Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Pearl Harbor and other mysteries

We live in a world full of mystery and the unexplained. There are the mysterious disappearances; what really happened to Joseph Force Crater, Jimmy Hoffa, Percy Fawcett, and Glen Miller? Why after five years a local boy named Sky Metalwala has not been found, when “everyone” knows that his mother, a Ukrainian immigrant, has all the answers?  There are the unexplained deaths; how did Edgar Allan Poe, George Reeves, Vince Foster and Caylee Anthony really die? Then there are the incidents of mysterious and unexplained phenomenon, like how did Donald Trump get elected president?

Of course, much that is “mysterious” and “unexplained” is so because the powers-that-be just don’t want us to know. I’m not talking about UFOs or Bigfoot, but similarities that our “advanced” society has with those some of us disparage as “barbaric.”  In their 2004 book Secrets Worth Dying For, David Hammer and Jeffrey Paul--two death row companions of Timothy McVeigh who claim that he revealed to them "secrets" that they promised not to speak of until after his execution--tell of the “mystery” of the plotting and carrying out of the Oklahoma City bombing by McVeigh and his supporters at the white supremacist encampment called Elohim City: “After receiving a tour of the Elohim City compound on 10/12/1993, McVeigh and (Terry) Nichols had a meeting with Andreas Strassmeir and several other men to discuss ‘direct action against the federal government’… Within months, McVeigh had joined two of the men he met at Elohim City in robbing banks (McVeigh served as the getaway driver) around the Midwest.”

Hammer and Paul tell us that these robberies were intended to finance an anti-government terrorist operation that had yet to find a “target,” until “In April 1994, in a meeting with Strassmeir and White Aryan Resistance leader Dennis Mahon, McVeigh first discussed blowing up the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City…In September 1994, McVeigh attended a series of planning meetings in Elohim City.” This sounds like a “conspiracy” to me.  There is more: “In early 1995,McVeigh and members of the Aryan Resistance from Elohim City were conducting practice runs of the bombing…Michael Brescia was chosen to accompany McVeigh on his bombing run…On April 8, McVeigh met in Tulsa with Brescia and Strassmeir to discuss the bombing…Brescia and other ARA members assisted McVeigh in loading explosives into the Ryder truck and mixing them…Brescia rode into Oklahoma City in the Ryder truck with McVeigh on 4/19/95, exiting at a stoplight and NW 5th Street and Harvey.  McVeigh then parked the truck in front of the Murrah Building and quickly walked in the direction of his getaway car.”

I suppose some people will dismiss the authors as "unreliable," but they couldn't possibly know such details unless McVeigh told them, and it is preposterous to believe that an action this "big" was carried out by McVeigh with only "assistance" from Nichols, and in fact the FBI did know of the connection between McVeigh, Elohim City and the bombing. The principle “mystery” and “unexplained” nature of the OKC bombing remains why this incident has been allowed to be encased in the “lone nut” category, instead of where it truly belongs—proof that there exists white domestic terrorist cells ready to commit atrocities if the right kind of fanatic is willing to take the “fall.”

Another “mystery” of the institutional kind is if George Bush had knowledge that a terrorist act of the magnitude of 9-11 was in the offing, and did nothing about it; is the “shock” we see in his eyes when the news is first whispered to him in that classroom one of horrific nature of the attack—or that he didn’t “know” the coming attack would be this horrific, and he did nothing to stop it? What are the “facts” that support the latter charge? The CIA in May, 2001 did issue a warning that there was a cell at that moment plotting a terrorist act in the country. In June, it was warned that an attack by Al-Qaeda was “imminent.” In August, two men who were a part of the operation, Mohamed al-Kahtani and Zacarias Moussaoui, were arrested, the former deported and the latter detained on immigration charges. Moussaoui was to have been one of the “pilots,” but he was regarded as “suspicious” at a flight school for only wanting to learn how to fly, not to land, a large aircraft. There were other such reports, but the FBI claims to have failed to “connect the dots.”

Is this true? It was reported that Filipino authorities warned the FBI that “several” Middle Eastern types were training at American flight schools; one of them allegedly suggested a plan to skyjack a large plane crash it into a government building. Was there an attempt to interrogate Moussaoui in the few weeks leading up to 9-11, and what did he tell the FBI? Did he tell them why he was in flight school only to learn to pilot a commercial jet while in the air? Did he tell them that an attack using hijacked planes was imminent? If so, did the FBI pass on this information to the Bush administration? And if so, why was there no “red alert” to airports and airlines to be on the “lookout” for suspicious persons? We do know that Bush and Dick Cheney were desirous of an “excuse” to invade Iraq, and in the aftermath of 9-11 they did falsely claim that Saddam Hussein “sponsored” the attack.

