BACKSTORY: Although for the past 75 years history has had little to say about “Bally’s Project,” an effort to falsify State Department records to remove evidence of gross miscalculations prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor—the author recently discovered a small file of documents in the Frank A. Schuler, Jr. Papers, 1932-1991, at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York, that corroborates the existence of Bally’s Project and details the deception that went on behind locked doors.
“The alteration of the U.S.-Japan documents after Pearl Harbor became something of a legend among the old Far Eastern hands. Diplomats who had knowledge of the scheme to varying degrees are no longer alive. I was told about the ‘project,’ as it was referred to, by an old friend and senior colleague from my Japan days, William Turner. Bill, both taciturn and cautious, would never have disclosed unsubstantial information.”
So wrote Frank A. Schuler, Jr., a former U.S. foreign service officer in pre-World War II Japan, in his unpublished 1980 memoir, Pearl Harbor Myths and Realities.
This bombshell statement was a long time in coming. It was 1946 when Schuler first learned of the sleight-of-hand activities going on behind closed doors. “After Pearl Harbor,” he wrote, “the officials in the Division had secretly removed from official documents any and all incriminating evidence which would place blame on those responsible for the misguided advice given to the Secretary of State Cordell Hull and President Roosevelt which led to the disaster at Pearl Harbor.”