI and urge them desist from any such encouragement for above reasons./3/

/3/Telegram 4057 from Tel Aviv, June 10, reported that the Embassy had taken this up with Argov, who stated that the Israeli Government was not encouraging West Bank residents to leave areas under Israeli control but was telling them they could stay or leave as they wished. (Ibid.)


239. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel/1/

Washington, June 9, 1967, 9:32 p.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis, Vol. V. Confidential; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Rusk and Sisco and approved by Rusk. Repeated to USUN.

209964. For Ambassador from Secretary.

Please see Eban as soon as possible and tell him, as a personal message from me, that the position of Israel at the UN is deteriorating rapidly because of a general impression that Israel is not throwing itself fully behind the effort of the Security Council to obtain a cease fire. As far as the US is concerned, he knows that we are fully in support of the Security Council resolutions. We consider it very important that Israel demonstrate by actions on the ground that its announcement about the orders it has issued means what it says. If the cease fire on the Syrian front is not effective immediately, there is likely to be broad support in the Security Council for condemnation of Israel. Finally, please tell Eban that I have spent the morning with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and that there is very strong feeling here about the incomprehensible attack on the USS Liberty. We shall be in touch with his government by means of a note on this subject later./2/

/2/For text of the note that Eugene Rostow gave to Harman on June 10, see Document 256.


240. Memorandum From the Acting Chairman of the Central Intelligence Agency's Board of National Estimates (Smith) to Director of Central Intelligence Helms/1/

Washington, June 9, 1967.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis, Situation Reports. Top Secret; [codeword not declassified]. A handwritten "L" on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.


Note: It should be emphasized that this memorandum deals primarily with the immediate and short-term Soviet reactions to the current situation. Further, at the moment of writing, it is still quite unclear who is in control in Cairo, and the outcome of this situation will obviously affect Soviet policies.

1. We do not believe that the Soviets planned or initiated the Middle Eastern crisis. The Israeli-Arab war and, more specifically, the defeat of the UAR in that war, were developments which the USSR did not desire, initially did not foresee and, later, could not forestall. But it is clear that the Soviets were actively involved in the crisis from mid-May on.

2. Soviet propaganda support of the Arabs became strident and specifically accused Israel of planning to attack Syria. More important, the Soviets privately warned the Egyptians (and probably the Syrians as well) that they had learned Israel was preparing some sort of military action against Syria sometime between 17 and 21 May. The Soviets also advised both the Egyptians and Syrians to remain calm and not to provoke Israel militarily, but the effect of Moscow's private and public statements was to heighten Arab fears and passions, already greatly aroused by Israeli acts and statements and by Syrian cries of alarm. The Soviets probably expected to benefit from heightening of tensions. They probably estimated during the early stages of the crisis that a resort to violence by either side could, and probably would, be avoided.

3. We believe that Nasser's decision to blockade the Gulf of Aqaba (announced on 23 May) was made without Soviet counsel and that the Soviets received little or no advance warning of it. The evidence on this matter is fairly skimpy. A variety of Soviet sources have informed us that Moscow had no foreknowledge of the move; the Soviets displayed some uncertainty as to how best to handle the issue; and they carefully avoided any subsequent sanctioning of Nasser's move to close the Gulf (though they did say that the entrance to the Gulf was in Egyptian territorial waters, as they had 10 years before). But our belief that the Soviets did not approve the Gulf closure rests partly on our judgment that the Soviets were well aware that this one move could provoke an Arab-Israel war.

4. Clearly they miscalculated the course of events. Nasser moved faster and further than they anticipated. The Israelis did go to war and inflicted on the Arabs a defeat far more rapid and complete than the USSR could have expected.

5. Soviet policy since the outbreak of the war has rested essentially, we think, on several considerations: the USSR's concern to avoid direct involvement in the war and to escape the risk of a direct confrontation with the US; its desire to preserve as many of the gains of the prewar crisis (both Soviet and Arab) as possible through diplomatic and propaganda means; its devout wish to avoid the stigma which would attach to Moscow if the Arabs suffered a complete defeat and the Soviets did little or nothing to prevent it; and, presumably, its hope that--through it all--they could preserve a viable relationship with their principal client in the Middle East, Nasser.

6. On the whole, the Soviets have behaved within the kind of guidelines suggested by the considerations listed above. They have maintained their propaganda attack against Israel; they have continued publicly to support the Arab cause; and after hostilities broke out they quickly made first contact with the US to proclaim their interest in peace and, implicitly, to reassure President Johnson that they plan no confrontation with the US over this issue.

7. Fedorenko's agreement in the UN to a ceasefire without the conditions demanded by the Arabs presumably reflected Soviet fear that, unless the fighting was soon halted, the Arabs would suffer a disastrous defeat. But this same action cost the USSR something within the Arab world. The partial Soviet abandonment of the Arabs at the UN will have to many the appearance of at least a partial sell-out.

8. Moscow has probably decided that its task now is to pick up as many pieces in the Middle East as it can, and has probably already estimated that its chances to recoup from recent setbacks are fairly good, especially over the long term. The Soviets still have impressive advantages in the area, the principal ones being the high tide of anti-US and anti-Israeli feeling, and the Arab belief that the USSR is the only major power likely to provide support for them in the foreseeable future. The Soviets probably believe that the US has suffered more severe and lasting political losses in the Arab world than they have.

9. The Soviets are probably hurting enough to take a new look at their attitudes and policies toward the Middle East. But they are probably not hurting enough to abandon their normal caution in international affairs to seek compensation for their losses by lashing out against the US elsewhere in the world. There are no places where dramatic Soviet gains could be scored without risking a confrontation with the US or, at the very least, substantial damage to existing Soviet policies.

10. We do not foresee a period of active Soviet cooperation with the US in the Middle East. Soviet willingness to act in at least partial concert with the US on the question of an immediate and unconditional ceasefire was born of the needs of the moment and did not, we think, reflect long-term considerations (other than the standard Soviet desire to avoid direct confrontation with the US). Basic US and Soviet goals in the Middle East--including, for example, the USSR's wish to increase its presence in the area and the US desire to prevent this--have not been altered by the current crisis.

241. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State/1/

New York, June 10, 1967, 0435Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR/UN. Confidential; Priority. Received at 1:56 a.m. Passed to the White House, DOD, CIA, USIA, NSA, COMAC for POLAD, and CINCSTRIKE.

5678. SC Mid-East Crisis. Ref: USUN 5672/2/ and 5660, 5664,/3/ 5655./4/

/2/Telegram 5672 from USUN, June 9. (Ibid.)

