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Published in History/Middle East, History/Historical Study, Nonfiction/Politics, Nonfiction/Crime & Criminals, History/Military, Nonfiction/Government, History/Americas, Politics & Social Sciences, History
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"With more than 600 citations ranging from memoirs to accounts of military leaders, this book is the untold story of the greatest blunder in US history.
“A fascinating read. It is amazing how much has been squeezed into 323 pages, while continuing to tell a captivating story” Katie Thompson
“I've read several books, none of them captured my attention so fully.” Barbara Gilbert
“brilliant at gathering information, interpreting it, putting it in context, and giving the reader an understanding of the bigger picture. It was hard to put the book down” Ariel Sanders
"I will not forget this wound to our country or those who inflicted it. I will not yield; I will not rest; I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people."
George W. Bush, Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People, September 20, 2001
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor that infamous December long ago, they were led by a man who understood well what his nation was getting into. Admiral Yamamoto was a Harvard alumnus. He had spent time traveling and exploring young and energetic America and had seen firsthand the enormity of its resources and industrial power. He was more than a little concerned about the folly that had seduced the leaders of his own country believing that their nation’s disciplined warriors could, with one mighty blow, decimate America’s Pacific Fleet and frighten the United States from interference with their plans of an Empire in the Western Pacific.
Nevertheless, Fleet Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was a good officer and he did what good officers do: he obeyed orders. His leaders did not believe they could win a war against America unless they opened with a devastating surprise attack. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was instructed to plan an attack to destroy America’s sleeping Pearl Harbor armada; he did as best as he could. Observing America’s fascination with Hollywood’s dreamland, and believing that the US Navy’s officers were more concerned about prowess on the golf course than on the ocean waves, Japan’s government thought the US was soft and would not take a stand against the disciplined sword of Japan’s military culture. But as Yamamoto prepared his ships and planes to their sinister plan, he wrote a friend:
"Now that things have come to this pass, I’ll throw everything I have into the fight. I expect to die in battle. By that time, I imagine, Imperial Tokyo will have been set on fire, and Japan reduced to a pitiful state. I don’t like it."
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto
Yamamoto had told his superiors that he could be certain of victory in battle against the Great Britain and United States only during the first six to twelve months of war. But if the conflict were to continue beyond that, he said, he could have no expectation of long term success with the realities of his own nation’s limited access to iron and oil and the mustering of America’s industrial power.
A Combined Fleet under the command of Admiral Chuichi Nagumo left port from northern Japan in late November 1941 for the intended strike position, 4 degrees 27 minutes latitude north of Pearl Harbor, on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. The Fleet consisted of Japan's six largest carriers, with more than 400 fighters, bomber, and other assorted aircraft, along with 2 battleships, 3 cruisers, 9 destroyers, 8 tankers, and 27 submarines. The aircrews were ordered to concentrate their attack on the American battleships for maximum psychological effect.
Radar operators at US Army training post on the northern tip of Oahu saw the waves of incoming aircraft on their screens. ‘Don’t worry,’ they were told. ‘They must be American.’ Six B-17 bombers had been scheduled to fly in to the island that morning on what was essentially the same course. The islanders waved to the hundreds of aircraft flying low over their fields racing on toward the south but the pilots of the aircraft did not wave back.
The defenders at Pearl Harbor, Hickam Field, Wheeler, Bellows, and the battleship moorings at Ford Island woke unprepared in the lazy Sunday morning to the sounds of exploding torpedoes, bombs, gunfire, and the searing knowledge that ‘THIS IS NO DRILL’. 
Japanese torpedo and horizontal bombers swarmed the 30,000 ton, USS Arizona, within minutes. Shortly after 08:00 am, the ship was attacked by 10 Nakajima B5N torpedo bombers carrying modified 16 inch armor-piercing 1,760 lb bombs. The battleship took four of these massive bombs; the first three causing relatively minor damage.
The last bomb hit at 08:06 in the vicinity of the forward turret, penetrating the armored deck near the ammunition magazines. Seconds after it hit, the magazines detonated sending cataclysmic shock waves through the sides of the ship, destroying much of its forward structure, conning tower and foremast. The explosion showered the area with wreckage, sank the ship, and killed 1,177 of the 1,400 crewmen on board. 2,403 American lives would be lost during the attack. 
The intent of the Japanese was to force America to agree to Japanese terms for Pacific commerce.
It didn’t work.
On the evening following the attack, America’s radio networks carried the newsman’s announcement: “Tonight, America is a nation in shock and anger.” The nation’s President had foreseen the necessity for his country to become involved in the world-wide struggle against fascism. Roosevelt’s eloquent address the next morning asked Congress to formalize the reality that in every state and city and town throughout the country ‘the American people in their righteous might’ were already lining up to fight. A state of War existed between the Empire of Japan and the People of the United States which both would pursue until one would ‘gain the inevitable triumph’:
"Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives:
Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan….
….As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense, that always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.
