Declassified Memo Hinted of 1941 Hawaii Attack

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By
November 29, 2011

Three days before the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack  on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt was warned in a memo from naval  intelligence that Tokyo’s military and spy network was focused on  Hawaii, a new and eerie reminder of FDR’s failure to act on a basket  load of tips that war was near.

In the newly revealed  20-page memo from FDR’s declassified FBI file, the Office of Naval  Intelligence on December 4 warned, “In anticipation of open conflict  with this country, Japan is vigorously utilizing every available agency  to secure military, naval and commercial information, paying particular  attention to the West Coast, the Panama Canal and the Territory of  Hawaii.”

The memo, published in the new book December  1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World went on to say that the Japanese were collecting “detailed technical  information” that would be specifically used by its navy. To collect and  analyze information, they were building a network of spies through  their U.S. embassies and consulates.

Historian and acclaimed  Reagan biographer Craig Shirley, author of the just released December   1941, doesn’t blame FDR for blowing it, but instead tells Whispers  that it “does suggest that there were more pieces to the puzzle” that  the administration missed. The 70th anniversary of the attack is next  month.

In fact, he compares the missed signals leading up to  Japan’s attack to 9/11, which government investigations also show that  the Clinton and Bush administrations missed clear signals that an attack  was coming. [  Read: Mengele Nazi Diaries Could Fetch $1 million.]

“So many mistakes through so many levels of  Washington,” said Shirley. “Some things never change.”

His  book also reveals another blockbuster historical moment: On the night of  the Pearl Harbor attack, FDR and his war cabinet considered declaring  war on all three Axis Powers—Japan, Germany, Italy—but in the end the  president only targeted Japan. At the time, the U.S. was still healing  from World War I and isolationism was the word of the day.

Shirley,  aided by son Andrew as his chief researcher, takes a new tack in his  book about Pearl Harbor. Instead of just writing how it all went down,  his book attempts to give readers a feel for how the country felt 70  years ago. He accomplishes that by providing anecdotal information from  nearly 2,000 newspapers and magazines. [Read: Hitler’s Treaty Signing Desk Set To be Auctioned.]

“The goal here,”  Shirley writes in the preface, “is to make the reader feel as if they  are experiencing the day to day events as they unfolded. Some historians  don’t like to go into the arduous tasks of going through thousands of  newspapers preferring instead to rely on those bits and pieces of news  reporting they may glean from other books. I did, and consequently the  reader will find stories and information from the month of December 1941  they have never heard before.”

 

 

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