/3/Telegram 5660 from USUN, June 8, transmitted text of a U.S. draft resolution introduced that afternoon. It called for scrupulous compliance with the cease-fire by Israel and Jordan; immediate compliance with the Council's demands for a cease-fire by the other parties concerned; and discussions among the parties concerned, using such third party or UN assistance as they might wish, looking toward the establishment of viable arrangements encompassing the withdrawal and disengagement of armed personnel, the renunciation of force, the maintenance of vital international rights, and the establishment of a stable and durable peace in the Middle East. (Ibid.) Telegram 5664 from USUN, also June 8, transmitted amendments to the U.S. draft resolution. (Ibid.)

/4/Telegram 5655 from USUN, June 9. (Ibid.)

Fol covers origin and conclusions two SC mtgs June 9:

1. When Mellbin (Denmark) consulted with Pedersen at 7 a.m. re Syrian request for urgent meeting of SC June 9, Mellbin gave fol info: Rafael (Israel) had phoned Danes first at 5 a.m. and gave them essentially same info contained Tel Aviv 4026./5/ Sometime after 6 a.m. Tomeh (Syria) phoned Danes to request urgent SC meeting since Syria under attack from Israel on ground and in air. Danes consulted SC members and meeting arranged for 10 a.m.

/5/See footnote 2, Document 231.

2. Given necessity prompt SC action reaffirm cease-fire and demand compliance of all parties, we considered various tactical possibilities including having Pres table short new draft res, updating longer substantive US draft already on table (USUN 5660, 5664), or offering amendment to Canadian draft (USUN 5655) which also before SC but with priority status. Demark decided it willing put forward text on behalf SC Pres (USUN 5672). When meeting time came Syrians told us they had text calling for cease-fire. We agreed to it with change in op para to refer both to Syria and Israel instead of just Israel. USSR then tried to get preambular para referring to fighting going on in Syria in vicinity Adl. We rejected this in meeting of USSR, Denmark, Syria and ourselves. (Comment: Sov intent apparently was to embarrass us for not being prepared at this point to embrace explicit mention of armistice lines.) Finally, after this drafting had cost two hours, Sovs agreed to text as proposed by Syrians, which unanimously adopted after statements by Syria and Israel./6/ (See unclassified summary for SC meeting and USUN 5672 for text of res.)

/6/Security Council Resolution 235 (1967); the text is printed in American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967, pp. 517-518.

3. SC reconvened after 7 p.m. in order hear latest SYG info on compliance with cease-fire. After lengthy discussion, in which Syrians cited news reports of Israeli advances and Sovs repeatedly stressed Israeli "aggression," SYG suggested that parties cooperate to permit UNTSO establish facts. Suggestion by Goldberg and motions by Fedorenko (USSR), Caradon (UK), and Tine (France), led to formulation by SC Pres of proposal requesting Israel to make govt house available to Gen Bull and UNTSO, calling upon both parties to permit freedom of movement to Gen Bull and UNTSO observers, and requesting SYG to report info he receives from observers to SC, which adjourned until 10:30 a.m. tomorrow morning, June 10.

4. Sovs submitted ltr after mtg requesting inscription new item entitled (approximately) "on cessation of hostilities by Israel and on the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Arab states". After conversation with Amb Pedersen, Amb Tabor took up with UNSec question of whether to inscribe item "ltr from permrep of the Sov Union," which would be preferable, or "ltr from permrep of Sov Union on cessation of hostilities by Israel and on withdrawal of Israeli troops from Arab states," which Sovs likely to press for. In anticipation this item, Sov continued exploring with other dels, including Japanese and French, possibility of simple withdrawal res. Shevchenko, to whom Sov permrep refers as his commissar, admitted to Plihon (France), however, that problem more complex than could be comprehended by simple withdrawal res.

5. Sov line appeared to harden during day with considerable emphasis placed by Sovs on communiqué of Moscow mtg key sentence of which read as fol: "If GOI does not stop aggression and withdraw its troops behind truce line, socialist states which signed this statement will do everything necessary to help the peoples of Arab countries to administer resolute rebuff to aggressor, to protect their lawful rights, and to extinguish hotbed of war in ME and restore peace in that area." Rafael (Israel) remarked to Pedersen Sovs had taken disturbing line and seemed to want to put statements on record prior to some unspecified action.

Comment: Issue of simple withdrawal as opposed to withdrawal as part of over-all settlement will be main and somewhat tricky problem as soon as cease-fire firms up.


242. Telegram From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State/1/

Tel Aviv, June 10, 1967, 0550Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Confidential; Immediate; Nodis. Received at 2:50 a.m.

4045. Ref State's 209964./2/ For the Secretary.

/2/Document 239.

I have just seen Eban (0445 Sat) and have given him your message orally. He asks that I tell you that he and Prime Minister are aware of importance that Israel make its acceptance of cease-fire clear by actions on the ground. They hope to achieve actual cease-fire in next few hours. If Syrians make this impossible, GOI will take steps before Security Council meets today to demonstrate publicly Israel's preparedness to stop where they now are and that it is the Syrians who are defying the Security Council.

Eban noted two problems:

1) There is no machinery on the ground to verify actions of parties. He thinking of activating Gen Bull as means solving this one. 2) So far, each time Israelis have stopped firing, Syrians have reopened bombardment of settlements. He thinks Syrian objective is to prove that of all the Arabs, Syria is the only state which had inflicted serious damage on Israel.

Eban emphasized that Israel has no intention of going on to Damascus. It is trying physically to silence the Syrian gun positions but they are well emplaced, almost impervious to air attacks, and have to be taken by ground assault. Israel's forces on the Syrian front are very small. She is many times outnumbered and her whole position and purpose on that front is necessarily defensive.

Eban agreed my strong representation that crux situation is somehow to get fighting stopped or Israel risks prejudicing whole position it has so far achieved on other fronts. I am convinced he, at least, had no illusions this score and that he and Eshkol proposed for Israeli forces to cease all operations at existing positions, provided Syria ceases fire. This is also despite fact that apparently because of terrain and small Israeli forces available (it has been impossible redeploy appreciable forces from south) Israelis have not succeeded in wiping out Syrian gun positions as was intended.


243. Message From Premier Kosygin to President Johnson/1/

Moscow, June 10, 1967, 8:48 a.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Head of State Correspondence, USSR, Washington-Moscow "Hot-Line" Exchange, 6/5-10/67. No classification marking. The message is labeled "Translation," with a typed notation indicating a sight translation was made at 9 a.m. and it was received by the President at 9:05 a.m. A typed notation on a copy of the message in Russian states it was transmitted by Soviet Molink at 8:48 a.m. and received by U.S. Molink at 8:52 a.m. (Ibid.)

