Open Thread Question: Did FDR Know the Pearl Harbor Attack Was Coming?

I’m not normally one who takes conspiracy theories seriously but I have a very open mind about the question: what did FDR know about the Pearl Harbor attack and when did he know it? When people I respect like Judge Andrew Napolitano say he believes that FDR “knew goddamn well” the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor and he stood by and did nothing, that gets my attention.

This conspiracy theory, I think, is very different from what the 9/11 Truthers say about 9/11 or those who believe the government faked the moon landing. I’ll readily admit that I have a strong anti FDR bias so my judgment might be compromised. I do think that foreknowledge on FDR’s part is entirely plausible because from what I know about the man, he seems to have been a “the ends justify the means” kind of guy. Also consider that U.S. history has several examples of presidents and/or other high ranking officials lied in order to draw the nation into war (the Gulf of Tonkin incident comes to mind).

On this 71st anniversary of the attack, I’m wondering what you think. Is this a nutty conspiracy theory or does it have merit? Does anyone have anything in the way of proof one way or another? The floor is yours.

  • MingoV

    Roosevelt himself got us into WWII. A big conspiracy was unnecessary: he needed only a handful of people to ensure that the Pearl Harbor attack succeeded.

    Roosevelt desperately wanted the USA to enter the war to aid the British. His efforts to convince Congress and the public that we should enter the war failed. So, he violated our neutrality by shipping munitions to Great Britain. Germany, having learned from the Lusitania incident, did not torpedo US-flagged ships and failed to provide a pretext for war. Roosevelt then provoked the Japanese by blocking purchases of steel (that we had been selling to Japan for years). This worked, and the US received intelligence that the Japanese would attack our naval base at Pearl Harbor in order to weaken our navy and convince us to change our policy. The US Navy had signs of a possible attack, but orders to increase security were countermanded by headquarters in DC. This, to me, is adequate evidence that Roosevelt knew an attack was coming and blocked efforts to better defend against it. Only a devastating “sneak” attack would reverse public opinion into favoring war. Once we declared war with Japan, Germany would declare war on us due to a treaty obligation. The Pearl Harbor attack was more devastating than needed, we entered the war, and, instead of focusing on the nation that attacked us, Roosevelt ordered the military to focus on fighting Germany. (Hardly a surprise given his marked Anglophilia.)

  • Let’s Be Free

    My father, who was 32 years old at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, told me that Roosevelt intentionally exposed US vulnerabilities to attack to find an excuse to overcome domestic resistance to the US entering WW II. My father despised Roosevelt. He (my father, not Roosevelt) was a very wise man.

  • Thane Eichenauer

    I have the same position on theories relative to September 11th and Pearl Harbor. Unless it can teach us how better to live, thrive and survive today and tomorrow what does it matter if the Powers That Be were in on the attack, were partially in on the attack or were completely oblivious to the attack.

    I have asked WTC truth advocates what we should do if 51% of the population was to be convinced of a particular scenario and I have yet to hear any idea, plan or reason why it makes any difference at this point.

    To me it doesn’t really matter if government is evil or stupid or some mix of each. 99% of the time it wouldn’t matter if government was evil or stupid.

  • Stephen Littau


    I think there is a great deal of merit to what you wrote here. Some of the things you are referring to were also mentioned in the video. There is no doubt in my mind that FDR was very eager to get involved in WWII one way or another.

    Let’s be Free:

    I agree, your father was very wise to recognize FDR as the menace to liberty as he was.


    I think the truth matters a great deal. If the government is exposed for wrong doing – especially on a grand scale, maybe more people would be skeptical when the president gets on TV and tells us we must use military force or give up some liberties to prevent some threat to all of us.

  • Rob Chrisman

    Hard documentation of this matter is to be found in the chapter on Roosevelt’s foreign policy in the revisionist history volume entitled “Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace”, edited by Harry Elmer Barnes. No one who reads this book can come away not believing that FDR deliberately baited the Japanese into overt aggression to pave the way for war.

    We were actually prepared at one point to go to war to support Britain if Japanese naval vessels crossed a certain arbitrary longitude in the vicinity of Thailand, as I recall. You won’t get this version of history in high school ( or most colleges, either).