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Does Anyone Still Believe FDR Was Right to Blame Kimmel and Short?

Discussion in 'Pearl Harbor' started by Michael Timothy Griffith, Jan 30, 2022.

  1. Michael Timothy Griffith

    Michael Timothy Griffith Member

    Jan 16, 2022
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    I was honestly surprised to see such blanket acceptance of the Roberts Commission's long-discredited claims in this forum. I had to chuckle when someone cited the ridiculous and contradictory Dorn Report as their reason for accepting the Roberts Commission. If you read the Dorn Report, you discover that it is a mix of lame arguments and some surprising admissions. Here are some of the admissions:

    Officials in Washington did not send Admiral Kimmel and General short other information, derived from the *Magic* project that broke the Japanese code, that might have given them a greater sense of urgency and caused them to surmise that Hawaii was a likely target. For example, Washington did not tell them that Japanese agents in Hawaii had been instructed to report on the precise location of ships at Pearl Harbor.

    General Sort was ordered to undertake "reconnaissance and other measures ... ", but his instructions were muddied somewhat by advice to avoid actions that would "alarm [Hawaii's] civil population or disclose intent."

    Admiral Kimmel and General short had cordial personal relations but felt it inappropriate to inquire into one another's professional domains. This apparently was the standard at the time. General Short's mission was to defend the fleet in Hawaii; Admiral Kimmel apparently never asked in detail about General Short's plans. Admiral Kimmel 's mission was to prepare for offensive operations against Japan.

    Admiral Kimmel requested a court martial in order to clear his name, but the request was not acted on. There is an allegation that the government feared bringing charges because a court martial would have put other senior military and civilian leaders in a bad light. This is possible. But it is equally possible that there simply were not sufficient grounds to sustain a successful prosecution.

    Historians who write about Pearl Harbor seem to be divided into three camps: those who hold Admiral Kimmel and General short partly (but not solely) responsible; those who believe they were scapegoats; and those who lay much of the blame on bureaucratic factors such as the lack of coordination between the Army and the Navy.

    COMMENT: Yes, indeed. Very few historians peddle the Roberts Commission's condemnation of Kimmel and Short. But, wow, a whole bunch of people in this forum do exactly that.

    None of the official reports ever held that Admiral Kimmel and General Short were solely responsible for the Pearl Harbor disaster, although the Roberts Commission came close. Later reports exchewed [sic] the [Roberts Commission's] stinging "dereliction of duty" rebuke in favor of "errors of judgment."

    COMMENT: Part of this passage is inexcusably wrong, but I quote it to show that Dorn rejected the view that Kimmel and Short were solely to blame for Pearl Harbor. Dorn's statement about "later reports" is erroneous because it ignores the fact that the Navy Court of Inquiry (NCI) strongly exonerated Kimmel and blamed Washington officials for severe failures, and that the Army Pearl Harbor Board (APHB) voiced only very mild criticisms of Short and placed most of the blame on Washington authorities.

    Admiral Kimmel and General short did not have all the resources they felt necessary. Had they been provided more intelligence and clearer guidance, they might have understood their situation more clearly and behaved differently. Thus, responsibility for the magnitude of the Pearl Harbor disaster must be shared.

    COMMENT: A refreshingly reasonable statement, but this is followed by the following inexcusably false statement:

    But this is not a basis for contradicting the conclusion, drawn consistently over several investigations, that Admiral Kimmel and General Short committed errors of judgment.

    COMMENT: Total hogwash. The NCI markedly exonerated Kimmel. The APHB cleared Short of any major errors. Both the NCI and the APHB unabashedly pointed the finger at Washington officials. Furthermore, the very first investigative report, written by Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox after he visited Pearl Harbor a few days after the attack, did not accuse Kimmel and Short of any serious failures (the first version of the report, not the revised version issued under pressure from FDR). What's more, the Hart Inquiry did not cite Kimmel for any errors or failures, and it produced a wealth of information that exonerates Kimmel.
  2. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

    Jun 5, 2008
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    I hope it was as good a chuckle as you hear when people read your posts, while cleaning the parakeet cage.

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