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Historian: FDR probably engineered famous WWII plans leak

NEW YORK -- President Franklin D. Roosevelt probably engineered the sensational leak of America's military-preparedness plans on the eve of World War II, even though it 'embarrassed and made a liar out of him,' American Heritage magazine reported Wednesday.

The top-secret plans, headlined in front-page stories in the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Times Herald on Dec. 4, 1941, detailed top-secret plans for an army of 10 million, including an expeditionary force of 5 million men that would invade Europe to defeat Hitler.

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Code-named 'Rainbow Five,' the plans were drawn up at Roosevelt's order by the Joint Board of the Army and Navy.

The stories were printed three days before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and pulled the United States into World War II.

'Why would Roosevelt have deliberately leaked a sensitive military document that embarrassed and made a liar of him?' the magazine asked and then presented historian Thomas Fleming's theory that, frustrated by isolationist sentiments, the president wanted to 'goad Hitler' into declaring war before Britain and the Soviet Union were defeated.

Fleming said the leak was so extensive and detailed that 'no other explanation fills all the holes in the puzzle as completely as FDR's complicity.

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'Would a president who had already used faked maps and concealed from Congress the truth about the naval war in the North Atlantic hesitate at one more deception -- especially if he believed that war with Japan was imminent?' Fleming asked.

Fleming said he interviewed retired Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer, who wrote the Rainbow Five plan and was one of the chief suspects in its leak.

'I have no evidence, but I have always been convinced, on some sort of intuitional level, that President Roosevelt authorized it (the leak),' Wedemeyer told him. 'I can't conceive of anyone else ...having the nerve to release that document.'

On Dec. 8, 1941, the day after the Pearl Harbor attack, the U.S. declared war against Japan -- but not Germany.

On Dec. 9, Roosevelt made a radio address to the nation.

'It accused Hitler of urging Japan to attack the United States,' Fleming said. On Dec. 11, Hitler declared war on the United States. Congress declared war on Germany and Italy the same day.

'With a little extra prodding from the White House, the Tribune story had handed Roosevelt the gift that he deperately needed to proceed with the program outlined in Rainbow Five,' Fleming contended.

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'With a little extra prodding from the White House, the Tribune story had handed Roosevelt the gift that he deperately needed to proceed with the program outlined in Rainbow Five,' Fleming contended.

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