Stinnett conclusively demonstrates with vast and incontrovertible documentary evidence that in order to precipitate an unwilling American public into supporting intervention in the Second World War, President Roosevelt oversaw the contrivance and deployment of a closely-guarded secret plot to goad the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor. The plan was set in motion in October 1940, and its development closely monitored through decoded intercepts of Japanese diplomatic and military radio communications. Knowledge of the plan was limited to 13 Roosevelt administration members and chief military officers, and 21 members of Naval Intelligence and related operations. Once it produced the intended result and the attack impended, the Pacific fleet’s modern naval vessels were sent to sea from Pearl Harbor, leaving seven antiquated World War One battleships as decoys. Meanwhile, the Japanese fleet was tracked with radio intercepts from its formation off the Kuril Islands on November 16, and its sailing for Hawaii on November 26; its course was cleared of all shipping with a Vacant Sea order on the 22nd; and Pearl Harbor naval patrols were ordered out of the area on the 25th. Intelligence of the impending attack was withheld from the officers (Admiral Kimmel and General Short) charged with defending Pearl Harbor, who were kept uninformed of the plan and intelligence of the impending attack, and scape-goated afterward. A coverup of the entire operation was maintained through eight official and Congressional investigations between 1941 and 1946, and down to Strom Thurmond’s inquiry in 1995. Stinnett’s forty-seven pages of Appendices (p. 261-308) present photographic reproductions of essential documents obtained from Federal archives through the Freedom of Information Act, as well as numerous other documents reproduced in the body of the text, and 65 pages (p. 309-374) of closely detailed and referenced notes, all of which copiously and conclusively document Stinnett’s factual assertions, arguments and conclusions. His voluminous research files and notes are deposited at the Hoover Institute library at Stanford.
It is notable that Lt. Commander McCollum’s “eight-action memo” for inciting war with the Japanese is dated October 7, 1940; that its sixth action was set in motion on October 8, its first, second and seventh on October 16; and that, campaigning for a third term as president in Boston on October 30, FDR said: “I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars;” on November 1 in Brooklyn he said “I am fighting to keep our people out of foreign wars. And I will keep on fighting;” at Rochester on the 2nd he said “Your national government … is equally a government of peace — a government that intends to retain peace for the American people;” the same day in Buffalo he asserted “Your President says this country is not going to war;” and in Cleveland on the 3rd he declared “The first purpose of our foreign policy is to keep our country out of war.” These quotations are from William Henry Chamberlin, “How Franklin Roosevelt Lied America Into War,” in Harry Elmer Barnes, Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace (Caldwell, Idaho, Caxton, 1953), Chapter Eight, p. 485-491.
In his Preface Stinnett writes: “My sole purpose is to uncover the true story of events leading up to the devastating attack on the naval base [at Pearl Harbor] and adjoining Army facilities, and to document that it was not a surprise to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and many of his top military and policy advisors…. Roosevelt believed that his countrymen would rally only to oppose an overt act of war on the United States. The decision he made, in concert with his advisors, was to provoke Japan through a series of actions into an overt act: the Pearl Harbor attack. As I have discovered in the course of seventeen years of archival research and personal interviews with US Navy cryptographers, the answer to Roosevelt’s dilemma is found in an extraordinary number of documents whose release I have been able to obtain through Freedom of Information Act requests. These papers outline deliberate steps that were planned and implemented to elicit the overt action that catapulted America into the war, and devastated military forces at Pearl Harbor and other Pacific bases. Eight steps were suggested to provoke a Japanese attack. Shortly after reviewing these, Roosevelt put them into effect. After the eight provocations had been taken, Japan responded. On November 27 and 28, 1941, US military commanders were given this order: ‘The United States desires that Japan commit the first overt act.’ According to Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, the order came directly from President Roosevelt…. Not only did we undertake provocative steps, we intercepted and decoded military cables. We knew the attack was coming…. The commanders in Hawaii, Admiral Husband Kimmel and Lieutenant General Walter Short, were deprived of intelligence that might have made them more alert to the risks entailed in Roosevelt’s policy, but they obeyed his direct order: ‘The United States desires that Japan commit the first overt act.’ More than 200,000 documents and interviews have led me to these conclusions. I am indebted to the Freedom of Information Act and its author, the late Congressman John Moss (D, CA) for making it possible for me to tell this story.” [xiii-xiv]
“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 silent. This, too, is wrong. The truth is clear: FDR knew.” 
“A memorandum circulated in Washington, originating in the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) and addressed to two of FDR’s most trusted advisors suggests … 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 ONI.” [6; Stinnett does not address the obvious conclusion that McCollum was instructed to design such a plan; it is highly improbable that this key policy was initiated by a junior officer on his own initiative. McCollum’s memo is photographically reproduced in Appendix A, 261-267]
Lieutenant Commander McCollum’s five-page “eight-action memo, dated October 7, 1940 … puts forward … a plan intended to engineer a situation that would mobilize reluctant America into joining Britain’s struggle against the German armed forces…. Its eight actions call for virtually inciting a Japanese attack on American ground, air, and naval forces in Hawaii, as well as on British and Danish colonial outposts in the Pacific region…. McCollum 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…. 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…. Few people in America’s government or military knew as much about Japan’s activities and intentions as McCollum.” 
Appendix E 307-308 lists the 34 “Americans who were cleared for unrestricted access to decoded and translated Japanese diplomatic intercepts.” They comprise FDR, his Secretaries of War, State and the Navy (Stimson, Hull, Knox), three senior military staff members (Gen. Marshall, Adm. Stark, Rear Adm. Ingersoll) and three key naval staff officers, two field commanders (Gen. MacArthur, Adm. Hart), FDR’s naval aide (Capt. Beardall) who acted as his liaison with ONI, and 21 senior officers and cryptographers of ONI and other intelligence operations. Kimmel and Short were pointedly restricted in their access.
McCollum’s memorandum lists eight actions that he predicted would provoke a Japanese attack:
“A. Make an arrangement with Britain for use of British bases in the Pacific, particularly Singapore.
B. Make an arrangement with Holland for the use of base facilities and acquisition of supplies in the Dutch East Indies [now Indonesia].
C. Give all possible aid to the Chinese government of Chiang Kai-shek.
D. Send a division of long-range heavy cruisers to the Orient, Philippines, or Singapore.
E. Send two divisions of submarines to the Orient.
F. Keep the main strength of the US Fleet, now in the Pacific, in the vicinity of the Hawaiian islands.
G. Insist that the Dutch refuse to grant Japanese demands for undue economic concessions, particularly oil.
H. Complete embargo all trade with Japan, in collaboration with a similar embargo imposed by the British Empire.” [8. Stinnett shows the routing of this memo to senior ONI officers and thence to Sect. of the Navy Knox and to FDR 8-9.]
Action C was already US policy. Action F was initiated on October 8, 1940; Actions A, B, and G by October 16, 1940; D and E by November 12, 1940. The plan was completed on July 26, 1941 with Action H. [Chap. 1 n. 8 p. 311-312; 120 ff. & passim]
Admiral Richardson, commander of the Pacific Fleet, opposed FDR’s orders to station the fleet at Pearl Harbor as putting the fleet at risk, so FDR replaced him with Kimmel and placed Admiral Anderson of ONI as Kimmel’s third in command at Pearl Harbor, to supervise the radio intercept operation there unbeknownst to Kimmel. [10-14; 33-34] “Anderson was sent to Hawaii as an intelligence gatekeeper.”  When he arrived he established his personal housing well away from Pearl Harbor, out of range of the coming attack. Though he was commander of the seven battleships which bore the brunt of the attack with the loss of well over a thousand lives, Adm. Anderson was safe at home on the other side of the mountain when the attack came. [36-37; 244, 247]
In early January 1941, the Japanese decided that in the event of hostilities with the US they would commence with a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. American intelligence learned of this plan on January 27. [30-32]
Among the radio intercepts was a bomb plot map of Pearl Harbor developed by a Japanese spy at their consulate in Honolulu to aid in targeting. This, too, was kept from Kimmel and Short. The ONI operatives tracking this spy’s operations kept the FBI and other counter-intelligence operations away from him in order to sequester this — and all — intelligence. [66 etc.; 83-97, 98-110]
“Roosevelt discovered Germany’s plans for the invasion of Russian through a [Japanese diplomatic] Purple [code] intercept on June 14, 1941.” [69. He informed Churchill immediately, or Churchill learned from shared intelligence. Churchill quotes his cable to FDR referring to it dated June 15 in his memoir, The Second World War, vol. 3]
Radio intercepts revealed the formation of the Japanese fleet near the Kuril Islands north of Japan beginning November 16, 1941 and tracked it across the Pacific to Hawaii from November 26 through the first week of December. [41-59 etc.]
