Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor

Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor by Robert Stinnett (2000) answers the question of whether FDR pushed the Japanese into attacking the US and if FDR knew in advance of their plans to attack Pearl Harbor. Stinnett's research is extensive and he supports his conclusions with corroborating facts from different US sources as well as Japanese sources. His research spanned twenty years and access to previously classified documents through the Freedom of Information Act. The physical evidence is extensive enough to draw the conclusion that FDR intentionally implemented a step by step policy to incite the Japanese into war, and that FDR expected the attack since he was kept informed of their plans which were learned from Japanese communication transmissions deciphered from codes that were broken.

Roosevelt's intent and strategy began when he removed Admiral James Richardson from command of the Navy. Richardson was not afraid to stand up to Roosevelt and by doing so he ended his naval career. Roosevelt divided the naval command into a two ocean navy, creating an Atlantic and Pacific Fleet. He appointed Admiral Husband Kimmel to head the Pacific Fleet and he became the scapegoat who received the brunt of the blame for not being prepared for the Japanese surprise attack.

Lieutenant Commander Arthur McCollum, head of the Far East Office of Naval Intelligence, proposed an eight point plan to incite a Japanese attack on Hawaii in October of 1940. Roosevelt embraced the plan and enacted it, point by point. Roosevelt was in favor of joining Great Britain to fight the Nazis and also to prevent the aggressive expansion of Japan throughout Asia. However, he felt the only way for the American public to support joining another European War was if a clear act of war was enacted upon the US.

The act of war had to be severe enough to create a furor among Americans. Therefore, Roosevelt believed it would be necessary to sacrifice some lives by not being prepared for such an attack. He went to great steps to keep the commanders at Pearl Harbor in the dark so they could not repel the attack and that enough damage was done to the US fleet to create an undeniable response of the public for revenge. The US had broken the Japanese codes for communication, so every move made was known and provided directly to FDR. The attack on Pearl Harbor was not a surprise, just a well-kept secret to promote FDR's agenda to enter WWII to save the world from Germany and Japan. FDR promised an isolationist America in his campaign for his third term that he would keep the US out of the war. He didn't want to renege on that promise voluntarily, but he would be justified if an overt act of war was taken against the US.

There were 2,476 people killed in the Japanese attacks of December 11, 1941. 1,104 sailors were killed on the Arizona, accounting for almost 1/2 of the deaths. FDR needed a Japanese attack that would rally the country, and "Remember Pearl Harbor" would not have been a battle cry if the island were better defended. I think FDR did not expect a lucky bomber to sink the Arizona and cause so many deaths, but even with the Arizona, the number was not too severe especially when considering the number of people that would die in the coming years.

My rating: Very Good (****). A scholarly, thoroughly researched book by a WWII Navy veteran. The nature of the topic requires excruciating detail by the author. The reader must wade through the detail to capture the overall essence of the findings and conclusion.

The author provides about 400 pages of detailed facts which support his position. The following are some interesting points presented:

