Hey! Randy

What He Knew and Why They Did Not

Posted by heyrandy on January 7, 2012

The Final Secret of Pearl Harbor Robert Theobald, 1954.

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise to the Hawaiian commanders, Admiral Kimmel and General Short, but others in the military knew it was coming. Theobald, a subordinate of Kimmel at the time of the attack, argues that President Roosevelt knew that the Japanese planned to attack the United States. The United States knew this because of United States’ ability to read the coded Japanese communications. This vital information was not shared with the men in Hawaii, but the President and the Secretaries of State, War and Navy knew it.

Why were Hawaiian commanders not told? This is the big question. The author’s answer: FDR wanted the Japanese to attack so the Germans would declare war on the U.S. pursuant to the Tripartite Pact. This would enable the U.S. to come openly to the aid of the British. Before you dismiss this as a paranoid conspiracy, consider what the U.S. had done to Japan.

Extended financial and military aid to China

Stopped Philippine exports to Japan

Froze Japanese assets

Blunt statements to Ambassador Nomura

Termination of the Washington conference

There are other troubling questions. The British were given copies of decoding machines the U.S. developed to read Magic and Purple Japanese codes. Why was Britain given these machines when Britain was not yet at war with Japan? Why was the U.S. forces at the Manila headquarters given the Magic and Purple decoding machines when Pearl Harbor did not get them? Possession of the machines allowed the Manila commanders to have vital intelligence as soon as it was available. Why did the War (Army) Department not correct General Short’s wrong interpretation of the confusing Department directive? Short took action to prevent sabotage and report these efforts to the Army. General Marshall, Army Chief of Staff and Short’s superior, never explained why he did not tell Short he got the directive wrong. Admiral Stark, Chief of Naval Operations, said he did not tell Kimmel because he was following orders. Orders from whom? The only one superior to Stark (and General Marshall) was the President. The department Secretaries were administrative figures without command authority.

Theobald also reviews the eight Pearl Harbor investigations. These affairs did little to reveal any truth. Investigators badgered witnesses into changing their testimony. Testimony by obfuscation by senior officers was widespread. Evidence was buried in massive volumes of paper. Temporizing was common. It is telling that neither Kimmel nor Short were ever given a court-martial. This would allow them to vigorously cross-examine witness, and more importantly, subpoena documents. This could not be allowed to happen.

The book is easy to read. It provides a concise introduction to the Pearl Harbor fiasco.  My only objection to the book is the title. There is yet more to be revealed about Pearl Harbor. If you want to know more, start here.

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