Day Of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor


In Day of Deceit, Robert Stinnett delivers the definitive final chapter on America's greatest secret and our worst military disaster. Drawing on twenty years of research and access to scores of previously classified documents, Stinnett proves that Pearl Harbor was not an accident, a mere failure of American intelligence, or a brilliant Japanese military coup. By showing that ample warning of the attack was on FDR's desk and, furthermore, that a plan to push Japan into war was initiated at the highest levels of ...

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In Day of Deceit, Robert Stinnett delivers the definitive final chapter on America's greatest secret and our worst military disaster. Drawing on twenty years of research and access to scores of previously classified documents, Stinnett proves that Pearl Harbor was not an accident, a mere failure of American intelligence, or a brilliant Japanese military coup. By showing that ample warning of the attack was on FDR's desk and, furthermore, that a plan to push Japan into war was initiated at the highest levels of the U.S. government, he ends up profoundly altering our understanding of one of the most significant events in American history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Richard Bernstein The New York Times It is difficult, after reading this copiously documented book, not to wonder about previously unchallenged assumptions about Pearl Harbor.

Bruce Bartlett The Wall Street Journal Fascinating and readable....Exceptionally well-presented.

John Toland
Stinnett reveals terrible secrets that have never before been disclosed to the public.
USA Today
John Prados
Among the more controversial of American conspiracy theories is the allegation that, seeking a back door to war in 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt permitted Japan to carry out a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The latest entry in this continuing debate is Robert B. Stinett's Day of Deceit.
The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Historians have long debated whether President Roosevelt had advance knowledge of Japan's December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. Using documents pried loose through the Freedom of Information Act during 17 years of research, Stinnett provides overwhelming evidence that FDR and his top advisers knew that Japanese warships were heading toward Hawaii. The heart of his argument is even more inflammatory: Stinnett argues that FDR, who desired to sway public opinion in support of U.S. entry into WWII, instigated a policy intended to provoke a Japanese attack. The plan was outlined in a U.S. Naval Intelligence secret strategy memo of October 1940; Roosevelt immediately began implementing its eight steps (which included deploying U.S. warships in Japanese territorial waters and imposing a total embargo intended to strangle Japan's economy), all of which, according to Stinnett, climaxed in the Japanese attack. Stinnett, a decorated naval veteran of WWII who served under then Lt. George Bush, substantiates his charges with a wealth of persuasive documents, including many government and military memos and transcripts. Demolishing the myth that the Japanese fleet maintained strict radio silence, he shows that several Japanese naval broadcasts, intercepted by American cryptographers in the 10 days before December 7, confirmed that Japan intended to start the war at Pearl Harbor. Stinnett convincingly demonstrates that the U.S. top brass in Hawaii--Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Husband Kimmel and Lt. Gen. Walter Short--were kept out of the intelligence loop on orders from Washington and were then scapegoated for allegedly failing to anticipate the Japanese attack (in May 1999, the U.S. Senate cleared their names). Kimmel moved his fleet into the North Pacific, actively searching for the suspected Japanese staging area, but naval headquarters ordered him to turn back. Stinnett's meticulously researched book raises deeply troubling ethical issues. While he believes the deceit built into FDR's strategy was heinous, he nevertheless writes: "I sympathize with the agonizing dilemma faced by President Roosevelt. He was forced to find circuitous means to persuade an isolationist America to join in a fight for freedom." This, however, is an expression of understanding, not of absolution. If Stinnett is right, FDR has a lot to answer for--namely, the lives of those Americans who perished at Pearl Harbor. Stinnett establishes almost beyond question that the U.S. Navy could have at least anticipated the attack. The evidence that FDR himself deliberately provoked the attack is circumstantial, but convincing enough to make Stinnett's bombshell of a book the subject of impassioned debate in the months to come. (Dec.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Most scholars long ago concluded that the Franklin Roosevelt presidency ranks as the best of the 20th century. They also have recognized that a dark thread was woven throughout FDR's publicly perceived ebullient personality. This volume is a new chapter in a decades-old controversy surrounding FDR: Did he somehow have advance knowledge of the attack on his own navy at Pearl Harbor? The author, a journalist and a World War II veteran who served with Lt. George H.W. Bush and later wrote George Bush: His World War II Years, asserts that FDR actually provoked Pearl Harbor. He bases his sensational conclusion on his archival research and interviews with surviving U.S. Navy cryptographers. Having uncovered some strange advice from naval officers, the author then infers that FDR followed that advice. (Yet presidents get all kinds of advice.) Contemporary and classic Roosevelt haters (see Albert Fried's FDR and His Enemies, LJ 8/99) will cherish this book as they celebrate the recent close vote in the Republican-dominated U.S. Senate that posthumously cleared the two most senior naval officers whom FDR had held responsible for the Pearl Harbor debacle. However, other readers, especially academic historians and FDR supporters, will be far less convinced by this new rehearsal of the old, highly speculative charges, which takes research out of context and reflects contemporary anti-government sentiment. However well intentioned, journalists who play amateur historian often write misleading history.--William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743201292
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2001
  • Edition description: First Touchstone Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 360,759
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Stinnett served in the United States Navy from 1942 to 1946, where he earned ten battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation. He is the author of George Bush: His World War II Years. Before devoting himself to writing Day of Deceit, he was a photographer and journalist for the Oakland Tribune. He is a consultant on the Pacific War for the BBC, Asahi Television, and NHK Television in Japan. He lives in Oakland, California.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: The Biggest Story of My Life


December 8, 1941

About 1:00 A.M.

Edward R. Murrow couldn't sleep. His wife, Janet, watched him pace in their hotel room. He was chain-smoking. Murrow, the CBS radio newsman, had just returned from a midnight meeting with President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the White House. Japan's carrier and submarine raid on Pearl Harbor had taken place twelve hours earlier, and the full impact of the military disaster was slowly sinking in for FDR and the American people.

During their twenty-five-minute discussion in the second-floor Oval Study, the President provided Murrow with something — we will never know exactly what — that any reporter would kill for. That night he told his wife, "It's the biggest story of my life, but I don't know if it's my duty to tell it or forget it." Long after the war ended, Murrow was asked about this meeting by author-journalist John Gunther. After a long pause, Murrow replied: "That story would send Casey Murrow through college, and if you think I'm going to give it to you, you're out of your mind."

Earlier in the week, the Murrows had accepted a personal dinner invitation from the Roosevelts. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt personally prepared, cooked, and served supper for two dozen guests. Her specialty was scrambled eggs and sausage, cooked in an electric chafing dish that sat atop a long buffet table in the family dining room. It was the invariable menu. Since the regular White House staff was given Sunday off, she did the cooking while the President mixed the cocktails.

After he heard the first news flashes about the Pearl Harbor raid, Murrow checked with the White House to see if the supper was still on. Told that it was, he and Janet then walked across Lafayette Park, crossed Pennsylvania Avenue, and entered the mansion through the North Portico. After the Murrows were ushered into the dining room, Mrs. Roosevelt explained that the President was meeting with congressional leaders and military officers and could not join them for supper.

