Hard Working Traditional Values With A Dash of Fun

Hard Working Traditional Values With A Dash of Fun

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Roosevelt's Advanced Knowledge of Pearl Harbor Attack


Today, it is widely believed that the Japanese conducted a dastardly surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941. Our army and navy never saw it coming and suffered tremendous losses.


Perhaps the biggest surprise of the Second World War is that there is strong evidence Franklin Roosevelt and his most senior military and political aides knew the Japanese attack was coming and purposefully looked the other way, knowing Japan's "surprise" attack would turn a reluctant America into a nation fully supportive of joining the world war. This is the conclusion made by WWII veteran Robert B. Stinnett in his enlightening 2000 book, Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor.


In the 1930s, as the world became more and more engaged in wars, the people of the United States remained isolationist. Roosevelt was a dedicated Anglophile who took active steps to aid England fight against Nazi Germany. He also took steps to ramp up preparations of the army and navy. Despite these steps, even with Roosevelt's superior persuasive powers, there was no way he could convince American citizens to join England in its war against Germany.


If you are looking for a smoking gun, you won't find it. The historical records have been destroyed or kept from public view. What you can find is a pattern of missing records that point to advanced knowledge of the Pearl Harbor attack by President Roosevelt that was not passed on to local army and navy leaders in Hawaii.


  1. Most students of WWII history are aware that the US had broken the Japanese naval communication codes prior to the battle of Midway, and it helped contribute to the victory. What is not well known is that the various Japanese communication codes were broken as early as the 1920's. Intercepted communication codes in 1941 were forwarded to the English base in Singapore and the American base in the Philippines. The same communication intercepts were supposed to go to Hawaii, but the transportation was delayed until after December 7. Had they arrived in time, the Hawaii cryptographers would have learned of the pending attack in advance. An explanation for the delay is missing from the historical record.


  1. Early in 1941 a known Japanese spy, Tadashi Morimura, arrived at the Japanese consulate in Honolulu and was allowed to spend months casing out the Pearl Harbor facilities. The FBI had planned to track and deal with Morimura, but the Navy Intelligence told them to stand aside. Why this unusual action? It resulted in Morimura sending key intelligence that the Japanese used in planning the Pearl Harbor attack, even to the extent of plotting the bombing runs. The reason this was allowed remains unknown. An explanation is missing from the historical record. Navy Intelligence was intercepting Morimura’s reports on a regular basis. The information was sent to Washington, but not to Admiral Husband Kimmel, the top navy admiral in Hawaii.


  1. In the later half of November 1941, Admiral Kimmel ordered a practice mission for his fast carriers in the ocean northwest of Hawaii. The carriers were actually in the vicinity of where the Japanese would launch their planes on December 7. Washington ordered the ships back to Pearl Harbor early. Washington also ordered all vessels to vacate the ocean in the area that would be crossed by the Japanese attack fleet. They even diverted two Russian merchantmen -- one was rerouted on a southern route and the other was made to stop in Portland until there was no risk it would run into the Japanese navy.


  1. FDR was provided with regular reports with details of the Japanese naval movements running up to 15 pages per report. The navy maintained a log, so we know how many messages there were. Of the 70+ messages, only five remain. The others are all “lost,” The National Archives has no explanation for the missing documents.


  1. On November 15, General George Marshall, the top general of the army, called a secret press conference with key journalists. He told them that the United States could read Japan’s encrypted messages. He told them that war would break out during the first 10 days of December. He provided no such message to his top general in Hawaii, Walter Short.


  1. At the end of on November 1941, Roosevelt and his war cabinet drafted a message to Emperor Hirohito asking that he take steps to avoid war. The message was not delivered to the Imperial Palace until the night before the Pearl Harbor attack, three hours before the attack planes launched. It was a nice cover to show Americans wanted peace, but delivery was delayed until it was too late to matter.


  1. During the first week of December, the SS Lurline, a merchant ship, sailed from San Francisco to Honolulu. The assistant radio operator Leslie Gorgan was surprised to hear Japanese radio signals coming from the direction northwest of Hawaii. Normally, this would not have been possible, because they were broadcast at a frequency that usually had a short range. However, a sunstorm had interfered and made it possible to receive the transmission from farther away. These short range messages were sent by the Japanese fleet because they had just gone through a storm that dispersed their ships and they needed to send the signal to regroup. Grogan gave the radio messages to Lieutenant Commander George Peace of the navy when he got to Hawaii. Admiral Kimmel never heard about it. When the Lurline returned to San Fransisco, its radio logs were confiscated by the Twelfth Naval District intelligence unit.. A search by the author for the log in the 1990’s had found that it had been checked out and not returned. The checkout slip had no name or date.


  1. Intelligence reports usually included a section for radio direction finder (RDF) reports. The copies that were sent to Kimmel have been mutilated and the RDF sections are missing.


  1. Days before the attack was to occur, Kimmel received an order to sortie the carriers and all the newer ships to deliver planes to outlying bases. The orders made sure only the older, more obsolete ships remained in Pearl Harbor for the attack.


  1. The final diplomatic orders from Tokyo, sent in four parts to its outlying embassies, were received and read by President Roosevelt and his told aides 15 hours before the attack. Japanese orders to destroy all codes and cryptography equipment were a clear sign that war was imminent. This revelation, which would have allowed the army and navy in Hawaii to go on full alert, was not sent to General Short or Admiral Kimmel in time for them to take action.

The results of the Pearl Harbor attack are well know. Americans rallied behind President and Congress supported a declaration of war with only one no vote. While it is disappointing that these actions have been lost to history after more than 70 years, it was probably a good thing that America joined the war when it did. Without America’s help, Germany may have won the war. And if they lost, the Soviet Union could have dominated western Europe.

For a related post which discusses a Soviet mole in the US government who set the policy that led Japan to attack America, click here.


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