The Pearl Harbor Conspiracy and the Minority Report

of the 1946 Joint Congressional Committee

 

Michael T. Griffith

2012

@All Rights Reserved

 

The Republican members of the Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack (JCC) who dissented from the majority’s conclusions and wrote the minority report presented a substantial amount of evidence of conspiracy in the Pearl Harbor attack.

 

When the JCC conducted its investigation in 1946, there were quite a few elected officials, military officers, and others who believed or suspected that President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) and certain key officials around him knew the attack was coming and allowed it to happen in order to get America into World War II sooner rather than later. In 1944, Governor Thomas Dewey, the Republican presidential nominee, told a senior aide to General George C. Marshall that FDR knew Pearl Harbor was going to be attacked and should be impeached for deliberately withholding key intelligence from the commanders in Hawaii, Admiral Husband Kimmel and General Walter Short. Dewey was going to make this a campaign issue, but decided not to do so in response to urgent requests from General Marshall.

 

Given the political climate at the time, the authors of the minority report were not inclined to accuse high government officials of deliberately allowing Pearl Harbor to be attacked, although they did seem to drop a couple hints in that direction.  However, they did succeed in getting into the official record a great deal of evidence that destroys the traditional version of the Pearl Harbor disaster.

 

What follows is a compilation of evidence from the minority report that FDR and other high officials had ample warning that Pearl Harbor would be attacked, that they withheld from Kimmel and Short intelligence that indicated Pearl Harbor was a target and that war was imminent, and that they falsely accused Kimmel and Short of dereliction of duty.

 

Failure to Issue Clear Orders and Warnings to Kimmel and Short

 

The knowledge of Japanese designs and intentions in the hands of the President and the Secretary of State led them to the conclusion at least 10 days before December 7 [the day Pearl Harbor was bombed] that an attack by Japan within a few days was so highly probable as to constitute a certainty and, having reached this conclusion, the President, as Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, was under obligation to instruct the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy to make sure that the outpost commanders put their armed forces on an all-out alert for war. (p. 504)

 

The messages sent to General Short and Admiral Kimmel by high authorities in Washington during November were couched in such conflicting and imprecise language that they failed to convey to the commanders definite information on the state of diplomatic relations with Japan and on Japanese war designs and positive orders respecting the particular actions to be taken-orders that were beyond all reasonable doubts as to the need for an all-out alert. In this regard the said high authorities failed to discharge their full duty. (pp. 504-505)

 

 

Comment: One reason that some military officers became suspicious about Roosevelt’s role in the Pearl Harbor disaster was his disgraceful attempt to place all the blame on Kimmel and Short.  FDR did this in an effort to cover his tracks and to deflect suspicion away from those high officials who had helped to ensure that key intelligence was withheld from Kimmel and Short. 

 

The effort to smear Kimmel and Short reached revolting lows.  FDR fired both of them and pressured them to retire, and Kimmel was even demoted in rank.  Roosevelt appointed a commission, the Roberts Commission, whose sole job was to blame the disaster on Kimmel and Short, which the commission proceeded to do.  Ugly rumors were also spread about Kimmel and Short, including tales that they were drunk the night before the attack, that they did not get along and therefore did not coordinate Hawaii’s defenses, and even that their wives were barely on speaking terms.  FDR and his top military officials said nothing to contradict these grossly false charges, and they falsely claimed that Kimmel and Short had been adequately warned but had failed to heed the warnings.  Harold Stimson, FDR’s Secretary of War, claimed that General Short “must have known” the Japanese would attack without warning and that Short’s alleged failure “went beyond belief.”  Admiral Edwin Layton, who served as the Pacific Fleet Intelligence Officer under Admiral Kimmel, dismissed Stimson’s claims as a smokescreen:

 

Stimson’s bald assertions appear to have been part of the smokescreen of blame thrown up by Washington to absolve itself of any responsibility.  There was never a hint in any intelligence received by the local command of any Japanese threat to Hawaii.  Our air defenses were stripped on orders from the army chief himself [General Marshall].  Of the twelve B-17s on the island, only six could be kept in the air by cannibalizing the others for spare parts.  Hickam Field had been reduced to a refueling station for the long-range bombers on their way to the Philippines.  And General Martin’s aircrews had been committed, not to long-range defensive patrols, but to pilot training so as to enable the Flying Fortresses to navigate the long ocean-hops to the Philippines. (And I Was There: Pearl Harbor and Midway—Breaking the Secrets, New York: Quill, 1985, p. 217)

 

The claim that Kimmel and Short were derelict in their duty has been utterly destroyed.  Yet, one still sees some so-called “scholars” repeat this myth in their writings and interviews.  For example, when interviewed for the 2008 A&E TV documentary Conspiracy? Pearl Harbor and FDR, David Khan, a leading defender of the traditional Pearl Harbor story, adamantly accused Kimmel and Short of failing to do their duty, saying,

 

Those two commanders, Short and Kimmel, had one job there to do, and that was defend Pearl Harbor.  They had one job to do, and they didn’t do it.

 

Given what we now know about the confusing, misleading “war warnings” that Washington sent to Kimmel and Short, and the massive amount of intelligence that was withheld from them, there is simply no excuse for anyone, much less a scholar like Khan, to claim that Kimmel and Short failed to do their duty.

 

There are numerous scholarly works that debunk the dereliction-of-duty myth.  Two of the best are distinguished naval writer Edward Beach’s book Scapegoats: A Defense of Kimmel and Short at Pearl Harbor (U.S. Naval Institute Press, 1995) and Dr. Michael Gannon’s book Pearl Harbor Betrayed (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2001).

 

 
Indications that Pearl Harbor Would Be Attacked
 

The President and the other officials receiving the intercepted messages in Washington prior to December 7, 1941, considered it likely hat Japan would attack the United States. At a meeting of the President and his so-called War Council on November 25, 1941, according to Mr. Stimson's notes, the President stated: "That we were likely to be attacked perhaps (as soon as) next Monday" (Tr., Vol. 70, p. 14418)."

 

There was abundant evidence in the intercepted messages that Japan intended to attack the United States. Japan had fixed a deadline date of November 25 [ex. I, p. 100], extended to November 29 [ex. I, p. 165] for reaching diplomatic agreement with the United States. There were at least six Japanese messages emphasizing this deadline. If the deadline date passed without agreement, the Japanese Government advised her Ambassadors in Washington: "Things are automatically going to happen." The necessity for agreement by the deadline date was stressed by Japan in these terms: "The fate of our Empire hangs by the slender thread of a few days"; "We gambled the fate of our land on the throw of this die" (exhibit 1, p. 137, 93). On November 26, 1941, prior to the advanced "deadline" date, the United States Government delivered to Japan a diplomatic note, which the intercepted messages revealed Japan considered to be a "humiliating proposal," impossible of acceptance (exhibit 1, p. 195). The intercepted diplomatic messages further revealed that Japan expected to "rupture" negotiations with the United States when she replied to the American note of November 26 (exhibit 1, p. 204).

 

To prevent the United States from becoming unduly suspicious, Japan instructed her envoys in Washington to keep up a pretext of continuing negotiations until this Japanese reply was ready for delivery (exhibit 1, p. 208). A message from the Japanese Government to its Ambassador in Berlin, sent on November 30, was intercepted and translated by the Navy in Washington on December 1 (exhibit 1, p. 204). In this message the Japanese Ambassador was instructed to "immediately interview Chancellor Hitler and Foreign Minister Ribbentrop and confidentially communicate to them a summary of developments. Say very secretly to them that there is extreme danger that war may suddenly break out between the Anglo-Saxon nations and Japan through some clash of arms and add the time of the breaking out of this war may come quicker than anyone dreams.”

