This is William Ewing speaking from Pearl Harbor: - In Washington, the Pearl Harbor investigating committee has just heard the story of Captain Ellis M. Zacharias. Months before Pearl Harbor, Captain Zacharias warned Admiral Kimmel that the Japanese were planning to attack: that attack would come without warning; that it would be made from aircraft carriers; that it would be made on a Sunday morning.
The warning, as you all know, went unheeded. That it did is a shock, but not surprising. Indeed Admiral Kimmel's refusal to be guided by the advice of Capt. Zacharias was typical of the disdain of services for their intelligence branches in peace time. As much as the Navy would let him, the whole career of Capt. Zacharias has been that of intelligence work, but when he talked with the average Naval officer in peace time, his background of study, and his understanding of the language and mental processes of another nation were handicaps. He was talking about something they couldn't learn on the deck of a ship, therefore, what he said was of no importance.
I happened to know Captain Zacharias as a war correspondent for this network. I was a guest aboard his ship, the NEW MEXICO, in the Marshall Island's invasion. We spent many hours together theorizing about the probable turn of the war. Zacharias knows the Japanese. He said then, and this was Jan. 1944, that the Japanese would surrender when the going got tough. To think that by speaking up and recalling his warning, Zacharias is risking his whole career. He will get no thanks or even sympathy from many naval officers. He is stepping out of line, sticking his neck out.
As an individual, Zacharias may not be important, although men as competent as he do not happen along every day. The tragic thing is that this case is typical. Another similar example is that of Capt. Edwin G. Layton, who served brilliantly as intelligence officer of the Pacific Fleet throughout the war. Layton is a specialist in one of war's most highly specialized professions. Yet, like Zacharias, instead of being permitted to work at his profession, Layton will be sent to sea, now that the war has been won; that is, after he gets through testifying before the Pearl Harbor committee for which purpose he is now cooling his heels in Washington. He will be permitted to sniff salt breezes and forget such trifles as intelligence. When we get into trouble again, we will call once more on men like Layton and Zacharias, expecting them to pick up where they left off.
The greatest hope for more ample recognition of intelligence service in peace time is the fact that the Navy is now headed by Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, who appreciates the fact that intelligence played a big part in the victory over Japan.
Check out this WWII website
This is William Ewing speaking from Pearl Harbor. I return you now to the American news room in San Francisco.