Intelligence Failure at Pearl Harbour Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

The report mentions that almost 3-4% of the keys could not be resolved. Thereby, it can be argued here that great advantages were gained when Americans decoded Japanese conversation

2. Radio Traffic Unit

There is a naval intelligence installed at the Pearl Harbor was using the radio traffic unit and it was working to find out and analyze the location of Japanese ships. In this case, the Japanese messages could not be decoded by the Americans. When Japanese ships started to settle in, the radio units could not follow the tracks of these ships.

3. American ambassador in Tokyo

Ambassador Grew was one of the most important sources of information. But the information obtained in this case was only related to the state of mind and ideology of the Japanese people and the level of hostility that the Japanese have against the Americans

Methodology and Research Strategy

In order to learn if the failure of the Americans in defending the Japanese attack on the Pearl Harbor was based on the error of collection and analysis of the data, the main research methodology chosen was secondary research.

Secondary research has been known as one of the most important methods that can be used in case of finding answers to the questions. Secondary research is based on the collection, and gathering of the data. The collected data are to be analyzed. The data thereby gained by secondary research is more important as one can analyze the main facts that have been highlighted. The facts thereby gathered by secondary data can be easily used for the analysis.

There are a number of advantages of the secondary research based on which it has been chosen as one of the main methods for the research. One of the main advantages includes the fact that the researcher does not need to go out in the field and collect the information. Secondly, the information which is required by the researcher can be easily collected and gathered by the researcher. When primary research is conducted by the researcher, it is seen that in most cases, biased information can be one of the main reasons based on which the data analysis can be erroneous. This biased nature of the information is not seen in the case of secondary research.

The main aim of the primary research is to gather information from the sample population. but, the main aim of the secondary research is to gather information from the data that has been published in the past. All the literature that has been published in the past can be analyzed by the researcher making an idea of the kind of information needed.

There are a number of considerations that are to be taken into account. Firstly, there are many points-of-views in regards to the reasons of America failing in defending against the Japanese attack. Thereby, it is important that the main and important reasons for American failure can be investigated. Secondly, the literature will focus more on the failure in collection, gathering and analysis of the information.

Based on the brief nature of the study and that of time, the scope of study will remain limited. Thereby the only focus of the study will be about the failure of American defense systems against Japanese attack, based on the collection and gathering of data.

Analysis and Findings

The most important pieces of information about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor came from the American ambassador in Tokyo, Ambassador Grew. The first secretary to the U.S. Embassy was informed during the year 1941 about the Japanese military attack on the Pearl Harbor. From the first secretary, the information was passed on the state minister, and from there the information was passed on to the army and naval intelligence. The message was finally passed on to the chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet located in Hawaii. The source was then investigated by the American naval intelligence. The finding was that the rumor was passed on from a Japanese cook located in Peruvian. Thereby it was thought that the message obtained from Grew was discarded and ignored. It cannot be ignored here that the Japanese information which was obtained was more than just accurate in a qualitative manner. There is no doubt about the fact that the source was not reliable. Secondly it was thought of the Americans that the Japanese cook had nothing to do with the military operations.

The second important source from which information about the accuracy target of the Japanese attack was obtained was the British intelligence. A British double agent Dusko Popov, also known as Tricycle was ordered to go to the U.S. By his German employer in the year 1941 in order to make sure that a new spy network can be established. Dusko Popov was to collect important information on many issues within the U.S., among which one of the most important information was in relation to the installation of military intelliegnce in the Pearl Harbor as well as all of the military assets that were located in Hawaii. It was realized by Dusko Popov that his main aim of being in U.S. was to make sure that intelligence espionage was to be gathered for the operational intelligence in regards to the attack on the Pearl Harbor. All of the information that was gained by Dusko Popov was then reported back to the British headquarters. A secret meeting was then arranged between the FBI agents in New York and the British intelligence on the 10th of august 1941. This meeting was also attended by Dusko Popov and he highlighted his first impression about the level of operational intelligence at the Pearl Harbor. Being a British agent, proper level of trust was not developed by the FBI agents on Dusko Popov. One of the main reasons is that the FBI thought that double agent, working for the British, was suspicious. Secondly, during the meeting, when the facts were being highlighted by Dusko Popov, he had no hard evidence of the German questionnaire based on which espionage was carried out and he had no evidence to prove his point, which also made FBI not trust Dusko Popov.

One of the most reliable sources that the American intelligence had was Magic from which main indication of the Japanese attack was obtained. Magic was considered reliable as the Japanese officials were unaware of the fact that their communications were being intercepted. On the 9th of October 1941, a message was obtained from the communication between the Japanese officials. The message contained information on dividing the area of Pearl Harbor into five main areas. The message clearly indicated the potential target. But this message was only indicative of the main operational concerns of the Japanese in regards to the military operations. The message did not reveal any timings and location of any possible Japanese attack. Also, there were many areas within the Hawaii in which Japanese investigated American military operational installations. Thereby if any order were to be given by the Americans to carry out a detailed examination of the Pearl Harbor base was diluted by the presence of the other messages. Thereby, here it can be argued that the messages that were obtained, reliable or unreliable sources, was not taken into account in a proper manner.


There were numerous facts that made the American officials not trust and rely on the information obtained about the attack. There was no information about the timing of the attack of the Japanese on the Pearl Harbor. The second important issue was the location or place of attack and it has been regarded as one of the main reasons of the failure of the American defense against the Japanese attack. Thirdly, using which strategy and mechanisms that would be used by the Japanese to launch the attack was rather unimaginable by the Americans. These elements were highly obscure for the Americans and this made the collection and gathering of proper intelligence highly erroneous. The only fact that was certainly for the Americans was if japan should attack or not. But in this case, the ambiguity of locations and timings of attack ruled over any certainty of the attack. It has been pointed out by Roberta Wohlstetter that the Americans had enough information on the plan of the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor but the complete list of targets was still needed by the American in order to move forward. Thereby it would not be wrong to conclude that the Pearl Harbor attack was not a surprise attack on the Americans and any defense-based failures that were faced by the Americans was purely a failure to collect the right information. Both in terms of quality as well as quantity, what, where and how were not collected by the Americans. Any information that was collected by the Americans was either ignored or discarded based on the fact of sources being unreliable. Thereby there…

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