Robert Stinnett, author of Day of Deceit: The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor, discusses how he found the McCollum memo outlining the FDR administrations eight step plan to provoke a Japanese attack while searching through the National Archives; the radio listening stations that intercepted the Japanese fleets coded transmissions, earlier decrypted by the US; official orders from Naval command to stand aside and let the attack happen; and Stinnetts new work-in-progress book, dealing in part with whether Admiral Kimmels was complicit or framed-up.
This interview is excerpted from the KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles broadcast of December 10th. The entire half hour segment can be heard here.
This interview of Robert Stinnett, author of Day of Deceit: The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor, covers much of the same material from his previous interview of December 7th. There are additional discussions about Stinnettâs 1982 discovery of Pearl Harborâs cryptographic listening station, the reclassification of WWII era documents following the PATRIOT Actâs passage and other topics of interest.
Scott Horton: For KPFK 90.7 FM in Los Angeles, Iâm Scott Horton. This is Antiwar Radio.
All right, yâall, welcome to the show. This is Antiwar Radio, Pacifica 90.7 FM in Los Angeles, 90 something point all kinds of things all across Southern California. I am Scott Horton. I have archives of my interviews going all the way back to 2003 at scotthortonshow.com, more than 1500 interviews there, and approximately that number at antiwar.com/radio. I keep all my foreign policy interview archives there for your listening enjoyment.
And now this week marked the 69th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, and around this time of year I always like to interview Robert Stinnett. He is a fellow at The Independent Institute. He is a biographer of George Bush, Senior, author of the book George Bushâs World War II Years, and wrote in 1999 Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor. Welcome to the show, Robert. How are you doing, sir?
Robert Stinnett: Doing fine, and thank you for inviting me.
Scott Horton: I really appreciate you spending time with us tonight on the show. And real quick, I want to give one footnote out. If people will just google âDay of Deceit,â of course theyâll find the return for your book for sale all over the place, but theyâll also find a blog entry at antiwar.com that I wrote back in 2005 that has links to all kinds of important information, and especially down at the bottom it has a link to The Independent Instituteâs Pearl Harbor resources page, which is absolutely invaluable. So I wanted to turn people on to that. So now, very briefly, Mr. Stinnett, if we could talk a little bit about your history and your service in the Navy. You fought in World War II in the Pacific theater, isnât that right?
Robert Stinnett: Yeah, thatâs right. I was in the Pacific Fleet for the whole war.
Scott Horton: And contrary, I guess I should say, to the typical smear this time of year â we can always read it on the editorial pages at the beginning of every December that crusty old Franklin Roosevelt haters who just canât get over what a great president he was always trot out this myth that he knew about the Pearl Harbor attack before it happened and they just ride this hobbyhorse even though itâs not true â and yet you say in your book and youâve told me in previous interviews that youâre not a crusty old FDR hater at all and in fact, even though you proved the case in your book that he did in fact know about the impending attack on Pearl Harbor before it happened, that you think that that was justified on his part.
Robert Stinnett: Well, I donât know that I would use the word justified. I would say that was the only option he had, and so he wanted to end the isolation movement in this country that didnât want anything to do with Europeâs war. It was not called World War II as yet, it was still Europeâs war until the Pearl Harbor attack. So he adopted a Navy plan to get Japan to attack us at Pearl Harbor, and it was a backdoor approach to war really with Germany.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. Well, and you told me before though that you think that he really did have to do it, as you say just there he had no option, but you think that the consequences of doing nothing would have been far more disastrous and therefore it was worth it, right?
Robert Stinnett: Well, what was happening in 1940 when he adopted this, in October 1940 Germany was bombing London daily and nightly and was assembling invasion forces to invade England, and they surely would have overpowered the English and seized the British fleet and then merged it with the Nazi navy, and then could have come over here and threatened the United States and got English possessions in Bermuda, in the Caribbean and so forth. So Roosevelt had no other option except to get Japan to attack us and that would then trigger the link between Germany, Italy and Japan called the Tripartite Pact, where one another would come if they were attacked by another nation not in the war. That sort of sounds complicated, but it was a backdoor approach to get us in.
Scott Horton: Mmm. Well I just wanted to establish that this is revisionism without a grudge, rather than, you know, the way it might be portrayed and in fact the way it has been portrayed in some book reviews and so forth. So I think thatâs an important point about your motive in writing this book. Now, tell me, when was it that you decided that you wanted to, as a historian, take a fresh look at what happened at Pearl Harbor?
Robert Stinnett: Well, when I read in a â in 1982, I read in a book by Gordon Prange that the U.S. Navy had a cryptography monitor station at Pearl Harbor that was serving the Pacific Fleet, and this was prior to December 7th, and it had been operating for a number of years and was giving Admiral Kimmel intercepts â these are, by word intercepted, they were listening into the Japanese Navy orders sending their warships to Pearl Harbor and also to Southeast Asia. And I had never heard of that before. I was in the Pacific Fleet and I didnât need to know that and under the need-to-know basis this was a â not what I would get into. So thatâs why it got me interested. I wanted to know more about it.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. Well, and even though you werenât in the need-to-know loop during the war, it seems like they could have told the truth after the war, but they didnât. They lied for decades about the extent to which they had broken the Japanese code. Isnât that right?
Robert Stinnett: That is right. The breaking the codes is the important thing to know, and itâs still secret. You still canât get a lot of records out, and even though Iâve written personally to President Obama to release the records, heâs not replied to my requests.
Scott Horton: All right, it is Antiwar Radio on Pacifica 90.7 FM in Los Angeles, and Iâm speaking with Robert Stinnett, author of the book Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor. And now, ever since John T. Flynn, and maybe even before that, there have been people who accused Franklin Roosevelt of having prior knowledge of that attack and turning a blind eye to it, but the case was really close to you with the final Freedom of Information Act dump in 1999, correct? What was it that you found in there that was the ironclad proof that you thought would be the capstone to your book, Day of Deceit?
Robert Stinnett: Well, it was released to me the overt act of war plan that the U.S. Navy presented by Admiral â
Scott Horton: Youâre speaking of the McCollum memo, Arthur McCollumâs memo.
Robert Stinnett: Yes. But it antagonized James Richardson, Admiral Richardson, who heard about the McCollum memo, and when he met with President Roosevelt in the Oval Office â Roosevelt had called him from Hawaii on October 8, 1940 â this was a year before Pearl Harbor â and told him theyâre going to, he wanted to keep the fleet in Pearl Harbor as a lure to Japan. Well, the admiral blew up at him and said that the officers in the Navy donât have any confidence in your judgment. And that made Roosevelt furious. He fired Admiral Richardson and put in Admiral Kimmel in the Pacific Fleet. So I hope youâre following all of this, but it â it was really to put the overt act of war into policy.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. And so, to make sure I understand you there, youâre saying when Commander Arthur McCollum of Naval Intelligence, when he wrote up his eight-point plan of how to provoke Japan into attacking us, that the admiral above him balked and didnât want to go along, and so at that point that was what made Franklin Roosevelt fire him and hire Admiral Kimmel to replace him.
