Tag Archives: Pacific Fleet

The “Bomb Plot” Messages Failed To Alert Washington That Pearl Harbor Would Be Attacked

This installment, once more, provides excerpts from my new book, “The Pearl Harbor Congressional Cover-Up” as part of the series on leadership and success.  It deals with a 1945 congressional investigation into the attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941.  A 10-member joint congressional committee conducted the investigation over several arduous months.  Its report, reached by an 8-2 vote, was released to the public on July 20, 1946.  Part of the report concerns the intercepted Japanese “bomb plot” message and related messages, which are reviewed in this installment.  The messages themselves, which are too lengthy to be included here, are repeated verbatim in the book.

Beginning September 24, 1941, several intercepted and decoded secret Japanese war plans messages indicated ships in Pearl Harbor were marked for attack; little information was passed on to Hawaiian commanders.  The September 24, 1941 “Bomb Plot Message” and other related messages which followed it, revealed detailed information about Japanese interest in Pearl Harbor.  The message was delivered to President Roosevelt and other high Washington officials on October 9, 1941.  These intercepted September and November, 1941 messages were of singular importance in revealing Japanese intentions to target Pearl Harbor for an attack.  They were however never transmitted to Hawaii by Washington.  Neither Admiral Husband Kimmel, in charge of the Pacific Fleet, nor General Walter Short who headed the Army command there, saw them before the attack.

Representative Frank Keefe (R-WI), a member of the investigating committee, described the relevance of the messages clearly and precisely.  He wrote that “the ‘bomb plot’ message and those messages relating to Pearl Harbor which followed it meant that ships of the Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor were marked for a Japanese attack…These reports which Japan thus sought and received had a useful purpose only in planning and executing an attack upon the ships in port…They were the product of instructions emanating from the government of Japan in Tokyo.  Officers of the high command in Washington  have admitted before us that this message, if correctly evaluated, meant an attack on ships of the Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor.”

The two committee members who dissented to the report 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…[These] messages meant that ships of the Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor were marked for a Japanese attack.  No other American harbor was divided into subareas by Japan.  And no other American harbor had such a large share of the Fleet to protect.”

Although the eight  Joint Committee members who signed the report were unable to conclude that the intercepted messages pointed directly to an attack on Pearl Harbor nor could they conclude that the intercepted plan was a bomb plot, nevertheless they opined that the messages should have received careful consideration and created a serious question as to their significance.  The intelligence should have been appreciated and supplied to the commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet and the commanding general of the Army’s Hawaiian Department.

Despite the foregoing, the 8-member majority made the remarkable finding that “Washington and Hawaii possessed unusually significant and vital intelligence.  Had greater imagination and a keener awareness of the significance of intelligence existed,  concentrating and applying it to particular situations, it is proper to suggest that someone should have concluded that Pearl Harbor was a likely point of attack.”

This latter admission by the majority was as close as they came to admitting that the Pearl Harbor attack was foreseeable, as the 2-member minority claimed.  It should be noted that the majority failed to specify exactly what information was in the hands of the Hawaiian commanders because the record before the Committee showed that Hawaii had no such information.  That leaves unspecified personnel in Washington as being responsible  for the lack of imagination and awareness.

Arnold G. Regardie





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