Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Concealing U.S. Navy Losses At Pearl Harbor 70 Years Ago

After the Dec. 7, 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor 70 years ago, the U.S. government initially "claimed that only one `old' battleship and a destroyer had been sunk and other ships damaged, and that heavy casualties had been inflicted on the Japanese" in order "to prevent the American public from learning the gravity of the blow," according to The First Casualty by Phillip Knightly. U.S. Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox then held a press conference in New York after returning from an inspection of the damage to the Navy's fleet at Pearl Harbor and told U.S. reporters that only the Arizona battleship had been sunk. But, according to The First Casualty, "this must have made strange reading for anyone actually at Pearl Harbor, who had only to lift his eye from his newspaper to see five United States battleships--the Arizona, the Oklahoma, the California, the Nevada, and the West Virginia resting on the bottom.

Although 68 civilians were killed when Japanese warplanes bombed Pearl Harbor 70 years ago, ironically, "most civilian casualties resulted from American anti-aircraft shells that had defective fuses" which "failed to work properly in the air but exploded upon impact when they landed," according to Modern Hawaiian History by Ann Rayson.

As U.S. Senator Hiram Johnson said in 1917: "The first casualty when war comes is truth."

(Downtown, 12/25/91)

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