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A Classic Example of Flawed and Deceptive "Research"?,
This review is from: Day Of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor (Paperback)
Day of Deceit - The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor.
By Robert B. Stinnett. (New York: The Free Press, 1999. Pp. xiv, 386.
In 1999, Robert B. Stinnett, since 1986 a retired long-time employee of the Oakland Tribune, authored his book, Day of Deceit, based upon years of extensive personal research.
Attempting to personally blame Roosevelt for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is not new. Others have made similar assertions over the years. But Stinnett claims that through personally reviewing hundreds of thousands of documents, many obtained through use of the Freedom of Information Act, he found indisputable "proof" that Roosevelt actually knew of, and deliberately provoked, the Japanese attack.
A number of reviewers of Stinnett's book, perhaps impressed by 65 pages of some 595 footnotes (many quite lengthy) and accepting them carte blanche as valid, praised the book. But, as one would say, the devil is in the details.
Stinnett's conclusions rest on four major allegations. First, that Navy Lieutenant Commander McCollum drafted a memorandum dated October 7, 1940 for his boss, Navy Captain Anderson, entitled "Estimate of the Situation in the Pacific and Recommendations for Action by the United States." In it McCollum set forth eight steps which could be interpreted as provocative to Japan. Stinnett asserts that the President read or knew of this memorandum, and immediately adopted and carried out those eight steps "...to provoke Japan through a series of actions into an overt act: the Pearl Harbor attack."
Stinnett's own research proves otherwise. There were no forwarding endorsements on McCollum's October 7, 1940 memorandum. Stinnett found only a response to McCollum from a Captain Dudley Knox, commenting on its contents. Even though Stinnett admits that "no specific record has been found by the author indicating whether he (Captain Anderson, the addressee) or Roosevelt actually ever saw it," Stinnett goes on to claim that "a series of secret presidential routing logs plus collateral intelligence information in Navy files offer conclusive evidence that they (Roosevelt and Captain Anderson) did see it."
However, if one tries to find the "secret presidential routing logs" cited by Stinnett in his lengthy footnote 8, no secret presidential routing logs are even mentioned, let alone cited. When asked about this, Stinnett replied that the logs he had referenced in footnote 8 (apparently by mistake) "are fully described" in footnote 37 on page 314. But this footnote deals with radio intercepts, not McCollum's memorandum.
It is clear after delving into Stinnett's footnotes that there is no "conclusive evidence," in fact no evidence whatsoever, that Roosevelt saw or even knew of McCollum's memorandum. Stinnett has proved just the opposite of his own oft repeated allegation that Roosevelt adopted McCollum's eight point program. Through Stinnett's own exhaustive research, we now know that there is not one scintilla of documentary evidence that President Roosevelt saw, knew of, or adopted McCollum's proposals.
Stinnett's second major allegation is that Roosevelt prevented Admiral Kimmel from conducting a training exercise that would have uncovered the oncoming Japanese Fleet. Stinnett provides no relevant documents to support his allegation. Stinnett does quote Admiral Turner (at the time of Pearl Harbor, Director of Navy Plans in Washington, D.C.), testifying before Congress after the war, as proof that the Navy had been ordered out of the area where Nagumo's task force was headed:
"We were prepared to divert traffic when we believed that war was imminent. We sent
the traffic down via Torres Strait, so that the track of the Japanese task force would be
clear of any traffic."
What is bothersome is that Turner never made this statement. What Stinnett has done is cobble together phrases of Admiral Turner's testimony from different sentences to arrive at the above quoted statement. The reading of Turner's actual testimony leaves a different meaning
But the mort serious flaw facing Stinnett is that Admiral Kimmel himself, for years fighting to restore his dignity and reversing the belief of many that he was negligent in permitting his Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor to be so surprised, never once stated, suggested or hinted in the hundreds of pages of his testimony before various investigative bodies, in his own book, or in any of his speeches, that he was prevented from finding the Japanese task force. In fact, he did not believe that the Japanese were about to attack Pearl.
Kimmel's own testimony totally disproves Stinnett's second allegation:
"In short, all indications of the movements of Japanese military and naval forces which came to
my attention confirmed the information in the dispatch of 27 November - that the Japanese were
on the move against Thailand or the Kra Peninsula in southeast Asia."
"In brief, in the week immediately prior to Pearl Harbor, I had no evidence that the
Japanese carriers were enroute to Oahu."
Conducting and then concluding a standard annual war game north of Hawaii by some ships of the Pacific Fleet some two weeks before December 7th, is hardly evidence, as Stinnett claims, of Kimmel being prevented from discovering the Japanese attack force.
The remaining two major allegations, one being that the Japanese task force actually sent radio messages while on the way to Pearl, the other that many Japanese secret messages about the planned attack on Pearl Harbor were not only intercepted but were deciphered and translated before the attack, have already been discredited by experts in cryptology and radio communications, as well as by noted historians of Pearl Harbor, such as Gordon W. Prange and John Prados.
An analysis of much of the research done by Stinnett and his quotes raise serious questions about the accuracy and relevance of many of his claims. Any serious student of Pearl Harbor needs to look carefully at Stinnett's research before concluding that he has really uncovered any thing new.
Richard E. Young, RADM, USNR (Ret)
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Showing 1-10 of 31 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 8, 2008 11:40:42 AM PST
Evelyn White says:
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 29, 2008 2:37:47 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Oct 18, 2011 1:55:39 AM PDT
Vade Mecum says:
Young's review ends with:
"Any serious student of Pearl Harbor needs to look carefully at Stinnett's reseach before concluding that he has uncovered any thing new."
What means "... any thing new." as used? Why? For example, is the McCollum action memorandum not new to the public? Or, is the TESTM material not new to the public?
For example, in the Afterword section of the paperback edition, beginning on page 261, is a TESTM report done for STATION H for late August 1941. On pages 266-267 is the level of detail available then for AKAGI, viz., To and From addresses, frequencies used, tactical call sign (8 E YU) and alternate administrative call sign (HA MI 9), and bearings as reported by several RDF intercept stations. This report is "new" to the public thanks to Stinnett and displays a USN "state of the art" capability.
Posted on Jan 20, 2009 12:51:44 PM PST
Michael McShane, PhD says:
It isn't necessary to find FDR guilty of a conspiracy. That Pearl Harbor even happened under this reign is the height of incompetence. Why this man is revered is beyond reason, especially those by those who served in WW2.
Posted on Jan 27, 2009 7:55:02 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 27, 2009 7:56:10 AM PST
The Lost One says:
The fox sticking up for the big bad wolf, how not surprising. After more than 60 years, there shouldn't be anything that is so secrative it can't be told because it is a true "threat to national security". Evil does it's work in darkness and the excuse of "threat to national security" for keeping secrets has become synomous for hiding the guilty. FDR was just a puppet, like the several before him and all the ones after him. The men behind the curtain wanted war so they schemed the sheeple. Just like they did in the past and still do today, Reichstag 101.
Posted on Apr 20, 2009 10:17:38 AM PDT
Peter R. Dinella says:
Posted on Apr 21, 2009 3:21:52 PM PDT
Thomas Christman says:
The big argument against FDR being aware of the attack is that hitting Pearl was one of the dumbest things the Japanese did. They could have easily started the way by attacking the Phlippines first. Then the fleet, run by battleship champions, would have sailed to the rescue, to probably be outclassed and destroyed in just the battle the Japanese always wanted with the U.S. Fleet at the end of a impossibly long supply train.
Prang, Toland and Morrison, the three heavyweights of Pacific War history, didn't buy into this idea. What was really going on is that the Japanese thought of us as a rather soft, weak society that would fold. We thought of them as incapable of pulling off such an attack, even though our own carriers proved it could be done in three or four war games.
Personally, I put this right up there with those who think the Brits sank the Lusitania to get us into WWI
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 25, 2010 9:32:16 AM PDT
Jerold L. Paulson says:
Somehow I suspect that you don't have the same opinion of George W. Bush despite the incontrovertible fact that he actually did have advance warning of Bin Laden's plans for 9/11 and did absolutely nothing to deter them.
From the 9/11 Commission's report:
"During the spring and summer of 2001, U.S. intelligence agencies received a stream of warnings about an attack al Qaeda planned, as one report puts it "something very, very, very big." Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet told us "the system was blinking red.""
The following is the text of an item from the Presidential Daily Brief received by President George W. Bush on August 6, 2001. Redacted material is indicated by brackets.
Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US
Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate Bin Ladin since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US. Bin Ladin implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and "bring the fighting to America."
After US missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, Bin Ladin told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a [--] service.
An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told an [--] service at the same time that Bin Ladin was planning to exploit the operative's access to the US to mount a terrorist strike.
The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of Bin Ladin's first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the US. Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the FBI that he conceived the idea to attack Los Angeles International Airport himself, but that Bin Ladin lieutenant Abu Zubaydah encouraged him and helped facilitate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaydah was planning his own US attack.
Ressam says Bin Ladin was aware of the Los Angeles operation.
Although Bin Ladin has not succeeded, his attacks against the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks. Bin Ladin associates surveilled our Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam as early as 1993, and some members of the Nairobi cell planning the bombings were arrested and deported in 1997.
Al-Qa'ida members--including some who are US citizens--have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks. Two al-Qua' da members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our embassies in East Africa were US citizens, and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1990s.
A clandestine source said in 1998 that a Bin Ladin cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks.
We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a [--] service in 1998 saying that Bin Ladin wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of "Blind Shaykh" 'Umar 'Abd al-Rahman and other US-held extremists.
Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.
Posted on Jul 7, 2010 12:44:18 AM PDT
M. Ivey says:
Didn't FDR say he would lie to win the war? lol (Not the only time he admitted he was prone to fibbing)
Posted on Aug 12, 2010 1:30:50 PM PDT
Mark E. Baxter says:
It seems that only by carefully ignoring lots of other data and placing over-emphasis on a few footnotes could you come to your conclusion, Admiral. There were many other sources other than this memo for Roosevelt's thoughts and attempts to ge the US in the war. This became vital only after Russia, who along with Germany started WWII when they invaded Poland, was attacked by Germany and the Communists in Roosevelt's government decided we had better get in the war. And there was that courts-martial of 1944, kept secret by Secretary Knox, that exhonerated Kimmel and Short and blamed Marshall among others. Dozens of interecepted messages kept from Kimmel disgusted the Admirals on that board. And of course when both Japanese assistant naval attaches confirmed that the attack message was indeed sent on December 4th shoujld put to rest any reasonable doubts about whether Roosevelt supressed this information.
And when the "father of naval cryptography", Captain Safford says the same thing as the author, I would say that his thesis is pretty well proved.
One of your quotes of Kimmel is that he didn't know the Japanese were coming. This is of course true because the information was kept from him. Kimmel, a fine officer, figured out for himself where he ought to look for a Japanese attack. Then he was ordered not to carry out his plan. The fact that he didn't know has no bearing on the fact that he still would have greatly diminished the 3000 deaths on Roosevelt's bloody hands if he had been left alone.
Gordon Prange, a staff historian of MacArthur's, never finished his book and never saw many of the documents that Stinnett pried loose using Freedom of Information requests. As you are a student of Pearl Harbor, I'm surprised not only that you don't seem to know this but also that you would cite his flawed and incomplete study, competed by a couple of grad students, as evidence.
To anyone reading this, read the book and make up your own mind. There is lots of other evidence that Stinnett is right.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2010 8:42:59 AM PDT
George D. Setzer Jr. says: