Briggs stroked the fires of conspiracy by claiming that in 1960, while stationed at the Naval Security Group (a successor organization to OP-20-G) records center in Crane, Indiana, he had reviewed the files of the Cheltenham station.
When he checked the files for 4 December, he found they were missing. He said that he wrote a note on the daily intercept log for 4 December that, “all transmissions intercepted by me between 0500 (5:00 AM) and 1300 (1:00 PM) on the above date [of the log sheet for 4 December] are missing from these files & that these intercepts contained the Winds message warning code…” [Exhibit #48]151
Briggs’ claim was fresh fodder for the Pearl Harbor conspiracy advocates. When his story was added to Safford’s old narrative, the result suggested that perhaps the Winds Execute message had been intercepted, processed, and disseminated throughout the Roosevelt administration. The lack of records could be credited to the conspiratorial cover-up performed by unnamed individuals at the behest of unknown leaders. Whatever gaps existed in the narrative of conspiracy could be filled in with insinuation and questions. It took only a few years for the books to appear with Briggs’ story a new feature.
Two books appeared in the early 1980s that featured Briggs’ story. These were John Costello’s The Pacific War, 1941-1945 (1981) and John Toland’s Infamy: Pearl Harbor and its Aftermath (1982).152 Costello discussed the Winds controversy in an appendix to his book. He averred that Safford’s failure to convince people of the cover-up was due largely to his inability to get “backing of powerful [naval] flag officers.”153 Costello also referred to Briggs’ statement that he had copied the Winds message in question. In the end, though, Costello backed off from claiming that a full conspiracy existed, adding that there was little evidence that the message had been sent, just the testimony of Safford and Briggs. But Costello left the matter tinted with a hue of suspicion when he wrote that the issue of the purported missing warning message suggests “the lengths most senior level officers in Washington might have been prepared to go to cover up what could be construed as a fatal omission in not passing on vital intelligence.”154 It is not clear if Costello meant the missing “Winds” message or the warning message Admiral Noyes was prepared to send to Kimmel, but did not send.
Toland, in his narrative of events, similarly rehashed all of Safford’s charges, cloaking them in the fabric of a massive government-wide conspiracy. Toland added Briggs’ dramatic wrinkles to the story, treating them as a major part of his narrative. In Toland’s version, Briggs stated that he had been in contact with Safford during the congressional hearings. He had admitted he had copied the Winds message, and then offered to testify to this effect. However, according to Briggs, his commanding officer intervened and ordered him not to get involved. Briggs said that this order had originated from “someone” on the JCC staff.155
Source: Center for Cryptologic History National Security Agency, 2008
Robert J. Hanyok and David P. Mowry
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