Outside on Pennsylvania Avenue a small crowd had gathered. The White House was ablaze with light. No one inside the mansion thought to pull the window shades or institute blackouts on the first day of war — that would came later. An Associated Press photographer took a picture from Lafayette Park. It shows a window in the family dining room with a silhouette of a tall figure — probably the First Lady — presiding over her scrambled eggs.

During the dinner, White House chief usher Howell Crim asked Murrow to remain for an informal meeting with FDR. After Janet Murrow returned to their hotel, her husband went to the second floor and waited outside Roosevelt's Oval Study — not to be confused with the Oval Office — in the West Wing of the White House. Soon Murrow was joined by William "Wild Bill" Donovan, Roosevelt's Coordinator of Information and later founder of the wartime Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA.

Donovan had not been present at dinner but had been summoned by the President from New York, where he had been watching a football game at the Polo Grounds. Football fans heard an unusual announcement over the public address system about 2:30 that afternoon: "Colonel William Donovan, come to the box office at once. There is an important phone message." The message was from James Roosevelt, the President's son and a member of Donovan's staff; he told Donovan about the Japanese attack.

Throughout the evening of December 7, Roosevelt conferred with congressional and military leaders. He decided his first wartime move would come the next morning, December 8, when he would ask Congress to declare that a state of war existed between Japan and the United States. He prepared a rough draft of what later became his "Day of Infamy" speech. Then he invited Murrow and Donovan into the study for a midnight snack of sandwiches and cold beer. Chief Usher Crim noted that the three men spent twenty-five minutes together in the study before Roosevelt retired to his adjoining bedroom. Crim's arrival and departure notations in the Usher Book comprise the only official record; there were no official minutes of the meeting.

Only Donovan has hinted at what went on: the conversation was mostly about public reaction to the attack. He sensed that this was FDR's overriding concern. In 1953, while he served as ambassador to Thailand, Donovan disclosed the details of the meeting to his executive assistant, William J. vanden Heuvel, who summarized the recollections in his diary. The President asked Murrow and Donovan whether they thought the attack was a clear case of a first Japanese move that would unite Americans behind a declaration of war against the Axis powers. Both guests thought it would indeed have that effect.

Donovan believed that Roosevelt welcomed the attack and that it was less of a surprise to him than it was to others in the White House. FDR claimed he sent an advance warning to Pearl Harbor that an attack by Japan was imminent. "They caught our ships like lame ducks! Lame ducks, Bill. We told them, at Pearl Harbor and everywhere else, to have the lookouts manned. But they still took us by surprise."

Still not convinced that America's isolationist sentiments would change after this attack, FDR then read to the two men from a message he had received from a British Foreign Office official, T. North Whitehead: "The dictator powers have presented us with a united America." Roosevelt wondered whether Whitehead's assessment was correct. Again he asked, would America now support a declaration of war? Donovan and Murrow again replied in the affirmative.

Whitehead was an influential member of the Foreign Office and an advisor to Prime Minister Winston Churchill on matters affecting America's aid to the British in 1940 and 1941. He evaluated American public opinion and "read" FDR's mind for the Prime Minister. In written comments to Churchill in the fall of 1940, Whitehead had warned of continued United States isolationism, but predicted it could be overcome: "America is not in the bag. However, the President is engaged in carefully calculated steps to give us full assistance."

Several years later Murrow made a brief, circumspect broadcast that in part addressed the question of what the President had known before the Japanese hit Pearl Harbor. According to Murrow's biographer Ann Sperber, "The broadcast itself was a response to an article by John Chamberlain in LIFE magazine charging Roosevelt with foreknowledge of the attack. Murrow did not believe it and said so on the air, making it clear that he had only his instinct to go on."

In the end, Murrow's big story remained unwritten and unbroadcast. Sperber believed that the meeting concerned damage reports. Whatever it was, it weighed heavily on Murrow's mind. "But he couldn't forget it either, blaming himself at times thereafter for not going with the story, never determining to his satisfaction where his duties lay that night or what had been in the subtle mind of FDR," Sperber wrote. Murrow took the story to his grave. He died April 7, 1965, two days past his fifty-seventh birthday.

Had FDR revealed something that night about his foreknowledge? Damage reports emerged immediately in local Hawaii papers, though the full details of the American losses were not released to the nation's news media until December 16, 1941, by Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox. He confirmed the initial report by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Secretary Knox named the seven warships sunk: USS Arizona, USS Utah, USS Oklahoma, USS Cassin, USS Downes, USS Shaw, and USS Oglala. He said the human toll on Oahu was 2897 Americans killed, 879 wounded, and 26 missing. There was severe damage to the Army's aircraft and hangars on Oahu. Knox said the Japanese planes came from aircraft carriers and had the "most tremendously detailed" information of the naval layout at Pearl Harbor. He listed Japan's losses at forty-one planes shot down, and disclosed the American capture of a Japanese two-man midget submarine that had gone aground on an Oahu beach and the sinking of four other Japanese midget subs.

Once the nation's news media reported the attack details on December 16, 1941, there was no "big story" left to report on the main events at Pearl Harbor. None — except speculation about Roosevelt's foreknowledge. Certain words and phrases cited by Donovan hinted at what he and Murrow were told by FDR. William vanden Heuvel's diary, according to author Anthony Cave Brown, is tantalizing: "The President's surprise was not as great as that of other men around him. Nor was the attack unwelcome. It had ended the past months of uncertainty caused by FDR's decision that Japan must be seen to make the first overt move."

Any conclusion about the Murrow meeting must remain speculative, because the participants refused to tell the story. However, there are many more direct pieces of evidence from the days and weeks leading up to December 7 that put the question of FDR's foreknowledge definitively to rest. Previous accounts have claimed that the United States had not cracked Japanese military codes prior to the attack. We now know this is wrong. Previous accounts have insisted that the Japanese fleet maintained strict radio silence. This, too, is wrong. The truth is clear: FDR knew.

The real question is even more intriguing: did he deliberately provoke the attack? Were there earlier covert moves by the United States? According to a secret strategy memo, dated October 7, 1940, and adopted by the President, there were.

Copyright © 2000 by Robert B. Stinnett

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Table of Contents


Principal Characters


1 The Biggest Story of My Life

2 FDR's Back Door to War

3 The White House Decides

4 We Are Alert for an Attack on Hawaii

5 The Splendid Arrangement

6 The Outside Man

7 All Clear for a Surprise Attack

8 An Unmistakable Pattern

9 Watch the Wide Sea

10 A Night with a Princess

11 War May Come Quicker Than Anyone Dreams

12 The Japs Are Blasting Away on the Frequencies

13 A Pretty Cheap Price

14 This Means War

15 The Escape Was North

Epilogue: Destroy Anything in Writing


A. McCollum's Action Proposal

B. Research for Day of Deceit

C. A Series of War Warnings Issued by the US Government

D. Selected Intelligence Documents, 1940-41

E. Thirty-six Americans Cleared to Read the Japanese Diplomatic and Military Intercepts in 1941



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First Chapter

Chapter two: FDR's Back Door to War

Navy Headquarters
October 7, 1940

As warfare raged in Europe and portions of Africa and Japan, Germany and Italy threatened countries in three continents, a memorandum circulated in Washington. Originating in the Office of Naval Intelligence and addressed to two of FDR's most trusted advisors, it suggested a shocking new American foreign policy. It called for provoking Japan into an overt act of war against the United States. It was written by Lieutenant Commander Arthur H. McCollum, head of the Far East desk of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) (see Appendix A).