Dear Mr. President:

The events of the last days have forced me to express to you with all frankness our view. As the situation shows, the resolutions of the Security Council are invalid. Israel has completely ignored them. As you can understand, after the many attempts taken in this direction and the resolutions of the Security Council concerning the termination of aggression on the part of Israel in the Near East--these attempts have proved ineffective.

A very crucial moment has now arrived which forces us, if military actions are not stopped in the next few hours, to adopt an independent decision. We are ready to do this. However, these actions may bring us into a clash, which will lead to a grave catastrophe. Obviously in the world there are powers to whom this would be advantageous.

We propose that you demand from Israel that it unconditionally cease military action in the next few hours. On our part, we will do the same. We purpose to warn Israel that, if this is not fulfilled, necessary actions will be taken, including military.

Please give me your views.

A. Kosygin

244. Memorandum for the Record/1/

Washington, October 22, 1968.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Histories, Middle East Crisis, Vol. 7, Appendix G. Top Secret. Drafted by Saunders.

Hot Line Meeting June 10, 1967/2/

/2/The President met with his advisers in the White House Situation Room from 8:57 to 11:55 a.m. (Ibid., President's Daily Diary) Helms also recalled the meeting in an oral history interview. (Interview with Helms, April 4, 1969; Johnson Library) For Thompson's comments on the Hot Line exchanges, see Document 245.

CIA Director Richard Helms described this meeting in the following manner:

Present were the President, Under Secretary Katzenbach, Secretary McNamara, Mr. Clifford, Mr. McGeorge Bundy, Mr. Walt Rostow, Ambassador Thompson and Helms himself.

Mr. Katzenbach left early in the meeting to call in the Israeli Ambassador to put pressure on Israel to accept a cease fire.

After the English translation of the incoming Soviet message was read, Ambassador Thompson checked the Russian text to be sure that the word "military" was indeed a part of the Russian message in the phrase "take whatever steps are necessary, including military."

The President had his breakfast during the meeting in the Situation Room Conference Room. Then he left for a short period.

While the President was out, Secretary McNamara asked whether we should turn the Sixth Fleet around to sail toward the eastern Mediterranean. Thompson and Helms agreed. Helms pointed out that Soviet submarines monitoring the Fleet's operations would report immediately to Moscow, that the task force had stopped circling and had begun heading eastward.

The President returned and McNamara mentioned this possibility. The President said, "Yes, go ahead and do it." McNamara picked up a secure telephone and gave the order.

[3 lines of source text not declassified]

Recalling the atmosphere of the meeting, Mr. Helms said that conversation during the first couple of hours was in the lowest voices he had ever heard in a meeting of that kind. The atmosphere was tense. As the morning wore on, everyone relaxed a bit as it became clear that the fighting was petering out.


245. Memorandum of Conversation/1/

Washington, November 4, 1968.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Histories, Middle East Crisis, 5/12-1/19/67, Vol. 7, Appendix G. Secret.

The Hot Line Exchanges

Ambassador Llewellyn E. Thompson
Mr. Nathaniel Davis

I called on Ambassador Thompson today at Bethesda Naval Hospital to get his recollections of the hot line exchanges between President Johnson and Premier Kosygin. Ambassador Thompson refreshed his memory by leafing through the hot line texts,/2/ and made the following comments:

/2/In 1968 Davis was a member of the NSC staff. He apparently took a file of the Hot Line exchanges with him when he went to see Thompson. The page numbers in the text are to page numbers in that file.

At the start, the Russians made quite a point that the President be physically present at our end of the hot line before they would start the exchange. They asked more than once when he would be there. (Notice that the first sentence of the Russian text of Kosygin's first message observes that Kosygin would like to know if President Johnson was at the machine.)

President Johnson's first message to Kosygin (Page 6, June 5, 8:47 a.m.)/3/ was actually addressed to "Comrade Kosygin." Apparently what had happened was that the American hot line telegraph operators asked the Moscow operators what was the proper way to address Kosygin. They got back the answer "Comrade Kosygin." So the message went. Ambassador Thompson talked with Dobrynin, about this afterward, and Dobrynin--who had been at the Moscow end of the line--said he had been quite startled. The Russians wondered if the President was making a joke, or making fun of them in some way. However, Dobrynin said he guessed how it had happened.

/3/Document 156.

Ambassador Thompson said the first substantive question he remembered was that of cease-fire, or cease-fire and withdrawal. On Tuesday morning (Page 10, June 6, 10:02 a.m.)/4/ the President suggested that the Soviets support the resolution Ambassador Goldberg gave to Fedorenko the night before, calling for cease-fire and a prompt withdrawal behind the armistice lines. Kosygin did not reply for more than eight hours. In the meantime, Fedorenko had agreed to a simple cease-fire in New York. In Ambassador Thompson's words, he had agreed "to a resolution Kosygin now wanted to get away from."

/4/Document 175.

There was some discussion in the Situation Room, according to Ambassador Thompson, whether we should take advantage of what Fedorenko had done--that is the simple cease-fire-or whether we should stick to the message sent in the morning (cease-fire and withdrawal). Everybody agreed we should take advantage of what had happened in New York. There were some calls to Goldberg. The people in the Situation Room were elated--and surprised Fedorenko had done what he had. There was some speculation around the room that Fedorenko would get into trouble. The fact of the matter was that we would probably have been prepared to accept the earlier formulation that included withdrawal. The Russians suffered from a communications problem.

What the President did in his message of Tuesday evening (Page 14, June 6, 7:45 p.m.)/5/ was to point out to Kosygin that Goldberg and Fedorenko had agreed to a very short cease-fire resolution, and suggest that both the Soviets and we assist the Security Council's further efforts to restore peace. What we wanted to do in this message, according to Ambassador Thompson, was simply to nail down the cease-fire.

/5/Document 183.

In his message of June 8 (Page 20, June 8, 9:48 a.m.)/6/ Kosygin again called for withdrawal.

/6/Document 209.

In his reply (Page 22, June 8, 11:00 a.m.),/7/ President Johnson informed Kosygin of the torpedoing of the Liberty and the dispatch of our aircraft to the scene. Ambassador Thompson comments that this was a very successful use of the hot line. We were using it in the right way, to prevent a danger of war arising out of misunderstanding. Ambassador Thompson says it made a big impression on the Russians.

/7/Document 212.

The next crisis came with Kosygin's message of Saturday morning (Page 30, June 10, 8:48 a.m.)./8/ This message asserted the Russians were ready to act independently if Israeli military actions against Syria were not stopped in the "next few hours." It went on to say that such independent actions "may bring us into a clash, which will lead to a grave catastrophe." The message concluded by saying that Soviet actions "including military" would be taken if Israel did not cease military action.

/8/Document 243.

