SAN JOSE, December 7, 2014 (reprinted from Dec. 7. 2013 )— The successful surprise attack against the naval base at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, by the Japanese Empire shocked America and the people of the Free World.
Yet, there have been any number of conspiracy theories that claim the United States government, including Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was aware of the pending bombing of the military installation in Hawaii. Similar conspiracy theories surfaced after the terrible terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
In reality however, such conspiracy theories serve primarily to confuse, to distract, and churn distrust of the U.S. government during turbulent times. It also causes Americans to question reality, and wonder whether the U.S. could actually be the cause of such devastation and destruction.
A question like this surfaced not long after the tragedy on December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor. Even though President Roosevelt went before Congress the very next day to request that the Legislative body declare war on the Empire of Japan, the nation was in a state of shock as it learned of the incredible loss of life in the horrendous “man-made disaster.”
People wanted to know, and more than a few demanded to know, how the mighty United States could be so unprepared for such an insideous attack. And of course, the rumor mill turned and the conspiracy theorists churned out their speculative charges. Some rumors even cast suspicion upon FDR, who was seen as seeking excuses to draw the country into war.
Amidst the rumors, investigations by high ranking government officials, both in the military and the political arena, examined the level of preparedness of the U.S. Military, and especially the nation’s intelligence gathering procedures, prior to the tragedy at Pearl Harbor. In this time, some scandalous rumors circulated that the President, desiring that the U.S. enter the fray, redeployed the U.S. fleet to Pearl Harbor, and intentionally left the installation unguarded as a way of baiting the Japanese militants to take advantage of the opportunity.
Soon after the attack, in December, President Roosevelt appointed a commission headed by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Owen Roberts (nominated to the Supreme Court by President Hoover) to investigate the incident.
The Roberts Commission, as it was known, was tasked to investigate the tragedy and provide the facts pertaining to the attack. It also seemed to be tasked with assigning blame, as the commission ultimately determined that the commanders at Pearl Harbor, Admiral Kimmel and General Short, were guilty of “dereliction of duty.” Since it was only a fact-finding commission, no legal charges were brought against these two officers. Nevertheless, it was not the end of the blame game, and eventually the entire issue became a political battle, and the question regarding the real cause of this tragedy was ultimately taken up by the U.S. Congress to investigate what the U.S. had done to incite the attack.