The Liberty Incident

Hebrew Linguist #3

NSA Hebrew Linguist #3 is quoted in The Liberty Incident, on page 137, as follows:

. . . . Al Blue [the NSA Arabic linguist] was a friend of mine. We were both on the Valdez during February-April of '67, having picked up the ship in Massaua, Ethiopia and rode it up the canal into the Mediterranean and out to Barcelona. When we returned "they" told us that we had to go right back out to get on the Liberty. I told them that I was due to be discharged from the Navy in June of '67 and it was unlikely the Navy would let me go, with so little time left. So, they agreed that I couldn't go, which resulted in "no" Hebrew linguist aboard the Liberty. But, they said that Al (Blue) had to go.

So, because of the fact that I lost a good friend in Al and of course NAVSECGRU shipmates and other wounded civilians - I was ready to blame the Israelis, along with everyone else who was angry. But, based on what I heard, both from eyewitnesses and the tapes, my conclusion has always been that it was a case of mistaken identity.

On September 19, 2005, in response to my Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the National Security Agency declassified and released in redacted format the oral history of Richard W. Hickman, the third Hebrew linguist. Hickman had done translation of the NSA intercepts and had briefed the Director of the National Security Agency Lieutenant General Marshal S. Carter on the intercepts at NSA headquarters in June 1967. The oral history was taken by William Gerhart, Henry Millington, Hank Schorreck and Robert Farley on April 30, 1980 in connection with the preparation of the NSA 1981 report of which William Gerhard was a co-author. The oral history follows.

Download Oral History of Richard W. Hickman, the "Third Hebrew Linguist"
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