McCollum had a unique background for formulating American tactics and strategy against Japan. Born to Baptist missionary parents in Nagasaki in 1898, McCollum spent his youth in various Japanese cities. He understood the Japanese culture, and spoke the language before learning English. After the death of his father in Japan, the McCollum family returned to Alabama. At eighteen McCollum was appointed to the Naval Academy. After graduation, the twenty-two-year-old ensign was posted to the US embassy in Tokyo as a naval attaché and took a refresher course in Japanese there. McCollum was no stuffed shirt. He enjoyed parties and the favorite drink of Japan's naval community — Johnny Walker Black Label Scotch. He was never at a loss for words. After telling a long story, he'd pause with his favorite phrases, "In other words," then go into an even longer version.

In 1923, as the fads of the Roaring Twenties swept the world, members of the Japanese imperial household were anxious to learn the Charleston. McCollum knew the latest dance routines, so the embassy assigned him to instruct Crown Prince Hirohito, the future Emperor, in slapping his knees to those jazz-age rhythms. Later that year, McCollum helped coordinate the US Navy relief operations following the great Tokyo earthquake. Though the American assistance was well intentioned, McCollum learned that the proud, self-sufficient Japanese resented the anjin (foreign) relief operations. Nearly twenty years later, McCollum took it upon himself to multiply this resentment a hundredfold by pushing for American interference in Japan's brutal policies of domination in the Pacific.

Lieutenant Commander McCollum's five-page memorandum of October 1940 (hereafter referred to as the eight-action memo) put forward a startling plan — a plan intended to engineer a situation that would mobilize a reluctant America into joining Britain's struggle against the German armed forces then overrunning Europe. Its eight actions called for virtually inciting a Japanese attack on American ground, air, and naval forces in Hawaii, as well as on British and Dutch colonial outposts in the Pacific region.

Opinion polls in the summer of 1940 indicated that a majority of Americans did not want the country involved in Europe's wars. Yet FDR's military and State Department leaders agreed that a victorious Nazi Germany would threaten the national security of the United States. They felt that Americans needed a call to action.

McCollum would be an essential part of this plan. His code name was F-2. He oversaw the routing of communications intelligence to FDR from early 1940 to December 7, 1941, and provided the President with intelligence reports on Japanese military and diplomatic strategy. Every intercepted and decoded Japanese military and diplomatic report destined for the White House went through the Far East Asia section of ONI, which he oversaw. The section served as a clearinghouse for all categories of intelligence reports, not only on Japan but on all the other nations of eastern Asia.

Each report prepared by McCollum for the President was based on radio intercepts gathered and decoded by a worldwide network of American military cryptographers and radio intercept operators. McCollum's office was an element of Station US, a secret American cryptographic center located at the main naval headquarters at 18th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., about four blocks from the White House.

Few people in America's government or military knew as much about Japan's activities and intentions as Lieutenant Commander Arthur H. McCollum. He felt that war with Japan was inevitable and that the United States should provoke it at a time which suited US interests. In his October 1940 memorandum McCollum advocated eight actions that he predicted would lead to a Japanese attack on the United States:

McCollum's eight-action memo was dated October 7, 1940, and was addressed and forwarded to two of Roosevelt's most trusted military advisors: Navy captains Walter S. Anderson and Dudley W. Knox. Anderson was the Director of the Office of Naval Intelligence and had direct White House access to FDR. Knox was a naval strategist and chief of the ONI library. He served as mentor to Admiral Ernest J. King, another of the President's military advisors in 1940-41 and commander of the Navy's Atlantic Squadron (later the Atlantic Fleet). Knox agreed with McCollum's eight actions and immediately forwarded the memorandum to Anderson with this restrained comment: "I concur in your courses of action. We must be ready on both sides and probably strong enough to care for both." He recognized Britain's precarious military position: "It is unquestionably to our general interest that Britain be not licked. Just now she has a stalemate and probably can't do better." Knox did not discuss maneuvering Japan into committing an overt act of war, though he cautioned: "We should not precipitate anything in the Orient."

The paper trail of the McCollum memo ends with the Knox endorsement. Although the proposal was addressed to Anderson, no specific record has been found by the author indicating whether he or Roosevelt actually ever saw it. However, a series of secret presidential routing logs plus collateral intelligence information in Navy files offer conclusive evidence that they did see it. Beginning the very next day, with FDR's involvement, McCollum's proposals were systematically put into effect.

Throughout 1941, it seems, provoking Japan into an overt act of war was the principal policy that guided FDR's actions toward Japan. Army and Navy directives containing the "overt act" phrase were sent to Pacific commanders. Roosevelt's cabinet members, most notably Secretary of War Henry Stimson, are on record favoring the policy, according to Stimson's diary. Stimson's diary entries of 1941 place him with nine other Americans who knew or were associated with this policy of provocation during 1941.

Roosevelt's "fingerprints" can be found on each of McCollum's proposals. One of the most shocking was Action D, the deliberate deployment of American warships within or adjacent to the territorial waters of Japan. During secret White House meetings, Roosevelt personally took charge of Action D. He called the provocations "pop-up" cruises: "I just want them to keep popping up here and there and keep the Japs guessing. I don't mind losing one or two cruisers, but do not take a chance on losing five or six." Admiral Husband Kimmel, the Pacific Fleet commander, objected to the pop-up cruises, saying: "It is ill-advised and will result in war if we make this move."

One of the catalysts for Action D may have been British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. On October 4, 1940, he requested that a squadron of US cruisers be sent to Singapore. McCollum included the request as a suggestion in his eight-action memo. As it turned out, however, no cruisers were sent to Singapore.

From March through July 1941, White House records show that FDR ignored international law and dispatched naval task groups into Japanese waters on three such pop-up cruises. One of the most provocative was a sortie into the Bungo Strait southeast of Honshu, the principal access to Japan's Inland Sea. The strait separates the home islands of Kyushu and Shikoku, and was a favored operational area for the warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1941.

Japan's naval ministry registered a protest with Ambassador Joseph Grew in Tokyo: "On the night of July 31, 1941, Japanese fleet units at anchor in Sukumo Bay (in the Bungo Strait, off the island of Shikoku) picked up the sound of propellers approaching Bungo Channel from the eastward. Duty destroyers of the Japanese navy investigated and sighted two darkened cruisers that disappeared in a southerly direction behind a smoke screen when they were challenged." The protest concluded: "Japanese naval officers believe the vessels were United States cruisers."

Action D was very risky and could have resulted in a loss of American lives approaching that of Pearl Harbor. In the end, however, no shots were fired during the cruises. It would take not just one, but all eight of McCollum's proposals to accomplish that.

Two major decisions involving Japan and the Far East took place on October 8, 1940 — the day after McCollum wrote his memo. First, the State Department told Americans to evacuate Far East countries as quickly as possible. Then President Roosevelt brought about Action F — keep the United States Fleet based in Hawaiian waters — during an extended Oval Office luncheon with the fleet's commander, Admiral James O. Richardson, and former Chief of Naval Operations Admiral William D. Leahy, a favored presidential confidant. When Richardson heard the proposal, he exploded: "Mr. President, senior officers of the Navy do not have the trust and confidence in the civilian leadership of this country that is essential for the successful prosecution of a war in the Pacific." Richardson did not approve of Roosevelt's plan to place the fleet in harm's way. He strongly disagreed with two of FDR's lunchtime points: 1. FDR's willingness to sacrifice a ship of the Navy in order to provoke what he called a Japanese "mistake," and 2. Richardson quoted the President as saying: "Sooner or later the Japanese would commit an overt act against the United States and the nation would be willing to enter the war."

After Richardson and Leahy left the Oval Office luncheon, dishes were cleared and reporters were ushered in for a 4:00 p.m. press conference. The ever-affable FDR used humor to lead reporters astray:

Q: Can you tell us anything, Mr. President, about your conference this afternoon with Admiral Richardson and Admiral Leahy?
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, we were just studying maps.
Q: Did the conference touch upon frontiers in the Far East?
THE PRESIDENT: We studied maps.
Q: Pacific maps?
THE PRESIDENT: We studied maps and are learning geography.
Q: Were they mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere?
Q: We thought mostly maps of the Eastern Hemisphere.
THE PRESIDENT: All three hemispheres.
Q: O.K. (Laughter)

For Richardson, the safety of his men and warships was paramount and the policy was no laughing matter. Richardson stood up to Roosevelt. Doing so ended his naval career. On October 26, 1940, a White House leak to the Washington-based Kiplinger Newsletter predicted that Richardson would be removed as commander-in-chief.

The admiral was relieved of his command on February 1, 1941, during a major restructuring of the Navy. The sea command held by Richardson — Commander in Chief, United States Fleet (CINCUS) — was modified. In his restructuring, Roosevelt approved a two-ocean Navy and created the Atlantic Fleet and the Pacific Fleet. Skipping over more senior naval officers the President picked Rear Admiral Husband Kimmel to head the Pacific Fleet and promoted him to four-star rank. The job had been offered to Rear Admiral Chester Nimitz in the fall of 1940, but Nimitz "begged off" because he lacked seniority.

Roosevelt had carefully selected and placed naval officers in key fleet-command positions who would not obstruct his provocation policies. One of them was Admiral Harold Stark, his chief of naval operations since August 1939, an all too faithful servant of the President. Outgoing Admiral Richardson criticized Stark as "professionally negligent" for kowtowing to FDR and agreeing to place the fleet in jeopardy. He said Stark had been derelict and had suffered a major professional lapse due to "taking orders from above." In Richardson's opinion, Stark could have protested the orders to keep the fleet at Pearl Harbor or at least questioned the policy in proper but forceful fashion. After the success of the December 7 attack, Richardson claimed FDR turned his back on Stark: "The President said that he did not give a damn what happened to Stark so long as he was gotten out of Washington as soon as practical."

There is no evidence that Admiral Kimmel knew of the action plans advocated by McCollum, because Admiral Richardson never told him of them. "The Roosevelt strategy of maneuvering the Japanese into striking the first blow at America was unknown to us," Kimmel wrote in his book, Admiral Kimmel's Story, published in 1954. His first suspicions that someone in high office in Washington had consciously pursued a policy that led straight to Pearl Harbor "did not occur to him until after December 7, 1941." Kimmel said he accepted the command of the Pacific Fleet "in the firm belief that the Navy Department would supply me promptly with all pertinent information available and particularly with all information that indicated an attack on the fleet at Pearl Harbor."

Not until Japan surrendered in 1945 did Richardson break his four-year vow of silence and turn on Stark. He said he shared Kimmel's belief and he denounced Stark's failure in harsh terms: "I consider 'Betty' Stark, in failing to ensure that Kimmel was furnished all the information available from the breaking of Japanese dispatches, to have been to a marked degree professionally negligent in carrying out his duties as Chief of Naval Operations." Richardson continued: "This offense compounded, since in writing Stark had assured the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Fleet twice that the Commander-in-Chief was being kept advised on all matters within his own knowledge." Richardson cited Stark's promise: "You may rest assured that just as soon as I get anything of definite interest, I shall fire it along."

Kimmel received his promotion to admiral and was designated CINCPAC (Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet). Then, depending upon their missions, forces were either assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, whose commander was Admiral Ernest J. King as CINCLANT, to the Pacific Fleet with Kimmel as CINCPAC, or to the small Asiatic Fleet, commanded by Admiral Thomas Hart in Manila as CINCAF.

Richardson's removal on February 1, 1941, strengthened the position of McCollum. Only five months earlier, in mid-September 1940, Germany and her Axis partner, Italy, had signed a mutual-assistance alliance with Japan. The Tripartite Pact committed the three partners to assist each other in the event of an attack on any one of them. McCollum saw the alliance as a golden opportunity. If Japan could be provoked into committing an overt act of war against the United States, then the Pact's mutual assistance provisions would kick in. It was a back-door approach: Germany and Italy would come to Japan's aid and thus directly involve the United States in the European war.

McCollum predicted a domino effect if Germany overwhelmed Britain. He was certain that Canada and the British territories in Central and South America and in the Caribbean would succumb to some degree of Nazi control. The strategic danger to the United States was from Germany, not Japan. In his eight-action memorandum, McCollum cited these six military factors in promoting his proposals:

His dire predictions were undoubtedly right. The number one problem for the United States, according to McCollum, was mobilizing public support for a declaration of war against the Axis powers. He saw little chance that Congress would send American troops to Europe. Over the objections of the majority of the populace, who still felt that European alarmists were creating much ado about nothing, he called for the Administration to create what he called "more ado": "It is not believed," wrote McCollum, "that in the present state of political opinion the United States government is capable of declaring war against Japan without more ado."

His solution to the political stalemate: use the eight proposed actions to provoke Japan into committing an overt act of war against the United States, thus triggering military responses from the two other signers of the Tripartite Pact. An allusion to McCollum's eight actions was recorded by Assistant Secretary of State Breckenridge Long. He wrote that on October 7, 1940, he learned of a series of steps involving the US Navy and that one included concentrating the fleet at Honolulu to be ready for any eventuality. "It looks to me as if little by little we will face a situation which will bring us into conflict with Japan," Long wrote in his diary.

A link to some of McCollum's provocations surfaced earlier in 1940 but did not produce a written directive. McCollum's proposal, triggered by the Tripartite Pact, is the only verifiable evidence of the American policy. The links started in May 1940, when FDR met with Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox and discussed permanently basing the United States Fleet in Hawaii. Their suggestion raised the immediate ire of Richardson, who began a five-month argument to return the fleet to the West Coast. He lost the battle on October 8, a day after McCollum wrote his memorandum.

Earlier in 1940, an influential citizens' group urged withholding war materials from Japan as punishment for what they perceived as her aggression in China. But their embargo advocacy called for stopping the Japan-China conflict — not enticing an overt act of war.

Arthur McCollum continued his close ties to Japan. In 1928, the Navy sent him back to Tokyo, this time as a language instructor. The thirty-year-old McCollum taught a Japanese language class that included three other officers of about the same age. All four were destined to provide FDR with secret intelligence on Japanese war preparations during the 1940-41 prelude to Pearl Harbor. They were also to become lifelong friends.

Eventually these four men became leading naval intelligence officers in World War II: Joseph J. Rochefort, cofounder of the Navy's communication intelligence section; Edwin Layton, the intelligence officer for the Pacific Fleet, 1940-45; Lieutenant Commander Ethelbert Watts, as assistant to McCollum in 1940-41; and McCollum himself, head of the Far East desk of the Office of Naval Intelligence. Every pre-Pearl Harbor intercept of Japanese radio communications would pass through their hands. Rochefort became commander of Station HYPO, the combat intelligence center for the Pacific Fleet, one of America's most important cryptographic centers, at the Pearl Harbor Naval Yard. (HYPO, a part of the Navy's phonetic alphabet, stood for the letter H — Hawaii.) McCollum and Watts supervised the communications intelligence pipeline to Roosevelt. Layton directed information to the Pacific Fleet commanders: Richardson in 1940, Kimmel in 1941, and Nimitz in 1942-45.

Naval intelligence established a secret delivery system for Japanese military and diplomatic intelligence for Roosevelt in the winter of 1940. McCollum was the distribution officer on 151 routing slips found by the author in the National Archives. These Navy routing slips provide a trail to a massive collection of Army and Navy documents that resulted from monitoring Japanese communications and that were available to Roosevelt and key members of his Administration between February 1940 and December 7, 1941. Sometimes when he had a hot item McCollum personally delivered the report to FDR; otherwise the President's naval aide made the delivery. This twenty-two-month monitoring program allowed the American government to anticipate and then study Japan's reactions to the provocations advocated by McCollum.

McCollum dispatched his first intelligence reports to the White House on February 23, 1940. There were two, both in a diplomatic code. McCollum marked both: "Original to Aide to President" and sent them to FDR. At the time, the President and seven members of his staff, including naval aide Captain Daniel J. Callaghan, had reached the midpoint of an eighteen-day fishing cruise aboard the cruiser USS Tuscaloosa in Pacific waters off the west coast of Panama. Naval seaplanes landed alongside the warship and delivered the documents to Callaghan.

In the first message, Roosevelt learned that Japan was applying diplomatic pressure to obtain oil export rights in Portuguese Timor, a small island east of the Dutch East Indies. The other dealt with Japanese Army plans to send "advisors" to Bolivia, which had vast resources of tin needed by Japan's military-industrial complex. McCollum noted that both reports were based on "highly reliable information," a standard oblique reference to intercepted communications.

Extraordinary secrecy surrounded the delivery system. The Japanese intercepts destined for FDR were placed in special folders. Captain Callaghan as naval aide was responsible for the safety of the documents. Roosevelt read the original copy but did not retain any of the intercepts. Each original was eventually returned to the folder and stored in McCollum's safe at Station US in Washington. There they remained, available for White House review. Shortly after December 7, when Congressional critics began to question the Administration's failure to prevent the Hawaii attack, all records involving the Japanese radio intercept program — including the White House route logs and their secret contents — were locked away in vaults controlled by Navy communications officials.

During the spring and summer of 1940 the diplomatic intercepts provided valuable insights into Japanese foreign policy. Through the intercepts, FDR could follow Japan's continued pressure on Portugal to supply her Empire with raw materials from Timor, its colony in the East Indies. After Nazi armies conquered France in May 1940, Japan expanded her quest for raw materials and pushed for access to the French colony of Indochina, today's Vietnam.

That August, Hitler's Luftwaffe began all-out bombing of England, targeting airfields, aircraft factories, and radar stations. A massive attack by 2500 planes of the Luftwaffe hit London on Adler Tag (Eagle Day), August 16. The next day the Führer declared a total blockade of the British Isles. By August 31, Germany claimed victory in the Battle of Britain and Hitler began to assemble barges and ships for Operation Sea Lion, the invasion of Britain, which would never take place.

Roosevelt's third-term nomination heartened internationalist-minded Democrats at the party's convention in Chicago. He was forced to campaign against a Republican antiwar platform led by its nominee, Wendell Willkie. A Gallup Poll taken in early September showed that 88 percent of Americans agreed with the views of an isolationist bloc, led by aviation hero Charles Lindbergh and industrialist Henry Ford, that advocated staying away from Europe's wars. Yet Roosevelt outmaneuvered the isolationists and persuaded Congress to pass (by one vote) the Draft Act, then sent fifty World War I destroyers to England as part of what would become the Lend-Lease program of aid to the allied powers, including the Soviet Union. During the campaign, he promised American mothers and fathers: "Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." But according to FDR biographer Robert Sherwood, the President assured members of his staff during a campaign swing through New England, "Of course, we'll fight if we are attacked. If somebody attacks us, then it isn't a foreign war, is it?" McCollum's eight-action memo would soon make the President's words a reality.

McCollum's concept for his memo's Action F — keeping the fleet in Hawaiian waters — had its beginning in April 1940, when major portions of the US fleet moved from their West Coast bases and joined warships of the Hawaiian Detachment (later named the Pacific Fleet) for an annual training exercise. Once the exercise was completed, Admiral Richardson planned to send the fleet (less the Hawaiian Detachment) back to the West Coast.

The fleet never returned. Washington slowly put the brakes on Richardson's plan and issued specious explanations for keeping the fleet in Hawaii. Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles answered Richardson's objections by predicting a "diplomatic disaster" if the fleet returned to the Pacific Coast. In late April, Welles' rationale was touched on in a message sent to Richardson by Admiral Stark, who offered his own version of the potential "diplomatic disaster." He told Richardson the fleet might receive instructions to remain in Hawaiian waters "in view of the possibility of Italy becoming an active belligerent and maybe you won't."

There was no adequate explanation for connecting Italian threats to the United States and basing the fleet in Hawaii. The "might" and "maybe" in the dispatches made no sense to Richardson. He requested a meeting directly with Roosevelt. The admiral disagreed with what he sensed was the "Europe First" priority in the White House.

As commander of America's major sea command, Richardson's first duty was to carry out the orders of Roosevelt and his military chiefs. He reluctantly obeyed the orders but stated his objections for the record. He would not sacrifice his ships and men to what he saw as a flawed policy. Richardson listed five objections to basing the fleet in Hawaii:

He objected in vain. Roosevelt wanted the fleet kept in Hawaiian waters. All Admiral Richardson received from his protests were more indecisive orders from the administration. A dispatch of May 4 is an example:


He was particularly displeased on May 7, 1940, when he was ordered to issue a press release saying that he had asked to keep the fleet in Hawaii. "There was no logical reason for me to make such a request," Richardson wrote. "It made a perfect nitwit out of me."

