On the Politics of National Commission

MMN April 17th article, " The Politics of National Commission," by William Hughes suggests that the Pearl Harbor Roberts Commission was "dubious," because its objective was "damage control. . .and not the finding of truth." This puts it mildly and does not capture the deception involved.

The Roberts Commission, convened 11 days after the Pearl Harbor attack to investigate the matter, deliberated for 36 days, and published its entire report 47 days after the attack. The Roberts Commission found that the Pearl Harbor commanders, Adm. Husband Kimmel and Gen. Walter Short, were "solely responsible for the success of the Japanese attack," and "derelict in their duty." It further found, beyond its charter, that President Roosevelt, Secretary of State Hull, Secretary of War Stimson, Secretary of the Navy Knox, Chief of Staff of the Army Marshall, and Chief of Naval Operations Stark, all in Washington, did a good job.

In 1973, former Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, Adm. J.O. Richardson, Kimmel’s predecessor, said that, "the Report of the Roberts Commission was the most unfair, unjust, and deceptively dishonest document ever printed by the Government Printing Office." Adm. Richardson was only able to say that because on February 21, 1944, 806 days after the attack, Capt. Laurance Safford blew the whistle to Adm. Kimmel about America’s success decrypting Japanese codes prior to the Pearl Harbor attack.

The decrypted codes gave indications of the place of the Pearl Harbor attack, the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, the reason for the Pearl Harbor attack, and the deceit plan to cover the Pearl Harbor attack. Kimmel and Short received none of this information even though it was available in Washington, Manila and London. After learning about this, Adm. Kimmel initiated the next eight Pearl Harbor inquiries, and not surprisingly, the only one that accorded him the opportunity to defend himself — the Naval Court of Inquiry — exonerated him.

Congress passed a law in 2000 recommending that this administration advance Kimmel and Short on the retired list. To date, the administration has not done so, and refuses to release requested information explaining why.

Perhaps the following hypothetical comparison between the 9/11 and Pearl Harbor attacks will drive home my point that the Roberts Commission procedure was duplicitous. If the present Administration had proceeded after 9/11 as the FDR Administration proceeded after Pearl Harbor, it would have had to adhere to the following rigorous time schedule:

1. Nine days after the attack–appoint a sitting Supreme Court Associate Justice to head a Commission to investigate the military contribution to the disaster only;

2. Ten days after the attack–fire and replace the Commander-in-Chief Joint Forces Command Army General W. F. Kernan;

3. Eleven days after the attack–convene the Commission to begin its 36-day investigation; and

4. Forty-seven days after the attack–release the entire Commission Report finding that General Kernan was "solely responsible for the success of the 9/11 attacks," and "derelict in his duty," and further finding, beyond its charter that, the President, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the DCI, and the Director of the FBI, all did a good job.