Aftermath of Pearl Harbor: The Roberts Commission

In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, a lot of questions were raised and getting answers to them, however, proved to be difficult. Officials from all the branches of the government pinpointed each other. President Franklin D. Roosevelt chose US Supreme Court Associate Justice Owen Josephus Roberts to head a commission with the sole purpose of investigating the facts related to the Pearl Harbor attack as they were reported by those closest to the tragedy.

Joining Justice Roberts on the commission were Admiral William H. Standley, General Frank R. McCoy, General Joseph T. McNarney, and Admiral Joseph M. Reeves. The commission interviewed 127 witnesses. The blame eventually fell on two men – Navy Admiral Husband E. Kimmel and Army General Walter Short, the commanders at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

The Roberts Commission determined that both men had been unsuccessful of acting in accordance to the orders received from higher commands, which allegedly would have allowed the base to be ready for the Japanese strike force and even mount a counterattack.

However neither Short nor Kimmel agreed with the commission’s findings. Various military officials spoke out for them, asserting that they were not provided with enough information required to best prepare for the impending attack.