2001-2002 Correspondence

Between Admiral Kimmel's family

 and the President's office

 
On this web page:

Edward R. Kimmel's February 22, 2001 letter to the President

Edward R. Kimmel's June 12, 2001 letter to the President

Edward R. Kimmel's January 10, 2002 letter to the President

Edward R. Kimmel's February 6, 2002 letter to the President


Edward R. Kimmel
15 Wood Road
Wilmington, DE 19806
Phone 302-65505330
FAX 302-655-3474
E-mail: nedkimmel@AOL.com
 
February 22. 2001
 
The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
Washington. DC 20500
 
Dear Mr. President
 
I am the sole surviving son of Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, USN (Ret.) (Deceased), who was the commander of the naval forces at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked December 7, 1941. This year is the 60th anniversary of that attack. The circumstances of the attack have been the subject of 10 official government investigations and serious consideration and debate by the Senate and House Armed Services Committees. Since 1941 considerable controversy swirled about the responsibility of Admiral Kimmel and General Short, commander of the army forces at Pearl Harbor, for the success of the attack.
 
This question was finally resolved in 1995 by Defense Under Secretary Edwin S. Dorn, who issued a Defense Department Report that frankly acknowledged that "Responsibility for the Pearl Harbor disaster should not fall solely on the shoulders of Admiral Kimmel and General Short, it should be broadly shared." When conclusions of the Dorn Report and the nine government investigations which preceded it were examined by the Armed Services committees of the Senate and House, the result was legislation exonerating the Hawaiian Commanders embodied in the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001.
 
This statute reviewed the findings of all investigations and set forth the basis for the Congress' statutory conclusions that it was the sense of the Congress that Admiral Kimmel and General Short had performed their duties "competently and professionally," and the Congress' request that the President advance these two officers to their highest-held World War II ranks of Admiral and Lieutenant General, respectively.
 
A copy of the pertinent provisions of the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001 is attached  [see document]. Even though President William Jefferson Clinton signed the legislation he did not honor the Congress' request that he nominate these two officers for advancement to the ranks indicated, despite the support of numerous organizations specifically enumerated in the legislation as well as high ranking officers of the navy and army.

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It would seem that the Congress cut through all the obfuscating detail set forth in the numerous investigations preceding its legislative action to a very simple proposition — namely, that the Washington High Command had explicit information that Pearl Harbor was the target for an attack by Japan and failed to pass that information to the Hawaiian Commanders.
 
This fact was initially established by the Japanese "Bomb Plot" and follow-up messages exchanged between Tokyo and its Consulate in Hawaii between September 24 and December 6, 1941. Tokyo's first message to its Hawaiian Consul divided Pearl Harbor into a grid and directed him to report locations and types of ships to Tokyo in accordance with this prearranged grid. The final message sent to Tokyo stated that there was opportunity for a surprise attack and there were no barrage balloons. This group of messages had been decoded in Washington and was available to the Washington High Command during this entire period but was WITHHELD FROM THE HAWAIIAN COMMANDERS and apparently ignored by the Washington High Command.
 
The second clear indication that Pearl Harbor was a Japanese target emerged from a series of messages from Tokyo to Washington on December 6 and 7, 1941, that was decoded and made available to the Washington High Command. The December 6 messages were Japan's response rejecting the conditions we had set forth in our November 26 message for settlement of differences between the two powers. When President Roosevelt read these messages the evening of December 6 he exclaimed. "This means war." However, he took no steps to warn the Hawaiian Commanders.
 
One of these messages stated that their "time of delivery" to our State Department would be set in a follow-up message. The "time of delivery" message was available to the Washington High Command early in the morning of December 7, 1941. The time for delivery was set for 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, which was 7:30 a.m. Hawaii time. This fact was brought to the attention of the Washington High Command. The respective Directors of Intelligence for the Army and Navy recognized the significance of the delivery time with respect to Hawaii.
 
