Thursday, February 26, 2009


Adam Larson / Caustic Logic
The 12/7-9/11 Treadmill and Beyond
Feb 26 2009

Note: All information for this piece was extracted from Layton, Edwin T. with Roger Pineau and John Costello "And I Was There": Pearl Harbor And Midway -- Breaking the Secrets. New York, Quill, 1985. Chapter 14, pp 161-168.

Ensign Takeo Yoshikawa was Japan’s top spy on Honolulu in 1941, a resourceful Navy intelligence operative working at the consulate under an alias, and a prolific source of detailed information. For eight months he scoped out Pearl Harbor, completely undetected it would seem, and the US Pacific Fleet that had been permanently tacked-on there. He reportedvia Consul Nagao Kita, who sent the info back to Tokyo via wireless radio signals, encoded and enciphered.

On September 24 a curiously detailed request was sent to Honolulu with a mission for Yoshikawa; it read in part:
"The waters (of Pearl Harbor) are to be divided roughly into five
sub-areas […] With regard to warships and aircraft carriers, we would like to have you report on those […] we would like to have you make mention of the fact when there are two or more vessels along side the same wharf.)"
The requested facts were gathered and Kita supplied the first installation of details five days later, establishing a code system for different locations and ships. This was not a one-time deal, but required regular updates in the form of weekly “ships-in-harbor reports.” As war loomed ever nearer during 1941, these were upped to bi-weekly, and eventually daily transmissions to keep the military as updated as possible.

According to the US Fleet’s intelligence director at the time, RADM Edwin Layton, this communication was carried out using the code-and-cipher system known to US cryptographers as J-19. This was a penetrated and readable code, but the intercepts had to be printed and mailed unread to Washington via courier, then at least some of them were decrypted and read. Layton says these were given lower priority than the higher-volume Purple system messages. Diplomats in Washington, the Philippines, and most other places used this more famously open method, while Honolulu’s oddball J-19 system meant that, for example, five times the number of Manila messages as Honolulu were read at this time.

The Army’s crypto unit broke the original ‘divide-the-waters’ message on October 9, while the Navy cracked the 1st response giving the coordinates the next day. While these later became known as the 'bomb plot’ messages (plots, or coordinates, for use in a bombing attack), this was not necessarily obvious without hindsight, as is often pointed out. But at least one official considered among the possibilities at the time “a plan for sabotage … a plan for a submarine attack …. or it might be a plan for an air attack.” Any of these is worthy of concern and worth more analysis and dissemination to, for example, Pearl Harbor.

As the man charged with defending the fleet, CINCPAC ADM Kimmell said if He'd heard about this string of reports, it “would have radically changed the estimate of the situation made by me and my staff.” Referring to these and other J-19 messages that offered supporting clues, Layton wrote “neither the Fourteenth Naval District nor our headquarters was ever told about these early signs” which clearly indicated hostile scheming, and summed up that “the failure of the office of naval operations to ensure that the bomb plot messages were sent to us at Pearl Harbor was blind stupidity at the least, and gross negligence at the best.”

The scoffer will be tempted to call this just more sour grapes from another wheel-sleeper-atter with 20/20 hindsight. But in reality, there is a proper way to interpret this material; I’m not the expert to say what that is, but I tend to support the view that this should have been recognized as “vital intelligence,” and a blessing to have. The main tip-off for any analyst must have been the change from the usual spy pattern of reporting ship movements, a natural class of general intelligence, to passing on the precise locations of ships at rest. There can be little use for this unless they wanted to do something to the ships in those locations. The harbor and fleet, and eventually the whole surrounding base area, had an invisible tactical grid placed over it; it was known and planned around by the Japanese military. If it had been known at Pearl Harbor, it would have led to a different kind of reception on 12/7 or, more likely, an early cancellation, or re-scheduling.

Layton’s book explains how some in the intelligence circuit (Kirk, Safford, others) pressed their superiors to inform Pearl of these clues and/or put the HYPO station there to work on decoding the messages for themselves. Either seems reasonable, since the plots were being sent from their soil and concerning their ships. But these requests were specifically blocked by others, the book asserts, notably Navy communications chief Leigh Noyes, who told them he was “not going to tell any district commandant how to run his job!” Such fine details cannot be decisively established, but however it happened, it’s clear the messages were received in Washington and not received in Hawaii.

Memories of how that bottleneck happened are not entirely clear; in the investigations, some recalled the series of messages clearly and professed an “impression” that these were somehow sent to Pearl. One Army officer testified that these were just another series of messages among thousands, but did confess it was the only such conversation among those so specific “in the sense of dividing any particular waters.” He didn’t bother sending it to General Short at Pearl Harbor, tasked with defending those waters. Theodore Wilkinson, a brief interim director of the Office of Naval Intelligence, did recall what seems to be the bomb plot “information system.” Wilkinson told the Joint Congressional Committee he felt this material didn’t warrant being sent to Pearl Harbor as it showed nothing more that “the nicety of detail of intelligence” they were gathering – about how to attack Pearl Harbor, as it turns out.

