Grantski and others believe the attack was intentional, that Israel did not as it claimed mistake the USS Liberty for another ship when it tried to sink it on the fourth day of the Six Days War.
Israel later admitted to the attack. It paid more than $3.2 million to the families of those killed and over $3.5 million to 74 of the wounded by 1969. Then, in 1980, it paid the U.S. $6 million for damages to the ship’s communications equipment. But the governments of Israel and the U.S. refuse to say the attack was purposeful even though cryptographers and techs aboard the Liberty – including Grantski – intercepted messages they believe inferred the Israelis staged the attack to make it look like Egypt or other members of the Arab coalition did it in order to draw the U.S. into the war on Israel’s side.
“I had top-secret crypto clearance – the highest you could get,” Grantski said. His job was to copy the messages transmitted. “They would change the station in the middle of a message and someone else would say, ‘Ski, he’s on .. ’ whatever station, and I’d switch to that one.’ They were using lots of Morse Code, and sending at 50 to 70 words per minute, which is pretty darned fast to be copying in code.”
One message in particular stood out.
“I had intercepted a message the Israelis were going to attack (a U.S.) base and blame it on the Arabs, or implied so,” he said. The message forwarded as top-secret to the White House. “Unbeknownst to us, it was our ship that was going to be attacked.”