Monday, April 24, 2006

US Navy Spied On Japan

From Strategypage

April 23, 2006: Here is how the press of today might have reported on
the World War II American mission to kill Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the
master mind of the attack on Pearl Harbor. This operation made use of
an American secret weapon, a team of code breakers that had deciphered
the secret codes Japan used to send military messages via the radio.
Admiral Yamamoto was known to be a brilliant commander, and it was felt
that killing him would make it easier to defeat the Japanese, and save
American lives. At the time, taking down Yamamoto was considered a major
victory. But attitudes towards such operations, government secrets and
killing people, have changed.

Today, the media would have reacted differently:

San Francisco Chronicle, April 19, 1943: "SECRET MISSION SUCCESS
CLAIMED. Sources at Pearl Harbor report that an 'extremely successful' secret
mission against what was vaguely described as a 'very high-value
target' was carried out yesterday. American losses were said to be 'extremely
light' in this operation, which reportedly involved Army P-38

Washington Post, April 20, 1943: "YAMAMOTO DEAD? War Department sources
claim that Army P-38s belonging to the 347th Fighter Group shot down
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto in a mission that was described as 'very
difficult' and which 'banked on luck'. They cite intelligence information as
confirming the success of the mission and the identity of the target.
Spokesmen at Pearl Harbor and in the White House refused to comment, but
stated they would discuss matters at a 'later date' due to concerns
about 'operational security'."

Navy Department sources have confirmed that Secretary of the Navy Frank
Knox granted Admiral Chester W. Nimitz permission to order Admiral
William F. Halsey, Commander of the allied in the South Pacific, to launch
an attack with the express intention of killing Admiral Isoroku
Yamamoto, the alleged mastermind of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The
authorization was prompted by what Navy Department sources said was
'extremely reliable intelligence' about Yamamoto's plans for an inspection

BROKEN. The United States has broken several major Japanese codes, and in
doing so, has done what sources describe as 'severe damage' to the
Japanese war effort. Among the successes apparently attributable to this
effort are the repelled invasion of Port Moresby, the destruction of four
Japanese aircraft carriers at Midway, the recent series of battles
around Guadalcanal, and the recent assassination of Admiral Isoroku
Yamamoto by U.S. Army pilots. The Navy Department declined comment on these
revelations, but off the record, sources indicated that various
codebreaking efforts have gone on since the 1930s. One of those said to be
responsible for the early successes is Commander Joe Rochefort, who was
recently reassigned from his post at Pearl Harbor. When contacted at his
current assignment, Commander Rochefort declined comment. Reportedly
overseeing the effort at Hawaii is Captain Edwin T. Layton, the officer in
charge of intelligence at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack who was
retained by Admiral Nimitz."

ATTACK. A Navy Department source claimed that Captain Edwin T. Layton,
intelligence officer to the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, was once
on 'very good terms' with Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto during his time as a
naval attaché in Tokyo in the late 1930s, was the deciding factor in
the request by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz's decision to recommend the
mission that killed the Japanese admiral. Layton, who also served under
Nimitz's predecessor, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, has reportedly been
testifying at various inquiries involving the attack that destroyed or
severely damaged seven of the Pacific Fleet's battleships."

Editorial, New York Times, May 5, 1943: "It seems apparent that the
Department of the Navy has established a program to not only break enemy
codes, but to also listen in on their radio conversations. This
development, while understandable, poses a serious threat to the civil
liberties of Americans. Radio waves cross borders, and if the federal
government is capable of listening to radios, then are telephones that far
behind? Furthermore, what limits should be placed on the actions of the
government in time of war? Is assassination of enemy leadership to be
permitted? And what of the motivations of Captain Layton? Was his reported
recommendation for the attack to go forward really the best advice
given, or was it payback for the humiliation suffered by his former
commander? Congress needs to hold hearings on this program as soon as

Editorial, New York Times, May 19, 1943: "In the wake of the
controversy over the U.S. Navy's eavesdropping and codebreaking program, one
disturbing tendency has been the recent attacks on the press, claiming that
the revelations of this program have caused severe damage to the war
effort. calls for the FBI to begin an investigation into the revelation
of this program are nothing more than an attack on freedom of the press,
and should not be heeded."

- Harold C. Hutchison


Blogger American Crusader said...

Kevin, the press used to believe in discretion and were more interested in the success of our war effort then making headlines and getting a "scoop". Two completely different breeds of journalist.
Of course though our information gathering agencies were a different breed than those we have today also.

April 24, 2006  
Blogger kevin said...

Change discretion to America and I totally agree.

April 24, 2006  

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