Pearl Harbor Immediately Following the Term Paper

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Though Kimmel himself states that there had been submarine activity around the Islands, there were no actions taken against them as he was waiting for approval from Department of Navy, in the ten days preceding the attack to act decisively. "For some time there had been reports of submarines in the operating areas around Hawaii.... The files of the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, contain records of at least three suspicious contacts during the 5 weeks preceding Pearl Harbor." () Yet, actions were not taken by Kimmel and Short to act on a suspicion of overt operations, by Japan in their immediate vicinity. Kimmel and Short waited to take action, to a point where the attack came as a complete shock, to the men at work that morning in the harbor.

On November 3, 1941, a patrol plane observed an oil slick area in latitude 20-10, longtiude 157-41. The patrol plane searched a 15-mile area. A sound search was made by the U.S.S. Borden, and an investigation was made by the U.S.S. Dale, all of them producing negative results. On November 28, 1941, the U.S.S. Helena reported that a radar operator without knowledge of my orders directing an alert against submarines was positive that a submarine was in a restricted area. A search by a task group with three destroyers of the suspected area produced no contacts. During the night of December 2, 1941, the U.S.S. Gamble reported a clear metallic echo in latitude 20-30, longitude 158-23. An investigation directed by Destroyer Division Four produced no conclusive evidence of the presence of a submarine. On the morning of the atttack, the U.S.S. Ward reported to the Commandant of the Fourteenth Naval District that it had attacked, fired upon and dropped depth charges upon a submarine operating in the defensive sea area. The Commandant of the Fourteenth Naval District directed a verification of this report with a view to determining whether the contact with the submarine was a sound contact or whether the submarine had actually been seen by the Ward. He also directed that the readyduty destroyer assist the Ward in the defensive sea area. Apparently, some short time after reporting the submarine contact, the Ward also reported that it had intercepted a sampan which it was escorting into Honolulu. This message appeared to increase the necessity for a verification of the earlier report of the submarine contact. Between 7:30 and 7:40 I received information from the Staff Duty Officer of the Ward's report, the dispatch of the readyduty destroyer to assist the Ward, and the efforts then under way to obtain a verification of the Ward's report. I was awaiting such verification at the time of the attack. In my judgment, the effort to obtain confirmation of the reported submarine attack off Pearl Harbor was a proper preliminary to more drastic action in view of the number of such contacts which had not been verified in the past. ()

Kimmel directed his messages toward inference that information was withheld from him and Short, in his later testimony made the same assertions, even more directly accusing the government of a conspiracy to leave him in the dark and force the attack readiness to be limited.

On Pearl Harbor day I was carrying out orders from the War Department as I understood them.2. At no time since June 17, 1940, had the War Department indicated the probability of an attack on Hawaii. In none of the estimates prepared by G-2 War Department was Hawaii mentioned as a point of attack, but the Philippines was mentioned repeatedly.3. There was in the War Department an abundance of information which was vital to me but was not furnished to me. This information was absolutely essential to a correct estimate of the situation and correct decision. My estimate of the situation and my decision were made without the benefit of this vital information. Had this information been furnished to me, I am sure that I would have arrived at the conclusion that Hawaii would be attacked and would have gone on an all-out alert.4. When I made the decision, based on the information available to me, to go on alert to prevent sabotage (No. 1), 1 reported measures taken as follows:Reurad 472 27th Report Department alerted to prevent sabotage. Liaison with the Navy. The War Department had 9 days in which to tell me that my action was not what they wanted. I accepted their silence as a full agreement with the action taken. I am convinced that all who read the report thought that my action was correct or I would have received instructions to modify my orders. ()

Short, like Kimmel leaves the opening for a historical slew of revisionists as well as conspiracy theorists, so clearly that it is the stuff of film, rather than official government investigations. The resulting historical interpretations are almost inevitable in this cloud of shirking that the two commanding officers in Hawaii have created through repeated assertions of their correct actions, and the incorrect actions of others.

Some of the intelligences that Kimmel and Short state they were not privy to include the official cable traffic of the Japanese that was decoded under a system referred to as MAGIC. The information, in retrospect was often unreliable and many mistakes were made in interpretation. In fact, the intelligences have frequently been referred to as interpretive. () ()

Both sides made mistaken judgments of each other. The Americans underestimated the Japanese strength and determination; the Japanese convinced themselves that the United States, after receiving a knockout blow at Pearl Harbor, would not pursue them to the far reaches of the western and southern Pacific. ()

Both sides made assumptions, and the assumptions demonstrated the best possible case scenario, for each, supporting the resources they actually had and demonstrative of the historical reluctance of the U.S. To enter the war and the preceding conservative military tactics of the Japanese. Intelligences that were interpreted by Stark, Marshall and others were an underestimation of the lengths that Japan would go to attack and for that matter their actual strengths.() Thinking they would attack in a less extreme manner, and in locations that were closer to Japan and less direct was the desire of the whole of the government, and yet they knew something was coming and all those in command positions in the Pacific were charged with taking evasive actions immediately to ward off damage and loss of life was crucial to the military safety of the nation. It is therefore very unlikely, as Kimmel and Short, as well as hind-sight revisionist historians have frequently claimed that any withholding of information was done, as the information that was available was not conclusive and it goes without saying that the officials in Washington, despite their desire for a Japanese first strike to occur before the U.S. could in good conscience enter the war, would have no vested interest in keeping a valuable resource in the dark about the potential damage they might incur during such an attack. The interest of the officials was to protect the U.S. not leave it open for attack, without warning. Warnings were given to Kimmel and Short, but they were not heeded to the degree of necessity.

Another revisionist stance on the conflict concludes that Roosevelt was in collusion with Churchill and even possibly Stalin, with regard to military intelligence about Japan's intentions to strike Hawaii and that intelligence was deliberately withheld, because of some collective idea about the manner in which it would help the popular cause of the U.S. entering the war. The revisionist interpretation is a long held set of assertions of conspiracy and collusion, and has created an academic body of knowledge that stretches across the decades and feeds even more conjecture. ()

Of the revisionists who saw evidence of a conspiracy in the pattern of Washington's mishandling of information before the attack, none has offered conclusive evidence. Kimmel's defender and former subordinate, Rear Admiral Robert Theobald, wrote that the failure to provide CincPac with the means to decode the Purple messages [yet to be decoded messages from the MAGIC files] was "a deliberate act... part of a definite plan" to ensure the success of a Japanese surprise attack. ()

Theobald's assertions are unsubstantiated, as at the time it was not unusual for intelligences to be disseminated before they were fully decoded and many of the MAGIC files were backlogged in the system, for lack of manpower and other reasons. A fact pointed out by a leading historian on the subject of WWII and decoding.

Budiansky...addresses U.S. codebreaking operations against the Japanese. He examines the Japanese diplomatic Purple cipher (intelligence from it was codenamed MAGIC) as well as the Japanese Fleet General Purpose Code. The…[continue]

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