Pearl Harbor

Powerful Essays
Pearl Harbor

Was the attack of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 really a surprise?

"How secret is secret in a country where years of censorship have trained an inquisitive, alert population in the discreet whisper and the fine art of putting two and two together? And how secret is secret when one's ideas are no longer exclusively one's own?" (At Dawn We Slept, Prange 30) The tragic attack of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 has many events connected to it that lead people to believe that it was no surprise to the United States government. "The attack marked the entrance of Japan into World War II on the side of Germany and Italy, and the entrance of the United States on the allied side." (Microsoft Encyclopedia)

President Roosevelt set up investigations to find out whether or not there was any warning of the attack on Pearl Harbor before it happened. One report found that the navy and army commanders of the Hawaiian area, Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, and Major General Walter C. Short, were guilty of "dereliction of duty and errors of judgement." (Microsoft Encyclopedia) The reports showed that the commanders had received warnings weeks prior to the attack and just overlooked them.

A member of the operations section also reported that the ideas of an attack on Pearl Harbor came up very often. These stories could all be very possible, but there is also the possibility that the President only used them to cover up the fact that he himself knew about the attack. (Schlesinger 247) "FDR blinded the commanders at Pearl Harbor and set them up." (Willey 10) The Americans were decoding large amounts of Japanese military telegrams. "We now know that they contained important details concerning the existence, organiz...

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