The Lost Tapes from Pearl Harbor

pearl-harbor-tribute

❝ One style of history documentary — vintage clips plus reminiscences plus talking heads — is so common that it’s easy to forget that there are other options. “The Lost Tapes,” a series the Smithsonian Channel introduces on Sunday night with an episode on Pearl Harbor, effectively employs an alternative that really ought to get more use, especially for history that falls within the era of film and sound recording.

The program consists of just clips and still images with an occasional caption. No academics in office-chair interviews interpret things for you. No survivors grow weepy while dredging up their decades-old memories. No narration intrudes. The idea is to come closer to putting you in the historical moment, to give you a sense of what people experienced and felt at the time.

RTFA. Know what to expect, what to look for, when you watch this – as I plan to do. Never forget.

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Pic of the Day

Pearl Harbor survivor Stan Swartz bows his head after the national anthem at the 71st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor at the WW II Valor in the Pacific National Monument in Honolulu, Hawaii December 7, 2012.

Let us remember absent friends.

Historians refute cover-up of message signaling Pearl Harbor


USS Arizona afire and sinking after the attack on Pearl Harbor
Daylife/AFP/Getty Images

It has remained one of World War II’s most enduring mysteries, one that resonated decades later in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001: Who in Washington knew what and when before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941?

Specifically, who heard or saw a transcript of a Tokyo shortwave radio news broadcast that was interrupted by a prearranged coded weather report? The weather bulletin signaled Japanese diplomats around the world to destroy confidential documents and codes because war with the United States, the Soviet Union or Britain was beginning.

In testimony for government inquiries, witnesses said that the “winds execute” message was intercepted as early as Dec. 4, three days before the attack.

But after analyzing U.S. and foreign intelligence sources and decrypted cables, historians for the National Security Agency concluded in a historical documentary released last week that whatever other warnings reached Washington about the attack, the “winds execute” message was not one of them.

“East wind rain” would mean the United States; “north wind cloudy,” the Soviet Union; and “west wind clear,” Britain.

In the history “West Wind Clear,” published by the Center for Cryptologic History at the National Security Agency, Robert Hanyok and David Mowry attribute accounts of the message being broadcast to the flawed or fabricated memory of some witnesses, perhaps to deflect culpability from other officials for the United States’ insufficient readiness for war.

Long, thorough, well-written piece of history. I’ve a number of documentaries repeating this false bit of information. Nice to see some accurate research forthcoming.

How long before the remaining lies about the VieNam War – and, of course, Bush’s Iraq Adventure – are all exposed to the eyes of the world?