FDR and Pearl Harbor

franklin delano roosevelt

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

The History Channel showed their documentary about Pearl Harbor and President Delano Roosevelt yesterday afternoon. The program questions if the president knew that Pearl Harbor was going to be attacked in advance of the attack.

There were representatives from both sides who expounded their views on the subject. Those believing the president knew think he and/or his staff knew about the impending attacks and prevented those who needed to know about the attacks from receiving the intelligence they needed to prepare for a defense against the attacks.

Different Views On Japanese Codes

Those believing the president knew said that the Japanese code had been broken by the American military intelligence so the president would have had that news available to him.

The other side stated in the program that the Japanese code had not been broken so it was not possible for the president to know of the attack in advance.

Little Support For U.S. Involvement In World War II

The American people were not interested before the attack in getting involved in foreign intanglements even though Germany and Japan were on a quest to take over as many countries as possible.

Roosevelt’s accusers thought that he kept the intelligence to himself so that when Japan attacked he could have the support of the American people if he and Congress declared war on Japan and Germany.

Unlikely Scenario

However it is difficult to think an American president would let over 2,000 die at Pearl Harbor die so he could pursue his agenda of involving the United States in both the European and Pacific theaters in World War II.

It would be treason if Roosevelt did in fact know the Japanese fleet was on the way to Pearl Harbor with fighter planes aboard the ships.

FDR Not Likely To Sacrifice Lives At Pearl Harbor

Roosevelt may have very well wanted the United States of America to enter World War II but I find it difficult to believe an American president would sacrifice American lives to enter the war. If he did indeed know about the attacks it could have resulted in a trial where he would be tried for treason and sentenced to life in prison or face execution.

I am not a fan of Roosevelt’s presidency but on the other hand I don’t believe in making charges that could damage his reputation unless there is concrete evidence connecting him with the crime of treason.

It has been 68 years since the attack on Pearl Harbor and it seems like if there was any smoking gun evidence it would have surfaced by now.

Pacific Commanders Apparent Scapegoats

If there was a conspiracy to prevent the Pacific commanders Admiral Kimmel and General Short from knowing in advance that Pearl Harbor was the target for the Japanese on December 7, 1941 it explains why they were charged with not being prepared for the attacks. They seem to be scapegoats for the Pearl Harbor attack even though they apparently had very limited intelligence.

The following interview of Kimmel shows he clearly felt that the president intentionally withheld the intelligence information the Pacific commanders needed so badly:


The internet is full of information of what happened prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. However there is still not a smoking gun that proves the president knew in advance of the attack.

If Pearl Harbor had been attacked in this era the media would have made an exhaustive study of what happened on that day the days prior to the attack regarding intelligence. If Roosevelt had been aware of the attack he probably would be facing trial in this era.

We may never know exactly how much Roosevelt knew about the attacks since anyone 30 years old back then would be close to 100 years old now. Even a 20 year old at the time of the attack would be 88 years old now.


Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

2 thoughts on “FDR and Pearl Harbor”

  1. On December 7, 1941 the President of the United States was asked: “How did the Japanese catch us with our pants down?” The Congress of the United States later asked: “one enigmatical and paramount question . . . . [w]hy was it possible for a Pearl Harbor to occur?” On December 11, 1941, the Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, thought he had the answer and sent it to the President immediately: Army and Navy Intelligence in Washington, DC had learned the entire Japanese attack plan days before the attack, and sent it to Admiral Kimmel, the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet in Hawaii, who did nothing about it.

    Supreme Court Associate Justice Owen Roberts, Chairman of the Roberts Commission, the tribunal immediately appointed to investigate the Pearl Harbor disaster, tried but could not prove that Kimmel had this information and failed to act on it. But then Roberts put blinders on and failed to follow Mr. Hoover’s logically suggested written investigative leads in Washington, D.C., as to whether this information was available in Washington and simply not sent to Hawaii. And then later, Roberts inexplicably lied to Congress about where he got the original allegation against Kimmel.
    Tom Kimmel

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