At the highest levels most consistently placed in the center of the “folly” and “tragic miscalculations” leading up the the attack, the denial gets the most specific. Chief of Naval Operations Stark, and his self-appointed intel distributor Turner both professed to not recalling the messages at all, and dismissing the significance if they had seen or heard of them as showing the Japanese "attention to detail". [they love to, um, make really accurate scale models of our harbors, and - um - real-world accurate ship placements worked in. Yeah, it's a zen thing…]. I didn’t see what if any response Gen. Marshall, the Army’s Chief of Staff, offered to the messages, but it was likely similar.

So there you have it – it was vital and available, but Washington was - too bureaucratic - or something? Someone please help me understand (comments open – link at bottom). Because in my paranoid confusion, it looks like a bit the top decision-makers wanted to sideline the whole issue away from reality for the moment. The White House mantra after the surprise attack was that the clues all pointed further west and nearer Japan; no designs on the ‘impregnable fortress’ of Hawaii were considered credible – ergo, these counter-points to the mantra must simply not be clues, and only Kimmel, Layton, etc. are making it look a big deal afterwards, in order to shift the blame from their own random inexplicable human failures. But hey, we won, no hard feelings, we’re all Human, and so on…

Monday, February 23, 2009


Adam Larson / Caustic Logic
The 12/7-9/11 Treadmill and Beyond
Feb 23 2009
last update 3/29

Protection for Projection?
As of December 1941, the Pacific Fleet stood depleted, a victim of Atlantic-heavy deployment in solidarity with Great Britain. A scant three aircraft carriers were left between Japan and the west coast: USS Enterprise, USS Lexington, and USS Saratoga. There had been four, until the USS Yorktown was among the quarter of the Pacific fleet transferred to the Atlantic. With the depleted Pacific portion of the Fleet permanently based in Hawaii throughout 1941, these were generally stationed at Pearl Harbor, but when the attack of December 7 came, none of the three was there to be harmed.

As the dawn rose red, USS Enterprise was the closest, just over 200 miles west and on a return journey from Wake Island. The Lexington was much further out, en route to Midway; both were ferrying fighter jets to the islands (see below ). The Saratoga was 2000 miles east and far too busy to help cover their shifts; She had undergone modernization in Bremerton from January to April, "participated in a landing force exercise in May and made two trips to Hawaii between June and October as the diplomatic crisis with Japan came to a head," a Navy history explains. "When the Japanese struck at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Saratoga was just entering San Diego after an interim drydocking at Bremerton," for unspecified reasons. [1]

While there are apparent reasons for all these movements, the coincidence that Pearl Harbor would be left with absolutely no carriers at just the time of Japan’s sneak attack remains worthy of note and one of the prime areas of controversy in the ongoing debate over what happened and why. While this apparent coincidence cannot provide solid proof of foreknowledge, as a supplement to the already large body of evidence, it's worth an examination.

The much-re-posted “Pearl Harbor Myths” mini-article sums up this myth “The US carriers were hustled out of port just before the attack, to "save" them for a war that FDR already knew would be dominated by the flattop.” [2] While piece doesn’t do so, many have tackled this myth by arguing that the value of the aircraft carrier for naval warfare was not known at the time. Whatever someone may have claimed to recognize or not at one point or another is immaterial. The carrier in fact became the dominant weapon in the Pacific war, starting with the six that Japan’s Imperial Navy had sent towards Hawaii just before the US blithely sent its remaining two away from there on errands. graphic: timeline of carrier activity in and near Pearl Harbor 11/25-12/7 1941. Whichever country supplied them ,there was nearly always at least on carrier nearby. [r-click, new window for larger view

Any analyst worth his weight in Styrofoam should have foreseen the craft’s potential value in projecting air power, and any decision-makers involved in any provocation would have access to these views and choose to either ignore to act on them. Whatever was decided and by whatever means, the carriers were given special consideration and put in a special place, out of the harbor during the attack, and in fact projecting air power – just in the wrong direction.

Becoming a Way Station
There was a method to this madness, if it did ultimately prove a flawed and boneheaded method. The increasing likelihood of war with Japan in the second half of 1941 had caused the US War cabinet to look west and further west, right past Hawaii and the relatively exposed Pacific Fleet, to the distant Philippines, as the most likely flash point. There was a decision to pursue a deterrent bombing capability built up there, to turn the strategic liability into more of an asset, and a serious check on Japan's southward plans. [3] It involved suspending the normal and correct belief that the Philippines were indefensible, and this attitude was circumvented at just the right time to leave Hawaii as a neglected rear area rather than the critical front line.

What was lacking, ultimately, was enough planes to both defend the Philippines and offer a meaningful deterrent to other moves. This paradigm was still being pursued up until December 7, and in the process, Hawaii was neglected and treated, as Kimmel’s intel chief Edwin Layton put it, as ”only a way station to ferry B-17s to build up MacArthur’s forces” on Luzon. [4] When war looked more imminent, the pace of this process only quickened, while the military's joint board “resolved to reject the State Department’s hard-line proposals,” Layton explains, and “opposed “the issuance of an ultimatum to Japan,”” at least until the “imperfect threat" of the buildup was brought up to strength. [5]