 

The President regarded this message as of such interest that he retained a copy of it, contrary to the usual practice in handling the intercepted messages (Tr., Vol. 57, p. 10887). On December 2, 1941, elaborate instructions from Japan were intercepted dealing in precise detail with the method of internment of American and British nationals in Asia "on the outbreak of war with England and the United States" (exhibit 1, p. 198).

 

The probability that the Pacific Fleet would be attacked at Pearl Harbor was clear from the "bomb plot" message available in Washington as early as October 9, 1941, and related Japanese messages. (pp. 515-516)

 

In the "bomb plot" message of September 24, 1941, the Japanese Government gave detailed instructions to its consul general in Hawaii as to the character of report it required concerning vessels in Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor was to be divided into five subareas. An alphabetical symbol was given each area. The Japanese Government instructed the consul:

 

"With regard to warships and aircraft carriers, we would like to have you report on those at anchor (these are not so important) tied up at wharves, buoys, and in docks. (Designate type and classes briefly. If possible we would like to have you make mention of the fact when there are two or more vessels alongside the same wharf.)

 

This dispatch was decoded and translated in Washington on October 9,1941 (exhibit 2, p. 12).

 

On September 29, 1941, the Japanese consul in Hawaii replied to his government. He established a system of symbols to be used in designating the location of vessels at key points in Pearl Harbor. This dispatch was decoded and translated in Washington on October 10, 1941.

 

On November 15,18,20, and 29 the Japanese Government urgently called for information about the location of ships in Pearl Harbor (exhibit 2, p. 13-15). On November 15 the Japanese consul in Honolulu was directed to make his "ships in harbor report" irregular but at the rate of twice a week (exhibit 2, p. 13). The reports were to give vessel locations in specific areas of the harbor, using the symbols established in September (exhibit 2, p. 15). The greatest secrecy was enjoined because relations between Japan and the United States were described as "most critical." On November 18 the Japanese consul general reported to Tokyo the locations of the ships in the various subareas of Pearl Harbor, giving minute descriptions of the courses, speed, and distances apart of destroyers entering the harbor (exhibit 2, p. 14). On November 29 reports were requested even though there were no movements of ships. These dispatches were intercepted, decoded, and translated in Washington on December 3, 4, 5, and 6, 1941.

 

The "bomb plot" message, and those messages relating to Pearl Harbor which followed it, meant that the ships of the Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor were marked for a Japanese attack. No other American harbor was divided into subareas by Japan. And no other American harbor had such a large share of the fleet to protect.

 

In no other area did Japan seek information as to whether two or more vessels were alongside the same wharf. Prior to the "bomb plot" message, Japanese espionage in Hawaii was directed to ascertain the general whereabouts of the American Fleet, whether at sea or in port. With the "bomb plot" message Japan inaugurated a new policy directed to Pearl Harbor and to no other place, in which information was no longer sought merely as to the general whereabouts of the fleet but as to the presence of particular ships in particular areas of the harbor. In the period immediately preceding the attack Japan required such reports even when there was no movement of ships in and out of Pearl Harbor. The reports which Japan thus sought and received had a useful purpose only in planning and executing an attack upon the ships in port. These reports were not just the work of enthusiastic local spies gathering meticulous details in an excess of zeal. They were the product of instructions emanating from the Government of Japan in Tokyo. Officers of the high command in Washington have admitted before us that the "bomb plot" message, if correctly evaluated, meant an attack on ships of the Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor (Tr., Vol. 18, p. 3026; Vol. 23, p. 4014; Vol. 27, p. 4874; Vol. 12, p. 2100-2102; Vol. 59, p. 11313-11314; Vol. 35, p. 6390, 6394; Vol. 30, p. 5378).

 

On October 9th, 1941 (ex. 2, p. 12), Lieutenant Commander Kramer of Naval Intelligence in Washington promptly distributed the Pearl Harbor "bomb plot" message to the President, the Secretary of the Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Stark, the Director of Naval Communications, the Director of War Plans, and the Director of Naval Intelligence (Tr., Vol. 59 p. 11209). It bore the notation "interesting message" on a gist or flag (Tr., Vol. 59, p. 11207). It was accompanied by a summary of its contents as follows:

 

"Tokyo directs special reports on ships in Pearl Harbor which is divided into five areas for the purpose of showing exact locations (Tr., Vol. 69, p. 11207)."

 

Military Intelligence through Colonel Bratton delivered the "bomb plot" message to the Secretary of War, the Chief of Staff, and the chief of the War Plans Division (Tr., Vol. 62, p. 12083). The message was discussed several times by Colonel Bratton, Chief of the Far Eastern Section, Military Intelligence Division, War Department General Staff, with his opposite numbers in the Navy Department (Tr., Vol. 62, p. 12105). They discussed possible significance of the message, as implicating a plan for an air attack on ships in Pearl Harbor (Tr., Vol. 62, p. 12105). . . .

 

The commander of a fleet (in this case Admiral Kimmel) has custody of the fleet; he is at all times materially interested in its safety. The commander of a naval base (in this case General Short) has the duty of protecting the fleet when it is at his base. Any information showing specific hostile interest in that fleet or in the harbor where the fleet is anchored is basic information for the commander of the fleet and the commander of the naval base.  In Washington, long prior to December 7, 1941, Army and Navy Intelligence officers, the Chief of Naval Operations, the Army Chief of Staff, and other high authorities gained vital information (the bomb- plot messages) from intercepted Japanese communications affecting the fleet and the defense of the naval base at Hawaii. They gained it from sources of information not available to Admiral Kimmel and General Short.

 

In these circumstances, it was the express duty of the Washington authorities to pass this information in its original form on to Admiral Kimmel and General Short. The information was of such a specific character and so directly related to the fleet and naval base that Washington authorities were not justified in keeping to themselves or in evaluating it in any manner which would dilute or generalize the significance of the messages in their original form. Washington authorities failed in this, a prime responsibility in their relations with the outpost commanders. (pp. 517-520)

 

 

Comment: The new chief of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), Captain Alan Kirk, recognized the implications of the bomb plot message and urged that Admiral Kimmel be warned about it.  So did Captain Harold Bode, head of the Foreign Intelligence Branch at ONI.  So did Lieutenant Commander Arthur McCollum, head of ONI’s Far East Section.  So did Commander Laurance Safford, head of the Communications Security Division, Office of Naval Communications.   Colonel Rufus Bratton, head of the Army Intelligence Division’s Far Eastern Section, likewise recognized the importance of the bomb plot intercept and urged that General Short be told about it. 

 

These men tried repeatedly to get warnings to Kimmel and Short about the bomb plot message, but General Marshall (the Army Chief of Staff) and Admiral Harold Stark (the Chief of Naval Operations) opposed sending warnings about the intercept.  For example, when Captains Kirk and Bode teamed up to push for a warning to be sent to Kimmel, Admiral Richmond Turner (Chief of the Navy’s War Plans Division) objected and appealed to Admiral Stark, and Stark ruled against the warning.  Stark’s refusal to inform Kimmel about the bomb plot message is especially troubling because Stark surely was aware that it lent credence to the warning that had been relayed by Ambassador Grew in January about a Japanese plan to attack Pearl Harbor.  What makes Stark’s refusal even more suspicious is that Stark himself had stated in a memo in January that if Japan and America became enemies "it is believed entirely possible that hostilities would be initiated by a surprise attack upon the Fleet or the Naval Base at Pearl Harbor."

 

Lieutenant Commander Matthew Pettinger of the U.S. Navy discussed the bomb plot message in his 2003 Master’s thesis submitted to the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College:

 

Another of the most critical pieces of information that Admiral Kimmel never received was a message sent to the Japanese consul in Hawaii on 24 September 1941. Commonly referred to as the “bomb plot message” or the “harbor berthing plan” in the post-attack investigations, it was a critical clue to the intentions of the Japanese government. Sent in the Japanese consular code, which was relatively easily read by U.S. . . .

 

When it was decoded, it revealed a highly suspicious order to a Japanese Naval Officer who was a member of the consul’s staff. The message divided Pearl Harbor into five subareas, and directed that regular reports be made concerning the location of vessels within these five subareas, most specifically aircraft carriers and warships. . . .

 

However, the message also requested specifics about which wharves, buoys, docks, and anchorages vessels were located at, and distinct reporting when there were two or more vessels alongside the same wharf. This was a very unusual instruction, since the Japanese had not requested this specific information for any other region. As Admiral Kimmel would later testify, this specific intelligence order pointed only to one thing: an attack upon ships in port. Otherwise, this information was pointless and lost all value when ships moved in and out of port.

 

As if to emphasize the time criticality of this intelligence, on 15 November the Japanese consul was directed to make the “ships in harbor” report irregularly, but at least twice a week. Additionally, on 29 November another message directed, “We have been receiving reports from you on ship movements, but in future will you also report even when there are no movements?”. . . . (Held to a Higher Standard: The Downfall of Admiral Kimmel, Master’s thesis, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, 2003, pp. 39-40, http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA416925)

 

 

High Officials Knew that Pearl Harbor Might Be Attacked; Japan’s Intense Interest in Pearl Harbor’s Ships and Defenses

 

In the days immediately preceding Pearl Harbor, Japan made no effort to conceal the movements or presence of her naval forces in South East Asia (Tr., Vol. 3, p. 453). The movements of her troops in Indo-China at that time were the subject of diplomatic exchanges between the United States and Japan (Foreign Relations of the United States, Japan, 1931-41, vol. II, p. 779). Yet the intercepts showed that some Japanese plan went into effect automatically on November 29, from which Japan hoped to divert American suspicion by a pretext of continued negotiations. The Pearl Harbor "bomb plot" messages gave some hint of what might follow "automatically." Only the President and his top advisers in Washington had this information. . . .

 

It is sufficient to say here that prior to December 7, 1941, a great volume of secret information obtained by American and other intelligence services from intercepted Japanese messages was available in Washington with which to gage the designs, intentions, and operations of Japan relative to the United States. This information was distributed to high authorities in Washington and practically none of it was passed on to the commanders in Hawaii, although it bore directly on their responsibilities in the defense of their outpost. (p. 520)

 

Nevertheless, the possibility, indeed the probability, of a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had entered into the calculations of high authorities in Washington and the commanders at Pearl Harbor for years, months, and days before December 7, 1941. 

 

The whole raison d'etre [main reason] of the powerful naval and military installations in Hawaii, as publicly announced, was defense against a Japanese attack. (See testimony of Mr. Grew for discussion of this point (Tr. 7 Vol. 9, p. 1586). Preparations for defense against attack necessarily implied the possibility of an attack. 

 

American war plans and maneuvers in the Hawaiian area for years prior to December 7, 1941, took into full account the probability of a Japanese attack by air. (See Martin-Bellinger report, Ex. 44.) 

 

None of the Army and Navy witnesses before the committee admitted they had neglected the possibility-or the probability-of a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor during the period prior to December. On the contrary, they testified that they had consistently reckoned with the possibility, even when they minimized the probability. (Tr., for example, Vol. 12, p. 2111, Vol. 13, pp. 2162, 2167, 2172, 2173, Vol. 14, p. 2341.)

 

Intercepts of Japanese messages made by the Army and Navy intelligence services showed high authorities in Washington that the Japanese Government had ordered its agents in Hawaii to report on American military and naval installations and ship movements in that region. They also required reports on "lack of movements." For example, September 24, 1941, it ordered an agent to subdivide the waters of Pearl Harbor into five subareas, as well as to report on ship movements there. Prior to and after this date Japanese agents were, up to the Japanese attack, reporting on ship movements, installations, and other matters of military and naval significance to the Japanese government. (Japanese messages concerning military installations, ship movements, etc., pp. 2-29. See conclusion 6.) 

 

It is true that owing to neglect or delays in Washington some of these messages were not translated prior to December 7, 1941, but enough messages had been translated to provide copious information to high authorities in Washington. Delays in translations were not due to lack of congressional appropriations (General Marshall, Tr., Vol. 19, p. 3149). 

 

Witnesses before the Committee, it may be noted, in extenuation of their lack of emphasis on the probability of an attack on Pearl Harbor, called attention to the fact that Japanese agents were also reporting on the military and naval installations of the United States at Panama, the Philippines, the west coast, and other points. But to men, competent, careful, and watchful, men alert on their all-around and indivisible responsibility, this fact provided no excuse whatever for minimizing the probability of an attack on Pearl Harbor any more than at any other American outpost. Nor does it excuse the failure of Washington authorities to note that far greater detail was being asked for by the Japanese about Hawaii at a time when Japanese movements in the Southeastern Pacific had to contend with the strategic position of Hawaii where the real American striking force, the fleet, rested. 

 

A full review of the testimony and documents before the Committee confirms the conclusion reached by the Army Pearl Harbor Board (p. 107); after its survey of relevant facts: "We must therefore conclude that the responsible authorities, the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Staff in Washington, down to the generals and admirals in Hawaii, all expected an air attack before Pearl Harbor (that is December 7, 1941)." As a general statement, when testifying after the Pearl Harbor attack, they did not expect it. Apparently the only person who was not surprised was the Secretary of War, Mr. Stimson. Who testified: "Well, I was not surprised!" (pp. 523-524)

 

Through intercept of Japanese messages extending over many months prior to December 7, 1941, translated and laid before high authorities in Washington by the Army and Navy Intelligence Services, these Washington authorities learned that Japanese spies and agents, directed by the Japanese Government, were collecting and transmitting to Tokyo an immense amount of exact and detailed information respecting the military and naval installations and the state of preparedness in the Hawaiian Islands, as well as elsewhere, but more detailed in relation to Hawaii than elsewhere. (See conclusion 6.)

 

As early as September 24, 1941, Washington authorities knew that Japanese agents in Hawaii were instructed to divide the waters of Pearl Harbor into five subareas and later to report to Tokyo regularly on ships in the Harbor, ship movements and also to report even though there were no ship movements. These and other Japanese messages requested information also on military installations, and American preparedness materiel, defensive practices, including air reconnaissance, and other matters of vital importance to Japanese armed forces in case they made an attack on Pearl Harbor. (p. 525)

 

The “Winds” Messages and Further Evidence of the Imminence of War

 

Although the knowledge gained from these and other items of information was sufficient to warn high authorities in Washington that Japan was on the verge of starting hostilities, reference should be made in this connection to the so-called "winds" messages concerning which there had been much dispute and no little mystery. The story, though long, may be abbreviated here.

 

Colonel Otis Sadtler testified before the Army Pearl Harbor Board that about November 20, 1941, a Japanese message was intercepted notifying nationals that another message was to come indicating whether war, if launched, would be against the United States, Great Britain, or Russia or any combination of them. The first message stated that the second or "activating" message to come would indicate by reference to the directions of the winds and weather the names of the countries against which war would be started. The Army Pearl Harbor Board also had evidence to the effect that the second or "activating" message from Japan had come and that it meant "War with England, War with America, Peace with Russia." According to the Board's report: 

 

"This original message has now disappeared from the Navy files and cannot be found. It was in existence just after Pearl Harbor and was collected with other messages for submission to the Roberts commission. Copies were in existence in various places but they have all disappeared (Top Secret, p. 8)."                 

 

The evidence before this Committee bearing on the interception of the activating message from Tokyo and on the contention that it indicated hostilities between Japan and the Anglo-American combination covers hundreds of pages. Admittedly the evidence is confusing and conflicting, but after reviewing it; Admiral Royal E. Ingersoll, deputy to Admiral Harold Stark, testified before the Hart Inquiry to questions 68 and 69: 

 

"68. Q. During November or December '41 were you cognizant of a special code which the Japanese had arranged under which they were to inform their nationals concerning against what nations they would make aggressive movements by means of a partial weather report? 

 

"A. Yes; I do recall such messages. 

 

"69. Q. Do you recall having seen on or about 4 December the broadcast directive thus given indicating that the Japanese were about to attack both Britain and the United States? 

 

"A. Yes." (pp. 525-526)

 

 

Comment: The high officials who participated in the Pearl Harbor plot knew they had to try to destroy all evidence that Washington had received the “East Wind Rain” execute message.  Since this message was intercepted and distributed at least two days before the attack, the plotters knew there was no way they could explain their failure to take action after receiving it.  Defenders of the traditional Pearl Harbor story have not only denied that the execute message was intercepted, but they have even denied that it was ever broadcast in the first place.  However, two former attaches at the Japanese embassy in Washington have confirmed that the execute message was broadcast on December 4, and there is persuasive eyewitness evidence that the message was intercepted by U.S. and Dutch intelligence stations.

 

Historian John Costello and naval scholar Roger Pineau, though inclined to reject the idea of conspiracy, concluded that a “Winds” execute message, indicating imminent war with America (“East Wind Rain”), was broadcast and intercepted at some point between December 2 and December 5, and they suggested that printouts of the message were deliberately destroyed to conceal this fact after the attack.  One reason they reached this conclusion is that they uncovered new evidence that supported Captain Laurance Safford’s testimony on the matter.  They also concluded that Lieutenant Commander Alwin Kramer’s original testimony was accurate, and they found evidence that Kramer was later pressured to change his story.  Here is some of what Costello and Pineau said about the execute message in their “Authors’ Notes” postscript to Admiral Edwin Latyton’s book And I Was There: Pearl Harbor and Midway—Breaking the Secrets (which they helped to write):

 

Safford’s 1944 testimony, supported by Kramer and Sadtler until they modified their recollections in 1945, suggests that some message that was taken to be that warning [the war warning described in the 11/19/1941 “Winds” setup message] was received toward the end of the first week of December.  Safford claimed that when he tried to locate the “east winds rain” alert in the fall of 1943, it was missing from the OP-20-G files [OP-20-G was the Navy’s signals intelligence department in Washington in 1941].  Up till then he had been unable to understand why the Pacific Fleet commander had ignored the warning.  When Safford discovered that none had been sent to Pearl Harbor as a result of this message, he began his campaign to “expose the people who had framed Admiral Kimmel and General Short.”

 

The navy department went to great lengths to contradict Safford’s charges.  Witnesses and affidavits were produced to deny that a “Higashi No Kazi Ame” (“East Wind Rain”) message had ever been picked up. 

 

But the newly declassified records do show that Safford was correct in claiming that there is a suspicious blank page in the OP-20-G Japanese diplomatic message file.  Whether or not it contained the now missing “east wind rain” intercept, the records show that a colossal amount of navy department bureaucratic effort was exerted in 1945 to proving that no such message had ever existed. . . .

 

Certainly if an “east wind rain” message had been produced at the congressional hearing, it would have provided irrefutable indication of Washington’s failure to communicate such a warning to Pearl Harbor. . . .

 

Safford’s testimony rested largely on the blank page in the run of serial numbers in the running record by Kramer’s translation section.  As each decrypt of an intercepted Japanese diplomatic message was typed up, it was assigned a serial number—and after it had been circulated to naval intelligence, it was returned to be refiled.  The one that Safford claims was originally “east wind rain” is now a blank page with a notation “701-cancelled.”  Safford repeatedly affirmed under cross-examination that the number had originally been assigned to a true Winds execute message that had been intercepted by Station M in Maryland, which had been relayed from the Cheltenham teleprinter to OP-20-G on the morning of either 4 or 5 December 1941. . . .

 

His [Safford’s] recollection of the intercept’s appearance was impressively precise.  He described it as “a teletype copy typed on yellow paper of the entire Japanese broadcast about 200 or 300 words long.  Three significant words (Kita, Higashi, and Nishi) appeared and they were in Japanese.  Kramer’s translation appeared in pencil, or colored crayon, at the bottom of the sheet.  There was very little chance of confusion”. . . .

 

But at the 1944 Navy Court of Inquiry Kramer unhesitatingly answered yes when asked whether he had seen Safford’s teleprinter sheet with the winds message containing the Japanese code words indicating relations with the United States were in danger.

 

“’Higashi no kazi ame,’ I am quite certain,” Kramer testified: “The literal meaning of ‘Higashi no kazi ame’ is ‘east wind, rain.’  That is plain Japanese language.  The sense of that, however, meant strained relations or a break in relations, possibly even implying war with a nation to the eastward, the United States.”  By April 1945, however, Kramer was “less positive” in his testimony before Admiral Hewitt’s inquiry. . . .  By February 1946 when he came before the congressional hearings, Kramer’s recollection was that there had been “a false alarm on the winds system”. . . .

 

Kramer’s contradictory evidence was the result of “being instructed on orders from above to deny delivering the message,” according to Mrs. Eunice Wilson Rice, longtime OP-20-G staff member who used to type up and file the Japanese diplomatic messages.  She has recently confirmed that no copies were ever made, but the originals were kept in a sequentially numbered file. . . .

 

Mrs. Rice . . . recalled that after her return she noticed that one message appeared to be missing from the numerical sequence.  She asked Kramer about it.  He said that it was one indicating that war was imminent and that he himself had turned it over to the duty officer in the chief of naval operations office and called attention to its importance.  When it had not come back after the Japanese attack after the usual period of time, Kramer had asked about it, only to receive a noncommittal answer.

 

Mrs. Rice was not the only one to claim . . . that considerable pressure was put on Kramer to change his testimony before the congressional investigating committee in 1945.  His Arlington [Virginia] neighbor and friend at the time, Lieutenant Commander (now rear admiral retired) Robert H. Weeks, recalls Kramer’s telling him that he had been directed “to speak right or undergo more mental treatment.”