Ambassador Thompson said he personally checked the Russian text to make sure "including military" was actually there. He was impressed how much greater Soviet sensitivity was to the plight of the Syrians than to that of the Egyptians. At the time, the Syrians were the apple of the Russians' eye (although this changed later). Ambassador Thompson voiced a concern in the Situation Room meeting whether the Russians might suspect that our intention was really to knock off the Syrian government.

The main focus of the discussion in the Situation Room was over what was actually happening in Syria. Richard Helms was brought into the meeting to see if he could check the situation on the spot, and verify whether the Israelis were smashing ahead as the Russians said (see Pages 34 and 38). The feeling of those in the Situation Room was that the Israelis were probably doing so. Mr. Helms tried in a number of ways to reach friendly powers with diplomatic missions still open in Damascus, etc.

There was some discussion whether the Soviet message actually meant that the Russians wanted to move into the area with force. There was some back and forth about the tenor of the Soviet message, and the danger that the Russians might be testing us out. If our replies were too polite, we might look as if we were backing down under a threat. Nevertheless, the President--while he could have gone back to the Russians making threats of his own--chose to send the calm and reasoned message he did (Page 32, June 10, 9:30 a.m.)./9/

/9/Document 246.

Kosygin came back with a message saying the Israelis were "conducting an offensive towards Damascus," "and that action cannot be postponed."/10/

/10/Document 247.

There was some discussion whether the Soviets had actually weighed in with the Syrians to get their agreements to a cease-fire or not. A request for confirmation that they had was drafted into President Johnson's message of reply. Fortunately, the televised proceedings at the Security Council in New York soon showed that Israel had informed General Bull that it would accept any cease-fire arrangements General Bull's representative suggested and that Israel regarded the cease-fire as in effect. McGeorge Bundy drafted a paragraph for the President incorporating this information, and tension soon eased--as it became clear that military action on the Syrian front was being concluded.

As a post mortem, according to Ambassador Thompson, there was some discussion among senior U.S. officials whether we might not have been well advised to let the Israelis move on to Damascus. It was clear the Israelis could have done so. Ambassador Thompson says this was strictly post mortem, however, and this possibility was not discussed at the Situation Room meeting.

Ambassador Thompson concludes that this crisis shows how important it was for the President to keep his cool. He adds, like Richard Helms (see Harold Saunders; memorandum of October 22)\11\ that June 10 was a time of great concern and utmost gravity.

/11/Document 244.


246. Message From President Johnson to Premier Kosygin/1/

Washington, June 10, 1967, 9:39 a.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Head of State Correspondence, USSR, Washington-Moscow "Hot-Line" Exchange, 6/5-10/67. Secret. A typed notation on the message indicates it was approved by the President at 9:30 a.m., and transmitted by U.S. Molink at 9:39 a.m.

Dear Mr. Kosygin,

I have your message. You should know that late last night our Secretary of State sent a most urgent message to Israel to say that we considered it very important that Israel demonstrate by actions on the ground that its orders for a cease-fire are effective./2/ We received assurance at 3 A.M. Washington time that Israel fully intended to achieve actual cease-fire on its side./3/

/2/Document 239.

/3/Document 242.

Consistent with this assurance, Israelis informed the UN Security Council that its authorities were meeting with General Bull of UN to make all arrangements for cease-fire with Syria.

We have no means of reaching Syrian Government and hope that you have been making similar appeals to them.

Our Ambassador Barbour in Israel has now sent us a message, at 7:45 Washington time, today, saying that Israelis tell him they believe the firing has stopped as of this moment./4/

/4/Telegram 4054 from Tel Aviv, June 10; not printed. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR)

We continue to watch developments most closely and will keep in touch with you.

Lyndon B. Johnson

247. Message From Premier Kosygin to President Johnson/1/

Moscow, June 10, 1967, 9:44 a.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Head of State Correspondence, USSR, Washington-Moscow "Hot-Line" Exchange, 6/5-10/67. No classification marking. The message is labeled "Translation," with a typed notation indicating that a sight translation was made at 10 a.m., and the message was received by the President at 10:05 a.m. A typed notation on a copy of the message in Russian states it was transmitted by Soviet Molink at 9:44 a.m. and received by U.S. Molink at 9:52 a.m. (Ibid.)

Dear President Johnson,

I have read your reply to our message and I must tell you that your information concerning the cessation of military actions in Syria on the part of Israel is not borne out. We have constant and uninterrupted communications with Damascus. Israel, employing all types of weapons, aviation and artillery, tanks, is conducting an offensive towards Damascus. Obviously your Embassy in Syria can confirm this if you have representatives there. Military actions are intensifying. It is urgently necessary to avoid further bloodshed. The matter cannot be postponed. I request that you employ all your possibilities for the cessation of military actions and the fulfillment of the resolutions of the Security Council for which we both voted.


A. Kosygin

248. Telegram From the Embassy in Morocco to the Department of State/1/

Rabat, June 10, 1967, 1315Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Flash; Limdis. Repeated Flash to USUN and repeated to Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, Cairo, Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad, Amman, Kuwait, Jidda, Tel Aviv, and COMAC and CINCSTRIKE for POLADs. Received at 9:58 a.m. Passed to the White House at 9:59 a.m.

5462. For President and Secretary.

1. FonMin Laraki asked me remain behind after meeting with four power representatives reported Rabat 5459 (Notal)./2/

/2/Telegram 5459 from Rabat, June 10, reported that Laraki had met with the U.S., British, French, and Soviet Ambassadors and conveyed the King's appeal for their support for a cease-fire and Israeli withdrawal. (Ibid.)

2. King wished make special appeal to President regarding support for cease-fire and Israel's return to pre-hostilities positions. King urged USG take very strong position in Security Council this afternoon on both issues. Up until last few hours and Israel's punishing attack on Damascus United States had, in King's view, "bought thirty years to work for peace in NE." Nasser's prestige virtually destroyed. Now, situation wholly reversed. Nasser's gesture of resignation had appealed to hearts of Arab people. Thanks to their unhesitating support of cease-fire and return to armistice lines, Soviet rapidly regaining what prestige they had lost. Israeli military prowess prior their unnecessary attack on Damascus had put the lie to the Arab "progressives" who had been so confident of their Soviet supplied military power. Concomitantly, moderates had been strengthened. Now, in face of Israel's continuing attack, this differentiation between moderates and radicals being obliterated.

3. Laraki concluded that "If you do not act decisively at this point you will be handing the Arab world to the Soviets on a silver platter."

4. Comment: At the time I was called to see Laraki Embassy had been working on telegram drawing to USG attention radical change in emotional and diplomatic situation brought about in these last few hours by Israeli invasion of Syria. King's message to President states the situation as we see it accurately and objectively. To the average Arab there is no doubt that we would by this time be militarily involved on Israel's side if she were being attacked by Arabs as she is now attacking them. That we have not yet taken strong public position in favor of withdrawal Israeli forces to armistice lines is being construed as proof that our often stated commitment to territorial integrity of Near East states works in only one direction.

5. I share with King Hassan the hope that US statements this afternoon will leave no room for doubt about US impartiality./3/

/3/Telegram 210120 to Rabat, June 10, stated that the United States had pressed in the United Nations and with the parties concerned for an immediate cease-fire and had made a strong public statement calling on both Syria and Israel to obey the cease-fire resolution. It noted that at the June 9 meeting of the Security Council, Goldberg had reaffirmed the President's May 23 statement supporting the territorial integrity of all states in the area. (lbid., POL 27 ARAB-ISR/UN) For text of the Goldberg statement under reference, see Department of State Bulletin, June 26, 1967, pp. 946-947.


249. Memorandum of Conversation/1/

Washington, June 10, 1967, 10 a.m.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by David L. Gamon (NEA/ARN).

Israel-Syria Cease Fire

His Excellency Avraham Harman, Ambassador of Israel
His Excellency Ephraim Evron, Israeli Minister
The Under Secretary
The Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Assistant Secretary Battle
Mr. David L. Gamon, NEA/ARN

The Under Secretary most emphatically told the Ambassador that an effective cease fire along the Israeli-Syrian sector simply had to be reached without delay. The Secretary had sent such a message to Foreign Minister Eban on the night of June 9. The Under Secretary appreciated the difficulties of the situation, but it was extremely important that the shooting be stopped before the diplomatic and political position deteriorated. Ambassador Goldberg reported the frustration and discontent at the United Nations and recommended that President Johnson send a message to President Eshkol. The Soviets, who were trying to recoup their position in the area, were taking advantage of the situation and were busy saber rattling.

Earlier the Under Secretary said, the Government of Israel had told Ambassador Barbour that the fighting had ceased. The US had passed this on to the Russians. Was this information correct? It had better be or our credibility with the Russians would suffer.

Ambassador Harman said he understood the importance of what the Under Secretary had said. One thing he did want to make clear: there was no invasion of Syria or a move on Damascus and none was intended. The Syrians reluctantly had agreed to a cease fire only after the Israelis had done so. The Syrians then engaged in a wholesale destruction of the Israeli side of the line. Israel had merely been trying to prevent a reoccurrence of this by occupying the high points. General Dayan had now requested a meeting with General Bull to concert on effective steps for a cease fire.

The Under Secretary said that he appreciated the Israeli problem. At the same time an immediate effective cease fire must not be delayed by discussion. The Israelis had been pasting hell out of the other forces. When the firing did not cease, the weight of the assumption was that the Israelis were responsible. Reactions from the Hill indicated that the Congress had had its fill of the failure to stop the fighting.

Ambassador Harman expressed his prayer that the shooting would end. But, he asked, what should be done if the Syrians carried on the fight? The Under Secretary and Mr. Rostow pointed out that it would be extremely important to have the United Nations personnel find out just what was going on. Mr. Evron observed that the Syrians were not allowing UN observers on their side of the line.

250. Memorandum of Conversation/1/

Washington, June 10, 1967.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret. Drafted by Grey on July 4 and approved in M on July 4.

Israeli Attack on USS Liberty

Under Secretary Rostow
Ambassador Harman

Ambassador Harman was called in by Under Secretary Rostow/2/ who made the following points:

/2/This meeting apparently preceded or followed the meeting between Under Secretary Katzenbach and Ambassador Harman; see Document 249. Rostow also met with Harman that afternoon; see Document 257.

(a) USG wants complete explanation of how Israeli attack on USS Liberty occurred. (b) We want complete documentation from GOI re opening of hostilities. (c) USG would appreciate any information either public or private concerning Israeli/Syrian conflict, especially reports from UN observers. Rostow noted reports of UN observers were of critical importance during Korean conflict. Allegations that GOI failed to honor cease-fire agreements having an impact on many governments. These reports linked to politics of problem and would do no harm for GOI to think of White Paper on entire Syrian episode.

In discussion on status of Jerusalem, Harman indicated capture of Jerusalem had been difficult problem for GOI. Israel had deliberately refrained from using air power and as result suffered many casualties. Prime Minister Eshkol called in leaders of various religious communities and told them each group could determine arrangements for safeguarding own holy places.

251. Diplomatic Note From the Israeli Ambassador (Harman) to Secretary of State Rusk/1/

Washington, June 10, 1967.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. No classification marking. Telegram 210130 to Tel Aviv, June 10, states that Harman had given the note to a Department official that morning. It also states that Congressional and public opinion were incensed over the attack on the USS Liberty, and that Eugene Rostow had informed Harman that morning of the great U.S. concern over the incident, "for which we can find no satisfactory explanation." (Ibid.)

The Ambassador of Israel presents his compliments to the Honorable the Secretary of State and has the honor to inform him that he has been requested by the Government of Israel to renew its sincere expression of deep regret for the tragic accident in which, at the height of hostilities in the area, the USS Liberty was hit by Israeli fire. The Government of Israel deeply regrets this tragic accident.

The Ambassador of Israel has been instructed to inform the Honorable the Secretary of State that the Government of Israel is prepared to make amends for the tragic loss of life and material damage.

The Ambassador of Israel expresses once again in the name of the Government of Israel its deep condolences to the Government of the United States and its sympathy to all the bereaved families.

The Ambassador of Israel avails himself of this opportunity to renew to the Honorable the Secretary of State the expression of his highest consideration.


252. Message From President Johnson to Premier Kosygin/1/

Washington, June 10, 1967, 10:58 a.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Head of State Correspondence, USSR, Washington-Moscow "Hot-Line" Exchange, 6/5-10/67. Secret. A typed notation on the message indicates it was approved by the President at 10:50 a.m., and transmitted by U.S. Molink at 10:58 a.m.

Dear Mr. Kosygin,

I have your last message and you can be assured that we have emphasized our position to Israel by every means. We have just restated our views in the strongest terms to Israelis here and in New York and by message to Tel Aviv.

Could you confirm that you have employed your means with the Syrians for this same purpose.

We are taking further steps to inform ourselves on the present situation in Damascus, through several sources, although we have categorical assurances from Israelis that there is no Israeli advance on Damascus.

You will have seen that President Nasser yesterday repeated his outrageous invention about American and British participation in this conflict. Since you know well that this inflammatory charge is a total lie, peace would be served if your Government could publicly state the facts known to you on this point.

You will have learned of the report just made in the Security Council that Israel has informed General Bull it will accept any arrangements for making cease-fire effective on the ground that General Bull's UN representative suggests./2/ Bull himself replied it would take time to contact Damascus. Meanwhile Israel has announced that it regards cease-fire as in effect now. This seems to make it even more urgent that you use your channels to Damascus to ensure that Syrians also stop their fire so as not to provoke further response.

/2/According to Thompson, this information came from the televised proceedings of the Security Council meeting; see Document 245.


Lyndon B. Johnson

253. Telegram From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Commander-in-Chief European Command (Lemnitzer)/1/

Washington, June 10, 1967, 1522Z.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis, Vol. VI. Secret; Flash. Drafted by Captain R.L. Kopps (USN), reflecting telephoned instructions from McNamara; see Document 245. Repeated to CINCUSNAVEUR and COMSIXTHFLT.

JCS 7628. Subj: Sixth Fleet Movement (C).

1. (S) Continued lack of Israeli and Syrian response to the cease fire has caused USSR to make a declaration of the possible use of military force against Israeli.

2. (S) The following moves are precautionary only; however necessary, preparatory measures should be taken.

3 (S) Request you direct following movements:

a. TG 60.1 and TG 60.2 steam at moderate speed toward 33*00' North 33*00' East. Do not permit fleet elements to operate east of 33*00' East or south of 33º00' North unless so directed by JCS./2/

/2/JCS telegram 7635, June 10, modified paragraph 3a of JCS 7628 to direct TG 60.1 and TG 60.2 to operate in the general area north of 33*00' North and west of 33*00' East. It directed that fleet elements, including aircraft, should not be permitted to operate south of 33*00' North or east of 33*00' East unless so ordered by the JCS. (Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Histories, Middle East Crisis, Vol. 7, Appendix H)

b. PHIBRON 6 to vicinity off Southern Crete.

4. (S) Do not disclose reason for move to media.

5. (U) Acknowledge receipt.

254. Message From Premier Kosygin to President Johnson/1/

Moscow, June 10, 1967, 11:31 a.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Head of State Correspondence, USSR, Washington-Moscow "Hot-Line" Exchange, 6/5-10/67. No classification marking. The message is labeled "Translation," with a typed notation indicating a sight translation was made at 11:40 a.m., and the message was received by the President at 11:43 a.m. A typed notation on a copy of the message in Russian states it was transmitted by Soviet Molink at 11:31 a.m. and received by U.S. Molink at 11:34 a.m. (Ibid.)

Dear Mr. President:

By my instructions, we have just communicated with Damascus. From Damascus we have been informed that military actions are in progress in the vicinity of the city of Kuneitra where Israeli troops continue their offensive operations.

I can assure you that we did everything possible on our part to stop the war against Syria and the UAR. If today all military actions are concluded, it will be necessary to proceed to the next step of evacuating the territory occupied by Israel and the return of troops behind the armistice line.

I consider that we should maintain contact with you on this matter.


A. Kosygin

255. Message From President Johnson to Premier Kosygin/1/

Washington, June 10, 1967, 11:58 a.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Head of State Correspondence, USSR, Washington-Moscow "Hot-Line" Exchange, 6/5-10/67. Secret. A typed notation on the message indicates it was approved by the President at 11:54 a.m.; transmitted by U.S. Molink at 11:58 a. m.; and received by Soviet Molink at 11:59 a.m.

Dear Mr. Kosygin:

I have your last message.

It now appears that military action in the Middle East is being concluded. I hope our efforts in the days ahead can be devoted to the achievement of lasting peace throughout the world.


Lyndon B. Johnson

256. Diplomatic Note From Secretary of State Rusk to the Israeli Ambassador (Harman)/1/

Washington, June 10, 1967.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. No classification marking. A draft, nearly identical to this, with Walt Rostow's handwritten revisions, bears a handwritten notation that it was drafted by Rusk, Katzenbach, and Walt Rostow. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis, Vol. V) Telegram 210139 to Tel Aviv, June 10, which transmitted the text of the note, states that Eugene Rostow gave it to Harman that afternoon. (Ibid.)

The Secretary of State presents his compliments to His Excellency the Ambassador of Israel and has the honor to refer to the Ambassador's Note of June 10, 1967 concerning the attack by Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats on the United States naval vessel U.S.S. Liberty, which was carried out at 1605 and 1625 hours local time,/2/ respectively, on June 8, 1967 while the U.S.S. Liberty was engaged in peaceful activities in international waters.

/2/The times are incorrect; see Document 352.

At the time of the attack, the U.S.S Liberty was flying the American flag and its identification was clearly indicated in large white letters and numerals on its hull. It was broad daylight and the weather conditions were excellent. Experience demonstrates that both the flag and the identification number of the vessel were readily visible from the air. At 1450 hours local time/3/ on June 8, 1967, two Israeli aircraft circled the U.S.S. Liberty three times, with the evident purpose of identifying the vessel. Accordingly there is every reason to believe that the U.S.S Liberty was identified, or at least her nationality determined, by Israeli aircraft approximately one hour before the attack. In these circumstances, the later military attack by Israeli aircraft on the U.S.S. Liberty is quite literally incomprehensible. As a minimum, the attack must be condemned as an act of military recklessness reflecting wanton disregard for human life.

/3/This time is incorrect, and the sentence understates the number of aircraft that overflew the Liberty; see Document 352.

The subsequent attack by Israeli torpedo boats, substantially after the vessel was or should have been identified by Israeli military forces, manifests the same reckless disregard for human life. The silhouette and conduct of the U.S.S Liberty readily distinguished it from any vessel that could have been considered as hostile. The U.S.S. Liberty was peacefully engaged, posed no threat whatsoever to the torpedo boats, and obviously carried no armament affording it a combat capability. It could and should have been scrutinized visually at close range before torpedoes were fired.

While the Ambassador of Israel has informed Secretary of State that "the Government of Israel is prepared to make amends for the tragic loss of life and material damage," the Secretary of State wishes to make clear that the United States Government expects the Government of Israel also to take the disciplinary measures which international law requires in the event of wrongful conduct by the military personnel of a State. He wishes also to make clear that the United States Government expects the Government of Israel to issue instructions necessary to ensure that United States personnel and property will not again be endangered by the wrongful actions of Israeli military personnel.

The United States Government expects that the Government of Israel will provide compensation in accordance with international law to the extent that it is possible to compensate for the losses sustained in this tragic event. The Department of State will, in the near future, present to the Government of Israel a full monetary statement of its claim.

257. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel/1/

Washington, June 11, 1967, 4:24 p.m.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Priority; Limdis. Drafted and approved by Grey. Also sent to USUN.