Meanwhile, as the US military urged a façade of negotiation to cover their buildup against Japan's ambitions, Washington was shocked to learn of Japanese faux-diplomacy covering for a military build-up against US, UK and Dutch interests. What exactly this information was is a little uncertain, and will get a post of its own. But it became known in DC early on November 26, causing secretary of State Hull to “kick the whole [diplomacy] thing over” with an ultimatum they could not accept, and which he probably knew would spark the war. [6] This was the point when the US effectively decided to switch from talking to military preparations. Immediately after this, during November 26/27, the war council conferred and had warnings sent to all Pacific commanders pointing to possible Japanese attacks almost anywhere but Hawaii. And the two remaining aircraft carriers in Hawaii were requested to boost everything west of there “as soon as possible.” [7]

On November 28, Adm. Kimmel complied and sent the Enterprise, commanded by Admiral Halsey, and its accompanying warships to ferry 12 Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats to Wake Island. The task force began its return journey on December 4, and the following day, Lexington and its retinue set off towards Midway with 18 Vought SB2U-3 Vindicators. [8] These planes were to defend the Islands against Japanese moves and/or provide regional cover for 48 more B-17s to be flown trough there en route to the Philippines on December 7. [9] It's impossible to say if this bombers west strategy was purely a genuine military strategy or, at least in part, a smoke screen to give reason to the neglect of Hawaii - but it served the purposes of the latter, and the former was a miscalculation at best, with that final batch of bombers in fact helping mentally short-circuit radar defense at Pearl Harbor on just the wrong morning!

The Enterprise ETA Rebuttal
That attention seems thus drawn away from Pearl Harbor could be seen as supporting the “conspiracy theory” interpretation that Hawaii’s vulnerability was engineered. Further, it only makes sense to suspect the carriers’ locations would be worked into any such plans, and if so, then their absence seems to have been desired during the attack. There are arguments against this, and the best is the Enterprise; as the Pearl Harbor Myths pieces further explains:
“Enterprise was doing her best to get back into Pearl. Her first ETA was Saturday evening, but a storm delayed her. The next time set was 7 AM, 55 minutes before the attack started, but that proved too optimistic as well.”
When you’re dealing with high-stakes illusion, as we may be, a time written on paper does not a real plan make. The science of meterology was nothing then like it is now, but weather prediction was possible. I propose this ETA was fudged with a false presumption of clear sailing but knowing a storm would delay real arrival to (plus six, carry the five…) just after dawn on “X-day.” But the point gets a little better, that article explains, since the 12/6 arrival was scheduled back in August, well before anyone could have known about the Japanese plans to barely avoid:
"What really crushes the "carriers hustled out of port" myth is the fact that Enterprise was scheduled to be in port on Dec. 6th and 7th, as shown in the Employment Schedule promulgated in August, '41. No orders were ever recieved to change this. The mission to Wake was planned to coincide with the original schedule so that it would not be known that the island had recieved additional air support. The trip was kept secret, even the loading of the planes had a "cover story".
If it turns out the arrival time was set well in advance, then Dec 6 is a close coincidence that may then have been fudged upward similar to the above but with shove-off time set hours late, again wrongly presuming clear sailing, to get the carrier arriving back no earlier than the Japanese. Twice the estimates proved “too optimistic” for reality, and these erred guesses, apparently on Halsey's part, are all that gives the sense that one carrier was supposed to be back in time to join the party. But the reality, of course, is it just missed it, and reality is what matters to me.

Thrift or Thrown Game?
While I admit this fudged ETA business is quite speculative, it would serve to make the carrier absence look less suspicious, and give a hand to those who'd like to explain away these clues. That it does look dubious is testified by conspiracy theorists latching onto the “myth,” a natural impression which may have been predicted as a down-side to mitigate. If they knew it would look off, this raises the fair question of why the planners would risk such a move in the first place - carriers were valuable and scarce at the time, but ultimately expendable and easily replaceable in the post-attack climate. Given their utility alone it hardly seems worth the risk to have all of them out when at least one lost would look more natural. Thus “saving’” all three could hardly have been simple thrift, and this is likely only a secondary explanation. *

An obvious primary reason to consider, in keeping with the general thrust of this investigation, is to deplete Pearl Harbor's defenses. Minus the carriers and their decks full of fighting planes, the Japanese raiders quickly decimated almost all the remaining ground-based aircraft, which had been bunched to avoid against dread sabotage. The Enterprise returned 12 planes lighter but still holding most of its own fighters and bombers, which were close enough as the attack unfolded that they actually took part in the latter half of the defense. What kind of role they’d have played if fully in port is unsure; as it was, it seems Enterprise planes only took down one Japanese bird of the 29 lost in the attack, while losing several to enemy and understandably jumpy friendly fire. [10]

The people in the know seem to feel this carrier movement impeded the defense. Fleet intel chief Layton later summed up the effect of the carriers’ departure in that accidentally ironic way that could, with the slightest shift of view, mean exactly its opposite :
“That Stark, as well as Marshall, agreed to reduce the fighter strength at Pearl Harboor by half, and to run the risk that “there will be nothing left at Hawaii until replacements arrive,” was in itself evidence that whatever warning of Japan’s war moves had been received in Washington, it contained no hint of an attack on Pearl Harbor.” [11]

Prophecy Fulfilled
So with the defense aspect of carrier placements duly rendered ambiguous, let's return to the earlier point about the understood role of the carrier; if it was not seen prior to 12/7, it surely was after, and early probing into its potential can be seen in the curious “Doolittle Raid” of April ’42. It was just two weeks after December 7 that the President first told his war cabinet he wanted Japan proper bombed as soon as possible - partly to boost US morale but more so to shake Japan’s, and specifically as an answer to Pearl Harbor. ‘Sure, you can hit us in Hawaii,’ the message seemed to be, ‘but we can hit you at home.’ Lacking land bases close enough this early in the war, the raid was to be launched from a carrier, itself a move widely thought impossible for the larger bombers that would be needed. But after months of practice with B-25s and simulated carrier decks, they made it work, launched and rained some token destruction on Tokyo, and gave Japan its first hint of their grim future before crash-landing in or near free China. The just-completed carrier USS Hornet provided the deck for the raid, and the USS Enterprise showed up on time for its assigned escort duty on this symbolic revenge mission. [12]

By the time the raid was being planned, the ‘derelict’ Adm. Kimmel had been sacked and replaced with new Pacific Fleet commander Adm Chester Nimitz, the prophet and eventual hero of Pacific carrier warfare. Nimitz was destined for the spot, and seems to have foreseen more about the Pacific War than flat-top dominance. Earlier in 1941, he was tapped for command of Pacific Fleet, but perhaps on good advice from, say, Adm. Richardson (the outgoing CinCPAC to be replaced), turned it down, leaving the spot open for Kimmel. According to Nimitz’ son, in a 1996 History Channel documentary, the admiral said at the time:
"It is my guess that the Japanese are going to attack us in a surprise attack. There will be a revulsion in the country against all those in command at sea, and they will be replaced by people in positions of prominence ashore, and I want to be ashore, and not at sea, when that happens.” [13]

* To add to the thrift reason, we must consider not only the carriers but their escorts. I did a little research looking at this site on what was present on 12/7:
and this one on what was away with the carriers:

In Port:
Battleships – 8
Heavy Cruisers – 2
Light Crusiers – 6
Destroyers –30
Total = 46 war ships
Additional auxiliary ships, minesweepers, submarines, tenders, etc… 55

With the carrier task forces:
Two carriers, obviously
6 Heavy Cruisers
14 destroyers (split 9/5)
total = 22 war ships

So 3/4 of the heavy cruisers were absent, and about 1/3 of the destroyers. A 22 ship-reduction leaving 46 behind is about 1/3 detachment in sheer numbers, which is itself significant. About the quality and value of the classes of ships relative to each other I don't know - would this be the most valuable third? Layton's assessment [And I was There, p 263] is a little exaggerated, but informative:
"At this point [Dec 5-7], the disposition of of Kimmel's forces was as follows: All the carriers were at sea with specific missions. All the heavy cruisers and more than half of the fleet's destroyers were at sea protecting the carriers. Only the battle force - the old, slow battleships with their escorts of light cruisers and destroyers - was still at Pearl Harbor."

[1] USS Saratoga CV 3. From: Dictionary of American Fighting Ships, published by the Naval Historical Center.
[2] “Pearl Harbor Myths”
[3] Layton, Edwin T. with Roger Pineau and John Costello "And I Was There": Pearl Harbor And Midway -- Breaking the Secrets."New York. Quill. 1985. P 171.
[4] Layton et al. P 170.
[5] Layton et al. P 177.
[6] Layton et al. PP 198-206
[7] Layton et al. 210
[8] See [1]
[9] Layton et al. 209
[10] Wikipedia. USS Enterprise (CVN-65)
[11] Layton et al. P 210.
[12] Wikipedia. Doolittle Raid.
[13] Conservapedia. McCollum Memo.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Adam Larson / Caustic Logic
The 12/7-9/11 Treadmill and Beyond
Feb 20 2009
last edited 2/24

A Question of Motive
When confronted with the “FDR knew” conspiracy theories, defenders of the dominant narrative sometimes point out as a logical flaw the ‘unanswered’ question of why Roosevelt or his advisers want to withhold intelligence and defenses from Hawaii if they had known the attack was coming? The truly naïve fall for the usually valid but simplistic presumption that losing ships and people is ‘a bad thing,’ and to be avoided. When they can get to the next level and adjust their cynicism goggles, concede the political opposition to be overcome and the importance of entering the war, it’s not hard to imagine an attack might have been desired. But these semi-rational coincidence theorists often stop the line of reasoning there, and contend that a foiled attack (or at least a met one) would have been sufficient for the cause.

For example, in his 1963 The Two Ocean War, Samuel Elliot Morrison dismissed the notion that FDR provoked or enabled the surprise attack, first by pointing out that “a little reflection” would show this “impossible,” since others would have to be involved, whom he names and finds too “loyal and honorable” to have participated. Besides this leap of faith, Morrison notes:

“More reflection might suggest that if Roosevelt and his cabinet ministers and armed service chiefs had schemed to get us into the war, their purpose would have been better served by warning the Hawaiian commanders in time to get the Fleet to sea and the planes airborne. Even a frustrated attempt to strike Pearl Harbor would have been sufficient cams [sic?] belli to satisfy the most isolationist congressman.”

That’s as bold and unsubstantiated a presumption as the first one. Another expression of this sentiment was offered in a 2001 Salon piece by Judith Greer, in which she stated that “no one has quite explained how being alert and prepared to beat off the attack would have significantly diminished its political effect.” The notion that “no one” has explained this is absurd; the reasoning is worked into nearly every explanation of the theory I have read, and that she is unaware of this is unlikely. What she seems to mean is ‘no one has offered an explanation I was willing to consider.’

Anatomy of a Useful Crisis
In case anyone would like to have it laid out again, I will illustrate in different ways the obvious and massive difference in “political effect” between a repulsed attack vs. the one we got. It may help to first realize what a big word “political” is in this context, and to consider the difference between the public attitudes of US and Great Britain, vis-avis fighting in the war. Few Americans can truly imagine the ”political” effect of actual Nazi bombs falling freely by the hundreds on the cities and baby carriages of Great Britain. Without the brutal daily reminders that made war a no-brainer, we’d have to suffice with, and maximize, a single such event to remember and keep remembering.

The first and foremost consideration is establishing the clarity of the aggressor/victim situation; the public would not tolerate our entry as an aggressor, but might be forced to concede to a ‘defensive’ war if the other side fired the first shot. Consider this line from the vague and misleading warning to Army commanders in the Pacific, sent Nov 27: “If hostilities cannot, repeat, cannot be avoided, the United States desires that Japan commit the first overt act.” This is not quite the order to ‘let yourself get shot’ that some present it as, but it does illustrate, at the least, that Washington explicitly desired a well-defined they-started-it beginning (to the extent they wanted a beginning at all, of course).

As it wound up, hostilities could not be avoided, and the Japanese fired hundreds of first shots. Our side managed but a few in return, quite obviously in defense, and the administration got their desired clarity in spades.

Once the evident moral conditions above are met, the scale of devastation works to your advantage, magnifying the outrage in direct proportion to the loss; a whole fleet crippled can provide the emotional steam to run a dozen such fleets.

Like ships, the number of dead is best in the high/painful range, since in the right hands, a frightening or depressing situation can be molded and used to mobilize a nation, so long as that nation feels otherwise vital enough to resist and change the situation. The one-sided surprise slaughter of thousands of young sailors would set a revenge charge in the American psyche to help keep America not just technically involved, but emotionally invested and their Congressional representatives likewise kept in line. Even the isolationists would be stuck in the pincer move.

By reminders it could continue to motivate throughout the war, instilling and nourishing a need to totally end the enemy so we can never be scratched like that again. FDR himself showed his awareness of this aspect immediately: “we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost,” from that point on anyway, “but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.” No one hits us without paying big, the American psyche demands. The promise was sort of finalized with Truman's first official statement after we vaporized Hiroshima and Nagasaki: "The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold.”

Hypothetical Outcomes
An illustrative exercise for understanding the decisions made in Washington prior to the surprise is to consider the possibilities as they might have - play it out a bit, war-gaming style. You’re President Roosevelt, or any of his cabinet who would have to chose to join any conspiracy - in just the situation they were in, mid-late 1941. Europe is almost totally under Axis control, Japan is in control of a good portion of Asia and clearly preparing for more expansion. The Pacific Fleet wants to go back to the mainland, feeling exposed and edgy at Pearl, the US public and congress remain divided on entry to the war, perhaps leaning towards for, but not enthusiastically on average. You receive two or three solid clues that Japan plans to strike the exposed US Fleet (probably clues of their other simultaneous southward offensives as well) and you’re presented with two main options: get the intel to the people who need it to meet the threat, or don’t, and doom them to fulfill the terms of a maximized useful crisis, as outlined above. Here are four general possible outcomes to consider:

1) Tipped off of a Japanese sneak attack from the northwest, the Pacific Fleet readies itself – the carriers are brought back, all their planes armed and readied, guns loaded, radar manned and watched carefully, surveillance missions flown in the right direction. Spies on the island see all this mobilization and get word to Tokyo that surprise is lost, causing a last-minute order to abort the mission. The striking force retreats, and this attack is foiled, but the other prongs of Japans strike-out occur, including the Philippines, Shanghai, Thailand, and Midway Island, just hundreds of miles from Hawaii. US and Allied interests in Asia and the Pacific are threatened, the Philippinees fall, with US deaths, and America is jolted, but in both directions. Isolationists win, FDR croaks, an uncertain Truman put the fleet back in California to avoid a successful repeat, and the US remains neutral as the Axis make further progress yet. The US finally goes to war after a 1943 German air raid on New York launched from occupied Greenland, supplied from occupied Great Britain. It’s too late by then and we lose. But you get to avoid sacrificing innocent people.

2) Same as above, up to the US response - war is pushed through Congress based on the Philippines attack and thwarted designs on Hawaii. Headlines with the big type saying WAR do get to be seen, but the details are ambiguous, and only somewhat motivating. America thus enters WWII but forever tainted with the question ‘did the Japanese really intend to attack Pearl Harbor or did FDR make that part up?’
3) You tip off the military and have a plan drawn up where the Harbor would be left quiet with Carriers instead moved out to sea, under a cover story, just far enough from spy eyes on the island to prevent the strike force from turning back. A mid-sized squad sorties from the Enterprise and spots them 400 mi nw of Hawaii. The carriers with destroyer support swing into place and the two sides engage in battle, sending planes against each other. Whatever the outcome, with a definite battle in place nearer Hawaii than the Japanese should have been, the aggression is obvious enough and outrage would be a bit more clear. Headlines might read “WAR: Jap force engaged off Hawaii: 2-300 US dead, fleet unharmed” So far this is looking like a decent proposal that allows a strong level of furor and still avoids sacrificing perhaps thousands of peacetime recruits in a unilateral massacre.

4) You keep the clues close and don’t share, keep the target vulnerable. Convince your subordinates to do the same, which is not as hard as normal, given the unusual stakes, the grim necessity, and the fact that it’s already rolling and there’s no way back. No reception or defense is prepared in Hawaii, a total surprise attack happens, dozens of hundreds of American sailors are killed. The battle is one-sided, the aggression and culpability 100% clear-cut, simple, undeniable, and massive in effect. The legal repercussions of the slaughter are near-automatic. Headlines read “WAR: Jap sneak attack on Hawaii: 3000 dead, Shocked US United, vows ‘absolute victory.’" The emotional surge channeled by moral certainty adds fuel and conviction to the embryonic war effort. So sustained, it doesn’t just exist but thrives and helps greatly in the Herculean task of smashing the Axis in both Europe and Asia.

The human costs are high, the moral issues troubling, and the limits on openness pretty obvious. Under normal circumstances, it would be hard to justify. But the payoff to the inevitable war effort is leaps and bounds beyond the other options, and in that dark winter at the apparent edge of global Fascist conquest, it might have seemed wise to cash in anything you had.

But Is It Memorable?
Having trouble deciding? Check these propaganda posters that were circulated after the real-world Pearl Harbor attack, which had the effect, if not the cause, of option 4. Unprovoked deceitful treachery, causing smoke and damage to a flag. We’re to remember, just like the loved ones of the fallen remember their loss. We should help fund the war in their sake, refuse to surrender, in the names of the dead, calling from Heaven, avenge them – defy the smoke of humiliating, emasculating defeat by working, fighting, sacrificing, firebombing to final victory.
Now imagine if this kind of sentiment would fly nearly as well under the terms of possibilities 1 or 2 or 3. What would you propose instead to generate such a degree of public sentiment? Nice speeches with epic language? Or would you roll over to the isolationists and let the world burn around you? Careful now, if FDR did have these clues, and it seems he was waiting for them, he actually pondered the options without the crutch you have of saying “FDR didn’t know.”

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Adam Larson / Caustic Logic
The 12/7-9/11 Treadmill and Beyond
February 16 2009

When the RMS Lusitania went down on May 7 1915 en route from New York to London, hit by a German U-boat and dragging down 1200 mostly English-speaking souls, two Naval personalities of great future importance watched from either side of the Atlantic. On one side of the pond, Winston Churchill had just set off from being the First Lord of the Admiralty and directly into the intensifying fray in a variety of war-related posts, on and off the battlefield. Across the way, A young Franklin D. Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy, who among others urged US entry into the war following the attack.

There is some circumstantial evidence that Churchill, in his influential admiralty post, played a large role in steering the Germans towards downing the “livebait” Lusitania. British researcher Colin Simpson indicated this in a 1972 book; others were involved as well, on both sides of the Atlantic, and with the tacit approval of President Woodrow Wilson, worked to ensure what Churchill might have called a “maneuver which brings an ally into the field.” Roosevelt remained with, and helped guide, the Navy as the US prepared to enter the field and throughout the remainder of the war, re-learning again an old Roosevelt family secret – there’s nothing like a sunken boat to get a nation marching to war.

In 1939 the Britain-Germany feud again broke out in a big way and a war leader was needed in London to replace the ousted PM Chamberlain. Roosevelt was by then President of a decidedly neutral-minded and depression-racked US, prophetically urging his reluctant countrymen to rally against the new German threat. As World War II finally turned over from menace to inescapable reality in Europe, he reached out and offered his endorsement to Churchill as new Prime Minister. The sentiment was shared by Britain as a whole, and Churchill stepped in to bolster and brace the shaken British people. Now the two sat across the ocean as leaders not of Navies, but of nations bound together (at the head, if not yet the body) in opposition to Hitler’s Germany. It was at this time the two publicly formed what the FDR Library’s website describes as:

“one of the most extraordinary relationships in political history, a relationship marked by an intimate correspondence unparalleled among national leaders, a relationship which, in due course, would lead to the establishment of a military alliance unique among sovereign states.”

In particular, they bonded over their common Navy pedigree, and Churchill became known to Roosevelt by the nickname ‘Former Naval Person’ as they considered how to get the decidedly neutral ally maneuvered into the field against the Germans yet again. There were known methods to call on, but both the stakes and the resistance were higher than ever. A single ship would not likely suffice.

In late January 1940, three months before Churchill was finally elected, FDR sent his secretary Edwin Watson to fetch some documents from President Woodrow Wilson’s files. For whatever reason, Watson sent back specifically, and it seems exclusively, “the original manifest of the SS Lusitania” along with a note saying “I was afraid to [open it] until you had seen it.” This may mean nothing, but Colin Simpson found this original manifest years later not in its original place, but among FDR’s personal papers. [Simpson, Colin. The Lusitania. Little, Brown and Company, Boston. First US edition. Hardcover. 1973. pp 5, 267]

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Adam Larson / Caustic Logic
The 12/7-9/11 Treadmill and Beyond
February 12 2009
last edited 3/26

Throughout November 1941, as US-Japanese negotiations were secretly segueing into war maneuvers, the Japanese Navy mobilized to strike out across the Pacific at British, Dutch, and American interests. The last was tasked to a mighty force that had been assembled in secrecy at the 4-mile-wide hammer-head shaped Hitokappu Bay in the southern Kuril Islands (just north of Japan’s Hokkaido Island). By the middle of the month, would have been bustling with the “mobile striking force,” or Kido Butai, under the command of Admiral Chuichi Nagumo in his flagship Akagi; he was backed by 2 battleships, 2 heavy cruisers, 9 destroyers, 3 submarines, 8 train vessels, and, most tellingly, 6 aircraft carriers with about 360 combat-ready aircraft.

On the 25th, Fleet Admiral Yamamoto issued to Nagumi the fateful Combined Fleet Operations Order No. 5, ordering the force to set off for its intended target: - Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and the bulk of the US Pacific Fleet moored there. The source from which I take this is the Joint Congressional Committee on Pearl Harbor, part 2 of their final report, published in 1946 [1]. Their telling reads as such:

”(a) The task force, keeping its movements strictly secret and maintaining close guard against submarines and aircraft, shall advance into Hawaiian waters and upon the very opening of hostilities, shall attack the main force of the United States Fleet in Hawaii and deal it a mortal blow. The first air raid is planned for dawn of X-day (exact date to be given by later order).

Upon completion of the air raid the task force, keeping close coordination and guarding against enemy counterattack, shall speedily leave the enemy waters and then return to Japan.

(b) Should it appear certain that Japanese-American negotiations will reach an amicable settlement prior to the commencement of hostile action, all the forces of the combined fleet are to be ordered to reassemble and return to their bases.

(c) The task force shall leave Hitokappu Bay on the morning of November 26 and advance to 42° N. And 170° E. (standing-by position) on the afternoon of December 4, Japan time, and speedily complete refueling. “

Clearly this order was crucial; it mentioned the target, the nature and location of the sneak attack, and the approximate date and time of day it would occur, just over two weeks later. If such information could have become available at that time to the US or to an ally inclined to share, the surprise could have been seen and pre-empted, or at least mitigated with some kind of proportional defense. None of this happened, of course, and the Kido Butai achieved total local surprise, which one may be tempted to accept as de facto evidence that the order remained hidden from American eyes at the time.

Such temptation should be resisted.

illustration using the given coordinates for stand-by position. This isn't quite right, as illustrated by the huge distance to travel the last leg. This probably means they modified the plan later, or had a further code in which one location actually mans another. A better map from Japanese sources can be seen at this page, and was used to make the more accurate and useful graphic below.
The Japanese Navy ordered the destruction of much of their records at war’s end, all copies of this order apparently being among the lost. Therefore, the Committee’s source for the wording they presented as evidence in 1946 would have to come from some other record(s) – hard copies that escaped the destruction order and fell into US hands, the memories of people who had written, read, or recieved the orders, or perhaps ‘our own copies,’ radio intercepts received by the US or an ally at the time but (presumably) decoded later.

In fact, the source the Committee cites is, essentially, anything but the third option. The order to sail is attributed to “Committee exhibit no. 8,” cited extensively throughout part two of their report when referencing Japanese plans or communications. Therein they explain:
“The chief sources of information concerning the attack are translations of captured Japanese documents, interrogations of prisoners of war, and reports submitted by general headquarters, supreme commander for the Allied Powers, comprising questionnaires filled out since VJ-day by former members of the Japanese naval high command. See committee exhibits Nos. 8, 8A, 8B, 8O, and 8D.” [2]
So it would seem that, even four years after the attack and the penetration of all Japanese codes, fuzzy memory and the odd scrap of paper was the best the Committee had access to. Apparently, we never got a copy of our own to decode and it was just lost into the ether. Admiral Edwin Layton concluded, after searching the available intercepts at the National Archive, “we evidently did not pick up Yamamoto’s 25 November sailing message” at all. [3] Note the judicious use of “evidently.”

The Pacific Fleet’s top intelligence officer at Pearl Harbor at that time, Layton published his own investigation at the end of his life, in the mid-1980s. Having found nothing of it in our archives, his source for the order to sail was “a reconstruction of events obtained from [the striking force’s] surviving commanders in 1945.” In particular, he cited the recollections of Capt. Mitsuo Fuchida, lead pilot of the actual air raid. This version is essentially the same as the above, with the exception of an “evening rendezvous” to refuel on Dec 3 Tokyo, not Hawaii time, and located at 40°N 170°E, two degrees south of the Committee’s findings. [4]

An Army Military History office document released in 1953 provides a whole string of communications surrounding the Kido Butai’s formation and intent, dating Nov 5 to Dec 2. While previous communications outlining the attack plan for Hawaii are recounted in great detail here, Yamamoto’s decisive Nov 25 order is provided only in a “general outline,” altering the standing-by position (from 165° to 170°) and ordering departure. Again, this document notes that “since all copies of these orders were destroyed prior to the end of the war, they have been reconstructed from personal notes and memory.” [5]

There is much debate among American researchers and little conclusive resolution as to how readable that code was to American cryptanalysts on December 7. The general mainstream consensus is that it was completely or essentially unreadable in the last days, as well as at the time of this pivotal order. The question of the code’s overall opacity as of November 25 1941 is one with no conclusive answer [hint - it was LESS likely to be readable on X-Day, and there are other nations whose own progress is uncertain]. The topic is shrouded in curiously dense secrecy and confusion (at least on my part), and will be the subject of a further post, or posts, after I’ve completed more research.

[1] Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack. Report of the Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack. July 20 1946. Part II. Page 56. online - backup
[2] Ibid. Page 53.
[3] Layton, Edwin T. with Roger Pineau and John Costello "And I Was There": Pearl Harbor And Midway - Breaking the Secrets. William Morrow & Co. December 1985. Page 207.
[4] Ibid. Page 207.
[5] Japanese Monograph No. 97. PEARL HARBOR OPERATIONS: General Outline of Orders and Plans. Prepared by Military History Section Headquarters, Army Forces Far East. Distributed by Office of the Chief of Military History
Department of the Army. 19 February 1953. link

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Adam Larson / Caustic Logic
The 12/7-9/11 Treadmill and Beyond
February 10 2009

Following is a re-post of an interesting 12/7 foreknowledge denier I stumbled upon, endorsing their own odd conspiracy theory in a bid to keep all blame away from FDR. I'm still researching the issue of Pearl Harbor, and not sure what to think in general, but I think this may all be hogwash.
Here it is 2009 and more than 65 years after the fact, there are those who still debate whether FDR knew anything about the pending attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7 1941. They don’t always come out and say it, but the gist of these arguments is that President Roosevelt was a traitor who consciously withheld information from Hawaii’s defenders to enable the Japanese attack and mobilize public support for US entry into World War II. The greatest generation did mobilize to knock down Japanese, Nazi, and Soviet aggression, but it was no thanks to any secret plan of the President. To anyone remotely reasonable, it should suffice to take a quick look at the people saying these things … the Holocaust-denying loons at Institute for Historical Review, the right-wingers at
John Birch Society
, 9/11 No-Planer-types, Marxists, paranoid NWO conspiratainers, Japs, of course, and crazy Japs.

It’s time to put the debate to bed. Speaking truth to such asshattery, noted director Jerry Bruckheimer once said “there’s a book that just came out which claims President Franklin D Roosevelt knew about the attack. That’s all bullshit. He didn’t know about the attack!” That book is probably Day of Deceit by Robert Stinnett, which actually said that Roosevelt and those around him desired, provoked, and allowed the attack. Oh, and knew. This is not far from a 9/11 style remote control attack by FDR himself... wait for part 2. It should be quite clear between Stinnett and Bruckheimer who knows what he’s talking about here - One wrote a stupid book based on stupid paranoid research, the other made a massively expensive and epic movie about the attack, which was nominated for five golden Raspberry awards, won an Academy Award for sound effects, and would surely have nabbed the historical accuracy and patriotic inspiration awards if they existed.

This simple fact guts Stinnett’s case and the myriad like it - FDR certainly couldn’t have arranged the attack if he didn’t even know about it. Which he didn’t, as has already been established. President Frank was a morally correct, upstanding gentleman and “former Naval Person” himself. He was certainly taken by surprise when the yellow rats snuck in and smashed the Navy, just like Admirals Kimmel and Short are widely thought to have been, but without that troubling “dereliction.”

Which brings us to a serious point about historical accountability – those at the time of the attack charged with investigating rightly pointed the blame at the failed defenders of the fleet, if they were a bit soft, referring only to “dereliction of duty.” But in recent decades there’s been a politically correct move to exonerate the names of these two negligent commanders – having their ranks reinstated after they both failed to prepare the Harbor and fleet despite several specific warnings. This is a troubling trend.

Independent resercher Oxnard R Kragg, in his recent book “Dereliction of Infamy,” reasons there can be no coincidence in Short and Kimmel both being “asleep at the switch” at the same time, just as everyone else was trying to raise the alarm for them about the obvious Japanese mobilization. This is a compelling point, and to back it up, Kragg has uncovered serious evidence that both commanders were secretly Communists, and probably agents of the Comintern! Previously unseen documents offered by Kragg make it more than likely the duo was in league with the USSR, to trick FDR from the inside into fighting the Japanese. The idea was that this would free up Stalin’s eastern front with Japan so he could focus on fighting the Nazis in Europe. As a perhaps intended side-effect, the attack forced the US to enter the war not just against the Japanese but the Germans as well, a fight in which many American soldiers were killed and the onset of the Cold War ensured.
All of this was avoidable, given existing islolationist sentiment, and the President’s own widely-stated desire to keep America out of the war at all costs. Recall the President’s pained words once his peace was shattered by Japanese bombers, that 12/7 would live in “infamy.” The Japs got off the hook easy – a little firebombing, two nukes, an occupation, and forced protectorate/tributary status and national techno-slavery, and you’re paid up, seems to have been our appeasement deal there. There are those that disingenuously try to pin the remaining domestic blame on FDR, and hardly anyone left with the courage to keep it where it belongs – on the traitors who sold us out from within. If history has taught me anything, and it hasn’t, a day cannot live in infamy by ignoring the dereliction at the heart of it.
ALL KIDDING ASIDE, The 12/7-9/11 Treadmill is back in operation after a hiatus of - dang! Two years! Keep an eye on this page.