The Japanese diplomats had been instructed to deliver the Final Memorandum at 1 P.M., but it was not brought to Secretary of State Hull until 2:20 P.M., with the attack well under way. The delay would later enable Japanese officials, wanting to escape the dishonor of making a sneak attack, to blame the tardy delivery on administrative bungling and on time spent decoding garbles. Subsequent research in the Japanese foreign ministry archives, however, makes manifest that the Japanese never intended a proper declaration of war. An entry in the Japanese war diary dated December 7 reads: "Our deceptive diplomacy is steadily proceeding toward success." On an idyllic Sunday morning, on an island demi-paradise, American blood was copiously spilled, the nation's pride wounded, and anger aroused until retribution became the only tenable response. "No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion," the President told Congress the next day in asking for a declaration of war, "the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory."
That same day Britain declared war on Japan. On December 11, Hitler kept his word to the Japanese and declared war on the United States. Senator Wheeler's leak of Rainbow Five appears to have figured into his decisions since, Hitler said, "... there has now been revealed in America President Roosevelt's plan by which, at the latest in 1943, Germany and Italy are to be attacked in Europe.... Germany and Italy have been finally compelled in view of this and in loyalty to the Tripartite Pact, to carry on the struggle against the United States and England jointly and side by side with Japan for the defense, and thus for the maintenance, of liberty and independence of their nations and empires." A leak engineered by isolationists to keep America out of war had helped produce the opposite effect.
Hitler had detailed knowledge of what had been said in the White House on the day of Pearl Harbor. The chain was long, but effective, and the first link was located astonishingly close to the President. The Swiss minister to the United States, fifty-two-year-old Dr. Charles Bruggmann, had previously served in Washington eighteen years before, when he had met and married Mary Wallace, the sister of FDR's vice president. Through the years, Henry Wallace developed a deep affection for his brother-in-law. They met often, and talked on the phone almost daily. Wallace felt safe in confiding to Bruggmann the most intimate secrets to which his position made him privy. Months before Pearl Harbor, on August 17, 1941, Wallace told Bruggmann about the briefing the President had given the cabinet regarding FDR's meeting on the Atlantic with Churchill. Soon after Pearl Harbor, Wallace told Bruggmann what he had heard and seen on the day of the attack as he sat among those summoned by the President. Whatever his family ties to the Vice President, Bruggmann was first of all a professional diplomat. What Wallace confided to him he cabled back to the Swiss foreign ministry in Bern. What Bruggmann did not know was that a German agent, code-named Habakuk, had penetrated the Swiss foreign ministry and read all of his reports. Thus, soon after Pearl Harbor, Habakuk was able to send a message to Berlin of "precise and reliable information" that Bruggmann had heard "in strictest confidence" from Vice President Wallace. He told his superiors, almost word for word, how FDR had characterized the first gathering as: "The most serious Cabinet session since Lincoln met with the Cabinet at the outbreak of the Civil War." The spy was further able to report the President's revelations of the losses the Japanese had inflicted at Pearl Harbor.
The blame for Pearl Harbor has been the assiduous study of eight official investigations, the most thoroughgoing of which, conducted by Congress after the war, ran to fifteen thousand pages of testimony. With the mass of intelligence available to President Roosevelt, with his capacity to read Japan's most secret communications at almost the same time that Japanese diplomats read them, with the pointed Japanese inquiries about Pearl Harbor's layout, known to American cryptanalysts, with his own admission that the Japanese Final Memorandum "means war," how could the President not have known, almost down to the hour, that Pearl Harbor would be attacked?
His seeming ignorance of the strike must be examined against three possible explanations. One, FDR genuinely did not know that Pearl Harbor was targeted. Two, he knew and deliberately did not act in order, as revisionist historians have claimed, to force America into a war that he believed was just but that most Americans did not want. Three, Prime Minister Churchill possessed intelligence, as again has been argued by revisionists, revealing the Japanese attack, but deliberately withheld it in order to see the United States drawn into war on Britain's side.
Choosing the correct one of these three explanations must be prefaced by an overarching question: Why did Japan choose to attack Pearl Harbor in the first place? The strike was intended not to entangle Japan in a protracted war against the United States, but as a knockout punch. It was supposed to eliminate America's floating fortress, the Pacific Fleet, and thus force the United States to withdraw from Southeast Asia and leave Japan free there to work its will. The blow was analogous to having one member of a gang take out the guard so that the rest can then rob the bank unimpeded. The Japanese were well aware that the United States had its attention focused on the war in Europe and that its president wanted to join that fight. They could not imagine that the Americans would undertake two prolonged wars, one across the Atlantic and one in the Pacific.
Against this backdrop, the question arises again, given the wealth of intelligence available to him, how could President Roosevelt not have divined that Pearl Harbor was the target? In retrospect, the clues seem to lead to that conclusion like lights on a well-marked runway. The truth, however, is that not one of the 239 messages intercepted between Tokyo and the Japanese envoys in Washington in the six months before December 7 ever mentioned Pearl Harbor. So closely held was the secret that even Nomura and Kurusu were left in the dark that the American base was to be attacked. Though told to wrap up their negotiations by November 25, a deadline extended to the 29th, and though told, "After that things are automatically going to change," the two envoys were never informed precisely of what these "things" were. After the war, Nomura told an interviewer that he had been "the worst-informed ambassador in history."
Based on the information FDR had in hand on the eve of Pearl Harbor, if asked if Japan was going to attack the United States, he would certainly have answered "Yes." He made clear this conviction in the War Council meeting of November 25 where, according to Stimson's diary, FDR stated, "We were likely to be attacked perhaps next Monday. ..." If asked if he knew with certainty where the Japanese would strike, he would have to have answered "No." Given the targets suggested in the Japanese intercepts, if asked if Pearl Harbor was in danger, he likely would have answered, "Probably not." Never in any report or intelligence, whether from agents or broken codes, did FDR ever receive a warning that said Pearl Harbor will be attacked. General Marshall told FDR that the harbor was invincible and a most unlikely target. It was, the general said, "... the strongest fortress in the world.... Enemy carriers, naval escorts and transports will begin to come under air attack at a distance of approximately 750 miles. This attack will increase in intensity until within 200 miles of the objective, the enemy forces will be subject to all types of bombardment closely supported by our most modern pursuit."
Undeniably, Roosevelt wanted to enter the war, but the war in Europe, which he had all but done in the Atlantic, lacking only a formal declaration. Yet, none of his speeches, warning of Nazi machinations in South America, threats to the Panama Canal, or the alleged unpremeditated U-boat attack against the destroyer Greer; had aroused sufficient public ire to lead the nation into that war. If then, a president wants war with Germany, why does he invite an attack on Japan'? Put another way, if Tom is itching to fight Dick, why provoke a fight with Harry'? Does the intelligence available to the President and his inner circle support the thesis that FDR invited the blow at Pearl Harbor to propel the country into the war?