 

This was a reference to the fact that Kramer had been in the neuro-psychiatric ward of Bethesda Naval Hospital in November, two months before he was called to testify.  . . .  When he testified, Kramer denied that he had been “beset and beleaguered” or badgered in any way. 

 

Kramer did, however, make a substantial change in his story.  Safford had no doubt that it was a result of the strong pressure Kramer was under to support the navy department contention that no winds message had been received.  According to his friend Weeks, Kramer was a man of character whose arm was twisted. . . .

 

One witness, who also claimed to have seen a winds alert, was apparently not allowed to give testimony in 1945.  Ralph T. Briggs believed that he was deliberately prevented from appearing before the congressional hearings to corroborate Safford’s story.  In 1977 this former radioman asserted that he was the one who intercepted the actual message [the execute message] when he was on duty at the Navy’s Cheltenham Station M in Maryland in December 1941.  

 

Briggs, experienced in taking kana Morse, went on to become a chief warrant officer with the staff of naval intelligence command.  In 1960, Briggs made a thorough search of the wartime microfilm records.  But like Safford and the 1945 team of navy investigators, Briggs found that all the Cheltenham station signal sheets for the first week in December 1941 were missing. . . .

 

Sixteen years later Briggs recounted his story to the Naval Security Group.  Historian Raymond Schmidt, who took his deposition, recorded Briggs’ statement that the winds alert, which Briggs claimed to have taken down on 4 December 1941, could not be picked up by any other overseas listening post because of atmospheric conditions.  Briggs also told how Safford contacted him in 1945 during the congressional hearings but that his commanding officer had ordered him not to give any testimony.  Briggs regarded this as “a definite effort to cover up the truth of the matter” and put to rest what had happened to the missing winds execute message. . . .

 

Further corroboration that the Japanese transmitted a winds code message [i.e., an execute message] was provided by Brigadier General R. [Elliot] Thorpe, who in 1941 was lend-lease commissioner and military observer with the Dutch command on Java.  Thorpe . . . claimed that the commander of the Dutch army in the East Indies—General Hein ter Poorten—showed him a winds execute message.  It was contained in a decrypt of “an intercepted and decoded dispatch from the Foreign Office in Tokyo addressed to the Japanese ambassador in Bangkok.”  Thorpe took it to the American consul general in Batavia [Dr. Walter Foote], who forwarded it to Washington—but with a comment to the effect that it was not to be taken seriously.  Not content with Dr. Walter Foote’s assessment, Thorpe . . . took his message to the senior naval attaché, Commander Paul S. Slawson, who sent it off in navy cipher. . . .

 

Thorpe also claimed that while stationed in Japan after the war he eventually located a Japanese who had actually transmitted the message.  Thorpe’s account is supported with information that has recently surfaced in the Royal Netherlands archives. . . .

 

According to Captain J. W. Henning, then chief cryptanalyst of the so-called Kamer 14 at Bandoeng [a Dutch intelligence listening station], they were “doing business on a mutual basis” with their potential allies and “all Japanese coded telegrams, which were decoded by us, were subsequently passed to the British, Americans, and Australians.”  Henning confirmed that Bandoeng headquarters had indeed been aware of the winds code setup and that an execute broadcast was intercepted. . . .

 

Yet another piece of the “east wind rain” jigsaw puzzle was provided in the spring of 1985 by Lieutenant Commander Cedric Brown, a British naval officer who in 1941 was in charge of ciphers at R.N. headquarters in Hong Kong.  After his capture by the Japanese, he encountered in a prisoner of war camp a New Zealand naval officer, Lieutenant H. C. Dixon.  He had served at the Hong Kong naval base’s signals intelligence intercept unit on Stoncutters Island, known by its secret designation “Q.”  Dixon told Brown that he could not understand how the Americans had been caught so unprepared for the Japanese attack because, several weeks before war broke out, the Royal Navy cryptanalysts at “Q” had intercepted and decoded the preliminary winds alert setup and that they had subsequently picked up the Tokyo weather broadcast [that contained the “East Wind Rain” execute message] “a few days before the attack on Pearl Harbor.” 

 

The new evidence must add to the presumption that the Japanese did send out the winds alert and that it was picked up by the British as well as the Dutch.  Since such intelligence was being freely exchanged, it would indicate that Washington did receive from two other sources besides the intercept that Safford himself claimed arrived through OP-20-G. . . .

 

The new evidence must tip the scale of probability that some alert was received on the morning of 5 December.  The suspicious blank page in the Japanese diplomatic signal log, the large volume of paperwork generated to deny Safford’s charge, and the pressure brought to bear on Kramer and others to amend their testimony are also factors that point toward this conclusion. (“Authors’ Notes,” And I Was There: Pearl Harbor and Midway—Breaking the Secrets, pp. 517-523)

 

 

The “Pilot Message” and the Failure to Warn Kimmel and Short in a Timely Manner

 

The "pilot message" was filed in Tokyo at 6:56 a.m., Washington time, December 6; it was intercepted by the Navy by 7:20 a.m. Washington time December 6, and forwarded to the Navy Department. It was sent by the Navy to the Army for decryption and translation about noon, Washington time, on December 6 (exhibit 41). It was decrypted, translated, and distributed about 3 p.m., Washington time, by the Army, to Mr. Hull, Mr. Stimson, General Marshall, the Chief of the Far Plans Division, General Gerow, and the Chief of Military Intelligence, General Miles (Tr., Vol. 62, p. 12050). In the Navy Department the Director of Naval Intelligence-Admiral Wilkinson-received the so-called "pilot message" prior to 6 p.m., Washington time, on December 6 (Tr., Vol. 26, p. 4658). He had previously told his subordinates to be on the lookout for the Japanese reply and felt sure that he gave instructions that the "pilot message" was to be delivered to Admiral Stark (Tr., Vol. 26, p. 4662). Admiral Turner, Chief of the War Plans Division in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, received the "pilot message" in the evening of December 6 (Tr., Vol. 30, pp. 5440-5442). Admiral Stark and General Marshall each denies that on December 6 he had knowledge of the "pilot message" (Tr., Vol. 21, p. 3473, and Vol. 32, p. 5813). We find on the testimony of General Miles and Colonel Bratton that the "pilot message" was delivered to General Marshall during the afternoon of December 6, 1941 (Tr., Vol. 21, pp. 3589-3590, and Vol. 62, pp. 12019-12050). 

 

In late afternoon or early evening of December 6, American Naval Communications intercepted, decoded, and translated the first 13 parts of this memorandum from the Japanese Government to the State Department the answer to the United States note to Japan on November 26. The translation of these 13 parts was presented to President Roosevelt between 9 and 10 o'clock that evening. After he had read the 13 parts, the President said in substance, "This means war." (pp. 527-528)

 

In the early morning of December 7, 1941, about 5 a.m. Washington time, the message fixing the hour for delivery of the Japanese note as 1 p.m., Washington time, was available in the Navy Department in Washington (Tr., Vol. 56, pp. 10694-10701). This was 8 1/2 hours before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Admiral Stark and his principal subordinates have testified before us that they had knowledge of this message about 10:30 a.m. (Tr., Vol. 26, p. 4675; Vol. 49, pp. 9146-9148; Vol. 55, p. 10469). This was 5 1/2 hours after it had been received in the Navy Department. It was about 3 hours before the attack. 

