Roberts Commission

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Two presidentially-appointed commissions have been described as "the Roberts Commission." One related to the circumstances of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and another related to the protection of cultural resources during and following World War II. Both were chaired by Supreme Court Justice Owen J. Roberts.

The first Roberts Commission was a presidentially-appointed commission formed in December 1941, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, to investigate and report the facts relating to the attack. The commission was headed by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Owen Josephus Roberts, and for this reason it was known as the Roberts Commission. The commission found the commanders of Pearl Harbor, Adm. Husband Kimmel and Gen. Walter Short, guilty of 'dereliction of duty'. The Commission presented their findings to Congress January 28, 1942. Members of the commission besides Justice Roberts were Adm. William H. Standley, Adm. Joseph M. Reeves, Gen. Frank R. McCoy, and Gen. Joseph T. McNarney. The commission was a fact-finding commission, and not a court martial for Gen. Short or Adm. Kimmel.

The second Roberts Commission, also presidential-appointed (known again after its chairman, Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts), was created to help the U.S. Army protect works of cultural value in Allied-occupied areas of Europe. The formal name of the commission was the American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas. The commission also developed inventories of Nazi- appropriated property. Along with the U.S. Military program known as Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA), the commission worked to rescue and preserve items of cultural significance. This commission took place from 1943 until 1946.