The rationale behind the directives became even less convincing on May 15, when the warships were ordered to "stay in Hawaiian waters for some time." Richardson thought he had a chance to dissuade Roosevelt and asked for a meeting in the White House. The two met alone for lunch on July 8, 1940. The meeting was a disappointment for Richardson. "I came away with the impression that, despite his spoken word, the President was fully determined to put the United States into the war if Great Britain could hold out until he was reelected." But the admiral gave no details of the White House conversation except to say that FDR had promised not to send the fleet to the Far East under "any foreseeable conditions."

In the "illogical basing of the fleet at Hawaii," Admiral Richardson saw a disaster in the making. He was responsible for 69,000 sailors under his Pacific command, and he grew increasingly alarmed at using them and his 217 ships in what he saw as a provocative scheme. He asked, "Are we here as a stepping-off place for belligerent activity?" Exasperated, he complained, "The President and Mr. Hull [Secretary of State Cordell Hull] never seem to take it into consideration that Japan is led by military men, who evaluate military moves, largely on a military basis." Richardson missed the point. White House strategy was based precisely on the premise that Japan's militant right wing would push for an act of force against the United States. Though he got nowhere with Roosevelt, Richardson bided his time.

During midsummer of 1940, with his third-term presidential campaign in mind, Roosevelt issued a licensing plan — McCollum's proposals had not yet been adopted — that appeared to curtail Japanese access to petroleum products and scrap iron in America. The San Francisco Call-Bulletin photographed stevedores in July and October 1940 at San Francisco docks, loading the Japanese vessels Tasukawa Maru and Bordeau Maru with scrap iron, an apparent violation of FDR's embargo. The ships loaded up with tons of scrap iron, slipped out through the Golden Gate, and headed for Japan.

The oil-licensing system was also a sham in that it did not apply to the refineries on America's West Coast. The White House essentially allowed Japan to obtain petroleum supplies sufficient to maintain its ability to make war. Japan's consul-general in San Francisco assured his government that the Roosevelt administration was not enforcing the embargo; oil and gasoline supplies were available. "All our export permits have been granted. These American agencies from whom the oil is bought go ahead and make suitable arrangements with the government authorities at Washington."

The consul-general wrote that he had purchased "special blend crude oil" and easily evaded Roosevelt's embargo. He then detailed Japanese purchases of over 44,000 tons (321,000 barrels) from the Associated Oil Company. In concluding his secret dispatch, the consul-general told Japan's military leaders: "American oil dealers in the San Francisco area selling to Mitsui and Mitsubishi, of which the principal one is the Associated Oil Company, feel that there will be no difficulty about continuing the shipment of ordinary gasoline to Japan."

The consul-general's "no difficulty" dispatch was routed to FDR on September 16, 1940. But no one in the White House enforced the petroleum embargo. Instead, export of oil to Japan received the green light. Japanese oil and gasoline tankers, with the tacit approval of the Administration, rushed back and forth across the Pacific loading up at oil refineries in Pacific Coast ports. Naval radio direction finders, on orders from Washington, tracked the tankers to the Japanese naval oil depot at Tokuyama, located at the southern tip of Honshu on the Suo Nada, an arm of the Inland Sea.

Between July 1940 and April 1941, during a period when American petroleum supplies were supposedly under embargo, nearly 9,200,000 barrels of gasoline were licensed for export to Japan. Approval for 2,000,000 additional barrels was pending late in April 1941. From October 1940 to December 1941, the Japanese tankers were under constant electronic surveillance by the Navy. Washington closely followed the tankers.

Transportation of the petroleum to Japan was monitored at Station SAIL, control center for the Navy's West Coast Communications Intelligence Network (WCCI) near Seattle (SAIL being the Navy phonetic for the letter S — Seattle). Commercial radio facilities of Mackay Radio & Telegraph, Pan American Airways, RCA Communications, and Globe Wireless provided information used in the surveillance. This vast monitoring network extended along the entire West Coast from Imperial Beach, California, to Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

The surveillance yielded important intelligence for the White House by tracing the movement of oil supplies, watching for signs of Japan withdrawing merchant vessels from the world's oceans, and identifying the radio transmitter characteristics of each vessel. Code breakers at SAIL and the West Coast network produced Tracking Chart 1 based on radio-direction-finding reports that traced the Pacific Ocean routes taken by eight of Japan's tankers from October 1 to December 6, 1940. From the tracking chart, US Navy officials learned that most of the petroleum was obtained from the Associated Oil Company refinery at Port Costa, California, and transported directly to Tokuyama — the principal oil storage facility for warships. President Roosevelt obtained his confirmation that Japan was evading his embargo from the consul-general's "no difficulty" intercept.

Naval intercept operators easily followed the tankers. During their round-trip voyages, they diligently used their radio transmitters and provided their positions to the Navy's radio direction finders. Navy intelligence in San Francisco identified all the tankers by their Japanese radio call signs. Two of the tankers, the Kyokuto Maru and the HIMJS Shiriya, were destined to be included in the Pearl Harbor strike force. Both vessels sailed into San Francisco Bay throughout 1940 and 1941, picked up their cargoes of American oil, and returned to fill the Tokuyama storage facility. A year later, the Kyokuto Maru's radio signal was instantly identified when she became the flagship of the eight-vessel tanker train that refueled the warships of the Pearl Harbor force. Maru derives from the Japanese word maru, meaning "circle." Merchant ships, but not warships, have the word added to their name for good luck as they encounter the perils of the high seas in the belief that Marus complete the voyage to the distant port and return to a joyous homecoming, thus completing the circle. In 1940 and 1941, the Kyokuto Maru would make many circles between ports in America and Japan.

During the last days of September and first week of October 1940, a team of Army and Navy cryptographers solved the two principal Japanese government code systems: Purple, the major diplomatic code, and portions of the Kaigun Ango, a series of twenty-nine separate Japanese naval operational codes used for radio contact with warships, merchant vessels, naval bases, and personnel in overseas posts, such as naval attachés. Much has been made of the Purple Code and far too little of the navy codes. Historians have made misleading references to the Purple Code by confusing its use and purpose. It was used solely by the Japanese Foreign Ministry for encoding diplomatic messages dispatched by radio between Tokyo and selected overseas embassies and consulates. In the United States, Japan issued the Purple system to its Washington embassy and to its consulate in Manila, but not to the Honolulu consulate. The Purple Code was never used by the Japanese Navy.

Leading historical publications in the United States have confused readers by publishing erroneous details on Purple. The truth of Pearl Harbor is found in the naval codes, not in the diplomatic codes. As recently as December 1997, Naval History, a magazine published by the US Naval Institute, printed an article which claimed that the American naval victory at Midway resulted from breaking the Japanese Purple cipher. In fact, however, the Midway victory came about because US Navy cryptographers had broken Japan's Code Book D, one of the twenty-nine code systems in the Kaigun Ango. Throughout 1941 and most of 1942, United States naval cryptographers and intercept operators referred to Code Book D as the 5-Num code, because a group of five numbers represented a Japanese word or phrase. Japan's navy assigned thousands of different five-number combinations to represent their language for radio transmission purposes. On November 19, 1941, the five-number group for the carrier Akagi, the flagship of Japan's Hawaii force, was 28494. It was up to US Navy code breakers to solve the meaning of 28494 (and subsequent revisions). And they did, starting in October 1940.