Robert Stinnett: Yeah, thatâs correct.
Scott Horton: Okay. And then so now can you take us through this McCollum memo? Iâll urge anyone and everyone in the audience to go to your favorite search engine and just type in McCollum memo and you can find itâs an eight-point plan lettered A through H here, how to provoke Japan into committing the first overt act of war, firing the first shot, as Henry Stimson said.
Robert Stinnett: Yes. That is correct, Scott, and among the eight provocations, one was to send U.S. cruiser forces into Japanese territorial waters. The other was to keep the fleet at Pearl Harbor as a lure and also to send submarine forces, and then a variety of embargoes that were imposed on Japan, that theoretically was to keep them from making war. But they did give them enough, President Roosevelt did allow enough oil to be given to Japan so it would last them until about November 1943. So while we had an embargo, there really wasnât; Japan was getting the oil they needed to have the overt act of war.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. So, it wasnât enough of an embargo to actually cripple their ability to wage war, just enough to anger them and help provoke them.
Robert Stinnett: They had enough oil to fuel their warships until about November 1943, and thatâs when we really started our offensive against Japan at Tarawa.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. Now, in your book I believe you say, Mr. Stinnett, that Admiral Kimmel and General Short both were cut out of the loop of information, that the cryptographers at Hawaii were actually funneling the information to Washington D.C. but it wasnât coming back again, and yet when we spoke recently you said that you have new information which indicates that Admiral Kimmel was in fact in the loop.
Robert Stinnett: Yes he was. There were about a thousand Japanese naval messages intercepted each day in the area of Pearl Harbor, and a summary was made of these messages and these were given to Admiral Kimmel by his cryptographic officer, so this is what Iâm investigating now is why this was allowed to happen and Kimmel is looking the other way.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm All right, now, Iâm Scott Horton. Itâs Antiwar Radio. Iâm talking with Robert Stinnett from The Independent Institute, author of Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor. And now, Mr. Stinnett, when I was a kid, I learned what a great stroke of luck it was that all of Americaâs best ships, the aircraft carriers especially, were out at sea that day and that only the remnants of the World War I fleet were left in harbor at Pearl Harbor and how the war might have gone very differently in the Pacific had that not been the case. Was that just luck, or this was part of the prior knowledge, that they got their best ships out of the way but left enough to make a real sacrifice to change that 80% against war to 80% for it?
Robert Stinnett: Yes, that is what happened. Our two â there were two carrier task forces of about 30 warships. Those two were our most modern warships, and they were there at Pearl Harbor. But they were sent out of the harbor just about four or five days before December 7th, and ostensibly it was an excuse to deliver some airplanes to Wake Island and to Midway Island. But one delivery was made to Midway, but the one other carrier task force just sailed around and didnât go anywhere. And the whole idea was to keep, so our modern ships would not be damaged. What was hit at Pearl Harbor by the Japanese were the old World War I battleships and other warships that were outmoded.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. Well now, a lot of Franklin Rooseveltâs defenders over the decades have said that, âWell, we thought that there might be an attack, but they thought it would be at the Philippines, and so we were prepared to defend the Philippines but just got taken by surprise.â Is that correct?
Robert Stinnett: Well, no. Because you see the monitor station, the cryptography station at Pearl Harbor, also had radio direction finders aimed at the Japanese warships, so they knew where they were, and we had points in Alaska and on the West Coast of the United States that we could pinpoint them in the North Pacific. And thatâs what was done beginning on November 26th, 1941, and Washington, once they realized that the Japanese fleet was heading towards Pearl Harbor and was in the North Pacific, they declared it a vacant sea, which kept all warships out of the vacant sea, meaning American warships and British warships. The only warships allowed were the Japanese warships that proceeded to cross over the North Pacific and then come down the 157th longitude which headed to Pearl Harbor.
Scott Horton: Well, you know Iâm wondering how did the Secretary of War, George Marshall, ever pretend that really he was just out horseback riding with his grandson and had no idea that any of this was going on. I mean, that story didnât even hold up at the time, did it?
Robert Stinnett: Well, it did during the war, but people, there were doubts of it during the wartime, and then it, the whole thing was that he did not want to interfere with the Japanese attack where it would look like we had maneuvered Japan into doing it. That was the big secret that I discovered in the National Archives. General Marshall, Admiral King, who was the head of the Navy, they were all part of this act, but they felt that this was the only way to get us into the European war was to have an attack so atrocious by Japan that it would unite America, and thatâs what happened.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. Well, and maybe Iâm just 21st Century cynical, but it just seems like a pretty transparent alibi on the part of these men.
Robert Stinnett: Oh, it is, yeah it is, but no one questioned them at the time.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. Now, I believe the first time we spoke back in 2003 or 4, Mr. Stinnett, you told me that your research into the Pearl Harbor attack and more, other stories about World War II including FDRâs putting the concentration camps in Europe on the Do Not Bomb No Matter What list, and you told me that because of the Patriot Act, the government had reclassified files from 60 and 70 years ago and were preventing you from completing the research you had already gotten underway on.
Robert Stinnett: Yes, that is correct. Thereâs still Pearl Harbor secret documents in National Archives, thereâs tens of thousands of them that have been withdrawn and historians are not allowed to see them. And I object to that, and Iâm trying to get those released, but I have not had any luck with it. But fortunately I got the McCollum memo that you talked about earlier, and that really told what was really going on.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. Well, you know, a lot of people have tried to make the case over the years, and I think that your book is the final beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt treatment of the subject, and although it hasnât been completely put to rest yet, Iâm glad to give you the opportunity to tell people about your book and what you found in it on the show tonight, so thank you very much, Mr. Stinnett. Appreciate it.
Robert Stinnett: My pleasure.
Scott Horton: Everybody, that is Robert Stinnett. Heâs a fellow at The Independent Institute. Heâs the author of George Bushâs World War II Years and Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor. You can check out the Pearl Harbor resources page at independent.org.
Robert Stinnett, author of Day of Deceit: The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor, discusses how FDR provoked and allowed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in order to rally the American people to support US entry in WWII; the provocative McCollum memo that proposed an 8-part strategy to isolate and weaken Japan; new evidence that shows Admiral Kimmel was indeed privy to FDRâs plans; and how â despite what some skeptics say â the Japanese naval and diplomatic codes were broken before the Pearl Harbor attack.
Scott Horton: All right, yâall, welcome to the show. Back to it, I should say. Itâs Pearl Harbor Day so itâs time to speak again with Robert Stinnett. Heâs a historian and fellow at The Independent Institute. Heâs the author of the biography George Bush: His World War II Years â thatâs George H.W. Bush, of course, his World War II years â and heâs the author of the book Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor. And I would like to recommend that you just put âDay of Deceitâ into your search engine and somewhere on that first page youâll find an entry that I wrote five years ago at the blog at antiwar.com, and the reason Iâd especially like you to look at that is because at the very bottom is a link to The Independent Instituteâs Pearl Harbor resources page, and on that page you can be directed to just about every good piece of journalism, every good essay ever written, as well as a lot of primary sources as well. Again, the book is Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor. Welcome to the show, Robert. How are you doing?
