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De-Classified 1941 Navy Memo Hints US Knew Hawaii Attack Was Coming

Did President Franklin D. Roosevelt know the December 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was coming?  A newly de-classified memo to FDR reveals there were signs that something was going to happen at Hawaii, but no one knew what it would be or when it would happen.

Three days before the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt was warned in a memo from naval intelligence that Tokyo’s military and spy network was focused on Hawaii.  This is a new and eerie reminder of FDR’s failure to act on a basket load of tips that war was near.

In the newly revealed 20-page memo from FDR’s declassified FBI file, the Office of Naval Intelligence on December 4 warned, “In anticipation of open conflict with this country, Japan is vigorously utilizing every available agency to secure military, naval and commercial information, paying particular attention to the West Coast, the Panama Canal and the Territory of Hawaii.”

via Three Lions, Getty Images

The memo is published in the new book December1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World.

The author, historian and Reagan biographer Craig Shirley, doesn’t blame FDR for blowing it, but he does say it “does suggest that there were more pieces to the puzzle” that the administration missed.

He compares these missed signals to the terrorist attacks on America on 9/11, which also show the Clinton and Bush administrations missed clear signals that an attack was coming.

“So many mistakes through so many levels of Washington,” Shirley says. “Some things never change.”

via Declassified Memo Hinted of 1941 Hawaii Attack – Washington Whispers (

The 70th anniversary of the attack is next month.

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