Assess 'Did the Americans know about the planned attack on Pearl Harbour'?

Essay by kj324High School, 12th gradeB, July 2008

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Whilst looking back to the lead up to the attack on Pearl harbour there appears to be many clues the Americans were not able to discover what these meant until after the attack had been launched. The continuing peace talks with Japanese delegates the lack of a war declaration and delays in receiving vital clues all prevented the Americans from being aware of the planned attack on Pearl harbour.

Rumours that circulate that Roosevelt knew about the surprise attack planned for Pearl Harbour but allowed it to happen so as to have an excuse to enter the war however are misplaced as the loss of lives, war ships and planes would have been severely limited had he of known. The enormous loss of lives, 2403 men and women, leads to the belief that the president nor any high military or state officials knew about the attack. The communications which had been intercepted and decoded did not reach those in command until after the attack and before the attack meant little to anyone as whilst they knew there was to be an attack “all the new evidence that has been gathered for this account shows beyond reasonable doubt that our leaders in Washingtion knew of an attack in a matter of hours rather than days did not know that the target was Pearl harbour” (Rear Admiral Edwin Layton).

It was not until after the attack that the Americans were able to fully understand what these intercepted messages meant and where the attack was to occur. Much of the same situation has occurred in recent years with the attacks in American on 9th September on the Twin Towers.

Although it was known that in the event of a war that Pearl Harbour would be a highly probable target the continuing peace...