Robert Stinnett: Iâm doing fine. Thank you for inviting me.
Scott Horton: I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with us today. So I guess first of all we need to start out a little bit with your motivation here. I should have added in your introduction there, and I forgot to say, youâre a veteran of the Pacific war. You are a U.S. Navy veteran from World War II. Isnât that right?
Robert Stinnett: Yeah, thatâs right. I was aboard the Pacific Fleet carriers.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. And I think youâve told me since 2003 or 2004 when we first spoke that you think that the setup, basically the blind eye turned to the approaching attack on Pearl Harbor, the case for which youâve proved beyond any shadow of a doubt, in my opinion, in your book Day of Deceit, was actually justified, that you still believe that the war in Europe was so necessary that what FDR did at Pearl Harbor was tough but itâs what he had to do. Is that right?
Robert Stinnett: Well, thatâs right. He provoked Japan into attacking us so that we could really get back at Hitler. It was a backdoor approach to war.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. But you approve of that backdoor approach.
Robert Stinnett: Well, I donât know what other option he had. The option was to either do that or not, and what would have happened if Hitler had conquered the whole world?
Scott Horton: Now, the reason I wanted to focus on that at the beginning is because this time of year there are essays published in newspapers all over the place and the narrative goes that the only people who think this are crusty old right-wing demagogue types who just hate FDR and they push this myth of his treason just because they hate him, not because they think itâs really true. And so it seems important to me that, you know, not only do you support it, but you actually fought in the war, in the Navy, in the Pacific in World War II, in the war that was caused by this blind eye being turned. You had to make your own sacrifices for this, and youâre the furthest thing from some crusty old FDR hater. Youâre just a historian and the facts are the facts. Thereâs no ulterior motive or negative motive to tarnish FDRâs legacy or anything else behind your work here, correct?
Robert Stinnett: Thatâs right. I â President Roosevelt was the first president I voted for.
Scott Horton: All right. So now that we have that out of the way, how are you so certain, Mr. Stinnett, that FDR knew the attack on Pearl Harbor was coming, that he had deliberately provoked it, and that he turned a blind eye and let it occur â
Robert Stinnett: Because in â
Scott Horton: â without adequate warning to the commanders in Hawaii?
Robert Stinnett: Because in October 8th, 1940 â this is 14 months before Pearl Harbor â he adopted a U.S. Navy plan to provoke Japan into attacking us at Pearl Harbor, and there were eight provocations to be aimed at Japan, including sending U.S. cruiser task forces into Japanese territory, keeping the fleet based in Hawaii so it would be a lure to Japan, and instituted embargoes of oil, natural resources and so forth to really cut off Japanâs access to war activities.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. Youâre speaking of the McCollum memo.
Robert Stinnett: Thatâs right.
Scott Horton: Now can you tell us who was McCollum, and are you certain that FDR in doing these policies was actually reading from this McCollum list of what is to be done?
Robert Stinnett: Yes. Arthur McCollum was a Lieutenant Commander, and he was head of the Far East desk of the U.S. Navy in 1940 and â41, and he came up with this plan to get in through the back door because Japan, Italy and Germany had signed a Tripartite Treaty that they would come to one anotherâs aid if they were attacked by another nation, so this was the plan.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. And then I believe you write in the book that thereâs really very little question that Franklin Roosevelt actually followed this plan, A through H, step by step.
Robert Stinnett: Well, thatâs right. He was Commander in Chief of the U.S. Navy as well as the Army and the Marines, and he sent American cruisers into Japanese territory to really tick off the Japanese war powers.
Scott Horton: And now part of this actually was to send submarines to the coast right off of Tokyo and to surface, basically to intimidate the Japanese as well.
Robert Stinnett: I have no records that he sent submarines. He sent cruiser divisions, which one of the task forces ran into the mouth of the Inland Sea in Japan. They were caught by Japanese forces there and they retreated. But they also went into the Marshall Islands in the Central Pacific.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. Now, we all learned as little kids that the Americans just hadnât broken the codes or not enough of the codes and that FDR could not have known that the ships were actually on their way to Pearl Harbor. Is that not correct?
Robert Stinnett: The U.S. Navy started breaking the Japanese naval code. People get confused. There were two codes. One was a diplomatic code and the other is the navy code, and we had broke, we admitted breaking the diplomatic code but not the navy code.
Scott Horton: Right, but then what you found out, and I think you told me before, this is what got you interested in this story is that this is what youâd been told, that they had broken the diplomatic but not the military code â
Robert Stinnett: That is right.
Scott Horton: â and that when you found out that in fact the navy codes had been broken, that was what set you on this path to write this book back in the early 1980s, correct?
Robert Stinnett: That is right. I had to get the documentation and it was very difficult at the time because there was a huge cover-up to keep this from the American public, and the world, for that matter, that we had broken the Japanese naval codes.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. And now I believe you write in your book, sir, that Admiral Kimmel and General Short, I think they were the commanders in charge there in Hawaii, and I think you say that the men who were actually decrypting, men and women actually decrypting the military codes, were beneath Admiral Kimmel and yet â they were under his authority, and yet he was cut out of the loop, that their information was going to Washington D.C. but it was not coming back to the highest levels of naval command in Hawaii. Is that correct?
Robert Stinnett: Thatâs what I learned in the 1980s, but Iâm getting new information now that President Roosevelt called Admiral Kimmel to the Oval Office in June 1941 and apparently told him about this, because Admiral Kimmel was claiming he was not getting information. But neither the White House or Admiral Kimmel or his family have released information on that.
Scott Horton: Mmm! Okay. Well, thatâs a very interesting point, a great place to pick it up on the other side of this break, whether Kimmel was in on this with Franklin Roosevelt to turn that blind eye at Pearl Harbor 69 years ago today. Itâs Robert Stinnett, author of Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor. Weâll be right back on Antiwar Radio.
– break –
Scott Horton: All right, yâall, welcome back to the show. Itâs Antiwar Radio on the Liberty Radio Network. Weâre talking with Robert Stinnett, fellow at The Independent Institute, thatâs independent.org, where you can find the Pearl Harbor archive, and heâs the author of the book Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor. And when we had to go out to break there, Robert, you were saying that new information would tend to indicate that FDR had shared the truth of the existence of the naval codes with Admiral Kimmel.
Robert Stinnett: Well, Admiral Kimmel was protesting to Washington from his Pearl Harbor headquarters that he was not getting the information, so he was recalled to Washington, met with the president in the Oval Office in June 1941, and had a two-hour meeting with him. And then after that he never protested again, though claiming post war that he did not get any information, but he was getting information by Joseph Rochefort, who was the chief cryptographer for the Pacific Fleet in 1941.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. So is it now your understanding then, or your belief, that Admiral Kimmel also turned a blind eye along with Franklin Roosevelt?
Robert Stinnett: I think that Roosevelt probably convinced him that it was necessary to make the Pacific Fleet a lure to Japan as it was to end the isolation movement in this country so he could really get to war with Germany. Thatâs what he wanted to do.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. All right, now, I have Time magazine, theyâve really put almost their entire archive, perhaps their entire archive online, and this article is from April 1st, although itâs no foolâs joke, 1946: âNational Affairs: Pearl Harbor: Henry Stimsonâs View,â and itâs excerpts from Secretary of War Henry Stimsonâs diary, and he writes here that the president, November 25th, 1941: âThe president brought up the event that we were likely to be attacked, perhaps as soon as next Monday, for the Japanese are notorious for making an attack without warning, and the question was, what should we do? The question was how we should maneuver them into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.â So, I guess you could spin this, Mr. Stinnett, I think, as saying, âWell they didnât want to send the fleet out to meet them on the high seas because then it would look like we were the bad guys. We had to let them go ahead and knock us one really hard on the chin or else weâd have been the aggressor.â Although it seems like if theyâre in the ocean on their way, clearly on their way to Hawaii, an American territory at that point, I almost wonder why do you think that they thought it was necessary to actually let the attack take place in such a devastating fashion? Surely if they had been, you know, a few miles out from Pearl Harbor or within airplane range of Pearl Harbor with their aircraft carriers and our navy had met them on the high seas then, that could have been a defensive maneuver, right?
Robert Stinnett: Yes, that is correct. However, the president wanted such a dastardly act that it would really cause the American people to be so outraged that they would work for war, and thatâs what happened. Americans â the attacks took place on December 7th. The next day Americans by the millions flocked to join the military units like the Navy, the Army and the Marine Corps.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. Well, now, so, at the time that this happened, George Marshall was the Secretary of War, right?
Robert Stinnett: George Marshall was Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army.
Scott Horton: Right. Right. Okay. Iâm sorry. I always get that mixed up, who â
Robert Stinnett: Yeah.
Scott Horton: He became the Secretary of War later, and then â
Robert Stinnett: Secretary of State, as I recall.
Scott Horton: â he became Secretary of State, right?
Robert Stinnett: Yeah.
Scott Horton: Uh huh. Under Truman. All right, Iâm sorry. I wasnât around back then. Itâs harder for me to remember than it is â (laughs)
Robert Stinnett: I understand.
Scott Horton: All right.
Robert Stinnett: So we are on November 28th that you mentioned, that was the day that Roosevelt sent out an order to all the Pacific commanders to stand aside and let Japan commit the first overt act. He told them specifically, âDonât go on the offensive. Remain in a defensive mode.â And the commanders in the Philippines and Pearl Harbor acknowledged that they would do that.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. Well, now, FDRâs defenders say, âWell, maybe he had reason to suspect an attack was coming somewhere sometime, but he thought it was going to be at the Philippines and thatâs why he was taken by surprise when they attacked Hawaii.â
Robert Stinnett: Well, we had 25 monitor stations in the Pacific Basin, from San Diego to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and down the China coast between Singapore, and these were monitoring the Japanese navy away force. And the commander broke radio silence, he did not have radio silence, and was heard by the monitor station. And so President Roosevelt declared the North Pacific vacant sea and ordered all warships out of the North Pacific, except of course the Japanese. They had free rein to attack Hawaii.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. Now I learned as a child that it was a lucky coincidence that the newest and best American ships, the aircraft carriers and so forth, were out at sea that day and it was basically the old junk from World War I sitting in Pearl Harbor. Are you telling me that that wasnât a lucky coincidence?
Robert Stinnett: That was, thatâs exactly what happened. Our carriers and air forces were â which were the most modern vessels in the Navy â were sent out of Pearl Harbor ostensibly to deliver warplanes to Midway. One of the task forces just sailed around Hawaii. One force did deliver 12 planes to Midway Island. But it was an excuse to get our most modern ships out of Pearl Harbor, so the targets for the Japanese were the old battleships of World War I.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. And now I mentioned that I wrote a blog five years ago at antiwar.com/blog called âDay of Deceitâ that is a write-up about your book and links to important footnotes, especially the Pearl Harbor archive at independent.org. But it also includes a letter that I got from Patrick D. Weadon, curator of the National Cryptologic Museum, disputing your claim, and he says that your book is, quote, âbased on faulty evidence.â He says that you claim âthat the Allies broke the top Japanese naval code (JN25) prior to December 7th 1941. This is nonsense. Small parts of JN25 were cracked in the early 40s but JN25-B (the upgraded code which was used by the Japanese Navy in the days and months leading up to Pearl Harbor) was not cracked until the spring of 1942.â
Robert Stinnett: No, thatâs not true. First of all, the Japanese called their naval operations code Code Book D. We called it the Five Number Code. This was in 1941 and 1942. We never called it JN25. That was a phony excuse that was, is a cover-up that was issued after the surrender in August 1945. So there was never any JN25 except in the fertile minds of the cover-up artists.
Scott Horton: I see. And yes you say that in your response in this old blog entry that Mr. Weadon is relying on 1950 information for his observations, and if I remember right, Strom Thurmond in the U.S. Senate held hearings in 1995 about Pearl Harbor, but the real sweet stuff, the final case proven, was released to you under the Freedom of Information Act in 1999, right?
Robert Stinnett: Yes. That is correct. The Japanese name for it â this is important for your listeners to know â was Code Book D, and we called it the Five Number Code in 1941. And thatâs the one that we broke, not JN25. Thatâs just a phony baloney.
Scott Horton: Yeah. A red herring.
Robert Stinnett: Red herring.
Scott Horton: Yeah. All right. So, everyone, again, itâs Robert Stinnett. The book is called Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor. You can find numerous links at independent.org. If you just do search site independent.org Pearl Harbor, youâll find a hundred entries. Heâs got an article at antiwar.com about it. You can read John T. Flynnâs old essay about it, and lots of great resources, the case proved, Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor, and it includes this pseudocriticism from the curator of the National Cryptologic Museum and as well as Robert Stinnettâs response. So I highly encourage all of you to read all of that and, and from now on, yeah, be suspicious about surprise attacks, you know? This is the way our government operates. Theyâre willing to turn a blind eye and let us be hurt by the thousands in order that they may carry out broader agendas. The ends justify the means. And thereâs reason for us to be vigilant in our critical thinking to prevent being taken by such schemes, it would seem to me. I want to thank you very much for your time on the show today, Mr. Stinnett. I hope we get a few more books sold and a few more minds woken up to these facts. Thank you very much.
Robert Stinnett: Very interesting talking with you. Thank you so much.
Scott Horton: That is Robert Stinnett from The Independent Institute, author of Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor.
Robert B. Stinnett, World War II Pacific US Navy veteran and author of Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor, discusses the treason of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in approving a policy to force Japan into striking first and deliberately allowing their navy to strike ours at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Scott Horton: Hi, my friends, welcome back to Antiwar Radio and KAOS Radio 95.9 in Austin, Texas. And our guest today is Robert B. Stinnett. Heâs the author of the book Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor.
Welcome to the show, sir.
Robert Stinnett: Thank you.
Scott Horton: Very good to talk to you again. Itâs been a couple of years. And, itâs a very important story and I think one that, well for one major reason is â well for two major reasons, I guess, is best told by you, Mr. Stinnett, and that is, one, youâre the guy who got the Freedom of Information Act records and proved it, but secondly, you justify Rooseveltâs behavior in the attack at Pearl Harbor as being necessary, and I think most people who would accuse Roosevelt of prior knowledge and deliberately turning a blind eye to the impending attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941 would be people more like me who are not so much champions of his legacy, and so I guess Iâd like to start if I could with getting you to explain your position on why you believe, first of all, that what youâre going to explain to us is a fact today, that Roosevelt in fact did allow Pearl Harbor to occur. is justified considering the circumstances at the outbreak of World War II.
Robert Stinnett: Yes, no, thatâs a very good question, and itâs really come to the forefront since the Iraq war. What President Roosevelt faced in 1940, thatâs when he first approved the overt act of war policy and put it in motion. It was a plan by the U.S. Navy to provoke Japan into attacking us at Pearl Harbor. And thatâs the secret document that focuses on what he was actually after. It was to end the isolation movement in this country, because Americans didnât want to have anything to do with Europeâs war. But Japan and Germany about 10 days earlier, on September 27, 1940, signed the Tripartite Pact in which they agreed that if they got into a state of war with another country not yet in the war, meaning the United States, then they would come to one anotherâs aid. So that was the policy that President Roosevelt adopted in an Oval Office meeting with the fleet commander. And the fleet commander blew up at it, at the president, told him the Navy doesnât have any confidence in you. Well the admiral was fired and Admiral Kimmel was given command of the Pacific Fleet on February 1st, 1941. And the overt act of war plan was quickly adopted not only by the United States but also Japan. Somehow it got leaked to Japan and a month later in November 1940 Japan appointed Admiral Yamamoto to be the commander in chief of the Japanese navy. That was the operating chief. He was under the navy minister, who was really the command. But Admiral Yamamoto then began planning a carrier attack on Pearl Harbor, and the plan leaked to the U.S. Embassy in January 1941. This is two months later. And the ambassador, Joseph Grew, in Tokyo sent to Washington the message that Japan was planning a carrier attack on Pearl Harbor. Well, the next information coming in was in April of 1941, when Japan formed a carrier task force, and we intercepted the, the â we would call it the planning and the maneuvers that the carrier task force was going from April 1941 till December 7th, all under the surveillance, the electronic surveillance of the radio cryptographers in the Pacific Basin.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. And now youâre saying all this as a historian but also as a man who served in the Pacific in World War II, right?
Robert Stinnett: Yes, thatâs right. I was in the United States Navyâs carrier task force, the main task force attacking the Japanese navy at that time.
Scott Horton: And I think you told me before, sir, that you overheard somewhere in 1980 or thereabouts someone mention some Japanese military codes that had been broken that you thought, âWait a minute,â because you remembered in your own time in the Navy that you were only operating off of this or that information and now you were finding out decades later that in fact they had broken much more important codes and knew much more about the Japanese navyâs behavior all throughout the war.
Robert Stinnett: Well, thatâs right, Scott. I had read a book called At Dawn We Slept in 1982, and in it they said that the U.S. Navy had an electronic monitoring station at Pearl Harbor that was intercepting the Japanese Navy radio dispatches prior to Pearl Harbor. Well I had never heard that before. We were always told aboard our carrier that our submarines had sighted Japanese fleet units, and then we would go and attack them, but actually they were getting it from these intercepts of the fleet. That interested me. I wanted to know more about that station, and I was working at the Oakland Tribune at the time and the editor agreed and sent me to Pearl Harbor, and the Navy allowed me â I filed an FOIA, thatâs a Freedom of Information Act request â to see the station, and I met the cryptographers there, who told me how they did it and where I could find these records.
Scott Horton: And now in your book, Day of Deceit, 1999, you refer to hearings held by Senator Strom Thurmond in 1995.
Robert Stinnett: Yes.
Scott Horton: And in fact Iâve heard people, debunkers of the Pearl Harbor blind eye story, I guess, say that, âOh, come on, Strom Thurmond held hearings in 1995 and didnât have any hard evidence.â So what do you have that Strom Thurmond didnât have?
Robert Stinnett: Well, the Strom Thurmond hearing was a joint investigation by both the Senate and the House, similar to the one in 1945 and â46, but in both congressional investigations â and I emphasize this is a joint investigation, it was a top investigation â all of this intercept material was withheld. It was withheld in 1945, â46, and again in 1995.
Scott Horton: Now did Senator Thurmond know that it was being withheld from him?
Robert Stinnett: Thereâs no record that that was even asked or even questioned about. So at the same time that the Navy was releasing to me these very classified records â I first started getting them in January 1995, so theoretically these were available to the Thurmond joint committee, but they were not introduced or even discussed, and Admiral Kimmelâs family didnât ask that they be brought, which I thought was an error on their part.
Scott Horton: Mmm. And now, Iâm sorry because Iâm probably, Iâm getting off into the details a little too much maybe and not asking you about the big picture here. Is it basically the case that what weâre looking at is that General Kimmel and Admiral Short (sic), who were in command at Hawaii, that there was information about the impending attack that people in Washington D.C. knew about but they did not, and are you telling me that they were deliberately cut out of the loop of information so that they were left deliberately unable to defend Pearl Harbor that day?
Robert Stinnett: Well, Admiral Kimmel had his own radio cryptographers there, and they were giving him information, intercepts from the Japanese fleet. Washington D.C. was also getting the information. They cut off the information to him, to Admiral Kimmel.
Scott Horton: From his own cryptographers?
Robert Stinnett: Well, no. The cryptographers summarized each day â there were about a thousand intercepts obtained by the cryptographers, and they would summarize all of this for Admiral Kimmel, and the summary would be on the top of these 1,000 documents. And the crucial day was on November 25th Hawaii time, when the Japanese fleet left Japan for Hawaii. This included six aircraft carriers and another 20 or 30 warships that were going to attack Pearl Harbor. And the commander of the carrier force was in extensive radio communications with the invasion force that was going to hit Wake and Guam, and also the submarine force. So Admiral Kimmel became alarmed about that, went to the basement where the headquarters of the intercept facility was, questioned the cryptographers and realized what was happening, and sent a warning to Washington D.C. But the reply from Washington D.C. was, âDonât go on the offensive. Remain in defensive motion, for the United States desires Japan commit the first overt act.â And overt act is the policy that the president had adopted a year earlier. And that is crucial. You know, thatâs another smoking gun on Pearl Harbor.
Scott Horton: Right. Itâs basically, itâs saying, âWe want a war but we want to force them to shoot first.â
Robert Stinnett: They wanted Japan to fire the first shot in this overt act. Because from a political standpoint, President Roosevelt was under criticism for his leading America into war. Because he had sent our warships into the North Atlantic and also our cargo ships carrying supplies to Great Britain. And the destroyers were sunk by German submarines. One of them was the USS Reuben James, which was sunk in October 1941, about six weeks before Pearl Harbor. But that did not arouse Americans at all. That was a âHo hum, thereâs Roosevelt again trying to get us into war,â and they did not bite on that.