Cryptographers have their own jargon. To them, "recovered value" or "solution" means that they had solved and knew the meaning of 28494. In addition to the 5-Num code, American cryptographers solved and could recover values from three other code systems of the Kaigun Ango: Merchant Marine Code (Code Book S); radio call signs (Yobidashi Fugo) issued to every category of Japanese warships, units, individual officers, and vessels of the Japanese Merchant Marine, known as Marus; and Japan's naval movement code in which warships, Marus, and individuals reported their arrivals, departures, and destinations. These four naval systems were used by Japan's navy for radio messages in the pre-Pearl Harbor period and throughout the Pacific War. The US success in solving the diplomatic and naval code systems was a closely guarded American secret. President Roosevelt regularly received copies of Japanese messages decoded and translated from both the Purple Code and the Kaigun Ango.

Controversy surrounds the timing of the successful decryption of the four code systems of the Kaigun Ango by American code breakers. Testimony given to various Pearl Harbor investigations suggests that the navy codes were not solved until Spring 1942. The author's research proves otherwise. Their solution emerged in the early fall of 1940, at about the same time Arthur McCollum's memorandum reached the Oval Office.

Rear Admiral Royal Ingersoll, Assistant Chief of Naval Operations, revealed America's ability to detect and predict Japan's naval war strategy and tactical operations to the US Navy's two Pacific commanders, Admirals James Richardson and Thomas Hart, in a letter dated October 4, 1940. Ingersoll was specific: The Navy began tracking the movement and location of Japanese warships in October 1940. "Every major movement of the Orange (America's code name for Japan) Fleet has been predicted, and a continuous flow of information concerning Orange diplomatic activities has been made available." He said that Navy cryptographers had solved the Japanese naval merchant ship code. "The system itself is 99 percent readable," reported Ingersoll.

Japan's main naval radio system, the "Operations Code" (the 5-Num code) remained a problem for cryptographers. A full solution was expected by April 1941. "Recovery was well defined," wrote Ingersoll, "but demanded laborious work sometimes requiring from only an hour to as many as several days to decode each message." To speed up decryption time, the Navy constructed a special decoding machine. Mystery still surrounds the workings of the machine — as is typical of nearly sixty years of Navy secrecy concerning all aspects of the 5-Num code. The machine has not been turned over to the National Archives. Neither have the original Japanese naval intercepts in the 5-Num code that were obtained by US Navy cryptographers. The author contends that this extraordinary secrecy, which still remains in effect in 1999, is intended to distance the American government and particularly FDR from foreknowledge of Japanese attack plans.

But Ingersoll's 1940 letter, sheds a light on the 5-Num system that was never intended by the pre-Pearl Harbor naval censors. Recovery was effected before April. By the end of January 1941, President Roosevelt was on the receiving list of the Kaigun Ango, according to the White House route logs prepared by Arthur McCollum.

On January 30, Station CAST, the navy's Philippine cryptographic center on Corregidor Island in Manila Bay, placed the first Japanese military intelligence in FDR's hands. It informed Roosevelt of a large build-up of Japanese warships in the South China Sea off French Indochina. It was an ominous beginning.

Copyright © 2000 by Robert B. Stinnett

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2007

    Facts are facts

    I have seen some poor reviews of this book. Their counter arguments have no factual basis. They rest on the emotional ravings of people psychologically incapable of accepting that the US lies to start wars. It is a part of US history that is hardly unqiue. From Polk to Bush the US has lied to start wars. This book is well documented and explains what really happened far better than the ad hoc explinations claiming that it was just 'lucky' that the US's best carriers all happened to be out at sea that day.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2007

    Look elsewhere for the 'truth' about Pearl Harbor

    Day of Deceit has been extensively reviewed by bona fide experts in its core subject matter, communications intelligence 'ComInt' in the prewar era. Abundant testimony from such experts exists in magazine articles, Internet postings and television documentaries. Since those experts and numerous other book reviewers have long since provided point-by-point rebuttal to the author¿s principal contentions, I¿ll take a broader view of Day of Deceit in this brief commentary. In broad terms, then, the book suffers from two fundamental flaws that have escaped the notice of many reviewers. One, Mr. Stinnett wants us to believe that the President knew and understood, before the fact, that Japan was going to conduct an assault on his military forces on Oahu, and conspired to 'a' let it happen and 'b' conceal knowledge of it from his commanders who literally would have to suffer the attack. Folks, that is TREASON! 'See U.S. Constitution, Art. 3, Sect. 3.' Further, the author also expects readers to believe that General Marshall was a willing participant in the same treasonous act while allowing an enemy force to attack and kill soldiers and airmen of his own army. Those assertions are simply irrational, particularly in the utter absence of inarguable supporting evidence. And as has been clearly shown, Mr. Stinnett¿s ¿evidence¿ is far from inarguable. Then there¿s the second problem. The book¿s front cover touts it as the ¿truth¿ about FDR and Pearl Harbor. How can it be the truth if it is scorned by virtually every genuine expert in its subject matter? How can it be the truth when it presents NOTHING that explicitly proves that advance warning of the attack was ACTUALLY RECEIVED by the President and UNDERSTOOD FOR WHAT IT WAS? How can it be the truth when the entire issue, with all of Mr. Stinnett¿s purported evidence, could simply have been the result of misinterpretation and mismanagement in the ComInt organizations in Washington, DC? The fact is, that¿s exactly what it was. Key indicators that pointed to Japanese intentions for Hawaii were mishandled, misunderstood, and even misfiled until it was much too late. Yes, with the benefit of perfect hindsight, we can accuse FDR¿s administration of a major ComInt failure. But Day of Deceit doesn¿t allege a mere intelligence failure¿it claims the President KNOWINGLY aided the enemy, calling that the ¿truth¿ without proving it so. If Mr. Stinnett had simply presented his alleged evidence in the form of a scholarly inquiry rather than an unproven indictment, he might have gained a measure of acceptance for his book among the community of respected historians in which one suspects he would like to include himself. Instead, he continues to this day to defend Day of Deceit as the ¿truth¿ and to label those who allegedly covered up his version of it as nefarious conspirators. That might enable him to sell a few copies of his book, but its thesis won¿t ¿sell¿ to any but the gullible and uninformed.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2004

