With the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor recently past, I am often reminded of different claims that the allies (Churchill or, particularly, Roosevelt) knew about the attacks, yet did nothing to stop them because, you know, they just wanted war and death and blood and global imperialism by having the US fleet destroyed, etc. Thankfully, there are some objective historians who can present the facts as they are, as Ron Hegelmo does here.
As for claims that Japanese messages should have been decoded, Hegelmo notes:
Duane Whitlock, unlike Mr. Nave, was there, on Corregidor, working on the Japanese codes. “I can attest from first-hand experience that as of 1 December 1941 the recovery of JN-25B had not progressed to the point that it was productive of any appreciable intelligence,” stated Whitlock-“not even enough to be pieced together by traffic analysis….It simply was not within the realm of our combined cryptologic capability to produce a usable decrypt at that particular juncture.”
In the early 1990s the U.S. Navy transferred all its cryptologic archives from Crane, Indiana to the National Archives in Washington. This includes 26,581 JN-25 intercepts from 1 September to 7 December. All of these are available for public review. Frederick Parker, who studied 2413 of these intercepts, argues in the film that had they been read at the time, they would have provided clear evidence of the impending attack on Pearl Harbor.
Rusbridger and Nave, in their book, claim they were read, but offer no evidence.
Well, here is the evidence: The 2413 pre-Pearl Harbor intercepts had been decrypted by Navy cryptologists after the war while they were waiting to be mustered out of the service. While Parker makes a strong circumstantial case that the attack would have been discovered had these messages been read, cryptologists at that time would not have been looking just at the 2413 intercepts; they would have been looking at all 26,581. Would they have been able to discern the relevant information from all that noise?
As for the Churchill as warmonger meme that inevitably pops up from time to time, you cannot do better than reading the response to such claims from way back in the summer of 2004 in Finest Hour (issue 123) by Michael McMenamin, in which he tackles many other inaccuracies raised by certain far right and far left critics. So, read from the link below if you’re interested.
Finest Hour 123 can be found here in PDF form among many other excellent past issues.