  • "Roosevelt had carefully selected and placed naval officers in key fleet-command positions who would not obstruct his provocation policies." (p. 11)
  • "By late July 1941, [Pacific fleet commander Admiral Kimmel] had been cut off completely from the communications intelligence generated in Washington." (p. 38)
  • "... intercepts and the corresponding radio logs of Station H are powerful evidence of American foreknowledge of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Americans do not know these records exist--all were excluded from the many investigations that took place from 1941 to 1946 and the congressional probe of 1995." (p. 45)
  • During President Roosevelt's fourth-term campaign in 1944, Republican candidate Thomas E. Dewey learned of the [deceit] and saw in it the political means to defeat Roosevelt. He reasoned, if the White House was reading Japanese messages leading up to the attack, why were our forces in the Pacific caught so woefully unprepared? In the autumn of 1944, Dewey planned a series of stump speeches charging Roosevelt with advance knowledge of Japan's plan to attack Pearl Harbor. Dewey's proof was the intercepted Japanese messages. ... General George Marshall, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, persuaded Dewy to call off the code controversy. 'American lives are at peril,' Marshall aptly warned." (p. 77)
  • There had been an intentional cover-up of the facts. "But the most astonishing disclosure on Hart's typewritten message is a handwritten margin note which directs that the dispatch be removed from Navy files and a dummy message substituted in its place." (p. 80)
  • Roosevelt allowed Japanese spy Tadashi Morimura "to operate freely throughout 1941. ... Morimura was able to supply Admiral Yamamoto with highly accurate bombing charts of Pearl Harbor and other US Army and Navy targets on Oahu." (p. 85)
  • "Attorney General Janet Reno has refused to declassify secret FBI files on the matter, citing FOIA rules that prohibit disclosing national defense secrets." (pp. 86-87)
  • "Two dozen FBI and Navy documents dated before the attack link Morimura with espionage in Hawaii. According to these documents, senior American intelligence officials, including the President, knew of Morimura's espionage at the Honolulu consulate. His reports clearly pointed to Pearl Harbor as a prime target of Japanese military planners." (p. 95)
  • "Neither [General] Short nor Kimmel received the cables [about the impending Japanese threat] until after the December 7 attack. According to the evidence, it was not a bureaucratic snafu that delayed the cables getting into American hands but Washington deceit--and the Hawaiian commanders, their sailors and troops, and the civilians of Honolulu were the victims." (p. 107)
  • Information was kept from Kimmel and Short to "ensure an uncontested overt Japanese act of war." (p. 108)
  • Lieutenant Commander Joseph Rochefort, who commanded the Navy's Mid-Pacific Radio Intelligence Network, stated in his Oral History "that the carnage at Pearl Harbor on December 7 was a cheap price to pay for the unification of America. His unity observations parallels that of his close friend Arthur McCollum and suggests that Rochefort was aware of or approved of McCollum's eight-action plan that called for America to create 'ado' and provoke Japan into committing an overt act of war against the United States." (p. 117)
  • "'War with the United States may come with dramatic and dangerous suddenness' was the closing sentence of a lengthy report sent by [Ambassador to Japan, Joseph Grew] to Secretary of State Cordell Hull the next day [November 6, 1941]. Grew cautioned that in the event diplomatic conversations failed, the United States should not underestimate Japan's obvious preparations for war. He felt that the risk and danger of war was very great and was increasing." (p. 143) "On November 17, he again predicted a sudden military or naval action by Japan's armed forces. Grew was specific. He was referring not to China but to other areas available to Japan for a surprise attack." (p. 144)
  • "When White House military officials learned Kimmel's warships were in the area of what turned out to be the intended Japanese launch site, they issued directives that caused Kimmel to quickly order the Pacific Fleet out of the North Pacific and back to its anchorages in Pearl Harbor." (p. 145) "An open sea engagement between Japan's carrier force and the Pacific Fleet would have been far less effective at establishing American outrage. Japan could claim that its right to sail the open seas had been deliberately challenged by American warships if Kimmel attacked first." (p. 151)
  • "On orders from Washington [on December 5th], Kimmel left his oldest vessels inside Pearl Harbor and sent twenty-one modern warships, including his two aircraft carriers, west toward Wake and Midway." (p. 152) "With the departure of the Lexington and Enterprise groups, the warships remaining in Pearl Harbor were mostly 27-year-old relics of World War I." (p. 154)
  • "Beginning with the cancellation of Kimmel's exercise, and continuing through the final days before the attack, conclusive cryptographic evidence indicates that FDR shared McCollum's intentions and left the Pacific Fleet in harm's way." (p. 155)
  • Army Chief of Staff George Marshall said on November 15 in a secret briefing to the press "The United States is on the brink of war with the Japanese. ...We know what they know and they don't know we know it." He predicted war would break out the first ten days of December. Yet Marshall did not communicate that message to General Short or Admiral Kimmel. (pp. 157-158)
  • "Overwhelming evidence proves that Yamamoto, as well as the commanders of the Task Force warships, broke radio silence and that their ships were located by American communication intelligence units." (p. 162)
  • "In the two weeks prior to the attack, Roosevelt's access to Japanese naval intercepts is documented by a series of radio intelligence bulletins, called monographs, that were prepared by McCollum." (p. 167)
  • Kimmel followed orders which "handcuffed the Pacific Fleet. ... But because he followed these orders Kimmel would later take the blame for Pearl Harbor." (p. 173)
  • "General Short placed full trust in his 'old friend of forty years,' General Marshall. Admiral Kimmel did the same. Kimmel had been friends with his boss, Admiral Harold Stark, since their Naval Academy days. But after the successful Japanese raid on December 7, Marshall would go on to be lauded for his direction of World War II in his role as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Kimmel and Short would be fired." (p. 176)
  • Secretary of War Henry Stimson recorded in his diary: "In spite of the risk involved, however, in letting the Japanese fire the first shot, we realized that in order to have the full support of the American people, it was desirable to make sure that the Japanese be the ones to do this, so that there should remain no doubt in anyone's mind as to who were the aggressors." (p. 179)
  • "By December 4, a paper trail of Japanese intercepts had found its way to the White House. Japan's diplomatic messages, Japanese navy communications, and RDF bearings locating Japanese warships heading toward American territory in the Western, North, and Central Pacific were all in the pipeline and available to Roosevelt." (p. 182)
  • General MacArthur, in the Philippines, received copies of the intelligence reports that showed the radio activity of the advancing Japanese fleet. (p. 185)
  • "After November 26, the reports detailing the Japanese military advance on Hawaii were excised from the Presidential monographs." (p. 188)
  • John Toland's book Infamy, published in 1982, quoted Lieutenant Robert Ogg's statement that radio direction finder bearings placed Japanese warships north of Hawaii from November 30 to December 4. "Ogg's statements were challenged by prominent historians, who cited Japanese claims that the Pearl Harbor warships were on radio silence and could not possibly have been intercepted by Americans. ...But he assured skeptics that confirmation could be found in the records of the Navy's intercept station at Dutch Harbor, Alaska. ...But no one looked." However, research by the author found "compelling evidence for Ogg's assertions. ...This vital information obtained by the five units was logged in official Navy reports and forwarded to Washington, but was withheld from Admiral Kimmel and the Pacific Fleet." (pp. 194-195)

