A New Look at the Revisionists Allegations of Conspiracy to Keep Kimmel and Short in the Dark

The revisionists' argument, which I hesitate to repeat (since it has already been stated in this brochure; but its repetition may make what I have to say crystal clear) runs as follows: President Roosevelt desperately needed a good reason for justifying America's entry into World War II. He needed it in order to save the British from utter defeat by Germany; France was already down and out! Britain was next on Hitler's list--and then the United States. (The revisionists deny this most vehemently, but everything that Hitler had done thus far was strictly in accordance with the plans he outlined in Mein Kampf. In this connection, and as I write this, there has just come out a book which must be regarded as authoritative and which is called The German Weapons and Secret Weapons of World War II, by Rudolf Lusar. Lusar was head of the Technical Arms Department of the Wehrmacht. He discloses that Germany was also building the Heinkel 343, a bomber capable of reaching the United States and returning without refueling. Several of the planes were ready at the end of the war. The book also says that it was originally planned to stage the first air raid on the united States in May 1945. So much for the revisionist contention that the benign Herr Hitler had no designs whatsoever on the United States; for its very clear that he planned to bomb this country just as soon as he had finished off England.) The President wanted to get the U.S. into the conflict not only to save Britain but, ultimately, also to save the U.S. Timely action was needed. He had goaded Hitler by several unneutral acts in the Atlantic, as well as in establishing certain U.S.


logistical relations with Britain ("lend-lease," the transfer of 50 U.S. destroyers, etc.); but Hitler was too clever to be pushed t the point where Germany would have to declare war on America prematurely or where German action would justify an American declaration of war on Germany before Germany was ready for such action. Hitler realized, as well as President Roosevelt, that what America id held the answer to Germany's problem. president Roosevelt knew that the American people were not at all anxious to be drawn into the European war; but he felt that it was absolutely necessary that something be "engineered," so to speak, in order that the U.S. would, willy-nilly, be drawn into the conflict. This, the revisionists contend, as I have reiterated, Roosevelt felt was necessary to save England; it was incidentally also intended, they contend, to divert attention from the failure of the New Deal to bolster the badly sagging economy as a result of defective monetary policies and other internal difficulties. U.S. participation was also a Democratic objective, they say, for Roosevelt's reelection; and, of course, it was desirable to preserve the Rooseveltian prestige. The long-drawn out arguments with the Japanese might, in view of the Tri-partite pact of the German, Italian, and Japanese Axis, and despite Hitler's canny strategy of not succumbing to American provocation in the Atlantic, serve his purpose. Americans did not like the Japanese anyhow and were distrustful of these Orientals. Japanese ambitions in the Far East and distrust of the Japanese kept popping up everywhere in the American press and public opinion. But Roosevelt felt that there was one sine qua non to getting into a shooting war with the Japanese. In the words of Mr. Stimson, his


Secretary of War, unfortunate words one must now admit, it was all a matter of how the Japanese "could be maneuvered into the position of firing the first shot," otherwise, the American people would be lukewarm about a war with them. MAGIC, that is, the secret intelligence which the solution of the Japanese diplomatic communications made available to the Roosevelt Administration in great abundance, provided a golden opportunity--so the revisionists, including Admiral Theobald, fervently believe. I have already and more than once stated in this brochure that the revisionists are convinced that MAGIC told the President exactly when and where their attack was going to be launched: in the early hours of the morning of 7 December 1941, at Pearl Harbor. By withholding from the U.S. commanders at Pearl Harbor this private knowledge which President Roosevelt gained from MAGIC--the horse's mouth, so to speak--enabled the President to accomplish his heart's desire. With this highly secret information he could maneuver the Japanese so that they would fire the first shot; he realized, they concede, that there would be some losses of men and ships, of course, as so callously stated in the extract from Professor Barnes which was quoted above, but these losses, they contend, he would regard as justified in the long run by saving England, France, and, later on, America from the Axis Powers-and it would incidentally save his own prestige and insure his reelection.

The important element in the foregoing argument, let it be noted, is that, to quote from Secretary Stimson's diary a bit, Japan was to be "maneuvered into a position of firing the first shot." The maneuver, according to the revisionists, included using the ships of the U.S.


