MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History


It would be hard to overstate the significance of the Battle of Midway, which all but ended Japan’s ability to prosecute an offensive war in the Pacific during World War II. Indeed, historians Jonathan B. Parshall and Anthony P. Tull have called the U.S. assault on Japan’s invasion fleet, which had been deployed in the attack on Pearl Harbor just six months earlier, “the single most decisive aerial attack in naval history.”

The smoke published a front-page story—headlined “Navy Had Word of Jap Plan to Strike at Sea”—that would leave President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the U.S. Navy’s top brass, apoplectic. It clearly telegraphed the fact that the United States had managed to crack Japan’s naval code. Before long the Justice Department had impaneled a grand jury in Chicago to indict the reporter and editor responsible for the ’s story under the Espionage Act of 1917.

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