 

The relation of 1 p.m. Washington time to early morning in Hawaii was pointed out to Admiral Stark (Tr., Vol. 49, pp. 9146-9148, 9154-9156, 9236-9254; Vol. 26, pp. 4679, 4685). It meant dawn in Hawaii-the strategic time at which to launch an attack. Admiral Stark was urged by the Director of Naval Intelligence to send a warning to the fleet (Tr., Vol. 26, p. 4673). The chief intelligence officers of the Army had the "1 p.m. message" by 9 a.m. Washington time, immediately appreciated its significance, but did not succeed in bringing to General Marshall's attention until nearly several hours later (Tr., Vol. 62, pp. 12077- 12078, 12079-12081). Marshall was horseback riding in Virginia. No action was taken by the Army until he saw and read the 1 p.m. message and related intercepts, at which time he sent a message to General Short which went over commercial facilities and was received after the Pearl Harbor attack (Tr., Vol. 18, pp. 2935-2939, Vol. 45, p. 8396). Admiral Stark took no action on this information except to agree to the inclusion in the belated Army message of instructions to General Short to advise Admiral Kimmel of its contents (Tr., Vol. 32, pp. 5814-5816). 

 

Mr. Hull, Mr. Stimson, and Mr. Knox had the 1 p.m. message at their conference about 10:30 a.m. Washington time, December 7 (Tr., Vol. 55, p. 10473). The relation of Washington time to time in Hawaii and the Philippines was brought to their attention (Tr., Vol. 5, pp. 10473- 10475). Mr. Stimson's notes describing the Sunday morning conference state: 

 

"Today is the day that the Japanese are going to bring their answer to Hull and everything in MAGIC indicated they had been keeping the time back until now in order to accomplish something hanging in the air. Knox and I arranged conference with Hull at 10:30 and we talked the whole matter over. Hull very certain that the Japs are planning some deviltry and we are all wondering where the blow will strike (Tr., Vol. 70, p. 14428)."

 

The 1 p.m. message was delivered to the White House about 10:30 m. Sunday, December 7, 1941 (Tr., Vol. 55, p. 10476). 

 

On the morning of December 7, before 8 o'clock, Navy Intelligence had ready for high authorities of the United States Government a translation of its intercept of the fourteenth and final part of the Japanese memorandum. 

 

The fact that General Marshall decided on the basis of the intercepts of Japanese messages made available on or before 11:25 o'clock on the morning of December 7, to send an urgent war warning to the outpost commanders is itself evidence that, despite previous messages to outpost commanders, Washington authorities recognized that their knowledge of these intercepts and their minute direction of affairs placed an obligation on them to convey precise information to outpost commanders and to make sure that they were on an all-out alert for war. Owing to inexcusable delays in Washington this final warning to General Short did not reach him until after the Japanese attack.

 

General Marshall failed to use the scrambler telephone on his desk to call General Short in Hawaii on Sunday morning, December 7, nearly 2 hours before the attack, and give him the same information which he sent in the delayed telegram which reached General Short after the attack. (pp. 529-530)

 

 

Comment: General Marshall’s highly suspicious, inexcusable behavior on the morning of December 7 is a clear indication of foul play in Washington.  For starters, Marshall stalled for a good two hours before he got around to reading the 14-part Japanese reply and the accompanying time-of-delivery message, even though he knew time was of the essence.  Then, when he read the reply, he refused Colonel Bratton’s repeated suggestion that he skip to the time-of-delivery message.  Instead, he insisted on reading the 14-part reply out loud, and he read some parts over again, wasting still more time.

 

When Marshall finally finished reading the reply and the time-of-delivery message, he asked Bratton and General Sherman Miles (chief of the Intelligence Division) what they thought about the messages.  They told him the 1:00 p.m. delivery time suggested an attack might very well occur at around that time, and General Miles urged Marshall to notify the Pacific commanders immediately.  But Marshall did not do this.  Instead, he phoned Admiral Stark and spoke with him for several minutes to discuss what should be done.  Incredibly, Stark said he did not think they needed to send a warning to Hawaii! When Marshall responded that he felt a warning was needed, Stark changed his mind (or at least pretended to do so) and suggested that Marshall use the Navy radio system to alert the Pacific commanders. 

 

Yet, Marshall declined to use the Navy radio system and still made no effort to send a warning.  Instead, with precious minutes ticking away, he called two more senior officers to his office—General Leonard Gerow (chief of the Army’s War Plans Division) and Colonel Charles Bundy (chief of the Plans Group in the War Plans Division)—and proceeded to conduct another opinion survey about what the messages meant.

 

After all this stalling, Marshall finally wrote a rather vague, weakly worded warning message and dispatched Colonel Bratton to send it over the Army radio system from the War Department’s message center.  When Bratton returned from the message center, Marshall sent him back to find out how long it would take for the message to reach Hawaii.  A few minutes later, at around 11:55 a.m., Bratton returned and informed Marshall that the message center had advised him that it might take 40 minutes for his warning to reach Hawaii.  Even then, Marshall still refused to use the scrambler phone or the Navy radio system. 

 

Marshall told the JCC that he recognized that the 1:00 p.m. delivery time for the 14-part Japanese reply indicated something momentous might happen at that time or shortly afterward, and he knew that 1:00 p.m. in Washington was 7:30 a.m. in Hawaii (the attack occurred at 7:55 a.m., Hawaii time, 25 minutes after the delivery time).  However, when Marshall learned that his message might take 40 minutes to reach Hawaii—i.e., that it might not get there until after the 1:00 p.m. deadline (7:35 or 7:40 a.m. in Hawaii)—he did nothing.  Are we really supposed to believe that Marshall thought his warning would do any good if it arrived after the 1:00 p.m. delivery time and/or if it arrived too late for local forces to get ready for an attack? 

 

It gets worse.  Marshall’s warning, such as it was, arrived at RCA Hawaii at 7:33 a.m., but it was not delivered to the signal office of the Army’s Hawaiian Department on Fort Shafter until 11:45 a.m., nearly four hours after the attack.  Even if the message had arrived at RCA Hawaii at 7:03, it would not have been decoded and delivered to Kimmel and Short in time.  Why?  Because, incredibly, the message was sent at routine precedence and was not even marked as urgent!

 

All of the above facts can be found in the JCC report and have been discussed in numerous books.  See, for example, George Victor, The Pearl Harbor Myth (Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, 2007, pp. 283-288 and Percy Greaves, Pearl Harbor: The Seeds and Fruits of Infamy (Auburn, AL: LVMI, 2010), pp. 298-302.

 

 

More on the Failure to Relay Key Information to Kimmel and Short

 

Since Washington authorities knew that vital information in their possession-diplomatic, military, and naval-was not being sent to General Short and Admiral Kimmel, and that this was because of Washington's own decision, it was obligatory for them to give particular care to the formulation of messages to the commanders which revealed the growing war tension, the menacing imminence of the breach in American-Japanese relations, and the resolve of those high authorities to wait for an attack, while still carrying on maneuvering (conclusions 1-5 and below, conclusion 20). 

 

The increasing assumption of the detailed direction of affairs by high authorities in Washington added to the obligation of those high authorities to give precise instructions to the outpost commanders. 