I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire."
President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 8 December 1941 
Japan fought with ferocious savagery. It was brutal to its enemies, and loyal, to the death, to the designs of its leaders. But, they had underestimated the Americans, and the American dream: the ability for the common to become extraordinary. Four months after Pearl Harbor, Lieutenant Colonel ‘Jimmy’ Doolittle launched from sixteen carriers B-25 Mitchell Bombers on raids over Tokyo, Yokohama, Yokosuka, Nagoya, Kobe and Osaka on the Japanese mainland. Six months after Pearl Harbor, the United States Navy inflicted irreparable damage on the Imperial Japanese Fleet at the Battle of Midway in one of ‘the most decisive blows in naval history’. 
Crucial to Yamamoto’s Pearl Harbor plan was the sinking of most of the US aircraft carriers, a goal he did not realize due to poor intelligence. His sneak attack had only stirred the sleeping giant of an economically depressed America and filled its people with the awesome resolve that would reduce Japan’s imperial militarism to ruin and bring atomic fire upon its homeland.
3 years and 9 months after Pearl Harbor, the might of Hitler’s Germany and Tojo’s Japan had been reduced to smoking rubble. Their nation’s focus shifted to the far better future that awaited them in quality manufacturing and world trade. Germany and Japan, having failed as elitist empires, began to flourish as egalitarian states.  In short order, former enemies stood as friends: the Japanese hungry for everything American and the Germans partnering to build a free and peaceful Europe.
For America, World War II and the peace that followed brought many dividends. The dollar became the world’s currency. Henry Ford’s contributions to mass-production and fair wages helped transform the country’s broad rural expanse into the most prosperous industrial power the world had ever seen. Edward Bernays made conformity more seductive than ever. Elvis Presley electrified the nation and Marilyn Monroe enticed it into a previously veiled sensuality. Dr Martin Luther King lived his life so that others could live his dream, while J. Edgar made sure nobody got too far out of line. Bill Gates took play and productivity to another level, and Rush Limbaugh preached the virtues of rugged individualism to millions of dittoheads.
America fought wars, big, small and often, but always somewhere else. Since the bloody Civil War, which had shattered and re-united the nation a century before, the United States had been blessed. Aside from that one horrendous Hawaiian Sunday, it had had little experience of conflict on its own soil. Americans wrestled with social equality, good dance tunes, and how to make a buck, all the while paying homage to liberty and justice for all on the appropriate holidays. The country, after making it through the Cold War without a nuclear winter, took on an ever expanding role in the world.
Washington, in the District of Columbia, liked it that way. Named after the nation’s first president, the nation’s capital monumented the greatness of its leading Founder, even as it paid less attention to the humility that made that greatness possible. D.C. became the seat of ‘Pax Americana’ and there was serious money to be made.
Most Americans, however, were more concerned about their government’s sometimes overbearing influence on their own lives than about its sometimes overbearing influence on the rest of the world. Therefore, when passenger jets exploded through the walls and columns of three of the country’s greatest buildings on that clear September morning, most had no idea why a score of young men from distant lands had become so goaded by rage that they were willing to spend years plotting to seize control of those planes and ride them to their fiery destruction.
As the highjackings developed, America’s trillion dollar military seemed strangely unresponsive. Regulations required the North American Aerospace Defense Command to be informed immediately. However, FAA air traffic controllers - aware of the strange behavior of American Airlines Flight 11 since 8:14 am, and certain since 8:24 am it had been hijacked - did not report the problem to the NORAD until 8:38 am. This was just eight minutes before the Boeing 767 crashed into the World Trade Center's North Tower. ,  The Pentagon was struck at 9:38 am, more than an hour into the attack. There was still no military response.
As the structures of America’s great buildings went down under attack, the nation’s President lingered, strangely unresponsive, over a children’s story in a Florida elementary school. Though told of the unfolding disaster in New York, he remained in the classroom until some 30 minutes after the national news services began reporting the events at the World Trade Center and high level officials in Washington had begun to discuss the attack. That morning, Air Force One would fly unprotected for almost two hours with the President on board, the country under attack, and the situation far from clear. The President’s plane left Sarasota at 9:55 am and flew on its own until 11:41 am, shortly before landing at Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport, Louisiana.  The National Guard F-16 fighters that finally did arrive from Ellington Field Air Force Base in Texas to protect Air Force One had the capacity to be airborne in 10 minutes.
In the White House that morning, the National Security Council’s Chief Counter-Terrorism Advisor, Richard Clack, remained in the West Wing’s Situation Room watching events unfold in New York:
"I kept thinking of the words from 'Apocalypse Now,' the whispered words of Marlon Brando, when he thought about Vietnam. 'The horror. The horror.' Because we knew what was going on in New York. We knew about the bodies flying out of the windows. People falling through the air. We knew that Osama bin Laden had succeeded in bringing horror to the streets of America."
