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  • Val Anderson

Parallels in history

If you have read Erik Larson’s Dead Wake, you might have been struck by the comparison between the British governments handling or lack thereof, actually, and the events that surrounded Pearl Harbor. In both cases, secret and closely guarded intelligence units had information that may have averted the disaster but were not acted upon. In the case of the steam ship, Lusitania, Britain chose not to share information in an effort to keep Room 40, their top secret encryption unit, from being discovered by the Germans; with Pearl Harbor, intelligence pointing to Pearl Harbor was available but not processed due to convoluted protocols put in place to maintain the secrecy of the MAGIC unit as you will see in my book Pearl Harbor's Final Warning. The intelligence gleaned from Room 40 in the Great War and from Magic in WWII, was used defensively, not offensively, in an effort to keep the enemy from knowing that codes had been broken.

One can only hope that today’s intelligence communities have learned from history, and aren’t making the same mistakes again.

With both the sinking of the Lusitania and the Pearl Harbor attack, a scapegoat was immediately sought to divert suspicion from government incompetency. The captain of the Lusitania was blamed by Churchill for the torpedo attack! My grandfather, George Street, the protagonist of Pearl Harbor's Final Warning, was the first head placed on the chopping block for not getting the final warning message to General Short in time to avert disaster. Both Turner and Street were exonerated, Street in a matter of days, but both were put through the wringer. Investigations held in both cases redirected blame to the more appropriate culprits and exposed weaknesses in the applicable intelligence systems. But have lesson's been learned?

Lastly, the British ruse of pretending that Britain was about to invade Germany as the Lusitania was headed for Liverpool, put in place primarily by Churchill, smacks of the same manipulation played out in WWII when an embargo was placed on Japan, effectively forcing a reaction by a country desperate resources.

In both wars Churchill needed America to join in the fray. Manipulation of events to force America’s hand seems to be a repeated agenda. The parallels cannot be ignored.

I can see that it is time for me learn more about Churchill. Anyone know of a good biography they could recommend?

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