Before 9/11, Donald Rumsfeld Was Preoccupied With Pearl Harbor and Other Military Surprises

As the following two new entries in the Complete 9/11 Timeline show, early in 2001, the new Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was regularly talking about the danger of surprise attacks, and was expressing particular interest in the attack on Pearl Harbor. According to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, Rumsfeld "routinely handed out or recommended" Roberta Wohlstetter's 1962 book, Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision.

This is perhaps unsurprising, since Rumsfeld was one of the founders of the neoconservative think tank the Project for the New American Century. In a September 2000 report called Rebuilding America's Defenses, this group had stated that, to preserve its "military preeminence in the coming decades," America would need to undergo a "military transformation." However, the report continued, this process of transformation would be "a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor." Twelve months later, what President Bush called the "Pearl Harbor of the 21st century" took place.

* * *

January 11, 2001: Rumsfeld Warns of Surprise Attack Like Pearl Harbor
At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Secretary of Defense-designate Donald Rumsfeld warns of the danger of a surprise attack like Pearl Harbor happening again. He testifies, "We all know that history is filled with instances where people were surprised. There were plenty of signals, plenty of warnings, plenty of cautions. But they weren't taken aboard. They didn't register. They weren't sufficient to cause a person to act on those." He continues, "We know that the thing that tends to register on people is fear, and we know that that tends to happen after there's a Pearl Harbor, tends to happen after there's a crisis. And that's too late for us. We've got to be smarter than that. We've got to be wiser than that. We have to be more forward-looking." As ABC News later comments, "eight months to the day after his warning of a surprise attack, Rumsfeld's fears became reality with the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks." [CNN, 1/11/2001; Scarborough, 2004, pp. 165-166; ABC News 7 (Chicago), 3/25/2004] Rumsfeld will again refer to the danger of military surprises four months later, during meetings with the House and Senate Armed Services Committees (see May 23-24, 2001).

May 23-24, 2001: Rumsfeld Warns of Inevitability of Strategic Surprise; Refers to Pearl Harbor
During a meeting with the House Armed Services Committee, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says that the inevitability of surprise is a guiding principle of the Bush administration's national security strategy. To emphasize his point about the need to prepare for the unexpected, he gives panel members copies of the foreword to Roberta Wohlstetter's 1962 book, Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision. This foreword, written by Thomas Schelling, argues that in order to prepare for the next crisis, the US military needs to avoid thinking that the most familiar threat is also the most likely one. Rumsfeld says that, in line with this reasoning, a key element of the administration's strategy will be preparing for the unexpected. [US Department of Defense, 5/23/2001; Associated Press, 5/24/2001] The following day, he has a similar closed-door meeting with the Senate Armed Services Committee. He hands out to senators a four-page paper dealing with the inevitability of strategic surprise, and summarizing various defense surprises and incorrect predictions made during the 20th century. The paper states that the Department of Defense should "give some thought to the flexibility of a capability-based strategy, as opposed to simply a threat-based strategy." What this means, according to the Washington Post, is that the "US military needs to move away from a Cold War structure designed to counter one large, clear threat--from the Soviet Union--and to develop capabilities to respond to everything from ballistic missiles to terrorist attacks." [NPR, 5/25/2001; Washington Post, 5/25/2001] Rumsfeld had previously warned of the danger of a surprise attack, like Pearl Harbor, during his confirmation hearing in January (see January 11, 2001). Journalist Bob Woodward will later report that one of the main themes Rumsfeld referred to in the eight months prior to 9/11 was surprise, and he had "routinely handed out or recommended" Wohlstetter's book on Pearl Harbor. [Woodward, 2002, pp. 22-23] Yet when, in July, he receives a CIA briefing about the imminent danger of an al-Qaeda attack on an American target, Rumsfeld reportedly responds with "vehement dismissal," and criticizes the CIA for its "gullibility" (see July 11-17, 2001). [Cockburn, 2007, pp. 9]


interesting, thanks.

As Georges discusses

As Georges discusses here
for some reason Zelikow was very keen to debunk Stinnett's book for the CFR in 2000. Mere "incompetence", of course, nothing more.

“On the altar of God, I swear eternal hostility against all forms of tyranny over the mind of man."--Thomas Jefferson

On a side note....

....a few years ago, I remember reading in my local newspaper describing how the Bush Administration was actively suppressing newly released documents, evidence, and a government study exposing the false-flag fraud of the Gulf of Tonkin incident. The article made mention that the reasons for suppressing this information, 40 years after the fact, had to do with all-too-apparent similarities to the current 9/11 Wars.

9/11 Truth is the Real Peace Movement

Thank you for mentioning

Thank you for mentioning Stinnett's book.
Oddly enough, he's an od friend and subordinated of Bush sr., and stopped making his own argument (McColum memo, provocation, et al) after 9/11. Allowed it to again become the old codes debate. Dunno if I'm allowed URLs yet, but I wrote on that here:

- Maintain vigilance and calm

Also: I didn't know of

Also: I didn't know of Rummy's 1/11 speech - but it parallels almost exactly the release of his Commossion's report on the issue of space defense, released that same day:
“Final Report of the Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization.” January 11, 2001. PDF download page:

“History is replete with instances in which warnings were ignored and changes resisted until an external, “improbable” event forced resistant bureaucracies to take action. The question is whether [...] as in the past, a debilitating attack against the country and its people – a “Space Pearl Harbor” – will be the only event able to galvanize the nation and cause the US Government to act. [...] the U.S. is an attractive candidate for a ‘Space Pearl Harbor.’” A word search of the PDF file reveals nine instances of the phrase “Pearl Harbor,” all in the more critical first half.

Seeing Wolfowitz' speech now too - and Thomas Donnelly, PNAC Deputy Executive Director and principal author of Rebuilding America’s Defenses - “I think Americans have become used to running the world,” Donnelly told the Washington Post on August 21, “ and would be very reluctant to give it up if they realized there were a serious challenge to it.”

Is this normal to talk about such stuff so much in an average year? Just the PH anniversary? And somehow coincides with a n improbable, "external," surprising, serious challenge like 9/11?

Psyop prep-work as evidence of foreknowledge.
It may not have the solidity of a good space lasers theory but damn if that ain't some circumstantial evidence...

- Maintain vigilance and calm

I can only

hope that if Donald R & others are absolutely guilty of the crimes of 9/11.. that an honest FBI agent,
(man or women) would leak real incriminating information to a press member, in confidentiality..

just like watergate.

that would be a real first step to justice.

Wolfowitz also!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007
A confession? Wolfowitz's speech at West Point June, 2001
In what either must be a heck of a prediction, a damn good guess or a thinly veiled confession before the fact, the video below shows noted PNAC Neo-Con, former Deputy Defense Secretary, architect of the Bush's Iraq invasion and current President of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz delivering the commencement speech at West Point on June 2, 2001. His topic: "'surprise' and 'courage.'"

"This year marks the sixtieth anniversary of a military disaster whose name has become synonymous with surprise—the attack on Pearl Harbor. Interestingly, that "surprise attack" was preceded by an astonishing number of unheeded warnings and missed signals. Intelligence reports warned of "a surprise move in any direction," but this made the Army commander in Honolulu think of sabotage, not attack. People were reading newspapers in Hawaii that cited promising reports about intensive Japanese diplomatic efforts, unaware that these were merely a charade. An ultra-secret code-breaking operation, one of the most remarkable achievements in American intelligence history, an operation called "Magic," had unlocked the most private Japanese communications, but the operation was considered so secret and so vulnerable to compromise that the distribution of its product was restricted to the point that our field commanders didn’t make the "need-to-know" list. And at 7 a.m. on December 7th, at Opana radar station, two privates detected what they called "something completely out of the ordinary." In fact, it was so out of the ordinary that the inexperienced watch officer assumed it must be friendly airplanes and told them to just forget about it.

