- Dredging Pearl Harbor
- Exactly two years ago, Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia
Republican and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, joined
the debate on whether to posthumously promote Army Maj. Gen. Walter Short
and Navy Rear Adm. Husband Kimmel, both commanders of Pearl Harbor at the
time of the Japanese attack.
- A series of official inquiries between 1941 to 1946 blamed
both officers for lack of readiness, and though neither was ever officially
charged with wrongdoing, both were relieved of their commands and ultimately
retired at the lower ranks of major general and rear admiral.
- The question now is whether government and military leaders
were too quick to render judgment. Were the two officers made scapegoats?
Were there failures at higher levels of the chain of command in Washington?
- Mr. Warner told colleagues: "There's no new evidence.
. . . Why should we now at this late date in history make a different finding?"
- Well, contemporary researchers who accepted Mr. Warner's
challenge now answer his question. Not only has new evidence surrounding
the attack on Pearl Harbor been uncovered, but historian and author Daryl
S. Borgquist, a Justice Department official in Washington, believes the
U.S. Navy and others are keeping crucial documents "under wraps."
- Inside the Beltway has learned that, in a lengthy paper
being presented today at a World War II conference at New York's Siena
College, Mr. Borgquist will offer new findings about Pearl Harbor. He'll
say the verdict on Pearl Harbor was reached too soon (upon conclusion of
the 1940s investigations), well before crucial documents were declassified
and other materials uncovered.
- Of note, Mr. Borgquist draws attention to a "major
historical error" based on the typed text of the first draft of President
Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Day of Infamy" speech.
- Mr. Borgquist says the text was drafted by a State Department
team led by former Assistant Secretary of State Adolph Berle between 8:30
p.m. and 12:30 a.m. -- after the first 13 parts of the 14-part Japanese
reply to the American ultimatum had been intercepted, decoded, and delivered
on Saturday night, Dec. 6, 1941.
- The attack came on Dec. 7.
- That supports Mr. Borgquist's earlier argument, published
in 1999 by Naval History Magazine,
- see: http://www.usni.org/navalhistory/Articles99/NHborgquist.htm
- that the attack on Pearl Harbor was no surprise at all.
He wrote that Helen E. Hamman, the daughter of Don C. Smith, who directed
the War Service for the Red Cross before World War II, wrote a letter to
President Clinton revealing a conversation she had with her dad:
- "Shortly before the attack in 1941, President Roosevelt
called him to the White House for a meeting concerning a top-secret matter.
At this meeting, the president advised my father that his intelligence
staff had informed him of a pending attack on Pearl Harbor, by the Japanese.
- "He anticipated many casualties and much loss; he
instructed my father to send workers and supplies to a holding area. When
he protested to the president, President Roosevelt told him that the American
people would never agree to enter the war in Europe unless they were attack[ed]
within their own borders. . . .
- "He followed the orders of his president and spent
many years contemplating this action, which he considered ethically and
- We'll wait and see if the Bush White House talks to Mr.
Borgquist and fellow Pearl Harbor presenters at today's conference before
making the decision on whether to elevate Gen. Short and Adm. Kimmel, as
their families have requested and Congress proposed in the fiscal year
2001 defense authorization bill.