Scott Horton: They saw it as a pretext for war.
Robert Stinnett: They saw it as a pretext, thatâs right. But the president and his staff were very worried about what Germany was going to do in England, and if they could seize the British fleet, merge it with the Nazi navy and come over here and make war on the United States and Canada using Bermuda, a British territory, as a base to operate. It was a dangerous spot for America at that time.
Scott Horton: Do you really think that they were actually worried about that, that the Germans were going to be able to bring war to North America?
Robert Stinnett: Oh, yes, absolutely. Thatâs in the memo of October 7th by Lt. Cdr. Arthur McCollum pointing out that Germany was bombing London daily and night and were amassing landing barges on the French coast to seize Britain and put an embargo all around the island and then seize the British fleet. You know, that would have been a disaster for America.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. And now that McCollum memo, thatâs another all-important piece of evidence here, thatâs from the fall of 1940, correct?
Robert Stinnett: That is right. And that is the number one smoking gun of Pearl Harbor, because that set the overt act of war policy that the president adopted and issued executive orders carrying out many of the policies, these eight actions that McCollum said would cause Japan to commit an overt act of war.
Scott Horton: And now this guy McCollum, he had â well, refresh my memory, but if I remember right he had been stationed in Japan or had spent a lot of time in a diplomatic post there or something and so was very familiar with the culture of the Japanese government and what it would take to provoke them into going ahead and committing that first overt act.
Robert Stinnett: Thatâs right. He was the son of Baptist ministry who were covering, you know, religious services in Japan, so he was born in Japan and spoke the language and knew the culture before he was really into English, and then his parents or his father died and so he returned to the United States, went to school and was admitted to the Annapolis Naval Academy, graduated and was assigned to Tokyo in 1923 as a naval attachĂ©. Thatâs when the great earthquake was there. He led United States efforts to relieve Japanese misery, but the proud Japanese didnât really want any outsiders or anjins, a-n-j-i-n, meaning foreigners, in their country. But he did do what he could and he, you know, he instructed the royal family in how to dance the Charleston, and he had great contact with the Japanese leaders.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. And now I have the McCollum memo. Now he came back from Japan and was an intelligence officer in the United States Navy, right?
Robert Stinnett: Well, he had been a number of jobs, but mainly his interest was in intelligence and he was assigned to be commanding officer of the destroyer Jacob Jones, which was sent over to the coast of France and in the Mediterranean to eavesdrop on German navy communications. So thatâs when he first started. This was in 1939. He was very successful there, and then he came, he was called back to Washington and was named to be President Rooseveltâs intelligence officer for intercepts, in other words bringing the intercepts to the president.
Scott Horton: Oh! Now see thereâs something I didnât realize. McCollum actually, rather than being, you know, levels and levels down away from Roosevelt, he actually was in direct communication with Roosevelt, briefing Roosevelt on what naval intelligence was finding out.
Robert Stinnett: That is correct. He was the routing officer for President Roosevelt.
Scott Horton: Ah.
Robert Stinnett: And many times he himself would take the intercepts to the president, or other times it would be the naval aide who picked them up from the Navy Department and take them to the White House.
Scott Horton: Okay, now, I have here the McCollum memo which you say ended up becoming a batch of different executive orders carrying this out, and I just wanted to read shortly here from, itâs number 9. This is the eight-point plan. I think you say in the book they later expanded it to 10. Number 9 here from the memo:
It is not believed that in the present state of political opinion the United States government is capable of declaring war against Japan without more ado; and it is barely possible that vigorous action on our part might lead the Japanese to modify their attitudes. Therefore, the following course of action is suggested:
And Iâm sorry because this is very small print on the computer here Iâm trying to read.
A. Make an arrangement with Britain for the 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.
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 U.S. Fleet now in the Pacific in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands.
G. Insist that the Dutch refuse to grand Japanese demands for undue economic concessions, particularly oil.
H. Completely embargo all U.S. trade with Japan in collaboration with a similar embargo imposed by the British Empire.
And then the next sentence reads, sir, âIf by these means Japan could be led to commit an overt act of war, so much the better.â
Robert Stinnett: Thatâs right. Yes. And thatâs what President Roosevelt adopted the very next day.
Scott Horton: The very next day â you can trace his orders issued to this memo from the very next calendar day, sir?
Robert Stinnett: Yes. See, that memo that youâre reading from was dated October 7th, 1940, and the next day, October 8th, the president met in the Oval Office with the Fleet commander, Admiral Richardson, and thatâs when, as I said earlier, thatâs when the admiral blew up at the president when he learned that his fleet was to be a lure for a Japanese attack.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. And now, you know, these days our government puts sanctions on everybody all the time for various reasons, but back then to have a complete embargo on steel and oil was considered an act of war in the laws of nations, was it not?
Robert Stinnett: Well, it was regarded by the, Admiral Kimmelâs cryptographers, that he said, âYou better raise the red flag because the Japanese are going to be coming at us. This is going to bring them to attack us here at Pearl Harbor.â All the Navy people realized what was going on, the ones in the know.
Scott Horton: Now, when I was a kid, I learned that it was very lucky that the carriers, that the best of the American Navy was out at sea that day and that at Pearl Harbor were basically the obsolete ships, or mostly obsolete ships. First of all, is that right at all, that â
Robert Stinnett: Yes.
Scott Horton: â that those were the ships that were taken? And then secondly, was that luck or was that because somebody knew that we need to get the carriers out of here before the Japanese get here?
Robert Stinnett: Yes, youâre absolutely right there. Washington ordered Admiral Kimmel to take all the modern warships out of Pearl Harbor, that included the two carriers that were there and their supporting ships, maybe about 30 or 40 warships, and they were all out of the harbor and they went out on about November 25th, in that time, ostensibly to deliver aircraft to Wake Island and to Midway, but one carrier force just sailed around to be out of the harbor. So all that was left were the old World War I battleships that could only go about 18 knots and they could not keep up with the carriers. Carriers have to go 33 knots so they can launch planes.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. Well why didnât they at least take those World War I ships on, you know, I donât know, the evening of the 6th and at least get them out of the harbor â were they afraid that if they did that that the Japanese would call off the attack?
Robert Stinnett: Well that was â that is some of the speculation. Thereâs nothing, no â you know, there have been no reports that Iâve found, but some people have suggested that you could have left the battleships there, just take all the sailors off the ships and brought them into Honolulu or put them in barracks or something. But then that would have been seen by the Japanese naval spy that Japan had inserted into Honolulu and he may have notified the fleet that theyâre alert to you. But of course that didnât happen and the spy was reporting to the Japanese carrier fleet that the United States Navy was not on the alert. This is the final week, December 1st through the 6th. He sent two messages that theyâre not on alert here. Theyâre buying Christmas presents, and itâs all clear. This is his exact words, âAll clear for a surprise attack on these places.â
Scott Horton: Well, if you know that now, that must be from sources of people who knew that then at the time that he was sending those messages, right?
Robert Stinnett: Well, thatâs right. The radio cryptographers had intercepted these messages because he sent them over RCA cable services from Honolulu to Tokyo, and we had an arrangement with the RCA to get copies of the messages, and they were in a simple code but they could read them pretty much like you could read English.
Scott Horton: Now wasnât part of the story that J. Edgar Hoover knew about this spy and was trying to do something about him but the White House intervened or the military intervened?
Robert Stinnett: Well, Hoover had his agents, FBI agents, in Honolulu tracing him, I think they call it following him, and so they were reporting what he was doing, but they were told just to report, do nothing to interfere with his actions. And so they discovered that he was reporting the census of the fleet, you know, how many warships, how many carriers were in the harbor, the first part when he arrived from March 1941 to about August, and then after August he started reporting bomb plots of Pearl Harbor, that he divided the various anchorages into sections so that they could plan where to bomb the carriers, destroyers and so forth.
Scott Horton: And now was there intervention to keep Hoover from â oh, Iâm sorry, yes, you did say that, that they were called off.
Robert Stinnett: Oh, yes. Hoover tried to get a spy, but no they didnât want â they wanted to know what he was reporting and this showed that Japan was reacting to this overt act of war policy, action F, you see.
Scott Horton: Yeah. Iâm sorry, I was distracted because Iâm actually looking at the cover of the daily newspaper here in Austin, Texas, and the cover quote is a U.S. Navy veteran from Pearl Harbor, and the headline says, ââIt didnât seem real,ââ says Pearl Harbor veteran.â And I guess thereâs a little more to that than he may know. Let me ask you, Mr. Stinnett, about MacArthur and the guys at the Philippines. Did they â they just sat back and let the Japanese fleet sail past them to hit Pearl Harbor?
Robert Stinnett: Well, the Hawaiian commanders, that was General MacArthur, and the admiral there was â Iâve forgotten his name at the moment, but they were both given the same order as Admiral Kimmel and General Short: Stand aside and let Japan commit the first overt act. And thatâs what General MacArthur did, and so did the Navy commander there. General MacArthur kept all of his aircraft on the ground at Clark Field and the admiral kept all of his submarines submerged in Manila Bay. And the idea was to not go on the offense, let Japan commit the first act. And that was the direct order from Washington D.C. that was sent on November 27th, 1941.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. So you can prove that MacArthur received that memo?
Robert Stinnett: Oh, yes. He sent a message back to Washington, âReceived your message and itâs all clear for a successful defense,â and I have that document printed in my book.
Scott Horton: Incredible. Now, to the justification. Iâm â forgive me if this sounds to me like the greatest treason in the history of all mankind, and Hitler conquering Europe or no Hitler conquering Europe, it seems that this is just the most unforgivable human behavior imaginable. How could you justify this, Mr. Stinnett?
Robert Stinnett: Well, that, you know, many people, I mention on my book tour, say the same thing as you just said here, but as I say in my book, what other option did the president have? Does he sacrifice men, or do you sacrifice the whole nation of 200 million people, you know? Thatâs the dilemma that he had. And so he decided to order this overt act of war, and there were 3,000 people killed at Pearl Harbor, that was both military and civilians, but most of those killed was aboard the USS Arizona, where Japan had a lucky bomb hit. The bomb went right down the stack of the Arizona and into the magazine where all of the shells exploded and killed about 1100 sailors on the Arizona. So, but youâre right, you know. What do you do in a case like this? Are you going to stop Hitler or are you going to let him come over here and take over the United States?
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. Well, Iâm not going to argue with you about what may or may not have happened about that, but I do think itâs very important that people hear â
Robert Stinnett: Oh, I agree with you. You know, Iâm just saying that these were the options â
Scott Horton: Right, right, I â
Robert Stinnett: â and many others are talking about the same thing.
Scott Horton: Right, right, yeah, and thatâs all I mean to say too is that, you know, where I may disagree with you about what should have been done, I think itâs very important that people understand that you think that he had no choice and yet you still quote unquote admit that itâs true.
Robert Stinnett: Yes. Right.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm.
Robert Stinnett: You know, he wasnât the first president to use provocations. President Polk in 1846 provoked the Mexican War along the Rio Grande there in Texas, and the USS Maine was sunk [...] start the Spanish-American War, Abraham Lincoln used provocations at Fort Sumter against the Confederacy, Woodrow Wilson used provocations in World War I, and we had it with Lyndon Johnson and the Gulf of Tonkin that started the Vietnam war, and we had the same type of policy that George W. Bush used in Iraq in the weapons of mass destruction. So thereâs a game plan here that really goes back in history where you have this noble lie that justifies going to war against your perceived enemy.
Scott Horton: Yeah. And itâs very interesting, itâs, well, books like yours, sir, with the incredible footnotes and documentation and frankly just solid proof, it does a lot to I think inform a perspective that revisionist history is oftentimes much more accurate than the way people officially remember it, and when you can just rattle off six or seven or ten major wars that the American people have been lied into like that, you know, that, that to me is a slap across the face compared to what I grew up believing America was about, frankly.
Robert Stinnett: Well, I felt the same way until I really got into this and started studying it and getting the official documents that prove all these allegations.
Scott Horton: And now whatâs been the response of the World War II historian community? There are a lot of professors and a lot of historians out there who Iâm sure your conclusions were quite challenging to theirs. Did they just outright reject what you had to say or have you brought some of them on board?
Robert Stinnett: Well, I use the polls. The polls would be how many readers agree with me, and amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com are the largest booksellers on the internet, and they give hourly ratings on how books sell. And I have 80%, 70-80% approval rating from my readers, which is, I like to cite there. Thereâs about maybe 20% or 30% that donât agree and will not accept the Navy documents.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. Well, for a subject as controversial as this, I think those are pretty good numbers actually. Let me bring this to your attention here. Itâs been two years, if I remember right, I tried to get you on the show then and you couldnât do it because of prior arrangements, but I went ahead and wrote a blog entry at antiwar.com called âDay of Deceitâ â
Robert Stinnett: Mmhmm.
Scott Horton: â explaining hereâs what I learned from reading Robert Stinnettâs book and linking to my two previous interviews of you. And I got a letter from a guy named Patrick D. Weadon, who is the curator of the National Cryptologic Museum, and he was disputing your claims, and hereâs what he wrote. Itâs not that long:
Please be advised that Mr. Stinnettâs [sic] book is based on faulty evidence. The book claims that the Allies broke the top Japanese naval code (JN25) prior to December 7th 1941. This is nonsense. Small parts of JN25 were cracked in the early 40s but JN25-B (the upgraded code which was used by the Japanese Navy in days and months leading up to Pearl Harbor) was not cracked until the spring of 1942. If Stinnettâs theory is correct it would mean that the United States had forewarning of Japanese naval operations prior to Pearl Harbor but failed to act on the information until June of 1942. This is absurd. In the days and months after Pearl Harbor, the Imperial Army and Navy conquered over a tenth of the earthâs surface. The Allies took it on the chin in places like Wake Island, the Philippines, Singapore and Hong Kong. To think that we sat on the information for months and did nothing with it is crazy.
Stinnett is right that the information was being collected prior to Pearl, but he is wrong to assert that it was being read. Some years later the JN25 intercepts were deciphered after the fact. They provided strong evidence, that had it been known at the time may have led to our being prepared for the attack.
So how do you respond to that, Mr. Stinnett?
Robert Stinnett: Well, very clearly that guy that wrote that to you is totally wrong. It was not called JN25, it was called â the Japanese called their code Code Book D. We called it the Five Number Code, and we broke the Five Number Code, as I report in my book, with the documentation. It was done both in Washington D.C. and at Station CAST on Corregidor, and on November 16th, 1941 the commander of the radio cryptographers on Corregidor sent a message to Washington that we were current in reading and translating and decoding the Japanese naval code, which they call the Five Number Code. That JN25 is part of the cover-up that the National Security Agency sends out as false information. That was not used as a reference until late in the war or really after the war.
Scott Horton: Mmm. And we see with the McCollum memo and the corresponding policies of the Roosevelt administration, thereâs far more to this argument than simply they had cracked this code or this code and must have known. I mean, youâre actually showing they cracked this code and this code and they did know, and hereâs how they responded, and here was the policy they came up with, and here are all the different people who were in on it, and, you know, itâs not the kind of argument that can be dismissed with a âWell, it was just about this code or that code.â
Robert Stinnett: Well, thatâs right. First of all, that letter that the guy wrote to you, heâs using the wrong â it was not known as JN25, it was known as the Five Number Code, Edition Number 7, and thatâs the one that the Navy cryptographers broke. And the earliest date that I could point to that was on November the 12th when President Roosevelt was notified we had broken the code and he said, âPlease send me â I want to see all the raw messages.â Then the next day, or I think about two days later, General Marshall, who was the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, called in the bureau chiefs of the major newspapers of the United States to his office. He swore them to secrecy and told them that we had broken the Japanese code and he expected the danger period was going to be the first week of December. This was on November the 15th Washington time, on the same day, November 16th in Manila time, with that other letter from Station CAST where they said they were current in breaking, translating the Japanese code. So thereâs three major documents that dispute what that fellow wrote to you.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm. Yeah, thatâs pretty sloppy work for the head of the cryptology administration or whatever itâs called there.
Robert Stinnett: Well, theyâre paid to do this. You know, the same thing as this weapons of mass destruction and all that that weâve gone through in the Iraq war.
Scott Horton: Yep. Now, thereâs actually a fairly new book out by a guy named George Victor called The Pearl â what is it? The Pearl Harbor Myth â
Robert Stinnett: Yes.
Scott Horton: â Rethinking the Unthinkable. Have you read that, and do you have a comment?
Robert Stinnett: Yes, Iâve looked over his book, I do have a copy of it, but I was a little disappointed that he didnât go into more of the communication intelligence records at the National Archives. I think it would have made a much stronger book if he had done that.
Scott Horton: But he does bolster your case in other ways?
Robert Stinnett: Yes, I would say that he probably does that, but he doesnât seem to understand how navies work in sending, you know, dispatching warships by radio, at least in the 1940-41 era.
Scott Horton: Mmhmm.
Robert Stinnett: But youâve got to understand radio. Itâs just like television and radio stations when youâre given traffic information during the commute periods. Theyâre listening to the police radio to know where accidents are, then they warn the people where are the accidents. Well itâs the same thing that the navies do. Theyâre sending out messages and if someone listens in and can break the code, then youâve got some really valuable information.
Scott Horton: Now, do you think that the â if this story can really get established as the history of Pearl Harbor as, you know, most Americans understand it, do you think that will have any effect on the myth surrounding the good war as the foundation of Americaâs current world domination?
Robert Stinnett: Well, I think that World War II, youâre referring to that it has the reputation that it was the last good war, but I think that Americans really when they got into the war, they realized that Germany was the one to defeat, and to rid Germany of their world domination plans really saved the democratic nations of the world. So I think that you can make a case that that was the last good war. Certainly you canât do that for Vietnam or the Iraq war, I wouldnât think, though you know we havenât seen the intercepts. Those have not been released on the Iraq war, so we donât know really what, until thatâs released we canât make a real authentic verification of what was going on.
Scott Horton: Well, thatâs true. Thereâs a lot of classified information that hasnât been released, although I think a pretty strong case can be made based on what we do know about the intelligence for this war, but.
Robert Stinnett: But I think itâll get even stronger if itâs ever released and they donât destroy the records. The New York Times today tells how theyâve destroyed some of the interrogations of I think it was Abu Ghraib, though I donât remember that.
Scott Horton: Yeah, Iâm not sure if it was Iraq, but it was at least Al Qaeda suspects they said, yeah. Now, you wrote a biography of, before Day of Deceit, of the former President Bush, George Bush senior, George Bush: The War Years itâs called, and I wonder if youâve gotten a comment from him about your later book, Day of Deceit?
Robert Stinnett: No. My discussions with him were really all about World War II and what we did there on the carrier USS San Jacinto. And he was photo officer, the aerial photo officer, and he was also a torpedo bomber pilot, and he was shot down twice by the Japanese, and thatâs what that was about. I never did talk to him about the communications intelligence because he did not know about the breaking of the Japanese codes either at that time.
Scott Horton: Oh, certainly not, back then, yeah. I just thought it would be great if you could get a blurb from former President Bush on the back of your book, huh?
Robert Stinnett: Well, I sent him a copy but he did not respond to it. You know, Iâm not going to press that with him.
Scott Horton: (laughs) Oh, no, no. Of course not. Now, letâs talk about The Independent Institute. Youâre a fellow there, and they have an entire set of resources about Pearl Harbor there, donât they?
Robert Stinnett: Yes, they do. They have a regular website on it, giving both pros and cons, what some of my critics have said about my book and then also those that are, the 80% that agree with my â or agree with the Navy records.
Scott Horton: And now, isnât there a newspaper out in Hawaii, the Honolulu Record or something, that has run stories about this?
Robert Stinnett: Well, in Honolulu the morning paper is the Honolulu Advertiser â
Scott Horton: Right, right.
Robert Stinnett: â and the afternoon is the Star-Bulletin. And if youâre referring to the Advertiser, on November 30th, 1941, it ran a story with an eight-column headline saying that Japan may attack this weekend. Well they just missed it by one week.
That was based on a story from United Press that said that President Roosevelt was returning hurriedly from his Warm Springs, Georgia, retreat back to Washington on that day, and that carried implications that the Advertiser saw was that Japan was ready to do something.
Scott Horton: Oh, actually I was referring to stories about you, but thatâs a very interesting footnote to â
Robert Stinnett: Oh, Iâm sorry. Oh, no, I didnât realize that.
Scott Horton: Yeah. All right. Well, I really appreciate your time today. Everybody, Robert Stinnett. Heâs a fellow at The Independent Institute, thatâs independent.org, and the book is Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor. I really appreciate you coming on the show today, sir.
Robert Stinnett: Thank you for inviting me.