Between Admiral Kimmel's family
and the President's office
Edward R. Kimmel
15 Wood Road
Wilmington, DE 19806
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.
Edward R. Kimmel
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
February 6, 2002
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.
Edward R. Kimmel
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