    FDR Knew Plenty About Pearl

    Day of Deceit Mark Dent In ¿Day of Deceit,¿ Robert Stinnet argues that FDR and other high-ranking officials not only knew that the attack on Pearl Harbor would happen but openly provoked it. Stinnet¿s research is based mainly on Japanese messages that were intercepted but never given to the men in Hawaii. Stinnet¿s main reason for thinking that FDR and others provoked Japan was McCollum¿s Eight-Action Memo. He wrote that they wanted Japan to commit the first overt act of war, and that they thought this would be the best way to provoke them to do it. Admiral Richardson was fired by FDR for disagreeing with him over this memo, and FDR also placed people who he knew would listen to him in high-ranking positions. Stinnet fuels most of his evidence of knowledge of the attack through the interception of codes. He writes that there were at least five codes that the Americans knew of: Purple, 5-NUM, SM, a radio call sign code, and Kaigun Ango. These codes intercepted anything from diplomatic to direct naval messages. The USA not only knew of these codes but so did Britain, the Netherlands, and China. In the Japanese messages that were broken by these codes there was evidence of an attack on Hawaii. Even from November 27 on after Yamamoto wanted to cease all messages, messages were still intercepted. One intercept man, Homer Kisner, realized at noon on December 6 that the Japanese were definitely headed for war and likely to strike at Pearl Harbor. However, this message and no other war warning messages were ever sent to Kimmel or Short at the harbor. The knowledge of the codes at this period of time is controversial. According to FDR, none of these codes had been in working order before December 7. However, Stinnet provides thorough evidence that these codes were being used long before the attack. While Stinnet portrays FDR as a bad guy throughout the book, he knows that the nation had to be unified somehow. In his epilogue and prologue, he acknowledges that FDR faced a tough decision and that we would eventually have to attack Japan or be attacked by Japan. Stinnet did a thorough study of all this information for his book, but it seemed as though he kept repeating the same stuff. He seemed to keep repeating the same messages that were intercepted throughout the entire book. In comparing ¿Day of Deceit¿ to ¿Pearl Harbor Betrayed,¿ I would say that the latter is a better book. It is far more interesting and is just as thorough and researched just as well as the former. However, I agree with Stinnet¿s opinion on the attack more than I do with Gannon¿s opinion. There is way too much evidence pointing out that FDR and co. had prior knowledge of the attack. Even though Gannon makes his thesis seem believable, it is too hard for me to believe that the bigwigs in Washington did not provoke Japan and didn¿t have enough knowledge of the attack until it was too late.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2004

    Really Stupid 'History'

    Stinnett has put forth 4 pieces of 'evidence' that he claims demonstrate that FDR 'provoked' Japan into war, which he claims was FDR's desire. Unfortunately, all of the evidence he has has been descredited by serious researchers. The idea that Japan, the 'Nazis of the East' needed to be provoked into waging war is hilariously idiotic - just ask the Chinese and others during 1933-41 time frame. No serious historian (not even a Japanese historian) would ever make the claim that Japan was on anything other than what her own statements proclaimed : on a path of aggression. There's also the small matter of why not alerting Pearl Harbor makes any sense - the Japanese task force was not going to turn around simply because Pearl Harbor's command was asleep, which Stinnett inexplicably seems to believe. He obviously is quite lacking in his information about the Japanese task force. The other question is why all of those warnings were sent to Pearl Harbor. That doesn't seem to be a good way to lull someone to sleep. If he wonders about whether FDR provoked the Japanese, you might think that the way to do that would be to look and see what was said to the Japanese during the negotiations. You certainly don't rummage around in a bunch of messages that may or may not have even gotten to the White House, much less been read, much less then acted upon. If they were acted upon, then the evidence would be found in what the US and the Japanese said to each other. Stinnett's method of approaching the question makes absolutely no sense, and could never prove anything, even if he could show that it got to the White House, which he cannot. If you want to find out what really happened before and after Pearl Harbor, read At Dawn We Slept and The Verdict of History and get an excellent history about the subject. Stinnett's work doesn't even qualify as a history. It's filled with lies and avoids information that make his arguments look like what they are : total nonsense.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2003

    patterns in our foreign policy?

    All powers create their own histories that puts it in good light to their subjects. Did you think Japan was the only country that tries to hide the evil things it has done? I see a pattern of repeating history where the US has been just as aggressive, cruel, and murderous as some of our worst enemies. Of course, our institutions ignore those events to highlight others that are either myths or lies. And people buy it hook, line, and sinker because they don't want to feel bad about themselves. Wilson got us into WWI by making the Lusitania an easy target that was carrying tons of ammo sacrificing not only the thousand or so non-americans but also the hundred or so americans. FDR sacrificed thousands of American lives in Pearl Harbor to sucker the American people into a war with Japan and Germany. Johnson suckered the American people into sending troops over to Vietnam and full scale bombing with the Gulf of Tonkin farce. It makes one wonder just how far we have really gone to get us to where we are currently. The US has been really sneaky in getting us suckered into wars. Stinnis's book helped make me wonder if we haven't just scratched the surface on stuff that has been hidden away under the cover of National Security. We wouldn't have known some of the things Stinnis told us had he not managed to get some documents from the Freedom of Information Act. And that was probably a slip-up by the overseers.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2002



    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 5, 2012

    Day of Deceit provides an interesting narrative and valuable ana

    Day of Deceit provides an interesting narrative and valuable analysis of newly available documents, but ultimately, Stinnett stretches his argument farther than his evidence can support. He provides plenty of evidence that the US engaged in practices intended to provoke Japan into attacking us, and credible academic historians--even eminent historians such as Charles Beard--have already made the argument that FDR pursued a pro-war agenda behind the scenes while publicly promoting neutrality. However, Stinnett's argument that the navy knew exactly where the attack was aimed on that day and allowed it to happen and that FDR knew and approved is based on very slim evidence and should be understood as a possibility that would need a great deal more evidence to prove. If indeed top military officials did collude in provoking the attach AND knew where it would occur--would not an unsuccessful attack have also riled up the public enough to get them to support a declaration of war? Wouldn't "Air Force foils Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor" have served just as well as "2,000 dead at Pearl Harbor"? Yes, governments lie. Governments manipulate public sentiment to permit war. But individual military commanders rarely make decisions to sacrifice large numbers of their men...because they were once one of those men.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2012

    Mr. Stinnet's premise is fine: Roosevelt wanted American support

    Mr. Stinnet's premise is fine: Roosevelt wanted American support for a war he felt was inevitable. He does not make the case that Roosevelt knew about Pearl Harbor and placed American personnel and ships in harm's way to that end. Mr. Stinnet is not a historian. His methodology is poor and he fails to substantiate his case with solid evidence. He might be right, but he can't prove it.

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  • Posted February 27, 2011


    a must read

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 24, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Day of Deceit

    A good overall summary of what really happened leading to the attack on Pearl Harbor and what Washington really knew in the years leading up to December 7, 1941.
    There are many books which speak to those early days in the 1930's that are more "by the way" than Day Of Deceit which looks at the American motives and actions surrounding the whole pivotal involvement of the President and his advisors and other cohorts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2001


    This is a great book to read. the author finally reveals the true diabolical, and opportunistic character of FDR. it provides sufficient proof that proves (up to a point), that the President and the US intelligence knew beforehand every little detail of the upcoming japannese attack on Pearl Harbor. Not only that, the author takes one step forward to propose that it was FDR's aggressive policy towards Japan, that made them a pone into his hands and led them to declare war to the US and cowerdly attack the US fleet in Pearl Harbor

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2001

    A Reviewer is Wrong

    A Reviewer is so wrong. I took a World War II Class last semester and they told us that FDR was looking for a way to get into the war and that's why he let Pearl HArbor happen. Yes, he had the threat on his desk, but he was looking for a way to get us into the war. A reason that the American people would stand behind 100%. I, for one, agree with what he did and I'm glad he did it. I also did read this book and did a report on it. I loved it and it was one of my favorite books. It tells the truth and I'm sorry if A Reviewer was taught, or wants to think otherwise.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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