[Rushtalk] The Pearl Harbor Myth: Rethinking the Unthinkable

Carl Spitzer cwsiv at juno.com
Mon Apr 3 13:06:37 MDT 2017

The Pearl Harbor Myth: Rethinking the Unthinkable

George Victor

In this book, George Victor addresses the several questions regarding
Pearl Harbor: did U.S. Intelligence know beforehand? Did Roosevelt know?
If so, why weren’t commanders in Hawaii notified? It is a
well-researched and documented volume, complete with hundreds of
end-notes and references.

        Twelve days before the attack on Pearl Harbor, President
        Franklin Roosevelt surprised his advisors by saying that war
        with Japan was about to begin. Secretary of War Stimson noted in
        his diary:
        The question was what we should do. The question was how we
        should maneuver them into the position of firing the first shot
        without allowing too much danger to ourselves.

Mr. Victor admits he is an admirer of Roosevelt. While he is clear that
Roosevelt manipulated the country into war, he does not condemn him for

        History has recorded many, many rulers’ manipulations of their
        people into war without their subordinates blowing the whistle.
        Presidents James Polk, Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley, and
        Woodrow Wilson did it before [Roosevelt], and others have done
        it after him.

This is difficult for many to accept, especially the idea that honorable
and upright military leaders would allow such a thing to occur. General
George Marshall, in testimony to various tribunals after Pearl Harbor
was clear, however:

        He testified to a congressional committee that withholding vital
        information from commanders was routine practice.

Roosevelt had warnings of the coming attack. It was fortunate for
Roosevelt that his political enemies did not know

        …that [intelligence officers] had been reading the most
        confidential Japanese ciphers even before the attack, and that
        the Japanese war plans were no secret to American intelligence.

Despite the documented warnings received by administration intelligence
(eventually turned over to various committees), the administration took
the stand that no warning had come in. Further it seems clear that no
warnings were sent to Pearl Harbor on the eve of the attack.

Victor goes into some background of the U.S. involvement in the war well
before December 7. He outlines the aid to the allies in Europe. He goes
into detail regarding attempts to get Germany to shoot first. When this
failed, the U.S. changed its focus to Japan. These actions have been
well-documented elsewhere – termination of trade treaties, embargoes of
material and the like. The big blow was the oil embargo.

His military advisors were strongly against the embargo, rightly
anticipating that this would lead to war with Japan. Yet Roosevelt went
ahead with the embargo in the summer of 1941 – abruptly reversing his
prior position. At the same time, he took other measures within days of
the embargo decision: freezing Japan’s U.S. assets, breaking off
diplomatic talks with Japan, and arming the Philippines.

Something happened at this time to get Roosevelt to change so abruptly
and go against his military advisors. Victor cites historian Waldo
Heinrichs with a “unique idea.”

Roosevelt changed his attitude about pressuring Japan in order to save
the Soviet Union. Germany had just invaded Russia, and Japan was
contemplating when and how to support its German ally. Roosevelt was
aware of these Japanese deliberations and preparations – Japan would
make war plans for both the Soviet Union and the United States, but
would only fight one of them. Victor believes it is quite credible that
Roosevelt abruptly changed his approach and became more provocative with
Japan for the purpose of reducing the risk that Japan attacks the

Even in the last days of November and early December, Japan is still
seen as making overtures for peace. These were rejected by Washington,
in fact Japan notes Washington’s provocative tone (from an intercepted
message from Tokyo to Berlin):

        The conversations…between Tokyo and Washington now stand broken…
        lately England and the United States have taken a provocative
        attitude…war may suddenly break out.

In late November, Roosevelt had knowledge that the Japanese fleet was
sailing east toward Hawaii, as supported by William Casey of U.S.
intelligence. “The British had sent word that a Japanese fleet was
steaming east toward Hawaii.” That this information was sent to
Washington is confirmed by various British intelligence officers as

The U.S. commanders in Hawaii, Kimmel and Short, were not forwarded
relevant and important intelligence about the situation. This is
confirmed by the intelligence officers both in Washington and in Hawaii.
For example,

        [I – [Bratton]] never received a definite prohibition on
        [sending warnings] but every time that I tried to send a message
        of this sort, and the Navy found out about it, the Chief of
        Naval operations would call up the Chief of Staff on the
        telephone and object most vociferously and emphatically. He in
        turn would call [Miles] and object strenuously, and by the time
        it got to me…it was disapproval expressed in no uncertain terms…
        And I in each case would be instructed not to do it again.

Finally, Victor outlines the messages from Tokyo to its Ambassadors in
Washington known as #901 and #902. These were sent on December 6.
Message #901 is known as the pilot message, outlining the upcoming
message #902 (in fourteen parts) and steps to be taken by the diplomats
when received. Importantly, message #902 was to be sent in English to
ensure there were no delays by Washington to translate the message.

Based on this, a member of the army’s Signal Intelligence Service later
wrote, “Shortly after midday on Saturday, December 6, 1941… [we] knew
that war was as certain as death” and “it was known in our agency that
Japan would surely attack us in the early afternoon the following day…
Not an iota of doubt.” Early afternoon in Washington was early morning
in Hawaii.

Administration officials claimed message #901 was not delivered to key
officers until the next day. Bratton, however, testified that the
messages were delivered that evening to most people on their list.

To Victor, there is no doubt that the administration took steps to
provoke Japan and knew when and where Japan would attack. As noted, he
makes no judgment on this beyond noting that this is what political
leaders do.

        Events are poorly explained by making assumptions that crucial
        acts by competent, conscientious leaders were capricious,
        careless, or negligent. And U.S. leaders who figured in the
        Pearl Harbor disaster were highly competent and conscientious.
        After Roosevelt stationed the fleet at Pearl Harbor, Commander
        McCollum wrote a memo for him, recommending its use as a lure.
        Roosevelt implemented the recommendation. Admiral Richardson
        concluded the administration use of the fleet endangered it
        gravely, and he argued the point over and over with his
        superiors. When he took measures to protect his fleet, Roosevelt
        relieved him. Stark then kept Kimmel uninformed of Japan’s plans
        to attack it at Pearl Harbor. And Marshall kept Short
        To most Americans, manipulating one’s nation into war is
        something done by foreign tyrants – not our own leaders. Since
        1942 U.S. history has been distorted by the idea that presidents
        simply do not do what Roosevelt’s enemies said he did.

These few paragraphs found in the afterword of the book best sum up
George Victor’s views regarding the Pearl Harbor myth.

Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.


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