Today happens to be December 7, the 75th anniversary of another “mystery,” the attack on the Pearl Harbor naval base. There are a great many conspiracy theories about what was and what was not known by the government and the military before the attack. Just a week before the Japanese attack, a Hawaii newspaper boldly predicted a Japanese “strike” over that weekend, which didn’t happen but would occur a week later. Of course, the paper had no actual classified information to this effect, let alone statements to that effect made by the Japanese. More likely, because of the breakdown in negotiations between the U.S. and Japan (the Japanese thought that the U.S. should simply keep its nose out of Japan’s “sphere of influence”), it was assumed that conflict was inevitable, and sooner rather than later given Japan’s belligerent posture toward other nations it considered within its “sphere.” Where this “strike” would occur was the question, perhaps in the Philippines, which was in the U.S. “sphere.” But certainly not in “faraway” Hawaii.

Did the U.S. have some inkling that Japan was ready to strike Pearl Harbor, which was in fact in the planning phase for a year, despite opposition by many in the Japanese military? There does seem to be the belief that this is true, that U.S. intelligence did in fact decode Japanese transmissions that suggested an attack on the naval base was imminent. There is also the belief that “spies” had also gleaned this information and passed it on to U.S. officials, who ignored the warnings. There is also the theory the Roosevelt administration deliberately goaded the Japanese into an attack, in order to justify war against Germany.

The available evidence would suggest that there is in fact very little in any of this. U.S. cryptographers were constantly being challenged by new Japanese codes, and the resources (particularly in specialists and interpreters) to do so was limited because few in the military at the time had much “respect” for that job description, particularly as a career. There is no evidence to that Japanese codes that were “cracked” before or even soon after the attack gave any intimation that an attack on Pearl Harbor was in the offing.  The theory that the U.S. “intercepted” radio traffic from the oncoming Japanese fleet is also refuted by the fact that the Japanese successfully maintained radio silence until after the attack. 

While espionage activity did uncover the intention of a major attack, where remained a question. U.S. military planners had assumed—and were generally correct in doing so—that the Japanese strategy hoped not to destroy the U.S. fleet far from its shores, but nearer to “home,” when after conducting a defensive posture against U.S. forces that whittled-away its strength, it would conduct a “decisive” counter-attack that would destroy the U.S. remaining naval strength. Thus there was no expectation that Japan would venture so far to attack the U.S. 

Did the U.S. deliberately provoke the Japanese? Many in the administration counseled against it, and in fact war against Japan was counter to U.S. priorities at the time, since it was believed that Germany was the greater threat, and war with Japan would divert needed resources (at the time through Britain and Russia) to fight the Germans. After the attack there was likely some discussion about what country should be the primary focus of resources, and the U.S. in fact did not declare war on Germany until after Hitler had declared war on the U.S.

With the war on two sides of the world to fight, another episode that had been ongoing continued to be a “mystery” to most Americans. Yes, the U.S. and other countries were well aware of the outrages perpetrated by the Nazis against Jews, particularly after Kristallnacht. That led to the Evian Conference, in which “concerned” countries worried about the repercussions of mass emigration from Germany discussed how to “deal” with it. The 1938 meeting showed the world divided, as Chaim Weizmann said, between “those places where the Jews could not live and those where they could not enter.” The U.S. had a quota of 30,000 Jews immigrants per year, and despite the persecution in Nazi Germany, Jews were not allowed to enter the U.S. unless they could prove that they would not be a “ward of the state,” meaning that mere refugee status was insufficient to immigrate to this country—they either had to have employment waiting for them, or a relative or family member to support them. This did not change until the establishment of the War Refugee Board in 1944, after revelations of deliberate obstruction by the State Department of details of genocide as well as relief efforts, by which time “rescue” was too little and too late.

Perhaps it was that no one could believe that mass murder in the millions could be occurring, not in “civilized” Europe. But by the summer of 1941, there was reasonable “suspicion” that the Nazis were engaging in mass killing as a “military” matter, and by January 1942 the Allies were at least willing to acknowledge that the murder of civilians for political reasons was occurring in Nazi-occupied Europe. In August, 1942, the State Department refused to transmit information that it had received that mass murder on an unthinkable scale was going on.  Even when the Polish underground released a pamphlet entitled “The Mass Extermination of Jews in German Occupied Poland” in December, 1942, there was still considerable “doubt” that this was happening, as seen by the American media’s refusal to give much credence to “rumors” of atrocities, and the “shock” expressed by Allied soldiers who first encountered the more “mild” gruesomeness of mere “concentration” camps. The Nazis, who witnessed the world’s reluctance to allow Jews to immigrate to their countries—the United States in particular—saw this as “proof” that other countries would “approve” of their ridding the world of Jews, and merely stepped-up the mass murder even in the face of defeat and threats of eventual punishment once the war was over.

So we see that there are “ordinary” mysteries, ones that involve the commonplace and have an abundance of “truth-seekers,” and those “extra-ordinary”—those that people choose not to know the answers to.

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