Pacific Fleet as a lure; that is why, they argue, Roosevelt insisted on having that fleet based on pearl Harbor instead of on the west coast of the U.S., as Admiral Richardson, Kimmel's predecessor, wished. But let it be noted that Admiral Richardson's objection stemmed from purely logistical considerations, such as easier maintenance and repair; and morale of the sailors entered into the picture--Hawaii as a long way from "home" for the men and officers of the fleet. (Admiral Richardson had not the slightest idea that keeping the fleet at Pearl would deter the Japanese from doing what they wished to do in the Far East. In fact, he thought keeping the fleet on the West Coast would be more effective. Well, the President, the Commander-in-Chief, didn't agree with Admiral Richardson--and that's all there was to it. It turned out, unfortunately, that Admiral Richardson's' view was more nearly correct than the President's--but does that mean that the President had ulterior motives in keeping the fleet at Pearl? I don't think so at all.)

And now for my counter argument on this score.

If we assume for the moment that the revisionists' argument is valid, why don't they go just one step further? If all that President Roosevelt thought necessary for his purposes, if all that he was seeking, was "to maneuver the Japanese into firing the first shot," and if MAGIC contained all that the revisionists claim it contained, would it now have been possible, by means of that very MAGIC to accomplish his purpose without such a terrible loss of American lives, and, without loss of any of the ships that constituted the apple of the President's eye, the Navy's big battleships? If Roosevelt was so clever a politician and so machiavellian


in his strategy as to think up a way of maneuvering the Japanese into a position wherein they would be enticed or maneuvered into firing the first shot, should one doubt that he lacked the intelligence to have gone one step further in his thinking and saying something like the following to himself: "Eureka! I've got it. MAGIC will provide the golden opportunity I've sought for so many months. I've hit upon a perfectly marvelous idea and opportunity! An absolutely and amazingly wonderful opportunity! The Japanese have to come to Pearl Harbor to make their surprise attack, an attack clearly indicated by these MAGIC messages. They have to travel several thousand miles, in fact, to get to Hawaii from Japanese waters. If we caught them red-handed, so to speak, near Hawaii and preferably just before the attack, nobody could possibly claim they were on a simple, harmless reconnaissance mission--or on maneuvers. Why, with Japanese-American relations so tense, even if they were caught as many as 5600 miles from Pearl Harbor, very unbiased critic would say that they really fired first! So I'll bring Kimmel and Short fully into the picture--I'll tell them the story MAGIC is telling us. I'll secretly order them here right away (November 26th, for example) and I'll have Marshall and Stark come in. I'll show Kimmel and Short the crucial messages. Then I'll tell them something like this: Look, by boys, you see now, don't you, what you're in an excellent position to do to the Nips? You see, don't you that this inside and absolutely authentic information says that they are coming from Japan to attack Pearl Harbor by surprise at seven o'clock on the morning of 7 December; they're coming with a task force which will certainly be a pretty big one, you may be sure. It will comprise several


aircraft carriers; they'll have maybe as many as 350 aircraft, including dive bombers, etc., of course. Now, as Commander-in-Chief, I direct you to do everything that will be necessary to meet them when, or preferably just before, they arrive to launch their attack. I direct you to destroy them; knock out the whole task force, carriers, planes, and all, just before they reach Oahu if you can. I direct you, Kimmel, to get all your battleships and, of course, your carriers, out of their berthing positions at Pearl Harbor some time during the night, so that there won't be any ships there for them to bomb. And I want all your planes, including those on your carriers, the Lexington and the Enterprise, up in the air before seven o'clock; you'd better get off messages at once to Halsey, Newton, and Brown to alert their task forces; if they're not at Pearl, get them back as soon as you can; maybe you'll want to get the Saratoga back from the West Coast to join your other carriers if there's still time, and that's OK with me. Short, I want all your anti-aircraft batteries on shore to be fully manned and with live ammunition at hand, ready for use; I know you don't have too much in the way of fighter and bomber planes, but I want you to wipe out as many of their aircraft as possible with what you have. Forget that screwy message you sent about being prepared for sabotage--in view of these messages, that's an absurd notion. You can see that the Japs are after our fleet and the protection of the fleet while at Pearl is your job, you know. Be sure your radar is working properly--24 hours a day. I want you, Kimmel, to get your carriers and battlewagons out where they can destroy the Japanese carriers and escort ships while their aircraft are being shot down just before they reach Pearl. This,


my lads, if done well, will go down in history as the most thrilling and important battle of all time. Even more important is the fact that if you knock off their task force, and assuming we'll have minimal losses, we'll come out far ahead in naval strength, because right now our Pacific Fleet is no match for the Japanese Combined Fleet--they've got more ships, faster ships, and with longer-range guns than we have, I'm sorry to say. Now I don't want you to tell anybody I've alerted you because of what MAGIC is telling us. We're reading their most secret diplomatic codes and ciphers, which are all that count now anyhow right now, and it's very important that they don't get suspicious about the security of their Foreign Office communications. I want them to continue using those cryptographic systems because the information we're getting out of them now is priceless and will be even more so in the war which will without question ensue when you've destroyed their task force for Pearl. They won't get suspicious if you will act exactly as though your operations and maneuvers are a routine matter--training--but I want you to be on Alert No. 1. Don't forget that on 17 June 1940, when we thought the Japs and the Germans were about to gang up on us, we sent messages directing our commanders to put our forces at Pearl on a full alert, and you did so; that time, fortunately, nothing happened. We were probably jumping at conclusions then, but now its' different--now we've got this MAGIC. You'll have to go at this carefully, of course, so as not to alarm the Japs and lead them into calling the whole thing off, which they still can do, as we understand their plan. But the important thing is to keep from doing anything that will alarm them and make them call the whole thing off.


I want them to fire the first shot. I'm sure you can think up ways to work up to a condition of full alert so that they'll not get suspicious. That might precipitate and "incident" and give the Japs an excuse to say that we committed the first overt act. Besides, we don't want to alarm the civil population, of course. Everybody knows that relations between Japan and ourselves are very tense right now, so that exercises and maneuvers of a defensive type will certainly be regarded as only logical and the natural thing to do. Now I suggest that you get back to your posts as fast as you can--you've got only a few days to prepare a real surprise for the surprise they think they're going to spring on us. Let's see how well you can knock 'em off. Give 'em hell! So long, and the best of luck to you. About 150 million Americans will probably never know how much they will owe you two for what I'm sure you'll be able to do, even with what little you have. I wish you had more--but you know what the trouble is. I don't have to tell you. It's enough merely to remind you that the Selective Service Act was extended in the House just a few months ago by a majority of just one vote."

On 3 December the President (in this imaginative account) sends a message to Kimmel and Short telling them that we've deciphered a long message from the Japanese Consul, Kita, in Honolulu to Tokyo. "Kita is the Jap whose been giving them the dope about ships in harbor; he's the one whose been sending Tokyo the detailed story of what ships are anchored where. But from the 3 December message it's clear that somehow Kita has figured out, or maybe somebody in Tokyo has figured out, that it would be a terrible denouement to come all the way from Japan to make their surprise


attack only to find that the 'birds had flown the coup.' So Kita has figured out a plan whereby he and his spied in and around Pearl can send last word to the Japanese Attack Force Commander that everything is OK, that the important elements of the U.S. Fleet are still in their berthing positions, and haven't suddenly departed just a few hours before the attack is scheduled to commence." (See Message from Kita to Tokyo, 3 December 1941, p. 267 of Part 12, PHR, a message which, by the way, was not processed until 11 December 1941, but which if there really was a conspiracy would certainly have been done before 7 December.) "Kita doesn't even have the slightest inkling, of course, that I'm telling you, Kimmel and Short, about the set-up he has prepared to make sure to get word to the Japanese task force that the birds haven't flow the coop. You arrange with Naval Intelligence, Army Intelligence and the FBI at Honolulu to grab Kita and Kita's spies on Saturday and hold them in cold storage until after the planned for attack has come off--and has, of course, failed, because it will fail, if you've done your part."

If any reader of this brochure thinks that the foregoing fanciful, imaginative, or conjectural account of what might have happened is to bizarre for serious consideration let me call his attention to what Admiral Kimmel says he could and would have done--if only he'd been "let in on "M MAGIC, or at least had been told what was in those messages. Let me quote from his book (pp. 87-88):

No one had a more direct and immediate interest in the security of the fleet in Pearl Harbor than its commander-in-chief. No one had a greater right than I to know that Japan had carved up Pearl Harbor into sub-areas and was seeking and receiving reports as to the precise berthings in that harbor


of the ships of the fleet. I had been sent Mr. Grew's report earlier in the year with positive advice from the Navy Department that no credence was to be placed in the rumored Japanese plans for an attack on Pearl Harbor. I was told then, that no Japanese move against Pearl Harbor appeared "imminent or planned for in the foreseeable future." Certainly I was entitled to know when information in the Navy Department completely altered the information and advice previously given to me. Surely, i was entitled to know of the intercepted dispatches between Tokyo and Honolulu on and after September 24, 1941, which indicated that a Japanese move against Pearl Harbor was planned in Tokyo.

Knowledge of these intercepted Japanese dispatches would have radically changed the estimate of the situation made by me and my staff. It would have suggested a re-orientation of our planned operations at the outset of hostilities. The war plans of the Navy Department and of the Pacific Fleet, as well as our directives and information from Washington prior to the attack, indicated that the Pacific Fleet could be most effectively employed against japan through diversionary raids on the Marshalls when the Japanese struck at the Malay Barrier. Knowledge of a probable Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor would have afforded an opportunity to ambush the Japanese striking force as it ventured to Hawaii. It would have suggested the wisdom of concentrating our resources to that end, rather than conserving them for the Marshall Islands expedition.

Admiral Kimmel cites instance after instance, message after message, which contained information which, he says, would have been of vital importance to him and would have prevented the disaster if only he had been given the information which he should have received as Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Maybe, maybe he's right in his contention. His proximity to the scene might have led him to make the imaginative jump that was necessary in order to reach the correct solution to the astounding story that MAGIC was unfolding.

Imagination bogs down when one considers what such a picture as I have conjured up might have been painted form what the Japanese messages were saying--or what the revisionists claim they clearly said.


It is true that in Hawaii there were fewer fighting aircraft, both Army and navy, then were released from the Japanese carriers when the attack was launched. But the aircraft on the U.S. Navy carriers Lexington and Enterprise, had these carriers been positioned not he basis of the information the revisionists claim President Roosevelt had, would have made up for the lack of aircraft on Hawaii at the time of the attack.

In Admiral Kimmel's Story the Admiral makes a few comments on the question of whether his account represents action that he might have taken. But let it be remembered that what he says is based on hindsight; and the Admiral freely admits this point. He contends that had he had the benefit of the intelligence which was in the MAGIC messages, and which he never received, the story would have been very different (pp. 109-111):

The question will arise in your minds, as it has in mine: Would the receipt of this information have made a difference in the events of December 7? No man can now state as a fact that he would have taken a certain course of action years ago had he known facts which were then unknown to him. All he can give is his present conviction, divorcing himself from hindsight as far as humanly possible, and re-creating the atmosphere of the past and the factors which then influenced him. I give you my views, formed in this manner.

Had I learned these vital facts and the "ships in harbor" messages on November 28th, it is my present conviction that I would have rejected the Navy Department's suggestion to send carriers to Wake and Midway. I would have ordered the third carrier, the Saratoga, back from the West Coast. I would have gone to sea with the fleet and endeavored to keep it in an intercepting position at sea. This would have permitted the disposal of the striking power of the fleet to meet an attack in the Hawaiian area. The requirements of keeping the fleet fueled, however, would have made necessary the presence in Pearl Harbor from time to time of detachments of various units of the main body of the fleet.

On December 4, ample time remained for the Navy Department to forward to me the information which I have outlined,


and in addition the following significant facts, which the Navy Department learned between November 27 and that date:
1) Japan had informed Hitler that war with the Anglo-Saxon powers would break out sooner than anyone dreamt;
2) Japan had broadcast her winds code signal using the words "east wind rain," meaning war or a rupture of diplomatic relations with the United States.