The Director of Naval Intelligence urged the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Harold R. Stark, to alert Admiral Kimmel in Hawaii — but he refused to do so without the approval of the President. The Army Intelligence Director urged the Chief of Staff, General George C. Marshall, to warn General Short in Hawaii but instead of doing so by the fastest means possible he wrote an alert message for General Short which was sent by commercial cable and delivered to him during the attack!
 
It is my belief that the Congress, exercising plain old beyond-the-beltway American common sense, just could not stomach the fact that the Washington High Command had such explicit information with respect to Japan's intentions to attack Pearl Harbor and failed to pass it on to the Hawaiian Commanders, yet had the audacity to blame the Hawaiian Commanders for the success of the attack! Even on Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, the High Command could have given the Hawaiian Commanders about four hours warning. While this would not have enabled them to prevent the attack it would have given Admiral Kimmel time to set General Quarters and have all ship antiaircraft

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guns manned (by his standing orders one-half were manned and ammunition was at the ready) and given General Short time to ready his fighter planes and antiaircraft guns and conduct a fly-away to other locations of unneeded aircraft. This might have reduced damage and inflicted more damage on the Japanese. Lastly, we now know that if complete surprise had not been achieved the Japanese commander, Admiral Nagumo, had been directed to abort the attack and return to Japan.
 
In a letter to President Clinton dated September 20, 2000, the National President of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association (PHSA), Robert S. Kronberger, respectfully requested and urged President Clinton to take the necessary actions to restore the honor and reputations of Admiral Kimmel and General Short. PHSA President Kronberger went on to write:
 
"These two fine military officers, the final two victims of Pearl Harbor. were unfairly held responsible for the disaster at Pearl Harbor on the 7th day of December, 1941. Our entire government, Secretaries of the Army and Navy along with the senior ranking military officers in charge of our Armed Forces should have been held responsible."
 
PHSA President Kronberger's September 2000 assessment of responsibility for the Pearl Harbor disaster expresses the same concept of collective blame enunciated in January 2001 by the Department of Defense as dispositive of the issue of accountability on the case of the U.S.S. Cole. This concept spreads responsibility so broadly that no one individual is ultimately held accountable.
 
Certainly there is similarity between the facts of the Pearl Harbor disaster and those of the U.S.S. Cole. In each case pertinent up-to-date intelligence was withheld from the commanding officer by his superiors and it is clear in both cases that the responsible commanders did everything that could be reasonably expected of them with the information and resources made available to them. The problem stemmed from the fact that much other pertinent information was available to higher authority which was not made available to them. Moreover, in both cases the inescapable conclusion is that the disasters could not have been avoided by any action of the commanding officer.
 
Indeed, it could be said that the Defense Department's handling of the U.S.S. Cole matter reflects lessons learned from the Pearl Harbor and U.S.S. Indianapolis disasters. Those two cases demonstrate that, in justice, the military concept of accountability of a commanding officer or force commander must not be blindly applied without a complete examination and careful weighing of circumstances surrounding the incident in question. Blind application of the concept of accountability, as applied in those two cases, simply does not stand up under scrutiny, nor should it. The military concept of accountability of a commanding officer regardless of circumstances is an ancient anachronism.
 
In this connection it is interesting to note that in 1945, after President Harry S. Truman read the findings of the Naval Court of Inquiry and Army Board of Investigation with their endorsements by the respective services, he said he couldn't tell who was at fault!

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Based on incontestable facts determined by the numerous investigations, it is clear the Hawaiian Commanders accomplished all that anyone could have in view of the limited resources and support provided by their superiors in terms of operating forces (ships and aircraft) and information (instructions and intelligence). Indeed the established facts show that pertinent intelligence was withheld from the Hawaiian Commanders — why is not important — it was withheld. Their disposition of forces based on the information made available to them was reasonable and appropriate. Admirals Thomas Moorer, William Crowe, James Holloway, Elmo Zumwalt and Carlisle Trost agreed, as did Generals Andrew Goodpaster and William J. McCaffrey, and the Naval Court of Inquiry and Army Board of Investigation.
 
The undisputed facts show that Admiral Kimmel and General Short were singularly and unfairly scapegoated as solely responsible for the Pearl Harbor disaster. Correcting an injustice is not rewriting history. History in this case is based on the official government investigations outlined in Congress' Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001 and separate investigations by the Armed Services Committees of the Senate and House and careful consideration and reflection by individual members of the Congress.
 
Admiral Raymond Spruance, naval commander at the Battle of Midway, in 1961 wrote Samuel Eliott Morrison, Naval Historian, "I have always felt that Kimmel and Short were held responsible for Pearl Harbor in order that the American people might have no reason to lose confidence in their Government in Washington. This was probably justifiable under the circumstances at that time, but it does not justify forever damning these two fine officers."
 
Failure to advance these two officers posthumously to their highest-held World War II ranks on their respective service retired officer lists, as permitted by the Officer Personnel Act of 1947, serves only to perpetuate the myth that they were solely and singularly responsible for the Pearl Harbor disaster. They are the only two eligible World War II officers excluded from the benefit of the 1947 Statute.
 
Mr. President, it is only fair that you should know that in 1991, the 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, your father considered the same questions I put before you now and declined to make the nominations. Moreover, his Secretary of Defense was Richard B. Cheney, your Vice President. Attached [see document] are copies of correspondence between me and spokesmen for your father and then Secretary of Defense Cheney which show the respective positions taken. While these actions are irrelevant in light of what has since transpired, particularly the Congressional request before you, I nevertheless feel obligated to bring them to your attention.
 
Since 1991, when the referenced actions of your father and then Secretary Cheney occurred, the questions of advancing Admiral Kimmel and General Short posthumously on the retired officer lists of their respective services to their highest-held World War II ranks has been considered by Under Secretary of Defense Edwin S. Dorn, who likewise declined to recommend such advancement.

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Secretary Dorn's findings are set forth in a report written December 15. 1995, and issued December 27, 1995. The report is popularly referred to as "The Dorn Report."  [see document] lt was available to the Congress and, indeed, is specifically mentioned in the legislation under consideration.
 
Secretary Dorn took the unusual position that the reliance of the Hawaiian Commanders on Washington for intelligence it had available from decoded Japanese intercepts was unwarranted an extraordinary if not bizarre way of indicating that they should have known better than to rely on an unreliable source. To rationalize this position. Secretary Dorn was compelled to resort to what must be perceived as a rather academic distinction between "Strategic" and "Tactical" intelligence.
 
Secretary Dorn took the position that Washington had no responsibility for forwarding "tactical intelligence" to the Hawaiian Commanders. In this category he placed the previously described "Bomb Plot" messages and the December 6-7, 1941, decoded Japanese diplomatic messages, both of which pointed to Pearl Harbor as a Japanese target.
 
He further asserted that the Hawaiian Commanders had no right to expect or believe that this kind of "tactical intelligence" would be forwarded to them, much less to rely on Washington to forward all intelligence it had available relevant to the Hawaiian Commanders' area of military responsibility. This despite written and oral commitments from Washington to them that anything relevant to their area of responsibility would be promptly forwarded to them!
 
One's credulity is severely taxed by the effort to fathom, much less accept, such an irrational explanation as that offered by Secretary Dorn as an (albeit transparent) excuse for Washington's failure to provide such vitally important information to the two officers whose commands would be most severely impacted by the lack of that information.
 
Strangely enough, Secretary Dorn classifies the ambiguous and misleading November 27 "war warnings" as "strategic intelligence," a pitiably manifest effort to justify the disingenuous position that the Hawaiian Commanders should have taken additional steps in anticipation of an attack by Japan.
 
His effort is a dismal failure. The additional steps he outlines could not have been taken in light of operational limitations. These constraints are outlined and discussed at length in Vice Admiral David C. Richardson's "Critical Analysis of the Dorn Report," prepared in July 1997 and forwarded to the Secretary of Defense by Senator Strom Thurmond in September of the same year. Senator Thurmond received a letter from the Secretary of Defense acknowledging receipt of the document but indicating that it merely expressed opinions; there would be no change in the Department's position with respect to Admiral Kimmel and General Short.
 
Admiral Richardson recently updated his 1997 "Critical Analysis," explaining in further detail the operational constraints which made impossible the additional steps outlined in the Dorn Report and which the report's authors did not take into account. This

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information is set forth in a letter to former Under Secretary Edwin S. Dorn, currently at the University of Texas, dated January 20, 2001. Both Admiral Richardson's 1997 "Critical Analysis" and his 2001 letter to former Under Secretary Dorn [see documents] are enclosed.
 
The Dorn Report did highlight some of Washington's failures, and in rather dramatic language, such as "the evidence of the handling of these messages in Washington reveals some ineptitude, some unwarranted assumptions and misestimates. limited coordination, ambiguous language and lack of clarification and follow-up at higher levels." What a devastating indictment of Washington's performance at this critical time!
 
Finally, while the Dorn Report stated that responsibility for the Pearl Harbor disaster should not fall solely on the shoulders of the Hawaiian Commanders, that it should be broadly shared, it failed to identify those who should have shared in that responsibility. It failed also to be specific about how their mistakes, or errors, impacted on the decisions made by the Hawaiian Commanders. For example, had the "Bomb Plot" and December 6-7 messages been known to the Hawaiian Commanders, their actions would have been far different from those taken.
 
However, those with whom this grave responsibility should have been shared remained unscathed by this historic disaster and went on to retire at the highest ranks in which they served in World War II. Herein lies the crux of the matter, Mr. President, and that is the injustice of requiring the Hawaiian Commanders to bear sole responsibility for the last 60 years!
 
Importantly, the Congress has given recognition to this question of fairness and decency. It considered the Dorn Report in light of Admiral Richardson's "Critical Analysis" in arriving at its legislation. It consequently succeeded in cutting through the Dorn Report's morass of misleading definitions and tenuous distinctions, exposing its essential lack of credibility. Perhaps more important, it defined the pivotal issue, with clarity of focus and simplicity of statement, as a matter of justice.
 
In view of the situation in which I found myself after the Dorn Report was issued and with the "stonewall position" of the uniformed navy as expressed by Mr. Trefry on behalf of then-President George H.W. Bush, plus then-Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney's statement that promotion was not the route to follow to address my father's place in history and with no suggested alternate route, in desperation I turned to the Congress for help.
 
Congress was my last hope. I gained the support of my Delaware Senators William V. Roth and Joseph R. Biden. Senator Roth took the lead, supported by Senator Biden. They were vigorously supported by Senator Strom Thurmond, who had long supported the cause of the Hawaiian Commanders, and by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who was a long-time friend of my father's counsel, Edward B. Hanify, of the Boston law firm of Ropes and Gray. Mr. Hanify had been involved in every proceeding involving the Pearl Harbor attack and was committed to eventually achieving justice for the Hawaiian Commanders. Mr. Hanify died December 31, 2000, but before his death he knew of the

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Congressional action here under consideration and was euphoric because he believed that at long last the Hawaiian Commanders had achieved deserved vindication, as had he in espousing their cause for lo those many years.
 
Senator Roth introduced the legislation in 1999 and there ensued two days of debate on the Senate floor, following which it was adopted by a bipartisan 52-47 vote. It was not adopted by the Congress that year. However, in 2000 the House included the Admiral Kimmel-General Short relief provisions in its Defense Authorization Act for 2001, which passed by an overwhelming majority 351-63 (none of the dissenting votes had anything to do with the relief provisions for Admiral Kimmel and General Short). When the Senate considered its version of the Defense Authorization Act for 2001, the Admiral Kimmel-General Short relief provisions adopted by the House were unanimously included in its legislation (the provisions were identical to those the Senate had adopted in 1999). In the ensuing conference between the Senate and House, there was nothing to confer about on the Admiral Kimmel-General Short relief provisions and they emerged intact and are the provisions enclosed with this memorandum.
 
Mr. President, the Kimmel and Short families urge you to accept the findings of the Congress that in 1941 Admiral Kimmel and General Short performed their duties "competently and professionally" and to honor the request of the Congress that you nominate these two officers to their highest-held World War II ranks.
 
Sincerely,
 
==signature==
Edward R. Kimmel
 
Attachments

Edward R. Kimmel
15 Wood Road
Wilmington, DE 19806
Phone 302/655-5330
FAX 302/655-3474
e-mail: nedkimmel@AOL.com
 
June 12. 2001
 
The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
 
Dear Mr. President:
 
As you weigh whether to nominate posthumously the Pearl Harbor Commanders, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel and General Walter C. Short, to their highest-held World War II ranks of Admiral and Lieutenant General, respectively, I urge you to take into account the following considerations in addition to those about which I have already written you, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and others in the Executive Branch.
 
Failure to accord these two officers the benefits of the Officer Personnel Act of 1947, which permitted flag officers to be retired at the highest ranks they held during World War 11 when nominated by the President, serves only to perpetuate the myth that these two officers were solely responsible for the success of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.
 
As you know, these two flag officers were the only eligible ones excluded from the benefit of this act when it was implemented. The Department of Defense simply did not include their names on the list of flag officers sent to the President for him to nominate when he implemented the statute.
 
However, included in that list of prospective nominees were all the officers of the Washington High Command involved in the Pearl Harbor disaster who failed to forward to the Pearl Harbor Commanders important military information obtained prior to the attack from decoded Japanese messages. These are the "others" Undersecretary of Defense Edwin S. Dorn referred to in his 1995 report in which he stated unequivocally that Admiral Kimmel and General Short were not solely responsible for the Pearl Harbor disaster, that others shared that responsibility.
 
The Dorn report did not identify them by name. However, their identities are well known from the 10 investigations of the circumstances leading up to the attack. Admiral Harold R. Stark, Chief of Naval Operations; Admiral Royall F. Ingersol, Vice Chief of Naval Operations; Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner, Director of Naval War Plans; Admiral Leigh Noyes, Director or Naval Communications, and Admiral Theodore S. Wilkinson, Director of Naval Intelligence. The Army had a similar group of officers: General George Marshall, Army Chief of Staff; General Walter Bedell Smith, Assistant Chief of Staff; General Leonard Gerow, Chief of Army War Plans, and General Sherman Miles, Chief of Army Intelligence.
 
What I want to point out, Mr. President, is that by refusing to honor the Congressional request that you nominate them to their highest-held World War II ranks, you are simply perpetuating the myth of their singular responsibility for the Pearl Harbor disaster, a falsehood, and that is simply unfair and unjust in light of facts determined by the numerous government investigations and subsequent review by both the Senate and the House and their unanimous vote that these two officers "performed their duties competently and professionally" and their unanimous request to you that you nominate them to their highest-held World War II ranks of Admiral and Lieutenant General. respectively.
 
The Senate and House action is tantamount to exoneration of the Pearl Harbor Commanders by the elected representatives of all the people of the United States and tantamount to restoration of their honor and reputations, and regardless of what course you choose to follow, I shall always consider it as such.
 
You might ask, "If this is the case then why do you continue to pursue their nomination to their highest-held World War II ranks?" This is a fair question and easily answered: Unless this failure to accord these two officers the privileges of the 1947 statute is erased, it will continue to be pointed to as evidence that the United States Government regards these two officers as solely responsible for the success of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. And you and I and the Congress, alone and as representatives of the people of the United States, know this is a myth and falsehood. And, Mr. President, I just don't believe you want to be a part of perpetuating this on the people of the United States.
 
1 might mention that the Chicago Sun-Times recently asked its readers if the Pearl Harbor Commanders should be exonerated, and the response was 79% in favor of exoneration (copy attached). I would hope that this is indicative of the public's attitude on this subject in light of the plethora of information furnished them since December 7, 1941, and recently, as a result of attention being focused on the subject by the Disney movie "Pearl Harbor."
 
Frankly, I would think that with the unanimous Congressional action in 2000 and the recent indications of the Chicago Sun-Times poll, with which, incidentally, neither I nor any of my supporters had anything to do, that the politics of any nomination by you would be applauded. Of course, one never knows. However, leadership and appropriate actions by a President reflecting the truth and putting to rest a long-debated and investigated subject should be welcomed by the people of the United States.
 
I am forwarding herewith for your perusal the final draft of an article by Vice Admiral David C. Richardson (USN, Ret.) which has been accepted by American Heritage Magazine for publication in its July issue. I commend it to your attention.
 
Thank you in advance for any consideration you may give to my views and opinions as expressed above.
 
Sincerely, 
==signature==
Edward R. Kimmel
Cc: Vice President Richard Cheney Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Attachments
 

 
Edward R. Kimmel
15 Wood Road
Wilmington, DE  19806
Phone:  302/655-5330
FAX 302/655-3474

 Jan 10, 2002

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC  20500
Dear Mr. President:

I am the sole surviving son of Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, USN (Ret., Deceased), who was the commander of the naval forces at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked December 7, 1941.

I wrote you under date of February 22, 2001, and again under date of June 12, 2001, urging you to honor the request of the Congress contained in the Defense Authorization Act for 2001 (DAA) that you posthumously nominate the Hawaiian Commanders, my father and Major General Walter C. Short, USA (Ret., Deceased), for retirement on the retired officer lists of their respective services at their highest held World War II ranks of Admiral and Lieutenant General, respectively.

I understand that Foster Friess has discussed this matter with Karl Rove and Andrew Card of your staff and that Frank Ursomarso has discussed it with Vice President Cheney and plans to do so with Secretary Rumsfeld as soon as he is available.

Under date of July 10, 2001, I received a letter from Christopher J. Rouin, Director, White House Liaison Office, Office of the Secretary of the Navy, thanking me for my letter to you and stating that he was answering on your behalf. Mr. Rouin advised that in view of the Congressional request the Office of the Secretary of Defense was again evaluating the cases of these two officers and that appropriate action would be taken following the evaluation. Under date of July 19, 2001, I acknowledged Mr. Rouin’s letter.

Under date of July 21, 2001, I again wrote you on this matter since Director Rouin had written that he was writing on your behalf, and I voiced my concern about certain aspects of the forthcoming DOD evaluation.

I recognize that the Pentagon and World Trade Center disasters on September 11 necessarily diverted attention by concerned government departments and your office away from the matter of advancing the ranks of the Pearl Harbor Commanders on the retired lists of their respective services. Accordingly, our advocacy for this matter was placed on a back burner. Also, we did not take inordinate advantage of the 60th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor disaster out of respect for the solemnity of that event.

In late September 2001 I sent you, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, Secretary of the Navy England, White House Chief of Staff Card and Department of Defense Colonel Mike Fuller, USAF (DOD officer responsible for preparing the recommendation you requested) each a newly released book, Pearl Harbor Betrayed – The true story of a nation and a man under attack, written by Professor of History Michael V. Gannon, retired from the University of Florida. This book is fully researched, closely written and factually accurate. I regard it as the definitive work delineating the accountability and performance of my father during his 1941 tenure as Commander-in-Chief of the naval forces at Pearl Harbor.

However, almost seven months have now passed since you requested a recommendation from the DOD and, in view of the fact that the Pearl Harbor disaster is easily the most investigated in American history, it is difficult to understand why the DOD can’t promptly produce a recommendation for you. One of my advocate team reported that the number of witnesses, venues, exhibits and years over which the Pearl Harbor investigations have occurred exceed those of the Lincoln conspirators, Teapot Dome, the Black Tom Case, the JFK assassination, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and the more recent Independent Counsel investigation of the Clinton Administration.

There have been 10 government investigations of the Pearl Harbor disaster and their findings have been published and considered. The Congress (both Senate and House) took into account the findings and recommendations of all previous investigations (including its own prior investigation in 1945-6) before it unanimously enacted the Defense Authorization Act for 2001 with its provision requesting the President to make the nominations here under consideration.

I am sure, Mr. President, that if you asked where the recommendation stands the DOD would produce one promptly.

By way of background, Mr. President, you should be aware that ever since my brother and I started our effort in 1987 to correct the injustice done our father by the government, the DOD has opposed us at every turn. We began our effort in 1987 following action by the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the attack, at its meeting in Hawaii, to award the Pearl Harbor commanders next of kin a resolution honoring each of the Pearl Harbor Commanders.

Initially we confined our efforts to the Department of Defense. We even succeeded in persuading a Secretary of the Navy, William Ball III, that there was merit to our position. However, when he sent it up the line in 1988 it was turned down. An internal 1989 DOD memorandum, which I obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request, recited that unless DOD was willing to endorse the perception of injustice, DOD should not support advancement to the grade of admiral. In view of this expressed DOD attitude and the fact that after this turndown DOD wouldn’t even talk with us, and then our turndown in 1991 by your father and then Secretary of Defense Cheney (the circumstances of which were covered fully in my February 22, 2001, letter to you), we turned to the Congress for help.

Finally, in 1995 Senator Strom Thurmond came to our aid after we told him no one in the DOD would even meet or talk with us, and he convened a hearing in the Senate Armed Services Hearing Room. Using his power as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he commanded the DOD to provide representatives and to listen to what the Kimmel family had to say. This hearing was held in April 1995. Out of it came the Dorn Report, by Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Edwin S. Dorn. This report found for the first time that "…responsibility for the Pearl Harbor disaster should not fall solely on the shoulders of Admiral Kimmel and General Short, it should be broadly shared." The Dorn Report did not identify with whom the responsibility should be broadly shared. However, I identified those individuals for you in my letter of June 12, 2001.

The Dorn Report, despite the above finding, recommended against promoting the Pearl Harbor Commanders. Thus, we were again opposed by our entrenched hidden enemy, the DOD, presumably because it could not perceive that the Hawaiian Commanders had suffered an injustice.

At this point, Mr. President, we again turned to the Congress for help. The result, after full consideration and debate and investigation by the responsible committees in both houses, was the Defense Authorization Act for 2001 with the request to you to advance these two officers to their highest-held World War II ranks. Obviously, this request came about as a result of a fresh look at the facts by disinterested persons with no hidden agenda, who concluded that the facts did indeed support the conclusion that the Hawaiian Commanders had suffered an injustice deserving of a remedy.

To this day we have been unable to pinpoint the opposition in the DOD and the substance of its objection to advancing these two officers in rank.

Our problem now, Mr. President, is that we find that our fate is in the same hands as those who have consistently opposed us since 1987.

At first they "stonewalled us"; then they tried to thwart our efforts to gain favorable congressional action; each time they have failed. However, the irony of the situation is that we find ourselves again at their mercy – except for help that we can persuade you to give us. So it would be more correct to say that our fate is in your hands. And we hope that when you look at the facts you will as readily perceive the injustice done these two fine officers as the Congress did.

Mr. President, I am just an ordinary citizen seeking justice for his departed father who, in the eyes of many, has been wronged and had his honor and reputation destroyed over a period of 60 years.

I have convinced the Congress of the merit of my quest. I have convinced those most impacted upon by the disaster, the Pearl Harbor Survivors, of the merit of my quest (you have on file letters from the PHSA supporting my effort). I have convinced the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the merit of my quest (you have on file the VFW support of my effort). I have convinced the Naval Academy Alumni Association of the merit of my quest (their resolutions of support are in your files). I have convinced the Admiral Nimitz Foundation of the merit of my quest (its resolution of support is in your files). I have convinced 37 Navy Admirals of the merit of my quest, and their petition to your father is on file with your office.

I am pleading with you to set the machinery in motion to correct this injustice and not let this matter go unresolved because of bureaucratic failure to perceive the injustice to the Hawaiian commanders, obstinacy, ineptitude or conscious unwillingness to stand up and be counted and to openly and honestly deal with the question. The Congress debated the matter and it readily perceived the injustice and we won – they didn’t.

Mr. President, I know that your time is consumed with attention to our war on terrorism. However, in the case of the Pearl Harbor Commanders, the facts have long ago been determined. There is no need for more hearings or further investigation. The story is well known. I would think that at most a short meeting (perhaps even a telephone poll) with your advisors – Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, Secretary of the Navy England – could quickly dispose of the matter.

Sincerely,

Edward R. Kimmel

 

(Attachment)

 
Copies of this letter also sent to:
 
Vice President Richard B. Cheney
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England
Secretary of the Army Thomas E. White
Judge Advocate General of the Navy, Rear Adm. D. J. Guter
Senator Edward M. Kennedy
Senator Joseph R. Biden
Senator Thomas Carper
Senator Strom Thurmond
Senator John Kerry
Senator Richard J. Durbin
Senator Mary L. Landrieu
Senator Pete V. Domenici
Senator Thad Cochran
Senator Susan M. Collins
Senator Mike Enzi
Senator George V. Voinovich
Former Senator William V. Roth
Representative John Spratt
Representative Michael Castle
Representative Bob Stump
Representative Ike Skelton
Admiral Thomas Moorer
Admiral William Crowe
Admiral J. L. Holloway III
Admiral Carlisle Trost
General Andrew J. Goodpaster
General William J. McCaffrey

Edward R. Kimmel
15 Wood Road
Wilmington, DE 19806
Phone 302-655-5330
FAX 302-655-3474
e-mail nedkimmel@AOL. corn

February 6, 2002

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

Please refer to my earlier letters to you concerning your honoring the Congressional request, embodied in the Defense Authorization Act for 2001, that the President nominate posthumously Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel and Major General Walter C. Short to their highest held World War II ranks of Admiral and Lieutenant General, respectively.

You will recall that this past July you referred this matter to the Department of Defense for its recommendation as to what course you should follow, arid insofar as I am aware they are still considering the matter.

Recently there was brought to my attention a book written in 1946 by Major General Henry D. Russell, a member of the Army Pearl Harbor Board which investigated the circumstances which brought about that disaster. General Russell died and his book The Pearl Harbor Story lay fallow until his heirs discovered it and had it published in June 2001 by the Mercer University Press A complete copy is forwarded herewith for your consideration. Some pertinent excerpts from it are set forth hereinafter.

General Russell's conclusion on scapegoating is found on the last page, page 160, in part, as follows:

"1 believed then and believe now that all those responsible for our defeat at Pearl Harbor should have been dealt with alike. If one was driven out of the Service all should have been. If one was forgiven, all should have been. To select an individual as a sacrifice for the sins of the group was not only unfair, but was downright despicable.

To me the conduct of those in high places, after the attack, was dishonest and inexcusable."

General Russell's comment (attributed to Army Pearl Harbor Board Member, Major General Waiter H. Frank) on the severity of the punishment accorded to General Short (and, of course to Admiral Kimmel) also found on page 160 is as follows:

"General Short had received the soldier's greatest punishment, relief from his command, and retirement in time of war."

General Russell's comment on Marshall is found on pages 118-119 as follows:

"Marshall knew that his derelictions were equal to or greater than those of Short, and that military men, so long as they studied the catastrophe of Pearl Harbor, would censure Marshall's conduct in protecting his own official life by destroying that of his subordinate Short."

Mr. President, these observations by General Russell, in my judgment, are pertinent to the matter before you for decision, namely the posthumous nomination of Rear Admiral Kimmel and Major General Short to their highest held World War 11 ranks of Admiral and Lieutenant General, respectively. 1 hope you will consider them carefully.

Sincerely,

 

Edward R. Kimmel

cc: Vice President Richard Cheney - with attachment
 Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld -- with attachment
Details on the pages of the Kimmel Family Record web site come from the collection of
Timothy W. Kimmel of Fort Wayne, Indiana.  You can contact Tim at timkimmel@comcast.net

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