    I find it remarkable that the "prominent historians" had the nerve to condemn Ogg for presenting a view different that what they believed. These historians did not even attempt to find factual evidence to either disprove or confirm Ogg's claim. Yet they had the audacity to claim he was not telling the truth. Obviously, the historians were not as prominent as they believed they are. This is an example of academics who never go beyond searching through a bunch of books and simply repeat written items and take them for truth. When a participant who was there offers a different story, he is attacked without proper research being conducted.

  • "In his oral history, Joseph Rochefort said that none of his officers or operators were fooled by Japanese radio deception: 'It is awfully difficult to deceive a trained counter-communications intelligence organization, awfully difficult." (p. 202)

  • "Radio was the only means to return the First Air Fleet to its tight formation" which was driven off course by the typhoon-force winds, scattering tankers and warships. (p. 205) "The information that Kimmel needed was available--so available, in fact, that it often appears as though the Japanese had made few efforts to conceal it. As we now know, Lieutenant Commanders Joseph Rochefort and Edwin Layton could have provided that indication, but they did not do so. Their failure allowed Japan's First Air Fleet to make its surprise attack and then to escape to Japan." (p. 203)

  • There appeared to be a deliberate cover up after the war. "We examined the Fourteenth Naval District Communication Summaries and found that those summaries had indeed been cut off from the bottom of the pages. We have no idea why this was done, but it appears that the documents were entered into evidence during 1945 and 46 in this manner." "So began the myth of the radio silence of the Japanese carrier force. It is a myth that has endured for over fifty years and that continues to baffle historians." (p. 208)
  • General Marshall was involved in a cover up about his involvement in the deceit. "... a later attempt to distance Pearl Harbor investigators from Marshall and the 1:00 P.M. deadline and involves coercion of a US Army colonel to alter his testimony. It even reaches to post-surrender Germany in 1945 when that colonel, Rufus Bratton, was flagged down on the Berlin Autobahn and persuaded to 'modify' evidence against Marshall." (p. 228)
  • Marshall successfully relayed the alert to MacArthur in Manila, but failed to do so to General Short in Hawaii. (p. 235)
  • "The key evidence of what really happened began to be concealed as early as December 11, 1941, only four days after the attack. The first step in the clean-up came from Rear Admiral Leigh Noyes, the Navy's Director of Communications. He instituted the fifty-four-year censorship policy that consigned the pre-Pearl Harbor Japanese military and diplomatic intercepts and the relevant directives to Navy vaults. 'Destroy all notes or anything in writing,' Noyes told a group of his subordinates on December 11." (p. 255)
  • "As heinous as it seems to families and veterans of World War II, of which the author is one, the Pearl Harbor attack was, from the White House perspective, something that had to be endured in order to stop a greater evil" (p. 259)

  • "The real shame is on the stewards of government who have kept the truth under lock for fifty years." (p. 259)

  • "After years of denial, the truth is clear: we knew." (p. 263)

Click Here to buy "Day of Deceit"

No comments: