Letter to the Editor

Action was taken prior to attack

Friday, April 30, 2004

To the editor:

Paul Greenberg is correct in his April 24 column in stating that the Japanese diplomatic code had been broken shortly before the Pearl Harbor attack, but he is incorrect in implying that President Roosevelt did nothing to prevent the attack.

The intercepted Japanese message did not state anything about the attack. It was an order for the personnel at the Japanese Embassy in Washington, D.C., to destroy all classified documents. Such an order might mean that the Japanese were going to attack us, but not necessarily.

On Nov. 27, 1941, 10 days prior to the attack, Adm. Husband Kimmel, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, received a dispatch sent to him from Washington by Adm. Richmond K. Turner. Decoded, the first sentence of that dispatch read: "This is to be considered a war message." Kimmel took security measures, but his search planes simply missed the Japanese aircraft carrier task force that approached from the north of the Hawaiian Islands.

The history of the Pearl Harbor attack can be found in Dr. Gordon Prange's book, "At Dawn We Slept." During the war, Prange served in the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet.


Cape Girardeau