"Yet military history is full of surprises, even if few are as dramatic or as memorable as Pearl Harbor. Surprise happens so often that it’s surprising that we’re still surprised by it. Very few of these surprises are the product of simple blindness or simple stupidity. Almost always there have been warnings and signals that have been missed--sometimes because there were just too many warnings to pick the right one out, sometimes because of what one scholar of Pearl Harbor called "a poverty of expectations"—a routine obsession with a few familiar dangers.

"This expectation of the familiar has gotten whole governments, sometimes whole societies, into trouble. At the beginning of the last century, the British economist Norman Angell published a runaway best seller that must have drawn the attention of professors and cadets of West Point at that time. Angell argued that the idea that nations could profit from war was obsolete. It had become, as he titled his book, The Great Illusion. International finance, he argued, had become so interdependent and so interwoven with trade and industry that it had rendered war unprofitable.

"One of Angell's disciples, David Starr Jordan, the President of an institution on the West Coast called Stanford University, argued that war in Europe, though much threatened, would never come. "The bankers," he said, "will not find the money for such a fight; the industries will not maintain it; the statesmen cannot. There will be no general war." Unfortunately for him, he made that prediction in 1913. One year later, Archduke Franz Ferdinand fell to an assassin’s bullet, plunging Europe into a war more terrible than any that had come before it. The notion of the Great Illusion yielded to the reality of the Great War.

"One hundred years later, we live, once again, in a time of great hopes for world peace and prosperity. Our chances of realizing those hopes will be greater if we use the benefit of hindsight to replace a poverty of expectations with an anticipation of the unfamiliar and the unlikely."

I know it isn't popular with many of the leading figures in American anarchy to entertain conspiracy theories about 9/11 other than the one supported by the government, but I have generally found the evidence compelling that the attacks of that day must have involved government and private organizations and individuals in the US. Would such a conspiracy have gone as high as a Deputy Secretary of Defense? It doesn't seem necessary, but neither does it seem impossible.

Some may say that it doesn't matter which conspiracy it is, the problem is the system (capitalism, the state, empire and hierarchies in general). And I would agree. '9/11 Truth' as a movement does not contain the systematic critiques necessary to develop into the kind of revolutionary movement that most anarchists would be sympathetic with. The 9/11 Truth movement, like Arizona's so-called libertarians that crow constantly for the closing of the border and the wider regulation of non-white labor, certainly seems to be participating in a dialectic that leads not to more freedom, as they claim to desire, but rather to substantially less. Bill Weinberg of the excellent World War 3 Report has written on this phenomenon, and, although I disagree with his position on the 9/11 attacks, I find his critique of that movement to be insightful and generally right on. Of course, anarchists should be careful not to write off a group's ideas simply because of the people who believe them. After all, I've met my share of anarchist weirdos and nutjobs.

But I've written about my position previously ('The Ruling Class Loves Terrorism So Much They Married It'), so I won't rehash old arguments, save to say that regardless of what one thinks about the real nature of 9/11, false flag terrorism does in fact exist, and lots of governments, including the US, Britain, Italy, Pakistan and Russia, have engaged in it at various times. Those who are in what I will call the 'Al-Qaeda did it on it's own' camp would do well not to forget that state sponsored terrorism, directed under false pretense by intelligence agencies within their home countries in order to obtain specific domestic political goals, certainly fits well with the post-9/11 landscape of fear and distrust and, as such, will certainly be manipulated by authorities in the future for the purpose of controlling their populations, especially as the political and economic situation grows steadily worse - as it surely will.

and just in case that didn't

and just in case that didn't fly he made sure that ABB sold
nuclear reactors to North Korea..
"Listen carefully now : DO NOT DESTROY OIL-WELLS" Dubya