III. THE PEARL HARBOR INVESTIGATIONS
There were nine separate Pearl Harbor investigations from 1941 through
1946.  The first began the day after the event, when Secretary of the
Navy Frank Knox flew to Pearl Harbor to find out what had happened, and
to try to understand why. In less than a week, Secretary Knox visited
the damaged installations at Pearl Harbor and interviewed numerous
individuals, including Admiral Kimmel and General Short. Secretary
Knox's report  concludes:
"The Japanese air attack on the Island of Oahu on December 7th was a
complete surprise to both the Army and the Navy. Its initial success,
which included almost all the damage done, was due to a lack of a state
of readiness against such an air attack, by both branches of the
Service. This statement was made by me to both General Short and Admiral
Kimmel, and both agreed that it was entirely true. Neither Army or Navy
Commandants in Oahu regarded such an attack as at all likely, because of
the danger which such a carrier-borne attack would confront in view of
the preponderance of the American naval strength in Hawaiian
waters...Neither Short nor Kimmel, at the time of the attack, had any
knowledge of the plain intimations of some surprise move, made clear in
Washington, through the interception of Japanese instructions to
"There was no attempt by either Admiral Kimmel or General Short to alibi
the lack of a state of readiness for the air attack. Both admitted that
they did not expect it, and had taken no adequate measures to meet one
if it came. Both Kimmel and Short evidently regarded an air attack as
extremely unlikely...Both felt that if any surprise attack was attempted
it would be made in the Far East. "
Secretary Knox's report was delivered to President Roosevelt on December
14, 1941. On December 16, after consultation with the President,
Secretary of the Navy Knox and Secretary of War Stimson directed the
relief of Admiral Kimmel and General Short, respectively. 
 Figure 1 in Section I diagrams the nine investigations, showing how
each relates to Admiral Kimmel or General Short, or both. This Section,
however, discusses only the five investigations most pertinent to this
 Report by the Secretary of the Navy to the President, reproduced in
PHA 5:2338-45 and 24:1749-56.
 PHA 5:2338.
 PHA 5:2342.
 Secretary of the Navy Knox relieved Admiral Kimmel of his command on
16 December 1941. PHA, 5:2430. That same day, Secretary of War Stimson
relieved General Short of his command. Henry L. Stimson Diary, Yale
Univ. Library, 17 December 1941. Both Knox and Stimson acted after
consultation with President Roosevelt.
The President then established a five-member Commission, headed by Owen
J. Roberts, a sitting Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, to
determine whether "any derelictions or errors of judgment on the part of
United States Army or Navy personnel contributed to such successes as
were achieved by the enemy on the occasion mentioned, and if so, what
these derelictions or errors were, and who were responsible therefor."
The Roberts Commission conducted meetings during the period from
December 18, 1941, through January 23, 1942, interviewed 127 witnesses,
and examined a large number of documents. One of the Commission's
conclusions is the source of much of the controversy in the cases of
Admiral Kimmel  and General Short and thus is worth repeating in its
"17. In light of the warnings and directions to take appropriate action,
transmitted to both commanders between November 27 and December 7, and
the obligation under the system of coordination then in effect for joint
cooperative action on their pan, it was a *dereliction of duty* on the
part of each of them not to consult and confer with the other respecting
the meaning and intent of the warnings, and the appropriate measures of
defense required by the imminence of hostilities. The attitude of each,
that he was not required to inform himself of, and his lack of interest
in, the measures undertaken by the other to carry out the responsibility
assigned to such other under the provisions of the plans then in effect,
demonstrated on the part of each a lack of appreciation of the
responsibilities vested in them and inherent in their positions as
Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, and Commanding General, Hawaiian
Department."  [emphasis added]
These are the harshest words in the report which finds relatively little
fault with actions in Washington, although it acknowledges that the
"evidence touches subjects which in the national interest should remain
secret" . The Roberts Commission report was submitted to the
President on January 23, 1942, and released to the public on January 24,
1942. Admiral Kimmel and General Short retired about a month later.
"Dereliction of duty" was not then a court-martial offense as such, but
it was harsh language. Although court-martial charges against Admiral
Kimmel and General Short were considered during 1942, no charges were
preferred, in part because of the wartime need for secrecy and in part
because of doubts that such charges could be sustained. 
 Executive Order 8983, 18 December 1941; reproduced in part in
Roberts, Owen J., et al., letter report to the President, January 23,
1942, p. 1., PHA 7:3285.
 For example, Mr. Edward R. Kimmel has stated, "the Roberts
Commission...dereliction of duty charge is the genesis of the injustice
done to Admiral Kimmel." Thurmond transcript, p. 18.
 Roberts, op. cit., p.22.
 Ibid., p. 2.
 Secretary of War Knox announced on 26 February 1942 that "he had
directed the preparation of charges for the trial by court-martial of
General Short, alleging dereliction Or duty." PHA, 19:3811. The Office
of the Judge Advocate General of The Navy also drafted charges and
specifications for use in general court-martial proceedings against
Admiral Kimmel. PHA, 11:5495-5497. Both the Army and the Navy later
decided, however, that trial by court-martial was inappropriate. The
Judge Advocate General [footnote continued on page III-3]
Admiral Kimmel in particular was mortified by the accusation of
"dereliction of duty" and almost immediately began to press for a court-
martial or other formal proceeding to clear his name". In part because
of continuing public debate on the Pearl Harbor issue but largely though
the efforts of Admiral Kimmel's own lawyer,  Congress in 1944 passed
a resolution that directed "[t]he Secretary of War and the Secretary of
the Navy. . . severally . . . to proceed forthwith with an investigation
into the facts surrounding the catastrophe."  To carry out those
responsibilities, the Secretaries created two Boards, a Navy Court of
Inquiry' and an Army Pearl Harbor Board. 
The Navy Court of Inquiry concluded "that no offenses have been
committed nor serious blame incurred on the part of any person in the
naval service".  In his endorsement, the Chief of Naval Operations,
Admiral Ernest King, disagreed. He found evidence of error and
"6. The derelictions  on the part of Admiral [Harold] Stark and
Admiral Kimmel were faults of omission rather than faults of commission.
In the case in question, they indicate the lack of the superior judgment
necessary for exercising command commensurate with their rank and
assigned duties, rather than culpable inefficiency .
"7. Since trial by general court martial is not warranted by the
evidence adduced, appropriate administrative action would appear to be
the relegation of both these officers to positions in which lack of
superior judgment may not result in future errors." 
After further investigation and review, Secretary of the Navy James
Forrestal agreed that Admirals Stark and Kimmel "failed to demonstrate
the superior judgment necessary for
[footnote 10, cont.] of the Army, for example, opined that General
Short's mistakes "were honest ones, not the result Of conscious fault,
and having in mind all the circumstances, do not constitute a criminal
neglect of duty." PHA, 39:253-54.
 See, for example, Admiral Kimmel's letter to Admiral Stark dated
February 22, 1942, quoted in Kimmel, op. cit., p. 182. There is a useful
chronicle of Admiral Kimmel's efforts in Prange, op. cit., Chapter 72.
 Kimmel, op. cit., Preface, p. ix
 PHA 3:1358.
 Appointed pursuant to the provisions of P. L. 339 (78th Cong.),
approved June 13, 1944. By order of SECNAV Forrestal, the Navy Court
held sessions beginning July 24, 1944, and concluded its inquiry on
October 19, 1944.
 Appointed pursuant to the provisions of P. L. 339 (78th Cong.),
approved June 13, 1944. By order of The Adjutant General, War
Department, the Army Pearl Harbor Board held sessions beginning July 20,
1944, and concluded its investigation on October 20, 1944.
 Naval Court of Inquiry, p. 1-46.
 This usage of "dereliction" is its plain-language meaning, and does
not connote a court-martial offense.
 "Culpable inefficiency" was a court-martial offense at the time; it
is thus explicitly rejected here.
 PHA, 39:343-45; CNO to SECNAV, Second Endorsement, 6 November 1944,
exercising command commensurate with their rank and assigned duties" and
considered that "appropriate action should be taken to insure that
neither of them will be recalled to active duty in the future for any
position in which the exercise of superior judgment is necessary." 
The Army's Pearl Harbor Board generally criticized the conduct of the
Secretary of State, the Chief of Staff, the then Chief of War Plans
Division, and General Short,  but made no recommendations. The
Army's Judge Advocate General, reviewing the report, suggested that
General Short was guilty of errors of judgment, but that those errors
did not rise to levels appropriate for court-martial. 
The reports of the Navy Court of Inquiry and the Army Pearl Harbor
Board, together with the endorsements of the Secretaries, stand as
official "corrections" by the Services of the Roberts Commission's
finding of dereliction. The Court and the Board concluded that the
evidence was insufficient to warrant court-martial of Admiral Kimmel or
General Short. However, the evidence strongly suggested "errors of
Investigations of the events at Pearl Harbor culminated in the lengthy
hearings and voluminous publications of the Joint Congressional
Committee on the Pearl Harbor Attack. The JCC concluded that "[t]he
disaster of Pearl Harbor was the failure, with attendant increase in
personnel and material losses, of the Army and the Navy to institute
measures designed to detect an approaching hostile force, to effect a
state of readiness commensurate with the realization that war was at
hand, and to employ every facility at their command in repelling the
Japanese."  The JCC recognized the importance of the failure of the
Army and the Navy in Washington to transmit critical information to the
Hawaiian commanders.  Nevertheless, it found that:
"8....the Hawaiian commands failed-
"(a) To discharge their responsibilities in the light of the warnings
received from Washington, other information possessed by them, and the
principle of command by mutual cooperation."
"(b) To integrate and coordinate their facilities for defense and to
alert properly the Army and Navy establishments in Hawaii, particularly
in the light of the warnings and intelligence available to them during
the period November 27 to December 7, 1941."
"(c) To effect liaison on a basis designed to acquaint each of them with
the operations of the other, which was necessary to their joint
security, and to exchange fully all significant intelligence."
 PHA, 16:2429; SECNAV, Fourth Endorsement, 13 August 1945, p. 5-21.
 After the war, Admiral King moderated his judgment somewhat. Letter
to the Secretary of the Navy dated July 14, 1948, quoted in Kimmel, op.
cit., p. 161
 PHA 3:1450-51.
 PHA 3:1477 et. Seq.
 JCC, p. 251.
 Ibid., p. 252.
"(d) To maintain a more effective reconnaissance within the limits of
"(e) To effect a state of readiness throughout the Army and Navy
establishments designed to meet all possible attacks."
"(f) To employ the facilities, materiel, and personnel at their command,
which were adequate at least to have greatly minimized the effects of
the attack, in repelling the Japanese raiders."
"(g) To appreciate the significance of intelligence and other
information available to them."
"9. The errors made by the Hawaiian commands were errors of judgment and
not derelictions of duty." 
Even the minority report, which suggested greater focus on failures by
the civilian and military leadership in Washington, "agree[d] that the
high command in Hawaii was subject to criticism for concluding that
Hawaii was not in danger." 
Thus, the final official pronouncements of the government on the
responsibility for Pearl Harbor found that Admiral Kimmel and General
Short committed errors of judgment, but that those errors did not rise
to the level of court-martial offenses. Those official pronouncements
make clear that Admiral Kimmel and General Short were by no means solely
responsible for what happened at Pearl Harbor, and that others also
deserved blame. The balance of this Section assesses whether those
assessments are still valid.
A CURRENT ASSESSMENT
In the intervening 54 years, there has been a vast outpouring of
publications on the events at Pearl Harbor. Much detail has been added
to enrich our understanding of those events, and many new interpretive
insights have been offered.
An objective reading of the historical record suggests that the story of
Pearl Harbor is far from simple. The reasons for the disastrous defeat
at Pearl Harbor form a tapestry woven of many threads, including the
inevitable advantage of an aggressor free to choose the time, place, and
form of a surprise attack in a time of nominal peace, and the brilliant
planning and flawless execution by a Japanese Navy whose capabilities
were seriously underestimated by many Americans.
Two specific failures have been at the center of the historical debate:
(1) the failure of officials in Washington, privy to intercepted
Japanese diplomatic communications, to appreciate fully and to convey to
the commanders in Hawaii the sense of focus and urgency that those
communications should have engendered; and (2) the failure of the
commanders in Hawaii to make adequate preparations in light of the
information they did have. The balance of this review focuses on these
 Ibid., p. 266-A.
Given Japanese planning and determination to attack the US fleet in
Hawaii and the limited American resources stretched across the Pacific,
the attack on Pearl Harbor probably could not have been prevented.
Consequently, the failure at Pearl Harbor is not failure to prevent that
attack. Rather, the nature of the failure was the disproportionate
losses in American lives and materiel when compared with Japanese
losses.  This disproportionality resulted principally from the
American failure to anticipate and prepare for the possibility of a
surprise aerial attack on Pearl Harbor.
It is clear today, as should have been clear since 1946 to any serious
reader of the JCC hearing record, that Admiral Kimmel and General Short
were not solely responsible for the defeat at Pearl Harbor.
To say that Admiral Kimmel and General Short were not solely responsible
does not, however, necessarily imply that they were totally blameless.
To assess the degree of their responsibility, and thus their
performance, it is necessary to consider their mission, the information
they had, the resources they had, and what they did with that
information and those resources.
General Short's mission was to protect the fleet at Pearl Harbor. On
February 7, 1941, General Short's first day as Commander of the Hawaiian
Department, Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall wrote to him:
"The fullest protection for the Fleet is *the* rather than *a* major
consideration for us, there can be little question about that. . ."
(emphasis in original)
and in his closing paragraph reiterated:
"Please keep clearly in mind in all of your negotiations that our
mission is to protect the base and the Naval concentrations..." 
Admiral Kimmel had the "general duty" to "take all practicable steps to
keep the ships of his command ready for battle."  This required
drills and exercises " . . . done in such a manner as will most conduce
to maintaining the fleet in constant readiness for war in all its
phases.  In regards to Hawaii, Admiral Kimmel's mission was to
provide long-range reconnaissance and to cooperate with the Army in the
defense of the fleet.
 US losses included 2,403 dead, 1,178 wounded, and eight
battleships, three light cruisers, three destroyers, and four auxiliary
craft sunk, capsized, or damaged. Aircraft losses included 13 Navy
fighters, 21 scout bombers, 46 patrol bombers, four B-17s, 12 B-18s, 32
P-40s, and 20 P-36s. Many other aircraft were damaged. Japanese losses
totaled 29 aircraft, one large submarine and five midget submarines. PHA
7:3069-70: 12:354-58; 22:60-61.
 PHA 15:1601-1602.
 PHA 17:2833, quoting "Navy Regulations Setting Forth the General
Duties of a Commander-in-Chief," Art. 687.
 Ibid., Art. 692.
 PHA 32:219.
Both Admiral Kimmel and General Short asserted that information they
received from Washington and their own staffs was insufficiently
explicit or specific to prompt greater readiness to defend against air
attack. Even the November 27, 1941 "war warning" message, testified both
commanders, was ambiguous; it provided no warning of an impending
surprise attack by aircraft.  In light of this claimed lack of
information, it is important to examine what information Admiral Kimmel
and General Short did have.
First, Admiral Kimmel and General Short knew that their primary mission
-- indeed virtually their only mission -- was to prepare for war with
Second, Admiral Kimmel and General Short knew that war with Japan was
highly likely. Throughout 1941, newspapers were full of news of war in
Asia and Europe. Japan had been at war in China since 1937, and
reportedly had some 75,000 Japanese troops occupying French Indo-China.
 Tensions between the United States and Japan had been increasing.
President Roosevelt had taken steps to freeze Japanese assets in the
United States, and US oil shipments, accounting for most of Japan's
supply, had ceased.  Members of both the House and the Senate
periodically called upon Roosevelt to declare war on Japan. 
Japanese aggression in Asia and US determination to stop it made war
almost inevitable. Germany, Japan's Axis partner, had occupied Denmark,
Norway, Poland, and the Low Countries and much of France. Germany had
also attacked the Soviet Union that summer, and the Wehrmacht's
"blitzkrieg" had inflicted massive Soviet losses. The United States
became increasingly involved in measures short of war. Honolulu
newspapers reported the sinking of an American destroyer and an American
tanker in the Atlantic in November 1941. 
 Admiral Kimmel, PHA 6:2498, 2518. General Short, PHA 7:2921-22;
 The Navy's basic war plan, implemented in the Pacific by W[ar]
P[lan] Pac[ific] 46, focused exclusively on Japan as the enemy. PHA
17:2571-2600. Admiral Kimmel wrote: "in the case of war . . . [w]e must
be in a position to minimize our own losses, and to inflict maximum
damage on the Japanese fleet, merchant shipping, and bases." PHA
16:2252-53 Given that General Short's mission was to protect the fleet,
he necessarily focused on Japan as the aggressor; General Short expected
a Japanese invasion of Oahu. PHA, 15:1626.
 "Japan Mechanized Army Massed in Indo-China." The Honolulu
Advertiser. 3 December 1941, p. 1. "Foreign military intelligence
reports from Saigon today said the Japanese are concentrating a
mechanized striking force in southern Indo-China. . . it [is] estimated
that Japan has 75,000 troops in southern Indo-China."
 President Roosevelt ordered an embargo on exports to Japan of high-
octane gasoline and crude oil on 1 August 1941. This embargo
complemented the earlier embargo on scrap iron and steel, announced by
the President in September 1940. See also, Beach, op cit., p. 20
("Nearly all Japan's fuel oil came through the United States. . .")
 "US-Japan War Emphasized by Spokesmen," The Honolulu Advertiser, 10
November 1941, p. 1.
 Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 22 November 1941, p. 1.
Third, Admiral Kimmel and General Short knew that, if war came, Japan
would strike the first blow, if only because the United States would
Fourth, Admiral Kimmel and General Short knew that a surprise attack
probably would precede a declaration of war. Japan had begun its war
with Russia in 1905 with a successful surprise attack on the Russian
fleet at Port Arthur. Japan's attack on North China in 1937 had not been
preceded by a declaration of war either. The Mash 31, 1941 Martin-
Bellinger Report  likewise noted that "[i]n the past Orange [Japan]
has never preceded hostile actions by a declaration of war." 
Additionally, on April 1, 1941, Naval Intelligence in Washington alerted
all naval districts-"including Hawaii-that "past experience shows the
Axis Powers often begin . . . [attacks] on Saturdays and Sundays or on
national holidays. . ."  Admiral Kimmel's standing order to the
fleet assumed "[t]hat a declaration of war may be preceded by:"(1) a
surprise attack on ships in Pearl Harbor, (2) a surprise submarine
attack on ships in operating area, and (3) a combination of these two".
 On February 18, 1941, for example, Admiral Kimmel wrote: "I feel
that a surprise attack (submarine, air, or combined) on Pearl Harbor is
a possibility."  General Short similarly knew that a surprise attack
was likely, given that he had read the Martin-Bellinger Report. 
Fifth, Admiral Kimmel and General Short knew that the initial Japanese
attack *could* fall on Pearl Harbor. Although they shared in the
conventional wisdom of the era, buttressed by confirmed intelligence
reports of Japanese ship movements in the Far East, that the attack most
probably would occur in the Far East,  the fact that they took
vigorous measures to defend against submarine attack and sabotage and
conducted drills in repelling invasion testifies to their understanding
that the war *could* come to Pearl Harbor.
Sixth, Admiral Kimmel and General Short knew that an attack on Pearl
Harbor could come in the form of an attack from carriers. Shortly after
taking command, both Admiral Kimmel and General Short received copies of
an assessment by the Secretary of the Navy, in which the Secretary of
the Army concurred, that:
"If war eventuates with Japan, it is believed easily possible that
hostilities would be initiated by a surprise attack upon the Fleet or
the Naval Base at Pearl Harbor."
 This was reemphasized in General Marshall's November 27, 1941
message to General Short (Reproduced on page III-14, below). See also
 Major General Frederick Martin, Commander, Hawaiian Air Force, and
Rear Admiral Patrick Bellinger, Hawaiian Based Patrol Wing (Martin's
navy counterpart), prepared the Report. It was a plan for joint action
if Oahu or the Pacific Fleet were attacked. Martin was under General
Short's overall command. PHA, 22:349-354.
 PHA, 22:349.
 PHA, 4:1896.
 His order 2CL-41 (Revised) October 14, 1941, reproduced in Kimmel,
op. cit., p. 189
 Letter from Admiral Kimmel to Admiral Stark, PHA, 16:2228.
 See fn 50, infra, and accompanying text.
 The "war warning" message of November 27th (text below) reinforced
"...[T]he inherent possibilities of a major disaster to the Fleet or
naval base warrant taking every step, as rapidly as can be done, that
will increase the joint readiness of the Army and Navy to withstand a
raid of the character mentioned above.
"The dangers envisaged in their order of importance and probability are
considered to be:
(1) Air bombing attack.
(2) Air torpedo attack.
(4) Submarine attack.
(6) Bombardment by gun fire." 
Admiral Kimmel immediately complained to Admiral Stark of the inadequacy
of the Army's air defenses at Pearl Harbor, especially interceptor
aircraft and antiaircraft guns. Admiral Stark passed these concerns to
General Marshall, and General Marshall emphasized to General Short his
own concern about air attack:
"My impression of the Hawaiian problem has been that if no serious harm
is done us during the first six hours of known hostilities, thereafter
the existing defenses would discourage an enemy against the hazard of an
attack. The risk of sabotage and the risk involved in a surprise raid by
air and by submarine, constitute the real perils of the situation.
Frankly, I do not see any landing threat in the Hawaiian Islands so long
as we have air superiority..." 
General Marshall wrote these comments on General Short's first day as
Commander of the Army's Hawaiian Department.
Seventh, Admiral Kimmel and General Short knew from their own staffs of
the danger of surprise air attack. On March 31, 1941, Admiral Bellinger
and General Martin reported to both Admiral Kimmel and General Short
that "[a] successful, sudden raid against our ships and Naval
installations on Oahu might prevent effective offensive action by our
forces in the Western Pacific for a long period..." and "[i]t appears
possible that Orange [Japanese] submarines and/or an Orange fast raiding
force might arrive in Hawaiian waters with no prior warning from our
intelligence service. 
Eighth, Admiral Kimmel and General Short knew from recent events that
the idea of a carrier air attack on Pearl Harbor was not new. General
Billy Mitchell forecast an assault by carrier launched aircraft on Pearl
Harbor after his 1924 Asian tour.  The US Navy had
 PHA 4:1939-40 and 23:1114; JCC, p.76
 Letter of February 7, 1941. PHA 15:1601-1602
 PHA, 22:349.
 See generally, Russell F. Weigley, "History of the United States
Army", New York, 1967, pp. 412-414.
fleet exercises and war games involving air strikes on Pearl Harbor in
the 1930s.  Admiral Kimmel and General Short must have been aware of
the enormously successful attack by British carrier-based torpedo
bombers on the harbor at Taranto in November 1940, which sank or damaged
the Italian Navy's most modern battleships. 
Ninth, both Admiral Kimmel and General Short made statements prior to
December 7, 1941 that acknowledged the possibility of an air attack on
their forces. Admiral Kimmel, for example, in a letter to Admiral Stark
on February 18, 1941, stated "I feel that a surprise attack (submarine,
air, or combined) on Pearl Harbor is a possibility."  Similarly, the
August 14, 1941 Honolulu Advertiser, in an article titled: "General
Short Sees Danger of Oahu Air Raid," quoted General Short as saying that
"an attack upon these [Hawaiian] islands is not impossible and in
certain situations it might not be improbable." 
Tenth, Admiral Kimmel was briefed on December 2, 1941, that American
intelligence had lost track of the Japanese carriers. 
Despite this mass of evidence, the practical difficulties  of
conducting an aerial attack may have caused Admiral Kimmel and General
Short to minimize its likelihood. 
Finally, Admiral Kimmel and General Short knew that the initial attack
*could* occur within weeks or days. Tension had been building between
the United States and Japan, and on November 27, 1941, Admiral Kimmel
received from the Chief of Naval Operations the following message:
"This dispatch is to be considered a war warning. Negotiations with
Japan looking forward toward stabilization of conditions in the Pacific
have ceased and an aggressive move by Japan is expected within the next
few days. The number and equipment of Jap[anese] troops and the
organization of naval task forces indicates an amphibious expedition
against either the Philippines or Kra Peninsula or possibly Borneo.
Execute an appropriate defensive deployment preparatory to carrying out
the tasks assigned in WPL 46. Inform District and Army authorities. A
similar warning is being sent by War Department. SPENAVO  inform
 See generally, Hawaiian Department, 'Joint Army and Navy Maneuvers,
Raid Phase, Jan. 29-31, 1933'
 Newton, Don and A. Cecil Hampshire, "Taranto", London, 1959; Lowry,
Thomas P. and John W. G. Wellham, "The Attack on Taranto".
Mechanicsburg, Stackpole Press, 1995. The British attack was carried out
by 21 biplanes operating from a single carrier.
 PHA, Part 16, p. 2228.
 "General Short Sees Danger of Oahu Air Raid," The Honolulu
Advertiser, 14 August 1941, p. 2.
 PHA 10:4837-38
 Among the factors making a carrier air attack unlikely were the
large distance to be covered in sailing from Japan to Hawaii, the
requirement to refuel any carrier task force during its voyage, and the
difficulty of such a carrier force remaining undetected.
 In his report to the President, Secretary Knox wrote that: "The
Japanese attack . . . was a complete surprise to both the Army and the
Navy." PHA 5:2338.
 Special Naval Observer. JCC, p. 98 fn. 99.
Continental District Guam Samoa directed take appropriate measures
against sabotage." 
Admiral Turner, the drafter of this "war warning" message, expected
Admiral Kimmel to deploy his forces, that is, to depart the harbor with
his fleet.  Admiral Kimmel, however, did not interpret the phrase
"[e]xecute an appropriate defensive deployment" in this way, and Admiral
Kimmel's interpretation was not unreasonable.
General Short received a similar message on November 27, 1941:
"Negotiations with Japan appear to be terminated to all practical
purposes with only the barest possibilities that the Japanese Government
might come back to offer to continue. Japanese further action
unpredictable but hostile action possible at any moment. If hostilities
cannot, repeat cannot, be avoided the United States desires that Japan
commit the first overt act. This policy should not, repeat not, be
construed as restricting you to a course of action that might jeopardize
your defense. Prior to hostile Japanese action you are directed to
undertake such reconnaissance and other measures as you deem necessary
but these measures should be carried out so as not, repeat not, to alarm
civil population or disclose intent. Report measures taken. Should
hostilities occur you will carry out the tasks assigned in Rainbow Five
so far as they pertain to Japan. Limit dissemination of this highly
secret information to minimum essential officers." 
Once General Short received the war warning message of November 27th, he
was expected to have effected the best possible defense, to include
defending against a possible aerial attack. 
It has been argued that this "war warning" language is ambiguous. 
Yet the actions of all the parties in Pearl Harbor indicate that they
took the warning seriously and responded with vigor. Admiral Kimmel
issued orders to the fleet to "exercise extreme vigilance against
submarines in operating areas and to depth bomb all contacts expected to
be hostile in the fleet operating areas."  Indeed, the first shots
on December 7 were fired not at dawn by Japanese aircraft but well
before dawn by Admiral Kimmel's aggressive antisubmarine patrols. 
Ships in port in Pearl Harbor were required to keep antiaircraft guns at
the ready. After meeting with Admiral Kimmel, Vice Admiral William F.
 Photocopy of original in Clausen, Henry C., and Bruce Lee, "Pearl
Harbor: Final Judgment". New York, Crown, 1992, following p. 262. See
also PHA, 14:1406; JCC, p. 98. Some of the copies in the literature
contain transcription errors.
 "Turner Describes Deployment," The New York Times, 21 December
1945, p. 2, col. 3; see "The New Military and Naval Dictionary" (F.
Gaynor, ed.), New York, 1951. ("deploy--(Navy) to change from a cruising
or contact disposition to a battle disposition")
 Photocopy of original in Clausen, op. cit. See also PHA, 14:1328;
JCC, p. 102
 JCC 119-133
 See, for example, Beach. op. cit., 165, 171.
 Dispatch CincPac to Pacific Fleet, Info OpNav, November 28, 1941,
280355, PHA 17:496, quoted in Kimmel, op cit. p. 74, note 55.
 Kimmel, op cit. p. 77.
Halsey, then Commander, Aircraft Battle Force, placed his carrier task
force on a war footing, instituted aircraft patrols with orders to
"shoot down any plane seen in the air that was not known to be one of
our own."  On receiving the Army war warning message, which was
ambiguously worded, General Short ordered Alert Number 1 -- an alert
against sabotage.  Thus, the Hawaiian commands on December 7 were
ready to meet almost any attack -- except one arriving quickly from the
Additionally, Admiral Kimmel knew three things that General Short did
not know. First, he learned on December 1, 1941 that the Japanese Navy
had unexpectedly changed its call signs.  This information was not
shared with General Short. Second, Admiral Kimmel learned on December 2,
1941 that the location of four Japanese carriers was unknown.  This
was because the carriers had not engaged in radio traffic for between
15-25 days.  This apparent radio silence, however, also was not
passed to General Short, because Admiral Kimmel assumed that the
carriers remained in home waters.  Third, Admiral Kimmel learned on
December 3, 1941 of the existence of "Purple" machines , and that
the Japan had ordered certain consulates and embassies to destroy their
codes.  Admiral Kimmel, however, did not view the code destruction
"of any vital importance . . ."  and did not tell General Short
about it.  Yet code destruction suggested that hostilities were
imminent since communication between Japan and her overseas officials
were at an end.
There were two things that Admiral Kimmel and General Short did *not*
Admiral Kimmel and General Short did not know that the initial Japanese
attack would take the form of a carrier air attack on Pearl Harbor.
Admittedly, there were many indications of Japanese intent to attack in
the Far East, and some key members of Admiral Kimmel's and General
Short's staffs shared their skepticism about the likelihood of an attack
on Pearl Harbor.  Nonetheless, it was an error for Admiral Kimmel
and General Short to draw inferences only from presumptions about the
enemy's intentions, and to ignore his capabilities.
 William F. Halsey, Admiral Halsey's Story, New York, 1947, pp. 75-
 PHA, 27:156-158.
 PHA, 10:4680. This was the first time the Japanese changed call
signs twice in a 30 day period.
 PHA, 36:138.
 PHA, 10:4839.
 PHA, 10:4839-40.
 The "Purple" machines were electronic decoding machines that
decrypted Japanese message intercepts. These messages were known as
 PHA, 14:1408.
 PHA, 6:2764.
 PHA, 6:2764-65.
 For example, Admiral Kimmel's war plans officer, Capt. Charles
McMorris, assured Admiral Kimmel on the 27th that there were no
"prospects" of an air attack. PHA, 27:412; 28:1497. See also, Prange op
cit. p. 401
Admiral Kimmel and General Short did not know exactly when hostilities
would start. Nonetheless, what they did know should have been sufficient
to cause them to make ready defenses against air attack, as they did
against other forms of attack.
Thus the crucial question becomes: *in the certain knowledge that the
United States and Japan were moving inexorably and ever more rapidly
toward war but not knowing exactly where, when, or how Japan would
strike, what did Admiral Kimmel and General Short do to resolve their
By his actions, General Short assumed he would have at least four hours
warning of an air attack.  Since he employed none of his assets in
reconnaissance or surveillance, he could get that warning only from the
Navy or from Washington. Under the agreement in place in Hawaii, the
Navy was responsible for long-range reconnaissance. Admiral Kimmel
conducted no long-range air reconnaissance out of Oahu. Thus on December
7th he could get warning only from Washington.
This exclusive reliance on Washington for both tactical and strategic
warning is at the heart of the failure at Pearl Harbor, and of the
debate about the failure. The record suggests that officials in
Washington believed they had provided strategic warning with their
messages of November 27th; neither Admiral Kimmel nor General Short read
the messages that way. The debate over the handling of Japan's 14-part
message  on December 6th and the morning of the 7th is about
tactical warning. Admiral Kimmel and General Short did not get tactical
Later, Admiral Kimmel argued, "This lack of action on the part of both
the War and Navy Departments must have been in accordance with high
political direction....These two agencies were responsible only to the
President of the United States. It is impossible to believe that both
these agencies of such proved reliability and competence should
simultaneously and repeatedly fail in such a crisis."  Although
Admiral Kimmel did not know late in 1941 that he was not getting all the
Magic product, he knew of Magic's existence.  He had sought and
extracted from Admiral Stark a promise to provide all the warning
available.  Thus, as a practical matter Admiral Kimmel effectively
placed total faith -- and the security of the forces in Pearl Harbor
against air attack -- in Washington's ability to obtain and provide to
him timely and unambiguous strategic and tactical warning from the Magic
and other intercepts alone. This faith was not justified, nor was it
consistent with his assessment of other technological developments of
the time, or since. Even with today's satellite intelligence and
instantaneous world-wide communication, it still is not prudent to
depend exclusively on Washington for timely and unambiguous information.
 His fighter aircraft were on four-hour alert, and the majority of
his antiaircraft batteries were able to come into action two and a half
to three hours after the attack. See the Knox investigation for a
detailed discussion of response times.
 For an explanation of the significance of the "14-part" message,
sec Fig. 2, fn 15, on page III-18.
 Kimmel, op cit. p. 4
 PHA, 6:2539; 14:1408.
 PHA, 6:2539-43.
Fig. 2, which appears at the end of this chapter, sets out, with
explanatory notes, specific items known in Washington, and by Admiral
Kimmel and General Short.
The record of 1941 is filled with urgent requests from Admiral Kimmel
and General Short for more resources, especially fighter and
reconnaissance aircraft, to buttress Hawaii's defenses against air
attack. American resources were stretched thin, and American strategy
consciously gave priority to the Atlantic and to buttressing the even
weaker defenses in the Philippines. Nevertheless, Admiral Kimmel and
General Short were not without resources for defense against air attack
Together, Admiral Kimmel and General Short had 49 serviceable Catalina
long-range patrol aircraft, and six serviceable B-17 long-range bombers
useful for reconnaissance. They also had a significant force of cruisers
with embarked scout-observation floatplanes, destroyers, several land-
based radar stations capable of detecting aircraft at substantial
ranges,  coast watch stations, nearly a hundred P-40 fighter
aircraft (the most modern in the American inventory), and several
hundred antiaircraft guns on land and on ships in the harbor.
There were significant competing demands on the delicate Catalinas and
practical limitations on the employment of each of the other resources.
Nevertheless, if properly employed in an integrated and coordinated
fashion at a reasonable state of readiness, these resources could have
made an enormous and perhaps critical difference in the events of
Only the guns on the ships were able to respond in significant numbers
on December 7. However, not all were able to respond immediately. 
The reconnaissance aircraft were being conserved for other tasks. The
use of destroyers and cruisers and their float planes in reconnaissance
apparently was not considered. The radars were used Only for training,
and not during the hours of the attack . The coast watch stations
were not manned. The fighters were on four-hour alert.  Mobile land-
based antiaircraft guns were not deployed, and ammunition was kept
separate from the guns. And, despite the existence of agreements and
plans for cooperation in air defense, the air defense system was not
coordinated between the Army and the Navy.
 Six mobile radar stations had been operating daily. They were,
however, only training. As General Short said: "At that time we had just
gotten in the machines and set up. I thought this was fine training for
them. I was trying to get training and was doing it for training more
than any idea that it would be real . . ." PHA 22:35.
 Most were in action in four minutes. The fratricide wrought on U.
S. aircraft from the Enterprise attempting to land at Ford Island later
that day suggests what fully alerted gun crews might have done to the
first wave of Japanese torpedo bombers.
 An Army radar, scheduled to have been shut down, in fact detected
the approaching Japanese aircraft fifty minutes before they struck the
fleet, but the contacts were erroneously presumed friendly. Given the
newness of the equipment, and its inexperienced operators, the belief
that the approaching aircraft were "friendlies" was not unreasonable.
 The few fighter aircraft able to take to the air were highly
effective. See Knox investigation.
Finally, passive defense measures were available which might have
mitigated the effect of the raids that did occur. First, training
patterns could have been altered in response to heightened tensions. The
Navy trained hard during the week, but its ships generally were in port
on Saturdays and Sundays. The touchstone of Japanese planning was this
predictable ship location. Second, aircraft revetments had been
constructed but were not used because the fear of sabotage was greater
than the fear of air attack. Had some aircraft been in revetments,
rather than lined up wing-to-wing, losses in material would have been
mitigated. Third, anti-torpedo baffles or nets could have been used
within Pearl Harbor for protection against torpedo plane attacks. These
items were not furnished to Admiral Kimmel, but they might have been
requested  Fourth, Admiral Kimmel and General Short could have used
barrage balloons in selected areas to restrict the most dangerous air
approaches to "battleship row." 
Although the commanders in Hawaii failed to make adequate preparations
in light of the information they had, more information was available in
Washington but not forwarded to them (Figure 2). Army and Navy officials
in Washington were privy to intercepted Japanese diplomatic
communications (notably the "bomb plot", "winds", "pilot", and "fourteen
part" messages ) which provided crucial confirmation of the
imminence of war. Read together and with the leisure, focus, and clarity
of hindsight, these messages point strongly toward an attack on Pearl
Harbor at dawn on the 7th.
However, it is not clear that they were read together in 1941. The "bomb
plot" message -- the only one that points clearly to Pearl Harbor --
seems not to have been correctly interpreted or widely disseminated at
the time.  The "winds" message points to increasing imminence of
attack, a point that the "war warning" messages of November 27 attempted
to convey. The "pilot", "fourteen part", and "one o'clock" messages
point, by the evening of December 6th, to war at dawn (Hawaii time) on
the 7th-not to an attack
 Admiral Kimmel's predecessor, Admiral Richardson, had decided
against torpedo baffles or nets, and Admiral Kimmel inherited this
decision. Had Admiral Kimmel seen the possibility of a torpedo aerial
attack, however, he might have requested the Navy Department to furnish
him with such items, or at least the equipment to manufacture them. PHA,
5:2350. Certainly, Admiral Kimmel was aware that his ships were
vulnerable to such an attack. For example, CNO Stark, in a letter to
Admiral Kimmel, 13 June 1941, wrote: "A minimum depth of water of 75
feet may be assumed necessary to successfully drop torpedoes from
planes. About 200 yards of torpedo run is necessary before the exploding
device is armed, but this may be altered . . . Recent developments have
shown that United States and British torpedoes may be dropped from
planes at heights of as much as 300 feet, and in some cases make initial
dives of considerably less than 75 feet, and make excellent runs.
*Hence, it may be stated that it cannot be assumed that any capital ship
or other valuable vessel is safe when at anchor from this type of attack
if surrounded by water at a sufficient distance to permit an attack to
be developed and a sufficient run to arm the torpedo*." (Emphasis added)
PHA, 5:2266. Because Pearl Harbor's depth was between 30-40 feet,
Admiral Kimmel considered the use of baffles or nets to be limited, and
did not press the Navy Department to supply them.
 The use of these sausage shaped balloons tethered to long wires was
suggested by Secretary of the Army Stimson to Secretary of the Navy Knox
7 February 1941; a copy of this letter went to General Short. He was
"direct[ed] . . . to cooperate with local naval authorities" in deciding
whether to use such balloons to protect the Fleet and base facilities.
 See Fig. 2 for an explanation of these messages and their
 See, for example, JCC, pp. 181-189
on Hawaii-but officials in Washington were neither energetic nor
effective in getting that warning to the Hawaiian commanders.
Various conspiracy theories  have been advanced, but no evidence has
been offered to support those theories. Rather, the evidence of the
handling of these messages in Washington reveals some ineptitude, some
unwarranted assumptions and misestimates, limited coordination,
ambiguous language, and lack of clarification and follow-up at higher
Together, these characteristics resulted in failure by senior Army and
Navy leadership to appreciate fully and to convey to the commanders in
Hawaii the sense of focus and urgency that those intercepts should have
engendered. The Service reports and the Joint Congressional Committee
properly recognized and criticized those failures as errors of judgment
which must take their place alongside the errors of judgment by Admiral
Kimmel and General Short.
Advocates for Admiral Kimmel and General Short argue, in effect, that
the failure of Washington officials to provide the critical intercepts
to the Hawaiian commanders excuses any errors made in Hawaii. It does
not. No warfighting commander ever has enough information or enough
resources. It is the job of the commander to carry out his or her
mission as best he or she can with the information and resources
available to him or her. Indeed, placing exclusive reliance on
Washington for tactical as well as strategic warning of air attack was
an act of misplaced faith.
In summary, this review of the Pearl Harbor investigations and of the
available evidence provides no reason to reverse the conclusions of the
Services and the Joint Congressional Committee that Admiral Kimmel and
General Short made errors of judgment in the use of the information and
the employment of the forces available to them.
Advocates for Admiral Kimmel and General Short also suggest that they
were held to a higher standard than their superiors. A full reading of
the proceedings and reports of those panels suggests clear recognition
of the faults at all levels. That said, Admiral Kimmel and General Short
were the highest ranking commanders at Pearl Harbor; it was appropriate
to subject their actions to closer scrutiny and accountability.
Additionally, the decisions affecting Admiral Kimmel and General Short
were tailored to their individual situations; what did or did not happen
to others is not an appropriate consideration. Finally, the catastrophe
at Pearl Harbor remains a distinct and unique historical event in US
history, and this explains in part why Admiral Kimmel and General Short
were uniquely affected by it.
Finally, advocates for Admiral Kimmel and General Short argue that the
Pearl Harbor investigations were conducted in a manner unfair to those
officers. Yet none of these investigations was a judicial tribunal, and
none had the power to impose sentences or
 See, for example Harry E. Barnes, "Perpetual War for Perpetual
Peace", Caldwell, Id: Caxton Printers, 1953; Robert A. Theobald, "The
Final Secret of Pearl Harbor", New York: Devin-Adair. Co., 1954.
otherwise punish an individual, much less bring charges against anyone.
Rather, the investigations were for fact-finding. There is generally no
right to "due process" -- in the sense of a right to counsel and to
cross-examine witnesses -- at a fact-finding investigation. And General
Short stated at the time that the record of the Joint Committee, if not
its findings, provided vindication of his position.  Interestingly,
no new discoveries have emerged since publican of the Joint Committee's
report that would radically change the facts contained in the source
material it published. Indeed, the 39 volumes of hearings and exhibits
have provided the factual basis for almost all of the modern
 See Section IV, infra,. fn 19 and accompanying text.
Fig. 2: Information Known in Washington and Hawaii
October 9-December 7, 1941
Date Item Washington Kimmel Short
Oct. 9 "Bombplot"  message X 
Nov. 26-28 "Winds" message  X  X 
Nov. 27 "War warning" message X X X
Dec. 1 Carrier call sign change X  X 
Dec. 2 "Lost" carriers X  X 
Dec. 3-6 Code destruction X  X  X
Dec. 4-6 "Winds execute" message 
Dec. 6 "Pilot" message  X 
Dec. 7 "Part 14" message  X
Dec. 7 "One o'clock message  X
 The "bomb plot" message was an instruction from Tokyo to the
Honolulu consulate to give precise locations of all ships moored in
Pearl Harbor. The import of this request to set up a grid system for
reporting the presence and position of ships in Pearl Harbor was not
appreciated, as the "bomb plot" message did not by itself prove that the
Japanese intended to attack Pearl Harbor. Rather, a pre-attack reading
of the message might have reinforced the suspicion of sabotage.
 First translated by the Army in Washington on Oct. 9th.
 The "winds" code was established by the Japanese to give a "special
message in an emergency" and was to be broadcast in the middle of the
daily Japanese-language short-wave news broadcast. The "winds" codes
were: "East wind, rain" (war between Japan-US); "North wind, cloudy"
(war between Japan-USSR); "West wind, clear" (war between Japan-
Britain.) The "winds" code was a diplomatic -- not military -- code.
JCC, p. 470. The existence of the "winds" code did not surprise
Washington; most believed war with Japan was imminent. Additionally, the
"winds" code never revealed that Pearl Harbor would be attacked. Note
that implementation of the "winds code" required a complementary "winds
 Washington received its first "winds" code traffic on Nov. 26 & 28;
its last "winds" code information on Dec. 4th, JCC, p. 470.
 Admiral Kimmel learned of the "winds" code in a Nov. 28th dispatch
to him from the US Asiatic Fleet. JCC, p. 470.
 Washington learned that the Japanese Navy unexpectedly changed its
call signs on Dec. 1st. Previously, call signs were changed every six
months, and had last been changed on Nov. 1st. JCC, p. 134.
 Admiral Kimmel learned of this call sign change on Dec. 1st. JCC, p.
 No radio traffic from four Japanese carriers had been monitored for
between 15-25 days. Consequently, their location was unknown. Washington
learned this on Dec. 2. JCC, p. 134.
 JCC, p. 133. Admiral Kimmel did not pass this information to General
Short because he assumed the four Japanese carriers remained in "home"
waters. JCC, p. 135.
 Washington learned of Japan's orders to certain consulates and
embassies to burn codes on Dec. 3. JCC, p. 130
 Admiral Kimmel learned of Japan's orders to certain consulates and
embassies to burn codes on Dec. 3. JCC, p. 130. He did not consider it
to be of "vital importance." JCC, p. 130. Consequently, he did not pass
it on to General Short. JCC, p. 131. General Short, however, did receive
information from his staff that the Japanese were burning their codes
and papers on Dec. 6th. JCC, p. 132. The JCC concluded that "[w]hile the
order to burn codes may not always mean war in a diplomatic sense, it
very definitely meant war -- and soon -- in a military sense after the
"war warning" of November 27." JCC, p. 131.
 Probably did not exist. Capt. L. Safford testified before the JCC
that an implementing winds execute message was received in the Navy
Department on the morning of Dec. 4th. This message announced war
between the US and Japan. No credible evidence, however, supported
Safford's claim. The JCC concluded, after "considering all the evidence
relating to the winds code . . . that no genuine message . . . was
received in the War or Navy Department prior to December 7, 1941." JCC,
p. 486. Assuming *arguendo* that a genuine execute message had been
intercepted, the JCC "concluded that such fact would have added nothing
to what was already known concerning the critical character of our
relations with the Empire of Japan." That is, a "winds execute" message
would not indicate the timing or location of any Japanese attack.
 The "Pilot" message was a message from Japan to her Ambassadors in
Washington advising them that the Japanese reply to the American note of
26 November was ready and being sent to them in 14 parts; that it was to
be treated with great secrecy pending instructions as to the time of its
delivery; and that time for its delivery was to be fixed in a separate
message. JCC, p. 210.
 Washington had the text of the "Pilot" message on Dec. 6th. JCC, p.
 The first 13 parts of the 14-part Japanese memorandum were received
by the Navy on Dec. 6th. These 13 parts indicated that negotiations were
at an end. Although President Roosevelt apparently stated that 'this
means war', "it is significant that there was no indication as to when
or where war might be expected." JCC, p. 217. The 14th part of the
message was decoded and available for distribution between 7:30 and 8:00
a.m. on Dec. 7th. JCC, p. 221. The 14th part of the message also stated
that negotiations were at an end. Nothing in "Part 14" indicated that
Pearl Harbor would be attacked
 The "one o'clock" [Eastern Standard Time] message specified the
time for delivery of the Japanese 14-part memorandum to the United
States. When Washington officials learned of the "one o'clock" message,
they knew that something important would happen. General Marshall, for
example, stated that he was certain "something was going to happen at 1
o'clock." JCC, p. 223. No one in Washington, however, knew what would
happen, or where it would happen.
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