On 22 November 1941, a week after the Japanese fleet began to assemble and four days before it set off for Hawaii, Adm. Ingersoll issued a “Vacant Sea” order that cleared the path of the Japanese fleet of all shipping, and on 25 November ordered Kimmel to withdraw his ships patrolling the area from which the aerial attack would be staged. [144-145]
Shortly before the Japanese attack, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Stark (one of the 34 Americans in on the plot) ordered Kimmel to dispatch his aircraft carriers with a large escort to deliver planes to Wake and Midway Islands. “On orders from Washington, Kimmel left his oldest vessels inside Pearl Harbor and sent twenty-one modern warships, including his two aircraft carriers, west toward Wake and Midway… With their departure the warships remaining in Pearl Harbor were mostly 27-year-old relics of World War I.” That is, the battleships sunk at Pearl Harbor and their crews were used as decoys. [152-154]
FDR kept close tabs on the plot’s final unfolding. [161-176]
“Pearl Harbor’s Battleship Row and its old dilapidated warships presented a mouth-watering target. But it was a major strategic mistake for the Empire. Japan’s 360 warplanes should have concentrated on Pearl Harbor’s massive oil stores … and destroyed the industrial capacity of the Navy’s dry docks, machine shops, and repair facilities…. By the Battle of Midway in June 1942, America had regained the offensive; repaired US warships staged from the relatively undamaged Pearl Harbor naval base [as well as the modern fleet absent during the attack], sank four of the aircraft carriers that had attacked them six months before.”  At the Battles of Midway and Coral Sea, a month earlier, the US Navy permanently destroyed the offensive capacity of the Japanese Navy in the eastern Pacific, and permanently crippled its defensive capacity in the western Pacific. [George N. Crocker, Roosevelt’s Road To Russia (Chicago, Regnery, 1959) 166] Thus there was no possibility thereafter of a Japanese attack or invasion of the West Coast, and this was known several months before the internment of West Coast Japanese American citizens commenced in August 1942.
The coverup of the operation commenced immediately afterward, continued through eight Congressional investigations during and just after the war, with the purging and withholding of documents and false testimony by participants and others [253-260 & passim; 309-310], and persisted through the Congressional hearings chaired by Strom Thurmond in 1995 [257-258]. At the date of publication (2000) numerous documents were still withheld from Stinnett or released in extensively censored form, and the pretense that the Japanese naval codes had not been deciphered and that the Japanese fleet maintained radio silence was still being maintained.
This article originally appeared on Washingtonsblog
About: Diogenes is an over-educated American landless peasant. His great-grandfather, a co-operative orchardist, helped California progressives overturn Southern Pacific’s corporate political machine in 1910. He thinks this advance needs to be re-established and greatly extended, nationally, not reversed. He regards progressive successes in many states during this era as a recommendation for their non-partisan grassroots methods of public education and legislative action and for their targeting of the legal enablements of financial predation, and he considers it crucial to extract lessons for the present from their history of defeats and failures as well as of successes, and to understand the methods by which they were thwarted, the better to succeed in the future.