Election 1944: Pearl Harbor data sought by Roosevelt (9-22-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (September 22, 1944)


Pearl Harbor data sought by Roosevelt

Attack knowledge denied by envoy

Washington (UP) –
Anyone who has information that this government knew 72 hours in advance of the Pearl Harbor attack that a Jap task force was steaming toward the Hawaiian Islands should submit that information to the military boards now investigating the Pearl Harbor case, President Roosevelt said today.

He told a news conference that there would be lots of things like that – referring to Republican charges that information about the Jap naval activity had been submitted to this government in advance of the attack – circulating from now until Nov. 7.

Reports awaited

Asked if he intended to order court-martial trials at any time soon for Army and Navy leaders at Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack, Mr. Roosevelt replied that there are two committees or boards working on that now and it would be just as well to wait to hear from them, He referred to the Army and Navy boards which are investigating all circumstances surrounding the attack.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hull revealed that Australian Minister Sir Owen Dixon had denied to the State Department that he had any advance information the Japs planned to attack American territory.

Sir Owen, who is departing to take a seat on the Australian High Court, was drawn into the running Pearl Harbor debate between Republicans and Democrats when Rep. Ralph E. Church (R-IL) read to the House yesterday an affidavit quoting Sir Owen as saying he had advance information of the Jap plans.

Two messages reported

In the last 72 hours before the Dec. 7, 1941, attack, Mr. Church said, Naval Intelligence sent the White House two messages based on the Australian information.

The officer who delivered the second warning, Mr. Church declared, told the White House: “This looks like a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and a midnight attack on the Philippines.”

The Roberts Commission which investigated the Pearl arbor disaster said that a last-minute warning had been flashed to Hawaii but did not arrive in time to prevent the attack.

Ex-West Pointer quoted

Mr. Church read the House what he said was a notarized statement by Sidney C. Graves, Washington insurance man and West Point graduate, saying that at a dinner on Dec. 7, 1943, Sir Owen told him and others in substance:

About 72 hours before Pearl Harbor, I received a flash warning from my Naval Intelligence that a Japanese task force was at sea and Australia should prepare for an attack; 24 hours later this was confirmed with a later opinion of Intelligence that the task force was apparently not aimed at Australian waters and perhaps was directed against some American possessions.

Finally on Dec. 7, 1941, my Intelligence stated, “We are saved. America is in the war. Pearl Harbor has been bombed.”

This Australian Minister was questioned by one of the guests as to whether this information was available to American authority and he stated in substance that it was if requested.

Some quarters here said there was “general knowledge,” before the Dec. 7 attack, that an enemy task force was roaming the Pacific, but that there was no expectation that it was headed for Pearl Harbor where a major part of the Pacific Fleet was at anchor.

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Why is he asking for it now? 3 years later? Because of the elections?

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Folks have been asking for three years already, the Roberts Commission didn’t fully settle matters. The election may have brought back the issue, but it did warrant further investigations after the election.