Assuming that for the first time on December 5 I had all the important information then available in the Navy Department, it is my present conviction that I would have gone to sea with the fleet, including the carrier Lexington and arranged a rendezvous at sea with Halsey's carrier force, and been in a good position to intercept the Japanese attack.

At some time prior to December 6, 1941, the commanders of Hawaii could have been informed of the promise of armed support as detailed by the War Department in London to Air Marshal Brooke Popham in Singapore. This vital information was denied to them.

On December 6, fifteen hours before the attack, ample time still remained for the Navy Department to give me all the significant facts which I have outlined and which were not available to me in Hawaii. In addition, the Navy Department could then have advised me that thirteen parts of the Japanese reply to the American proposals had been received, that the tone and temper of this message indicated a break in diplomatic relations or war with the United States, and that the Japanese reply was to be formally presented to this government at a special hour soon to be fixed. Had I received this information on the afternoon of December 6, it is my present conviction that I would have ordered all fleet units in Pearl Harbor to sea, arranged a rendezvous with Halsey's task force returning from Wake, and been ready to intercept the Japanese force by the time fixed for the outbreak of war.

Even on the morning of December 7, four or five hours before the attack, had the Navy Department for the first time seen fit to send me all this significant information, and the additional fact that 1:00 P.M., Washington time, had been fixed for the delivery of the Japanese ultimatum to the United States, my light forces could have moved out of Pearl Harbor, all ships in the harbor would have been at general quarters, and all resources of the fleet in instant readiness to repel an attack.

For some years I, too, have wondered to what extent Kimmel's statements as to what he could or might have done, had he had or had he been given the information in MAGIC, are guided by hindsight. But having


read his book carefully I feel that it is quite possible that he is warranted in making his statements. The defense of Pearl Harbor was not his responsibility, of course--it was General Short's. But between Kimmel and Short, both capable officers, their closeness to the situation and the greater amount of time they had to think about their duties and responsibilities with respect to safeguarding the Pacific Fleet might have led them to a safe conclusion: that they had better take all precautions to avoid a sudden attack on Pearl Harbor.

One further comment: if, as a result of the inside information the revisionists say we got from MAGIC, all the submarines, destroyers, carriers and battleships in a large task force of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, or even the whole of the fleet had been lying in wait for the Japanese task force sent to make the attack on Pearl Harbor there would have been strength enough, I think to wipe out the whole Japanese task force. it is true that the Japanese task force included only two battleships, but it had six carriers, two heavy cruisers, a light cruiser, eleven destroyers and a number of submarines, about five, some of which carried midget submarines. (Capt. Harley Cope, USN in "Climb Mount Niitaka," U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol. 72, No. 12, December 1946). I say this on the assumption that Admiral Kimmel would have timed his counter-move to that the Japanese task force would not have had the protection of the aircraft of its carriers, because if Kimmel and Short had operated on the basis of information the revisionists claim was clearly in MAGIC, the Japanese 361 planes would already have departed on their mission. This I regard as a point of considerable importance. There is reason to


believe that had only a task force of the U.S. Pacific Fleet gone out to engage the Japanese task force in battle on the high seas, the U.S. task force would probably have fared very badly because of the fact that the Japanese not only did have six carriers to our two, but also their battleships were faster and had longer range guns. Also, if even the whole U.S. Pacific Fleet had gone out, on the basis of MAGIC--as MAGIC is conceived by the "revisionists"--to meet the Japanese task force which was to attack Pearl Harbor, and had the two navies met on the high seas, with the Japanese carriers still sailing with their entire complement of airplanes, the U.S. Pacific Fleet would probably have suffered a terrible, humiliating and ignominious defeat, because the Japanese task force because of what I have already said--they had six carriers to our two, their first-line battleships were speeder and had longer-range guns than any of our own battleships had. Not only would there have been a great loss of American lives, but also none of our battleships or carriers could have been raised and repaired. As it was, and quite fortuitously, there were no carriers at Pearl on 7 December; and with one exception, the battleships damaged or sunk at Pearl Harbor were soon back in commission, thanks to an obvious strategic error made by the Japanese high command--they could have but they failed to destroy the dry docks, machine ships, and the repair facilities at Pearl! Why the Japanese overlooked this rather obvious point is not too clear; it shows them to be not too good as naval strategists. Only one Japanese naval officer has thus far tried to explain this strategic error. They, or at least Admiral Yamamoto had the imagination to realize that with the U.S. Fleet in being in the Pacific,


their plans for conquest could not be carried to completion very easily; therefore it was necessary to destroy the U.S. Fleet. Dr. Louis Morton in his article "The Japanese decision for war" (U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol. 80, No. 12, December 1954, p. 1329) says:

Against the almost unanimous opposition of the naval planners, Admiral Yamamoto remained adamant. Unless the American Fleet could be destroyed at one blow at the start of the war, he insisted, the Japanese would probably fail in their effort to seize the Netherland Indies and Malaya. And even if they were successful, he predicted that they would be unable to hold any of their gains for long. . . . A determined effort by the Pacific Fleet might well result in disaster. . . . The Japanese believed it necessary to destroy or neutralize the American Fleet at Pearl Harbor and to deprive the United States of its base in the Philippines.2 America's line of communications across the Pacific was to be cut by the seizure of Wake and Guam.

But that was as far as imagination of Japanese Navy strategists carried them: the only thing they thought necessary was to destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet. On the other hand, although the U.S. war plans elaborated in the first half of 1941 contemplated (in May of that year) took into account the possibility that the Japanese might, (as they had three times before and successfully) begin a war on an enemy without a preceding declaration of war, that is, by a surprise attack, and although this possibility was placed first on the list of contingencies, with Pearl Harbor as the focal point of the attack, and although the war plans even envisioned that such an attack could come from aircraft flown from carriers, it is an almost inexplicable fact that all this was simply forgotten by the end of the same year. The U.S. high command in Washington certainly forgot this


contingency; and the two principle commander in Hawaii, by December 1941, also apparently forgot it--or did they lack the imagination that the January to May 1941 war planners used in thinking up the things that the Japanese might do? In Washington they were thinking only of deterrents to Japanese expansion in the Far East. They imagined that as long as the U.S. Pacific Fleet remained intact in the Pacific it would serve as a deterrent to Japanese moves toward conquest in Southeast Asia. The Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, our greatest overseas bastion! How absurd! Washington, by December 1941, just simply could not imagine that the Japanese would be foolhardy enough to attack Pearl Harbor and try to destroy the ships of the Pacific Fleet in their berthing positions in that harbor. Except here and there among the junior officers of the Navy the possibility of a surprise air attack on the Fleet was kept in mind. "A group of the younger officers (on the West Virginia) . . . anticipating an air attack on the Fleet, had discussed among themselves what to do in case it came, and knew exactly how to act." (Morison, S.E. The Rising Sun in the Pacific, Vol. III of History of United States Naval Operations in World War II (Boston: Little Brown and Co., 1953) p. 103). Their foresight, says Prof. Morison, saved the West Virginia. To repeat, it is true that this contingency about which I have already said a good deal, was explicitly stated in war plans--but apparently nobody seriously believed that it could be done, or that the Japanese would be so foolish as to try it. Indeed, Prof. Morison says of the attack on Pearl Harbor (p. 132):


Thus, the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, far from being a "strategic necessity," as the Japanese claimed even after the war, was a strategic imbecility. One can search military history in vain for an operation more fatal to the aggressor. On the tactical level, the Pearl Harbor attack was wrongly concentrated on ships rather than permanent installations and oil tanks. On the strategic level it was idiotic. On the high political level it was disastrous.


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2. Some American naval historians and strategists disagree with Dr. Morton on this point; they insist that the Japanese Navy needed a spectacular victory--the Army was getting too much publicity, and that is why Yamamoto insisted on the Pearl Harbor attack. It was not necessary for their plans to take all that could be taken in Southeast Asia.

Transcribed and formatted by Patrick Clancey