Warnings Ignored in Our History: Listen to the Military.
A personal opinion blog.
My 25 Cents Worth
Many moons ago I was given the opportunity by David Howard to write opinion pieces for the East Providence Post. David was a past President, editor and writer for the EP Post, He also worked at Roger Williams University in PR and at the East Bay Community Action Program. He now writes novels. I've always enjoyed writing and thank David for helping me along the way. David also was a feature writer for the EP Reporter NewsMag and wrote an opinion column called "My 5 Cents". I am going to start writing personal opinion columns based on my experiences but due to inflation, will call my opinion piece, "My 25 Cents Worth!" Thanks David Howard!
Disclaimer: My opinion columns are strictly my personal opinions and do not reflect the views of the Reporter NewsMag or anyone else but me. Most of my opinion pieces will be about local matters but in light of the recent terrorist attacks in France, I feel compelled to address that issue. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It didn't come as a surprise to some in our military and to some historians that our nation has been attacked through the years. This failure to heed warnings from some in our military may have changed history as we know it. Even though there was little technology during the World War II era, there was a warning that an attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese was imminent. On November 25, 1941, Admiral Harold R. Stark, U.S. chief of naval operations, told Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, that both President Roosevelt and Secretary of State Cordell Hull think a Japanese surprise attack is a distinct possibility. “We are likely to be attacked next Monday, for the Japs are notorious for attacking without warning,” Roosevelt had informed his Cabinet. “We must all prepare for trouble, possibly soon,” he telegraphed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (This Day in History). Later research tells us that some military leaders were recommending a high alert of war in the area of Oahu, Hawaii where Pearl Harbor is located. Some officers wanted to move ships out of Pearl Harbor and patrol the area. The military had intercepted a Japanese diplomatic message, which gave November 25 as a deadline of sorts. It seemed evident that if the Japanese were not able to get America to drop economic sanctions, they were planning to attack Pearl Harbor, pulling us into the war. Despite the fact that so many in positions of command anticipated a Japanese attack, no one expected Hawaii as the target (This Day in History). Adm. Stark sent a war warning message to the Pacific Fleet Commander at Pearl Harbor that “an aggressive move by Japan is expected within the next few days.” On December 7, 1941, a radar operator in Hawaii noticed a large blip on his radar screen. It indicated a large number of aircraft was approaching. "Don't worry about it," one operator told another as they thought it was a group of US B-17's due to land. The rest is history as more than 180 Japanese fighters, torpedo bombers, dive bombers, etc. conducted a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and the island's main airfields, dragging the United States into World War II. The assault, which lasted less than two hours, claimed the lives of more than 2,500 people, wounded 1,000 more and damaged or destroyed 18 American ships and nearly 300 airplanes. Almost half of the casualties at Pearl Harbor occurred on the naval battleship USS Arizona, which was hit four times by Japanese bombers. Diane and I visited Pearl Harbor and took the solemn tour of the Arizona which acts as a tomb for the soldiers still below the water. It is eerie to see that gasoline and oil still rises to the top of the water's surface. It was a melancholy visit which gave me new respect for the efforts during WW II of my Dad and other young people of that era. Had those early warnings been heeded, the U.S. still would have entered WW II, but many lives may have been saved that day and the war may have ended sooner.
Many published reports describe how U.S. intelligence officials warned President Bush weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks that Osama bin Laden's terrorist network might hijack American planes, but White House officials stressed the threat was not specific. I don't blame President Bush totally as I think he acted admirably once engaged after the attack. "There has been long-standing speculation, shared with the president, about the potential of hijackings in the traditional sense," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said at a press conference. "We had general threats involving Osama bin Laden around the world and including in the United States." An FBI memo alluding to ignored warning signs about Sept. 11 emerged. Two months before the hijackings, FBI agents in Phoenix reported their suspicions about Arab students at a Phoenix flight school, and directly referred to the possibility of a connection to bin Laden. In a memo from the Phoenix FBI to headquarters, the agents recommended an urgent nationwide review of flight schools "for any information that supports Phoenix's suspicions" of a terrorist connection. The memo reportedly cited Osama bin Laden by name (ABC News). The memo's existence had apparently been known for months, but until recently, lawmakers and congressional staff had not gained full access to it, and the direct reference to bin Laden had not been revealed. The memo said terrorists might be seeking jobs with U.S. airlines or airports and urged FBI headquarters to "obtain visa information" on all "individuals obtaining visas to attend these types of schools" around the country. Some reports reveled that some people enrolled in flight schools seeking knowledge on how to fly a plane but not so much on how to land a plane. This should have raised flags in my mind. Again, I don't blame President Bush directly for 9-11. I do think that FBI memos about concerns with U.S flight schools training non-citizens should have been investigated closely. Especially in light of Osama bin Laden's name being brought up in some circles.
Boston Marathon Bombing
According to NBC News and other news outlets, the Russian government warned U.S. authorities that Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a violent radical Islamist more than a year and a half before the April 2013 bombing, but authorities missed multiple chances to detain Tsarnaev when he was traveling to and from Dagestan for terror training, according to a Congressional report. In one instance, according to the report prepared by investigators for the House Homeland Security Committee and copies of documents reviewed by NBC News, Tsarnaev was supposed to be pulled aside for questioning at JFK airport because he was considered potentially armed and dangerous, but he slipped through undetected because someone had misspelled his last name in a security database (NBC News). In March 2011, the Russian intelligence agency that arose from the remnants of the KGB, sent a cable to the FBI with its concerns about Tamerlan Tsarnaev and the Tsarnaev family. The letter was a page and a quarter long and very detailed. It included contact information, with addresses and phone numbers, for many of the members of the Tsarnaev family, including Tamerlan and his mother. It warned that Tamerlan was known to have associated with violent radical Islamists. In June 2011, the FBI investigation of Tamerlan Tsarnaev was closed. According to the report, “the assessment found no links to terrorism.” Six months after it had sent its first cable to the FBI, the Russians sent a second cable to the CIA, according to a U.S. intelligence official. The Russians’ second cable restated the warnings of the first memo, and was very similar in language and content. There is no indication that the FBI reopened their file or conducted further investigative efforts after the CIA received its version of the FSB cable. I think that there were enough warnings from - of all people - the Russians, that should have alerted authorities to a higher level.
Certainly there isn't an easy answer to the problem of terrorism or acts of aggression against the free citizens of the world. But we spend billions of dollars to train and educate our military and we should listen to their warnings and let them do their job.