210199. Memcon between Amb Harman and Under Secretary Rostow, June 10.

1. Under Secretary Rostow presented Amb Harman text of USG note concerning Liberty incident (sent septel)./2/ Before reading note Harman noted GOI was appointing committee of inquiry to investigate incident.

/2/See Document 256 and footnote 1 thereto.

2. Harman said he would refrain from commenting on note but expressed hope that any publication of it would follow line that this was a tragic mistake for which GOI accepted full responsibility. Rostow agreed incident tragic mistake but added that circumstances surrounding it very mysterious. Word used in our note was "incomprehensible" and we hope board of inquiry would take appropriate action against responsible parties when investigation concluded.

3. Rostow said USG presenting this case to GOI in same manner in which it would present similar case to any other government.

4. Harman noted three things: GOI did not know location of ship, location was scene of active hostility, and GOI had promptly apologized for this tragic episode.

5. In closing Harman again reiterated GOI desire to handle incident as tragic mistake for which GOI accepted full responsibility.


258. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson/1/

Washington, June 10, 1967, 5:05 p.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis, CIA Intelligence Memoranda. Top Secret; Trine.

Mr. President:

These intercepts/2/--showing some honest ambiguity about the ship after the attack--suggest that there may have been a breakdown of communications on the Israeli side; that is, the tactical base which first received word that the ship was American may not have flashed that information to other air force and naval units.

/2/Attached is a preliminary version of the material discussed in Document 284. Other copies of this material in preliminary and later versions are in the National Security Agency, Center for Cryptologic History, Historical Collection, Series VIII, Crisis Files, Box 16; Naval Security Group Records, NSG Box 896, USS Liberty, Pre 76, Box 1, USS Liberty, 5750/4, Chronological Message File; and Central Intelligence Agency, DDO/NE Files, Job 68-S-626, Box 1, Folder 5, Israeli Air Including Attack on Liberty, and ibid., Folder 8, USS Liberty and Other Naval Activity.

We shall, of course, analyze this affair further.


259. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State/1/

New York, June 10, 1967, 1816Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Confidential; Priority; Limdis. Repeated Priority to Moscow and Tel Aviv. Received at 3:41 p.m. Passed to the White House, DOD, CIA, USIA, NSA, COMAC, and CINCSTRIKE at 6:17 p.m.

5683. Mid-East.

Shortly before Fedorenko (USSR) speech in SC today announcing Sov break in diplomatic relations with Israel and threat of sanctions, Shevchenko (USSR) came over to Pedersen in Council. Said it was by that time obvious to any fair-minded person that Israelis were continuing the conflict in Syria in spite of SC reses and that US must take vigorous measures to stop them. Said that if fighting did not stop situation could go even beyond sanctions into military measures with dangers of Sov-American confrontation undesired by either. Fedorenko then started to speak and conversation broke off.

Fol Fedorenko speech Pedersen showed Shevchenko draft res US had prepared condemning any violations of ceasefire and calling for unequivocal instructions to be sent to military commanders to stop immediately. Told Shevchenko we had approached Israelis vigorously last night and again this morning and that he should have no illusions US policy was determined to bring about immediate ceasefire. Shevchenko looked at res and said it should call on Israel to stop firing. Pedersen replied that Sovs would have to choose between their objectives. One was to bring about an immediate ceasefire. We were prepared to do this and even to propose res to this effect. Another was to point political blame at Israel by naming it specifically. This US was not prepared to do in situation where both sides were still fighting. Pedersen said that in any case Israelis had continued to assure us they were fully committed to a ceasefire, that they had not taken Quentera and were not advancing on Damascus. Key conversation to implement ceasefire was taking place between Gen Bull and Gen Dayan and this was in fact more significant than anything SC might now do. Shevchenko said that if we were not prepared to point res clearly at Israel best thing would be not to have res in SC at all but simply to adjourn subject to call with understanding SYG would continue his efforts to implement the ceasefire. In that case he said US should exert prompt pressures on Israel through diplomatic channels. Pedersen said we were already doing so.

Subsequently, shortly before end of meeting, Shevchenko approached Pedersen again to discuss exact manner of terminating meeting. In this conversation he reiterated importance of immediate ceasefire. This time he said that issue was critical because while we had our commitments in area USSR also had theirs; if Damascus were taken by Israelis USSR would have to respond. (Impression was a response of some sort of military aid to Syria.)

Pedersen said we regretted that the one day's cooperation between two dels in NY when we first achieved ceasefire res Tuesday had quickly evaporated. Noted it seemed to be easier to consult with USSR in Moscow and Wash than in NY and this made matters difficult. Hoped there might be renewal of cooperation as we approached difficult task of achieving new settlement in ME. Shevchenko said Sov reversion Wednesday to urgent call for SC meeting and deposit of res without consultation with US had been based on rigid instructions from Moscow that they must call "immediate" meeting, coupled with Moscow report that USG had been informed.

Said that as we moved into next phase USSR would stress withdrawal and that it would be difficult to cooperate closely in NY while Israeli forces remained on Arab territory. Pedersen said it might be understandable we would have public differences on this issue but that should not prevent exchange of views privately. Noted simple withdrawal was simply not realistic policy in present circumstances and more fundamental issues needed to be dealt with. Commented, for example, that if USSR had expressed itself in favor of freedom of navigation in straits at outset this conflict would probably never have come about. Shevchenko replied there was not much to be gained from going back to what might have been done before. Also said Sov del recognized some other elements might have to be looked at in connection with withdrawal, but said US res had too many.

In separate conversation Fochine (Sov national in Secretariat) also expressed concern about danger of Sov-American confrontation in ME. Said he regarded situation as more dangerous than Cuban missiles crisis because we could both be drawn into situation by people over whose activities we did not have full control. Referred to the sanctions, with use of term blockade. Also referred to possibility military flights over Turkey and Iran by way of discounting them but said Sov military measures were not excluded.

On settlement of crisis Fochine said he thought there would have to be improvement of UN observation machinery in the area. Said he had been studying this in Secretariat. When Pedersen said this was sort of thing US had always supported but we wondered whether Moscow would favor such move, Fochine said he thought they would.

Comment: Most significant aspect of above conversations seemed to be Shevchenko's second conversation focusing on Sov concern re Israeli capture of Damascus. Shevchenko's manner was one of concern to end the conflict and avoid a Sov-American confrontation rather than one of pressure or threat. It was in utterly marked contrast to Fedorenko's nasty demeanor against US in SC and of Fedorenko's refusal to talk to Goldberg during morning on grounds he could not leave Sov seat in Council.


260. Telegram From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State/1/

Tel Aviv, June 10, 1967, 2145Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Flash; Exdis. Received at 6:15 p.m. An advance copy was received at 6:10 p.m. and passed to the White House at 6:13 p.m.