 

For information in possession of Washington authorities not sent to General Short and Admiral Kimmel, see Army Pearl Harbor Board and Navy Pearl Harbor Court of Inquiry reports, top secret reports, and top secret memoranda. It is true that General Short and Admiral Kimmel had a great deal of information as to Japanese designs and operations which was not in the messages sent to them by the War Department and the Navy Department. It is also true that there were differences of opinion among high authorities in Washington over the nature of the information conveyed by certain intercepts; for example, the so-called "winds message" and the activating "winds message." But it is beyond all question that Washington authorities had a large volume of information, particularly as to vital diplomatic decisions and Japanese intentions which was not transmitted to the Hawaiian commanders. This withholding of information from General Short and Admiral Kimmel was in part due to general policy adopted in Washington. 

 

General Sherman Miles, at the hearing of November 30, testified at neither the intercepted messages nor essential information derived from them had been sent to Hawaii, although in exceptional cases the substance of some messages had been transmitted in naval code. The exceptional practice of sending the substance in some messages was stopped in July 1941 and General Miles testified that, so far as he knew, General Short and Admiral Kimmel were not notified of this change- this discontinuance of sending even the substance of some intercepts. (Tr., Vol. 13, pp. 2140-2142.) 

 

Admiral Kimmel had requested all information and was assured by Admiral Stark he would get it. A few messages were sent up until December 7, but he had no notice that he was not getting all the information available. 

 

From among the numerous items of crucial information in possession of Navy Intelligence and Washington authorities and not transmitted to General Short one may be selected as particularly pertinent to Pearl Harbor. Through its intelligence sources in the Fourteenth Naval District at Pearl Harbor and in Washington, the Navy discovered the presence at Jaluit, in the Marshall Islands, of a Japanese fleet composed of aircraft carriers and other vessels, but lost track of it about December 1. Jaluit is 1,500 miles nearer to Pearl Harbor than is the mainland of Japan. The Japanese fleet there was a strong force capable of attacking Hawaii. Information about this Japanese fleet was delivered to the War Department, but it was not transmitted to General Short. General Short testified during the Army board hearings on Pearl Harbor that knowledge of the Japanese fleet at Jaluit would have materially modified his point of view and actions (Army Pearl Harbor Report, pp. 146-147). 

 

Japan had fixed a deadline date of November 25 (Exhibit 1, p. 100), extended to November 29 (Exhibit 1, p. 165) (see Japanese messages), for reaching a diplomatic agreement with the United States. There were at least six messages. If the deadline date passed without agreement, the Japanese Government advised her Ambassadors in Washington: "Things are automatically going to happen." The necessity for agreement by the deadline date was stressed by Japan in these terms: 

 

"The fate of our Empire hangs by the slender thread of a few days; (and also) we gambled the fate of our land on the throw of this die (Exhibit 1, p. 137, 93)."

 

On November 26, 1941, prior to the advanced "deadline" date, the United States Government delivered to Japan a diplomatic note which the intercepted messages revealed Japan considered to be a "humiliating proposal," impossible of acceptance (Exhibit 1, p. 195). The intercepted diplomatic messages further revealed that Japan expected to "rupture" negotiations with the United States when she replied to the American note of November 26 (Exhibit 1, p. 195). To prevent the United States from becoming unduly suspicious Japan instructed her envoys in Washington to keep up a pretext of continuing negotiations until this Japanese reply was ready for delivery (Exhibit 1, p.208). 

 

A message from the Japanese Government to its Ambassador in Berlin, sent on November 30, was intercepted and translated to the Navy in Washington on December 1 (Exhibit 1, p. 204). In this message the Japanese Ambassador was instructed to "immediately interview Chancellor Hitler and Foreign Minister Ribbentrop and confidentially communicate to them a summary of development. Say very secretly to them that there is extreme danger that war may suddenly break out between the Anglo-Saxon nations and Japan through some clash of arms and add the time of the breaking out of this war may come quicker than anyone dreams."

 

The President regarded this message as of such interest that he retained a copy of it, contrary to the usual practice in handling the intercepted messages (Vol. 57, pp. 10887-10888). 

 

On December 2, 1941, elaborate instructions from Japan were intercepted dealing in precise detail with the method of interment of American and British nationals in Asia "on the outbreak of war with England and the United States" (Exhibit 1, p. 198). 

 

None of these messages showing the imminence of war was sent to Admiral Kimmel or General Short. (pp. 531-532)

 

Insufficient Warnings, Key Intelligence Withheld from Kimmel and Short, and the Unfairness of Blaming Them for the Attack

 

The messages sent to General Short and Admiral Kimmel by high authorities in Washington during November were couched in such conflicting and imprecise language that they failed to convey to the commanders definite information on the state of diplomatic relations with Japan and on Japanese war designs and positive orders respecting the particular actions to be taken-orders that were beyond all reasonable doubts as to the need for an all-out alert. In this regard the said high authorities failed to discharge their full duty.

 

On this subject the Committee has before it hundreds of pages of testimony, exhibits, and documents in which conflicting views are expressed by men presumably of competence and understanding as to he sufficiency or insufficiency of the war warnings to General Short and Admiral Kimmel. According to the obligations conferred upon the Committee by the joint resolution creating it, as explained by Senator Barkley in his address to the Senate on September 6, 1945, the Committee is bound to weigh all messages and information available to General Short and Admiral Kimmel. 

 

A full review of all the testimony, exhibits, and papers relative to the so-called war-warning messages sent to General Short and Admiral Kimmel would fill a volume of at least 500 pages, so we content ourselves with presenting the following facts in respect to the conflicting, imprecise, and insufficient character of these messages. 

 

It should be here observed that Washington had taken unto itself such a minute direction of affairs as regards outposts that the usual discretion of outpost commanders was narrowly limited. 

 

First of all, it is to be noted that the four reports by the Army and Navy boards created to investigate Pearl Harbor found the warning messages insufficient to put the Hawaiian commanders on a full war alert; and the President's Commission on Pearl Harbor, while finding the commanders guilty of dereliction of duty, itself places neglect on the part of the War Department, in respect to such orders, as among the contributory causes of the catastrophe at Pearl Harbor; thus qualifying its own conclusions. 

 

The President's Commission, though limited by his instructions to a search for derelictions of duty and errors of judgment on the part of the Army and Navy personnel, made a point of declaring that the Secretary of State, the Secretary of War, and the Secretary of the Navy had fulfilled their obligations with regard to matters bearing in the situation at Pearl Harbor and that the Chief of Staff and the Chief of Naval Operations had fulfilled their command responsibilities in issuing warning messages to the two commanders. 

 

But the Commission includes among the grounds for charging General Short and Admiral Kimmel with dereliction of duty their failure "to consult and confer" with each other "respecting the meaning and intent of the warnings." Thus the Commission in effect concedes that the war warning messages were couched in language so imprecise that the commanders would have to consult and confer in order to discover what the messages meant. 

 

Having made this statement, the Commission goes on to lay some of the blame for the Pearl Harbor catastrophe on the War Department and the Navy Department (that is, upon Secretary Stimson. Secretary Knox, and/or General Marshall and Admiral Stark, whom the Commission had earlier in its report exculpated). The Commission declared that among the "causes contributory to the success of the Japanese attack were: Emphasis in the warning messages on the probability of aggressive Japanese action in the Far East and on anti-sabotage measures. Failure of the War Department to reply to the message relating to the anti-sabotage measures instituted by the commanding General Hawaiian Department."

