The following is an update by Michelle J. Kinnucan regarding the USS Liberty FOIA request.
As you may recall, the USS Liberty (AGTR-5) was attacked by Israeli forces in international waters on June 8, 1967, killing 34 Americans and wounding nearly 200 more. According to Stephen Green, “Sometime in the late afternoon or early evening of June 7 … the NSA learned, from an intelligence report emanating from the Office of the U.S. Defense Attaché in Tel Aviv, that Israel was planning to attack the Liberty if her course was not changed.” (Taking Sides:America’s Secret Relations with a Militant Israel (Wm. Morrow & Co., 1984)) p. 215; cf. pp. 226, 239.)
On June 16, 2020, I filed a FOIA request with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) requesting:
“1. All communications and message traffic to or from the Office of Defense Attaché in Israel from June 5, 1967 to June 10, 1967.
“2. All communications and message traffic to of from the Office of Defense Attaché in Israel from June 5, 1967 to June 10, 1967, including, but not limited to, messages received from or sent to the Army Communications Station/Center at the Pentagon.
“3. All communications and message traffic to or from the Office of Defense Attaché in Israel from June 5, 1967 to June 10, 1967, including, but not limited to, messages relayed via the Army Communications Station/Center at the Pentagon.”
The DIA did not respond until a lawsuit was filed against them at which time they claimed all potentially responsive records had been transferred to the National Archives & Records Administration (NARA). I was then told I would have to initiate a new request to NARA for the records which I did on November 20, 2020.
On November 1, 2021, NARA replied: “We reviewed the boxes for Record Group 319 – Records of Army Staff, ‘Top Secret Telecommunications Center Messages, 1965-1974’ (Entry UD-UP 230) … we can narrow down the information from 1967 to 6 FRC boxes of microfilm. Unfortunately, these records are Classified and we have no means of identifying information relevant to your request within that series at this time. We reached out to the National Declassification Center and that staff indicated they already identified this series as potentially relevant to your research, but also explained that they cannot review the microfilm within the two-hour search limit … This concludes the processing of your request.”
On December 21, 2021, I appealed NARA’s response on multiple grounds and reached out to the office of that NARA FOIA Public Liaison. On January 11, 2022, I was informed by the Public Liaison that “Staff of the National Declassification Center searched the six boxes of microfilm for the year 1967 from Record Group 319: Records of the Army Staff, ‘Top Secret Telecommunications Center Messages, 1965-1974’ (Entry UD-UP 230) to determine if specific reels of microfilm can be identified as containing message traffic for June 5-10, 1967. They identified 102 responsive documents. 100 of the documents can be declassified. The remaining 2 documents require declassification review.”
I am now awaiting for further information on how to get copies of the responsive documents. I will keep you apprised of what they reveal when I get them. Fifty-four years after they were created it is amazing that these records have never been released before now and how difficult it is to pry them loose.
Michelle J. Kinnucan