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 Posted Thursday, May 27, 1999

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London, May 27, 1999

'Pardon in pipeline' over Pearl Harbour

By Ben Fenton in Washington

THE two senior commanders blamed for the debacle of Pearl Harbour could be exonerated and promoted 58 years after the fateful events that brought America into the Second World War.

Adml Husband Kimmel and Lt Gen Walter Short were the senior military officers in the Pacific when the Japanese made their surprise attack on America's main naval base. Under a resolution passed by the Senate, the reduction in rank that both men experienced, to rear admiral and major general, would be reversed and their reputations vindicated, albeit posthumously. Kimmel died in 1968 and Short in 1949.

Many veterans and historians have regarded them as the scapegoats for a wider failure of US intelligence. The resolution will be enacted if it passes through the House of Representatives as part of a defence spending bill.

 The Times

Pearl Harbor chiefs cleared


TWO American military commanders blamed for failing to foresee the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor have had their ranks and reputations posthumously restored nearly six decades later.

Admiral Husband Kimmel, Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet, and General Walter Short, commander of the Hawaiian Department of the US Army, were punished for dereliction of duty after the devastating Japanese attack on December 7, 1941. They were relieved of their ranks and forced into retirement.

This week the US Senate voted by 52 to 47 to clear their names and to reinstate their wartime ranks. Many historians have argued that the two men were made scapegoats for the military disaster.

"There is no longer any reason to perpetuate the cruel myth that Kimmel and Short were singularly responsible for the disaster at Pearl Harbor," William Roth, a Republican Senator and veteran of the Second World War, said.

Strom Thurmond, the 96-year-old Republican senator who parachuted into Normandy on D-Day, described the soldiers as "the two final victims" of Pearl Harbor. "These men were doing their duty to the best of their ability, and without full co-operation from superiors in their chain of command," he said.

Yet the issue of their guilt or innocence remains a divisive one, particularly among the Senate's ten surviving Second World War veterans. John Warner, a Republican Senator who volunteered for the Navy in 1944, pointed out that nine formal inquiries in the past had failed to clear the two men of responsibility. He issued a warning against attempts to rewrite history by legislation. "What we are faced with here is one generation trying to provide revisionist history upon another," Mr Warner said.

Defenders of Kimmel and Short point out that military leaders in Washington were aware that an attack was imminent, but failed to pass on intercepted Japanese radio messages to commanders in Hawaii.

The latest Pentagon investigation, in 1995, however, concluded that the disgraced commanders must still be held accountable as leaders, even though blame for the disaster should be "broadly shared".

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