 

Had the Commission been in a mind to do so, it might have added: Failure of the War and Navy Departments to mention in these messages the probability of an attack on Pearl Harbor. (pp. 532-533)

 

In the lower, operating echelons of the Army and Navy, on the other hand, men seemed to see or to sense the gathering crisis and even the immediate danger to Hawaii. They tried to take steps to meet it but were discouraged by their superiors. This was notably evident in the testimony of Captain Arthur McCollum, Chief of the Far Eastern Section of Naval Intelligence. Alarmed by conditions on December 4, 1941, he prepared a dispatch to fully alert the fleets in the Pacific. He tried to get permission to send this dispatch at a meeting attended by Admiral Stark, Ingersoll, Turner, and Wilkinson but was discouraged from doing so on the ground that the messages of November 24 and 27 to Admiral Kimmel were sufficient. He protested that it was not sufficient and that he would like to send his December 4 dispatch anyway. The dispatch he prepared and wanted to send was never sent, and the result was tragic. (See testimony of Captain McCollum, Tr., Vol. No. 49, p. 9132ff.) 

 

Finally, there is no excuse for the failure of General Marshall and Admiral Stark to be on the alert early Sunday morning or for their failure, after they did meet near the middle of the morning, to reach the outpost Commanders with a definite war-warning message before the Japanese attack came at Pearl Harbor. This failure was all the more inexcusable for the reason that some time in July 1941, the practice of sending intercepts to General Short and Admiral Kimmel had been abandoned. (p. 540)

 

 

Comment: Congressman Frank Keefe signed the majority report, but he had serious reservations and insisted on including an “Additional Views” addendum to the report.  Here is some of what he said about the information withheld from Kimmel and Short and about the so-called “war warning” sent to Admiral Kimmel:

 

Despite the fact that the "bomb plot" message and related intercepts dealing with the berthing of ships in Pearl Harbor were delivered to General Marshall and Admiral Stark, they testified before the Committee that they have no recollection of ever seeing them (R.2911-2912 5787-5792). No intimation of these messages was given to General Short or Admiral Kimmel in Hawaii. On the contrary, Admiral Kimmel had been advised by the Navy Department on February 1, 1941: ". . . no move against Pearl Harbor appears imminent or planned for in the foreseeable future (exhibit 15). . . ."

 

Despite the elaborate and labored arguments in the report and despite the statements of high ranking military and naval officers to the contrary, I must conclude that the intercepted messages received and distributed in Washington on the afternoon and evening of December 6 and the early hours of December 7, pointed to an attack on Pearl Harbor. . . .

 

In the early morning of December 7, 1941, about 5 A. M. Washington time, the message fixing the hour for delivery of the Japanese note as 1 P. M. Washington time was available in the Navy Department in Washington (R. 10694-10701). This was eight and one-half hours before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Admiral Stark and his principal subordinates have testified before us that they had knowledge of this message about 10:30 A. M. (R. 4675, 9146-9148, 10469). This was five and one-half hours after it had been received in the Navy Department.  It was about three hours before the attack. The relation of P. M. Washington time to early morning in Hawaii was pointed out to Admiral Stark. (R. 9146-9148; 9154-9156; 9236-9254; 4679; 585) Admiral Stark was urged by the Director of Naval Intelligence to send a warning to the Fleet (R. 4673). The chief intelligence officers of the Army had the "1 pm message" by 9 A. M. Washington time, immediately appreciated its significance, but did not succeed in bringing it to General Marshall's attention until nearly several hours later (R. 12077-12078; 12079-12081).  Marshall was horseback riding in Virginia. No action was taken by the Army until he saw and read the 1 P. M. message and related intercepts, at which time he sent a message to General Short which went over commercial facilities and was received after the Pearl Harbor attack (R. 2935-2939; 8396) Admiral Stark took no action on this information except to agree to the inclusion in the belated Army message of instructions to General Short to advise Admiral Kimmel of its contents (R. 5814-5816). . . .

 

General Short and Admiral Kimmel were not informed about the most important diplomatic steps in 1941. They were not informed of the parallel action agreement at the Atlantic Conference or the warning to Japan which followed. They were not informed of the significant terms of the American note to Japan of November 26. They were not informed of the commitment made to Great Britain, as set forth in the Brooke-Popham telegram of December 6. They did not receive the vital intercepted Japanese messages or any condensation or summary of them. In response to Admiral Kimmel's request for information in his letter of May 26, 1941, he did receive, in July 1941 from the Navy Department the actual text of seven intercepted Japanese diplomatic messages (exhibit 37, pp. 6-12). In the week before the attack he received the text of another intercepted message describing the Japanese intrigue in Thailand. Kimmel testified that he believed that he was getting all pertinent information affecting the Pacific Fleet. This was the assurance Admiral Stark had given in response to the definite request in the letter of May 26, 1941. The Intelligence Officer of the Pacific Fleet, Captain Layton, wrote to Captain McCollum, his opposite number in Naval Intelligence in Washington, on March 11, 1941, to urge that intercepted Japanese diplomatic traffic be sent to the Fleet. McCollum's reply satisfied Layton that the Fleet would receive diplomatic traffic which affected its actions (R. 12923). But the vital intercepts were not sent to Admiral Kimmel or General Short. The fact that a few intercepts were sent to Admiral Kimmel shows that the withholding of others was not attributable to fear of the security of Naval communications and consequent prejudice to the Secret of Magic. The "bomb plot" message and related intercepts would have been of incalculable value both to General Short and Admiral Kimmel. Yet they were given no intimation of their existence. . . .

 

The message of November 27 to Admiral Kimmel [one of the supposed “war warning” messages] warned him of the threatened Japanese move in southeast Asia and ordered him to be ready to execute a Fleet offensive against the Marshalls required by War Plans. Readiness for an offensive at some distance from Hawaii precluded concentrating the limited resources of the Fleet upon the defense of its base, which no dispatch from the Navy Department mentioned as a point of attack. The offensive missions prescribed by the War Plans required the full use of the patrol planes of the Fleet. These planes were recently acquired and required alterations and maintenance work to put them in shape for war. The planes were too few for full distant searches from Hawaii. Partial searches were properly considered of doubtful value and involved the risk of making the planes useless for the reconnaissance required in the raids on the Marshalls at the time when they would be needed. Task forces at sea and patrol planes going to and from outlying islands carried out such distant reconnaissance as was feasible. As suggested by the Navy Department on November 27, the two carriers of the Pacific Fleet were sent on missions to outlying islands. Lacking air protection the battleships appeared better disposed in port than at sea. The fuel limitations and other logistic deficiencies of the Pacific Fleet were so acute that it was physically impossible to keep the whole Fleet or major portions of it, at sea for extended intervals The disposition of the ships and the use of patrol planes on and after November 27 were logical and reasonable in view of the message of that date. (pp. 266-F to 266-I)

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Michael T. Griffith holds a Master’s degree in Theology from The Catholic Distance University, a Graduate Certificate in Ancient and Classical History from American Military University, a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from Excelsior College, two Associate in Applied Science degrees from the Community College of the Air Force, and an Advanced Certificate of Civil War Studies and a Certificate of Civil War Studies from Carroll College.  He is a two-time graduate of the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, in Arabic and Hebrew, and of the U.S. Air Force Technical Training School in San Angelo, Texas, and has completed advanced Hebrew programs at Haifa University in Israel and at the Spiro Institute in London, England.  He is also the author of five books on Mormonism and ancient texts and one book on the John F. Kennedy assassination.

 

Mike Griffith’s Pearl Harbor Website