4063. Ref: State 210085 and 210034./2/

/2/Telegram 210034 to Tel Aviv, June 10, summarized the conversation between Katzenbach and Harman recorded in Document 249 and instructed the Embassy to convey this to the highest level and emphasize the seriousness of the situation. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 ARAB-ISR) Telegram 210085 to Tel Aviv, June 10, reiterated the instructions. (Ibid., POL 27 ARAB-ISR)

1. I conveyed substance UNSEC's statement to Harman to Bitan for Eban and Eshkol immediately upon receipt. Eshkol at Syrian front but Eban and Dayan for whom message equally important were in Tel Aviv and were informed at once.

2. Report of conversation had already been received from Harman and I had impression there no misunderstanding of possible consequences if seriousness of situation in relation to Sovs disregarded. I had been preaching criticality Sov factor since 0645 hours this morning when I saw Eban.

3. However, by time I received reftel 210034, Israelis had already concluded necessity obtain effective ceasefire whatever the military position on the ground, had called in Bull and had given him free hand to get in touch with Syrians to ascertain their position and to make any physical arrangements to assure implementation he wished. Israelis and SYG had notified Security Council.

4. Although Sov breaking of diplomatic relations does not seem to me to have caused as much concern in GOI as it perhaps should have (this probably minimum card Sovs had to play sometime to satisfy Arab resentment against them), deteriorating Security Council situation, clear signal of US anxieties, and essentially of extricating themselves from over extension in Syria, which being compounded on political scene by Syrian charges of Israeli advance on Damascus, convinced Israelis implementation ceasefire under any available machinery of top priority.

5. It seems clear that, driven by military necessity of achieving viable military posture for protection border settlements, Israelis played for time in political maneuvers in Security Council to hair raising proximity to brink but also evident tonight that they think they have gotten away with it. There is generally relaxed atmosphere in official circles and every indication intention to hold to ceasefire.


261. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Jordan/1/

Washington, June 10, 1967, 7:31 p.m.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Sisco, cleared by Eugene Rostow and Battle, and approved by Walsh. Also sent to London and repeated to USUN.

210141. Amman's 4190./2/ Please convey to King Hussein at earliest opportunity the following:

/2/Telegram 4190 from Amman, June 10, reported that the previous evening, after Nasser reiterated the charges of U.S. involvement on behalf of Israel, King Hussein urged that this issue should be cleared up and suggested a U.S. invitation to the United Nations to investigate. He said he was willing to take the initiative himself but thought a U.S. initiative would be preferable. He cited the following points for investigation: (a) Jordanian radar readings indicating aircraft flying into Israel from stationary objects in the Mediterranean for 3-4 days preceding the hostilities, (b) reports from Jordanian officers that British Hawker-Hunter aircraft were used in Israeli attacks, (c) Jordanian, UAR, and Syrian reports that British Canberras were used in Israeli attacks, and (d) UAR General Abdul Munim Riyadh was convinced that something more than the Israeli Air Force was involved. (Ibid.)

1) We fully appreciate need to clear up once and for all charges US and UK actively involved in support Israel in hostilities. We have already issued categoric denial, including specific statements by Secretary, Ambassador Goldberg and Defense Dept. British also denied charges.

2) In SC on June 6 Ambassador Goldberg said (unnecessary words omitted): "US prepared, first, to cooperate in immediate impartial investigation by UN of these charges, to offer all facilities to UN in that investigation; second, as part of or in addition such investigation, US prepared invite UN personnel aboard our aircraft carriers in Mediterranean today, tomorrow, or at convenience of UN, to serve as impartial observers of activities of our planes in area and verify past activities our plans from our official records and from log each ship carries. These observers will, in addition, be free interview air crews these carriers without inhibition, to determine their activities during days in question. Their presence as observers on these carriers will be welcomed throughout period this crisis and so long these ships in eastern waters of Mediterranean."/3/

/3/For text of the statement under reference, see Department of State Bulletin, June 26, 1967, pp. 934-936.

We have now transmitted to UN same offer in official communication for circulation to all Members./4/ This places us in position to take formal initiative at any time. In light this fact any Jordanian initiative would be superfluous. Moreover, it seems to us Jordanians upon reflection would realize not in their own interest take any such initiative which bound antagonize other Middle Eastern states.

/4/UN document S/7963; printed ibid., July 3, 1967, p. 11.

3) We are continuing watch problem carefully with view to seeing how play of UAR charges evolves worldwide. UN so far has shown virtually no interest in formal follow-up. We know USSR considers charges have no foundation and has said so to Middle Eastern ambassadors privately, but it obviously will not say so publicly. In this connection Goldberg on June 10 noted that Soviets have been shadowing our fleet in Mediterranean and are in position to disprove charges of involvement by US aircraft. He also remarked that Soviet Ambassador to UN has made no comment on these charges./5/

/5/The text of a statement made by Goldberg on June 10 is ibid., pp. 3-5.

4) We will keep in continuous review whether to take further steps including submission specific proposal in light developments.

5) Begin FYI. We will forward comments on Hawker-Hunters and Canberras in septel. End FYI.

6) For London: Embassy should urgently review contents of Amman's 4190 with appropriate UK officials and seek their comment on Jordanian impression that Canberras and Hawker-Hunters were active in area. You should specifically try confirm our impression these aircraft obsolete and no longer in use by any British forces in Middle East.


262. Editorial Note

Stephen Green alleges in Taking Sides: America's Relations with a Militant Israel (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1984), pages 204-209, that U.S. Air Force RF-4C photo reconnaissance planes and pilots from the Thirty-eighth Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (TRS), stationed in Germany, and photo reconnaissance technicians and equipment from the Seventeenth TRS, stationed in England, were sent to Israel on June 4, 1967, and that they flew and provided support for photo reconnaissance missions in support of Israeli forces throughout the war. Green's source for the story claimed to have been a participant in the operation.

No documentation supporting Green's allegations was found in the course of the research for this volume. An investigation in 1996-1997 by two historians of the Office of Air Force History uncovered no evidence supporting Green's account and no evidence that U.S. Air Force members of the Thirty-eighth TRS, Seventeenth TRS, or other units were in Israel during the 1967 war. (Research and Findings on Statements in the Book Taking Sides; Office of Air Force History) Richard B. Parker concludes in "USAF in the Sinai in the 1967 War: Fact or Fiction?" Journal of Palestine Studies, XXVII, No. 1 (Autumn 1997), pages 67-75, that the story was fabricated by Green's source.

Sources: Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, Volume XIX, Arab-Israeli Crisis and War, 1967, U.S. Department of State