A veritable library exists about the December 7, 1941, attack by air and naval forces of Imperial Japan on the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. But I am not aware of any book which focuses on the congressional report released on July 20, 1946 on the attack. Buried in this report are factual recounts of intercepted Japanese messages that, if considered carefully, would have foretold the Pearl Harbor attack. It is an open question as to why the Roosevelt Administration, in possession of these intercepts, failed to then act to prepare for the forthcoming attack. This was a monumental failure of leadership that led the US directly into World War II. The intercepts are all explained in the report.
Following a far-reaching 1945 investigation extending over several months, the 1o-member Joint Congressional Committee which conducted the investigation issued its report. The Joint Committee was comprised of five Senators and five Representatives, but six Democrats and four Republicans. Therein lay the problem. The final vote of the Joint Committee on the report was 8-2. The majority exonerated President Roosevelt and other high Washington officials of responsibility for the U.S. unpreparedness for the attack. This result was strongly challenged by two Senators, both Republicans. Their well- documented views are the basis for my recently released book, “The Congressional Pearl Harbor Cover-Up – A True Account of How A Partisan Congress Misled the American People on the Pearl Harbor Attack, December 7, 1941. Featuring Historic Lessons on the Failure of Leadership to Foresee the Attack and to Avert War With Japan.”
There were several areas of focus by the two dissenters, none more important than the so-called “bomb plot” message and related messages that they believed heralded an attack on Pearl Harbor. Beginning on September 24, 1941, several intercepted and decoded Japanese messages indicated that ships in Pearl Harbor were marked for attack. The September 24 1941 “bomb plot message” and other messages which followed it revealed detailed information about Japan’s strategic interest in Pearl Harbor The message was delivered to President Roosevelt and other high ranking Washington officials on October 9,1941. These messages were of singular importance in revealing Japan’s intentions in targeting Pearl Harbor for an attack. Although the majority of the Joint Committee would not agree that the messages indicated a planned attack on Pearl Harbor, nevertheless they conceded that the messages should have received special attention. They also reached the remarkable conclusion that “Had greater imagination and a keener awareness of the significance of intelligence existed…it is proper to suggest that someone should have concluded that Pearl Harbor was a likely point of Japanese attack.” The two dissenting Republican Senators put it quite succinctly: “The probability that the Pacific Fleet would be attacked at Pearl Harbor was clear from the “bomb plot” available in Washington as early as October 9, 1941…”
However, the intercepted Japanese messages did not indicate WHEN the attack would occur. This missing element was arguably supplied by the “Winds Code” messages. On November 19, 1941, the Japanese set up an innovative code to warn their diplomatic outposts when a break in relations with the United States, Great Britain, or Russia was imminent. The code incorporated weather elements as the heart of the warning. Despite conflicting evidence the Committee majority concluded that no genuine winds message in activation of the code applying to the United States, “East Wind, Rain,” meaning war with the United States, was received by U.S. intelligence prior to December 7, 1941. The two dissenters noted that evidence before the Army Pearl Harbor Board and the Hart Inquiry, each concluding in 1944, was that such a message had been received. Moreover, the State Department and ostensibly the White House received a winds alert message on December 4, 1941. Although it was not a winds activation message, it can be argued that taking all the information together, the White House and other high ranking Washington officials should have been on the alert that an attack against Pearl Harbor was imminent.