Drawing parallels between the events of “September 11” and Pearl Harbor has become increasingly common as more details emerge about both tragedies. It’s striking to note the similarities in the lead-up to these events and their aftermaths. In both cases, the United States used the attacks as catalysts for war, with the true objectives not always aligning with the initial stated goals.

President Roosevelt understood that a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor would galvanize public opinion and provide the necessary impetus for entering World War II, particularly against Hitler. Similarly, authorities before “September 11” recognized that a similar surprise attack would mobilize support for war, this time against Afghanistan, as a stepping stone to their true target, Saddam Hussein.

During World War II, propaganda efforts worked to link Hitler and Japan in the public’s mind, and a majority of Americans believed Germany was behind the Pearl Harbor attack. The Bush-Cheney administration undertook a similar campaign to associate Iraq with Osama bin Laden, leading to widespread belief that Saddam was involved in the “September 11” attacks.

Interestingly, high-ranking officials in Roosevelt’s administration had foreknowledge of the Pearl Harbor attack, with Secretary of State Cordell Hull even knowing the exact date a week beforehand. Similarly, before “September 11,” many within the intelligence community were aware of impending attacks.

Crucially, in both cases, vital information was withheld from those who could have used it to defend against the attacks. At Pearl Harbor, Admiral Husband Kimmel and Lieutenant General Walter Short, the commanders, were not provided with critical intelligence. Similarly, before “September 11,” counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke was kept in the dark, preventing effective defense measures and potentially even averting the attacks altogether.

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