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Old 07 December 2008, 12:54 AM
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Icon104 Report Debunks Theory That the U.S. Heard a Coded Warning About Pearl Harbor

It has remained one of World War IIís most enduring mysteries, one that resonated decades later in the aftermath of Sept. 11: Who in Washington knew what and when before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941?

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/07/us/07pearl.html
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  #2  
Old 15 December 2008, 09:55 PM
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Originally Posted by snopes View Post
It has remained one of World War IIís most enduring mysteries, one that resonated decades later in the aftermath of Sept. 11: Who in Washington knew what and when before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941?

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/07/us/07pearl.html
Frankly as an amateur scholar of World War 2, I find this amazing. Virtually every book I have read on the subject has been in agreement on this matter that the United States was well aware, had this communique, had translated it, and knew its meaning. Not everyone took it to Jellicoe levels of conspiracy monging, but I am at a loss of how to reconcile this with my previous readings. If this turns out to be exactly accurate, I am going to have to buy a lot of revised editions in the near future.
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Old 16 December 2008, 06:49 AM
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According to RADM Edwin Layton, in his book "And I was there", the winds message had been decoded on 28 Nov 1941, but indicated a possible break in relations, not war. This is a different story then the winds message was a certain war message. Also, the winds message was not made available to Commanders in the Pacific.
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Old 16 December 2008, 04:08 PM
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According to RADM Edwin Layton, in his book "And I was there", the winds message had been decoded on 28 Nov 1941, but indicated a possible break in relations, not war. This is a different story then the winds message was a certain war message.Also, the winds message was not made available to Commanders in the Pacific.
Which certainly could be where the "Washington knew about it but sat on it" story came from. I would think that if we knew that Japan was breaking off diplomatic relations, we would inform our Pacific Fleet to be on heightened awareness.
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Old 16 December 2008, 10:11 PM
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From whta I've read, the US were aware that the Japanese wanted to sever diplomatic realations, and as the Pearl Harbour attack happened the Ambassador was waiting at the State department. He was however unaware of the pending attack, and was not instructed to declare war. I have been told that Japanese codes were relatively insecure (especially compared with the German Enigma machine code), as the Japanese did not think many westerners understood japanese.
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Old 17 December 2008, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr. Winston O'Boogie View Post
Which certainly could be where the "Washington knew about it but sat on it" story came from. I would think that if we knew that Japan was breaking off diplomatic relations, we would inform our Pacific Fleet to be on heightened awareness.
With the deteriorating relations, the military in the Pacific was placed on higher alert. However, at Pearl Harbor, it was an alert status to guard against possible sabotage, which helped the Japanese because the aircraft in the area were parked close together to be watched more efficiently instead of dispersed if they had been expecting an aerial attack.

One thing to remember is that the attack was a brilliant and audacious plan. Even after the successful Royal Navy attack on the Italian Navy at Taranto earlier in the year, the US Navy believed that Pearl Harbor was too shallow for a successful torpedo attack (the Japanese also modified their torpedoes to run shallower than normal), plus the efficacy of aerial attack against capital ships was still poorly appreciated by much of the naval staff.
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Old 17 December 2008, 04:35 PM
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I have been told that Japanese codes were relatively insecure (especially compared with the German Enigma machine code), as the Japanese did not think many westerners understood japanese.
Of course codebreakers would have plenty of Japanese speakers on staff; part of codebreaking requires very advanced linguistic study.

Japanese codes were made by writing in katakana, then transliterating them to the Latin alphabet, and encoding them. Unless this is carefully implemented, this introduces consonant-vowel patterns which can aid cracking.

The Japanese Diplomatic cipher ("Purple") copied an earlier cipher with a bad consonant-vowel implementation that the US had already exploited, so Purple was cracked very quickly.

Supposedly, the "declaration of war" meant to be delivered the US before the attack (but instead delivered during the attack) was intercepted and deciphered by the US several hours before the attack. But the language was so vague (unlike the declaration printed in Japanese newspapers after the attack, it didn't explicitly declare war or an end to diplomatic relations) that it would not have put US military forces on higher alert than they already were.