Richard Clark, former White House counter-terrorism adviser, 21 March 2004 
Above Washington D.C., a Boeing 757 of American Airlines Flight 77 was commandeered by the poorly skilled Hani Hanjour and four other al-Qaeda terrorists. They swooped in from the north, executed a difficult 330 degree turn, and descended 2,200 feet to slam, ground-level, into the western face of the Pentagon at 530 miles an hour. In eight-tenths of a second it ripped through more than 300 feet of the outer three ring sections of the building bursting into a massive fireball and disintegrating the lives of 189 people.
In the beautiful late summer skies above Shanksville, Pennsylvania, a group of passengers determined to provide a moment of resistance to the devastating attacks on the American spirit. Their plane, United Flight 93, was off course and not responding to air traffic control. It had been seized that morning at 9:28 by four hijackers with box cutters and knives. One of the terrorists carried a small package tied around his upper body, which he claimed was a bomb. Their pilot, Ziad Jarrah, had turned the flight back toward the East Coast, presumably toward Washington, D.C.
UAL 93’s takeoff from Newark, New Jersey, had been delayed more than 40 minutes that morning because of congested airport traffic. By the time it reached the Cleveland area in Ohio, around 9:30 am, the other two doomed planes had already slammed their passengers into the World Trade Center. Inside UAL 93, four Arab men stood, tied red bandannas around their heads, and killed the cabin crew.
Most of Flight 93’s passengers were then herded back to the rear seats. Because several had cell phones or could use the onboard GTE Airfones, they were able to reach their families and other ground personnel. The hijackers did not seem to care, but through these contacts the passengers were learning that their own hijacking was not an isolated incident.
The passengers took a vote and, deciding they had nothing to lose, determined that they would try to take their plane back before it too ended up a suicidal missile. Todd Beamer, attempting to call his wife, Lisa, from a seatback phone in the rear of the plane, had instead been routed to GTE phone operator Lisa Jefferson. Beamer told the operator about the hijacking and the vote the passengers had taken to ‘jump on’ the skyjackers before they could carry out their plans. Operator Jefferson could hear the screams and commotion in the background as other passengers prepared boiling water to throw on their hijackers. She joined Beamer and his seatmates in a recitation of the Lord's Prayer. As the plane fitfully lurched and swayed, Beamer and others recited the 23rd Psalm: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…” At about 9:55 a.m., Jefferson heard someone ask, “Are you ready?” Beamer got Jefferson to promise she would call his family and then heard what Todd’s wife, Lisa, believes were her husband's last words: "Let's roll.” 
The revolt on Flight 93 began at 9:57 am, as the group of salespeople, corporate executives, lawyers, a retired ironworker, a waiter going to his son's funeral, a fish and wildlife officer, a former judo champion, a retired paratrooper, a weightlifter, a former policewoman, and others, rose up to confront the gruesome fate that had been thrown their way.
The cockpit voice recorder preserved the last minutes of the death struggle as the passengers rushed the first class section where the hijackers were anxiously waiting. Voices screamed and cursed in English and Arabic and the plane swayed, rolled and dove toward the earth. 
The hijackers in the cockpit exclaimed, "Is there something? A fight? Yeah?" A passenger shouts, “Let's get them!” An Arabic voice screams, “They're coming!”
Grabbing a service cart, the passengers attempted to batter in the cockpit door. Jarrah responded by rolling the airplane sharply right and left, trying to knock them off balance. "Hold, hold from the inside. Hold from the inside. Hold," he shouted at a fellow hijacker. When the assault continued through the rolling, Jarrah tried to throw them off by violently pitching the aircraft’s nose up and down. 
At 10:01 am, with the passengers only seconds away from breaking through the cabin, Jarrah was told by another hijacker to crash the plane rather than lose control of it: “Is that it?” Jarrah asked. “I mean, shall we pull it down?” Yes, put it in it, and pull it down,” was the response.
Jarrah rolled hard to the right turning the plane upside down into a 45 degree dive. Descending 8,000 feet in about 20 seconds, Jarrah ripped into the earth at 580 miles an hour near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, about 125 miles from Washington, D.C.
As the twin-engine Boeing 757, heavily laden with fuel, was swallowed into the ground, it ejected a powerful fireball across hundreds of acres of nearby woodland, setting many of the trees on fire. Human remains and other debris were found as far as eight miles from the crash site. Its fuselage impacted so forcefully that one of its 'black boxes' was found underneath 25 feet of soil and rock.
The passengers, crew and hijackers were cremated instantly. Only bits of scorched tissue would ever be recovered from the small smoking crater and nearby acreage. There were no bodies, only an unplanned cemetery that stretched to the nearby ridge and woods. , , , , , , , 
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I am an author, educated in anthropology and interested in such topics as human potential/spirituality, life extension, and the dynamics of culture. I became concerned, during the Bush/Obama years, with where this country was being taken by its leaders – with their Middle Eastern misadventures, disregard of the constitution, and conflation of government and Wall Street.