NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY
CENTRAL SECURITY SERVICE
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, MARYLAND 20755-6000FOIA Case: 40039AMr. A. Jay Cristol
2 July 2003
Dear Mr. Cristol:
This further responds to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request of 26 April 2001 for "Tapes, recordings, or other electronic or paper records of surveillance of VHF/UHF or high frequency voice transmissions made or intercepted on June 8, 1967, between 1100Z (1300 Sinai time) and 1300Z (1500 Sinai time) at or near El Arish on the Sinai Peninsula, Eastern Mediterranean, by any of the following:
1-U.S.S. Liberty GTR-5 - NSA compartment or detachmentA thorough search of our files was conducted, but no records responsive to the first two portions of your request were located. Information responsive to the third portion of your request was located and is enclosed. The enclosed material has been processed under the FOIA. The responsive information includes three CDs (three recordings of Israeli communications in Hebrew) and six documents. In order to provide you with as much information as possible, we have included all of the post-attack communications, even those occurring outside of the time period that you specifically requested.
2-U.S.S. Amberjack SS-522
3-Any EC-121 aircraft (probably assigned to VQ-2 detachment stationed at Athens, Greece, under control of FAIRECONRON TWO)."
Within an hour of learning that the Liberty had been torpedoed, the Director, NSA sent a message to all intercept sites requesting a special search of all communications that might reflect the attack or reaction. No communications of the attacking aircraft or torpedo boats were available. However, one of the airborne platforms, the EC-121, had collected voice conversations between two Israeli helicopter pilots and the control tower at Hazor Airfield (near Tel Aviv). Those communications have been declassified and are on the enclosed CDs. Each CD contains an audio recording of voice conversations between Israeli helicopter pilots and the control tower at Hazor Airfield following the attack on the Liberty. The audio recordings are in Hebrew and contain time counts in English that were added by the intercept operator. Other information with respect to the EC-121 during the time period you requested exists, but is unrelated to the Liberty attack. That information remains classified and is not being provided to you.
Also enclosed are the three transcripts of the audio recordings. The transcripts are in English. There are two additional transcripts that were issued as reports; they are summaries of the first three transcripts and omit the non-substantive chatter. A compiled report also summarizes the activity and contains the text of the transcripts.
Some of the information has been deleted from the enclosures because it was found to be currently and properly classified in accordance with Executive Order 12958, as amended. This information meets the criteria for classification as set forth in Subparagraphs (c) and (g) of Section 1.4 and remains classified TOP SECRET and SECRET as provided in Section 1.2 of the Executive Order. The information is classified because its disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security. The information is exempt from automatic declassification in accordance with Section 3.3(b)(1) and (b)(3) of Executive Order 12958, as amended. Because the information is currently and properly classified, it is exempt from disclosure pursuant to the first exemption of the FOIA (5 U.S.C. Section 552(b)(1)).
In addition, this Agency is authorized by various statutes to protect certain information concerning its activities. We have determined that such information exists in the enclosures. Accordingly, those portions are also exempt from disclosure pursuant to the third exemption of the FOIA which provides for the withholding of information specifically protected from disclosure by statute. The specific statutes applicable in this case are Title 18 U.S. Code 798; Title 50 U.S. Code 403-3(c)(6); and Section 6, Public Law 86-36 (50 U.S. Code 402 note).
The fact that we were unable to locate records responsive to two portions of your request and the fact that we withheld information from the enclosures may be construed as a partial denial of your request. You are hereby advised of this Agency's appeal procedures. As you are aware, this matter is currently in litigation, and therefore, an administrative appeal is unnecessary. However, should you wish to appeal, you may file an appeal to the NSA/CSS FOIA Appeal Authority (DC321), National Security Agency, 9800 Savage Road STE 6248, Fort George G. Meade, MD 20755-6248. The appeal shall reference the initial denial of access and shall contain, in sufficient detail and particularity, the grounds upon which the requester believes release of the information is required. The NSA/CSS Appeal Authority will endeavor to respond to the appeal within 20 working days after receipt, absent any unusual circumstances.
LOUIS F. GILES
Director of Policy
Aftermath of Israeli Attack on U.S.S. Liberty, compiled transcripts, 22 June 1967 (2 MB PDF file)
All Liberty releases on NSA web site