The Japanese Naval cipher ("JN-25") was much better designed, and was significantly altered just before Pearl Harbor, and several times during the war. The US broke it around 1942, in time to gain advance knowledge of Midway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rlobinske View Post
One thing to remember is that the attack was a brilliant and audacious plan. Even after the successful Royal Navy attack on the Italian Navy at Taranto earlier in the year, the US Navy believed that Pearl Harbor was too shallow for a successful torpedo attack (the Japanese also modified their torpedoes to run shallower than normal), plus the efficacy of aerial attack against capital ships was still poorly appreciated by much of the naval staff.
In 1932, the US armed forces held Grand Joint Exercise 4, a wargame based on the premise of Hawaii being captured by an enemy force, and US forces attempting to retake it. The strike to recapture Pearl Harbor utilized 97 fighter aircraft and 58 bomber and torpedo aircraft, launched from the carriers Lexington and Saratoga from northeast of Oahu. As would be seen in 1941, when two air forces of similar capacity engage each other, the air force launched by the fast-moving and difficult-to-locate airport is going to dominate.
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Old 17 February 2009, 02:07 PM
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when have facts mattered to a conspiracy theory...
they tend to get ignored when they don't fit their CT along with things like human fallacies such as racism,prejudice and general stupidity which are often one of the factors that allow an event to happen
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  #9  
Old 24 February 2009, 10:32 PM
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Originally Posted by PointySextant View Post
Frankly as an amateur scholar of World War 2, I find this amazing. Virtually every book I have read on the subject has been in agreement on this matter that the United States was well aware, had this communique, had translated it, and knew its meaning. Not everyone took it to Jellicoe levels of conspiracy monging, but I am at a loss of how to reconcile this with my previous readings. If this turns out to be exactly accurate, I am going to have to buy a lot of revised editions in the near future.
Yes, indeed. I'm not sure how important the message would have been...It merely signaled an impending diplomatic breech between the US and Japan. US forces in the Pacific had already been warned that hostilities with Japan were imminent. But I've never seen anything that decisively pointed to a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Some abnormal radio traffic and some odd coded messages don't add up to saying "We will attack Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 8th!". The general assumption was that the Japanese would go after US assets in the Far East.
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Old 25 February 2009, 05:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Delta-V View Post
Yes, indeed. I'm not sure how important the message would have been...It merely signaled an impending diplomatic breech between the US and Japan. US forces in the Pacific had already been warned that hostilities with Japan were imminent. But I've never seen anything that decisively pointed to a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Some abnormal radio traffic and some odd coded messages don't add up to saying "We will attack Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 8th!". The general assumption was that the Japanese would go after US assets in the Far East.
That has always been my understanding too. We were expecting Wake or the Phillipines, but Pearl was considered to far away for an attack.
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  #11  
Old 25 February 2009, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Alchemy View Post
Japanese codes were made by writing in katakana, then transliterating them to the Latin alphabet, and encoding them. Unless this is carefully implemented, this introduces consonant-vowel patterns which can aid cracking.
Just a very minor nitpick here but the diplomatic codes were alphabet-based but the naval codes were not (as the rest of your post hinted).

The US Navy and Army had both already done a huge amount of work to break the kana-based military codes and both already had two groups who were fluent in the Japanese version of Morse, as well as the predecessors to the wartime codes, more than ten years before the attack. Unfortunately for them, they wasted it by bickering between them instead of working together. (Sesame Street would not invent "cooperation" until 1969. )

I don't think either the Japanese military or diplomatic corps ever thought they'd be secure because "westerners don't understand Japanese". Not sure where that story comes from. They just thought their codes were secure. They weren't the only ones who made that mistake. The US thought its diplomatic codes were secure but the Japanese had probably broken them and the US never knew:
http://articles.latimes.com/2001/dec/07/news/mn-12562

Also, I don't think many who didn't buy the cover-up conspiracy thought that the US actually knew anything about the attack. One question that remains is whether or not the British (or other allies) did. (Not likely, of course.)
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