“It was very apparent to everyone who had carefully followed the course of events that we would sooner or later have to meet the threat to civilization which these aggressor nations were presenting to the worldand that we would ultimately be left to face the onslaught alone” are words from then Secretary of War Henry Stimson. America knew she was headed for war, her people though, not directly feeling the effects of the conflicts going on half a world away would not support the loss of American lives for a foreign war. The government knew about the planned attacks on Pearl Harbor, kept the information from the military leaders that needed it the most, and used the tragedy to rally the nation toward war.
“AIR RAID ON PEARL HARBOR. THIS IS NO DRILL.
” This is the message sent out by radioman Kyle Boyer at 7:58 a.m. Sunday December 7, 1941; a date which will live in infamy. The empire of Japan had attacked the United States’ Pacific Fleet based in Pearl Harbor. For months the US Intelligence community, as well as others around the world, had been intercepting and decoding transmissions from mainland Japan to their diplomats and spies in the US. We had cracked their Purple Code, and knew exactly what military intelligence was being transmitted back and forth.
The Dutch also cracked Purple and informed our government of the Japanese plan and were shocked to hear reports that we were taken by surprised. Even more disturbing, months before the attack a British double agent, Dusko Popov, codenamed Tricycle, turned over to the F.B.I. detailed plans of the Japanese air raid, which he had obtained from the Germans. The government had the information, and did nothing with it.
The people who needed the information the most, Admiral Kimmel, commander-in-chief us pacific fleet, and General Walter Short, the army commander in Hawaii, were kept out of the loop. Why would the military keep such pertinent information from its leaders in Hawaii? Some would argue they hid the information so the Japanese would not know their code was broken. I wonder if the 2,000+ service men and civilians that died that day would share the same concern. Admiral Kimmel had been complaining about shortages of personnel, planes, and radar for months. General Short did not even know he had a special Army monitoring station on the island, and was not even cleared to see the decrypted messages known as Magic. These commanders were set up to be scapegoats for the tragedy that would soon unfold
Sec. of War Stimson was quoted as saying he was relieved “that the indecision was over and that a crisis had come in a way which would unite all our peoplefor I feel that this country united has practically nothing to fear while the apathy and divisions stirred up by unpatriotic men have been hitherto very discouraging.” And later went on to tell his military aid “we never could have gotten the country to war without Pearl Harbor.” The government knew we would eventually have to go to war. The question was whether the government could rally support in time to help save England. Our government, knowing of the planned attack on Pearl Harbor and knowing England couldn’t withstand Germany’s onslaught for too much longer, seized their opportunity to gain public support for the war by sacrificing 2,000+ lives that fateful December morning.
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