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March 14, 2001: Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld Sends Members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff a Book Excerpt about the Attack on Pearl Harbor

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld sends members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff a copy of the foreword to a book, which discusses the US government failures that led to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in 1941. Rumsfeld sends a memo to the chairman, vice chairman, and the other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in which he refers to a discussion about intelligence that was held on the previous day. He attaches to it a copy of the foreword to Roberta Wohlstetter’s 1962 book, Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision, written by the Harvard economist Thomas Schelling. He writes in the memo, “I think you will find [Schelling’s foreword] worth reading.” [Donald Rumsfeld, 3/14/2001 pdf file; New York Times, 3/27/2014] In the foreword, Schelling wrote 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. [Associated Press, 5/24/2001] Rumsfeld will write in his 2011 memoir that he considers Schelling’s message to be, “We needed to prepare for the likelihood that we would be attacked by an unanticipated foe in ways that we may not imagine.” [Rumsfeld, 2011, pp. xv] Rumsfeld “routinely handed out or recommended” Wohlstetter’s book about the attack on Pearl Harbor in the eight months before 9/11 and “particularly recommended the foreword, written by Thomas Schelling,” according to journalist and author Bob Woodward. [Woodward, 2002, pp. 22] He will give copies of Schelling’s foreword to members of the House Armed Services Committee when he meets with them on May 23 (see May 23-24, 2001). [US Department of Defense, 5/23/2001; Associated Press, 5/24/2001]

Entity Tags: Donald Rumsfeld, Joint Chiefs of Staff

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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