Letter from General Manager K. D. Nichols, United States Atomic Energy Commission, to Dr. Oppenheimer's Attorneys, Concerning Procedures in the Matter of Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer

Washington 25, D. C., June 3, 1954.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison,
575 Madison Avenue, New York 22, N. Y.

DEAR MR. GARRISON: This will acknowledge receipt of your letter of June 1, 1954, in which you refer to my letter of May 28, 1954, to Dr. Oppenheimer.

In your letter you refer to the fact that review by a Personnel Security Review Board would "entail further delay." As you are fully aware, my letter to Dr. Oppenheimer of December 23, 1953, stated that Dr. Oppenheimer would have 30 days in which to submit a written answer. In your letter to me of January 20, 1954, you asked for an extension of this time to and including February 23. In my letter to you of January 27 this extension was granted. In your letter to me of February 19 you confirmed your telephone request for an extension of time from February 23 to March 1. In my letter to you of February 25 this request was granted. In my letter to you of March 3 I confirmed a telephone conversation with you of the previous day in which the time for your answer was extended to March 5, 1954. I know of no delays other than those I have referred to above.

The Atomic Energy Commission's published Security Clearance Procedures, a copy of which was furnished to Dr. Oppenheimer with my letter of December 23, 1953, provide that if the individual requests a review of his case by the Personnel Security Review Board, he shall have 20 days within which to submit a brief in support of his contentions. The procedures further prescribe that oral argument before the Personnel Security Review Board may be had only in the discretion of that Board. The procedures make no provision for submission of a brief, or for oral argument, when the case then comes to the General Manager for final determination.

Since Dr. Oppenheimer has waived his right to review by the Personnel Security Review Board, our procedures do not contemplate any further presentation by Dr. Oppenheimer, either oral or written. The written brief which you mention in your letter, and which we understand will be received by the Commission on June 7, will be given very careful consideration. The Commission does not feel that it can accede to your suggestion that there be oral argument as well.

Your letter states that Dr. Oppenheimer was not given access to material "actually used and disclosed for the first time at the hearings," I should like to remind you that in my letter to you of February 12, 1954, 1 stated:

"We have also indicated to you our willingness to make available to you, insofar as our facilities permit us to do so, documents which you reasonably believe are relevant to the matters in issue. You will appreciate, however, that the Commission must in fulfillment of its responsibilities for the maintenance of the common defense and security reserve the right to decide whether particular documents to which you request access are relevant and whether your access to such documents or parts thereof would be consistent with the national interest."

In a letter dated February 19, 1954, to you from William Mitchell, our General Counsel, it was stated:

"Furthermore, Dr. Oppenheimer will be given an opportunity to read the minutes of the GAC meeting of October 1949, by coming to the Commission's offices at his convenience. Arrangements for this purpose may be made with Mr. Nichols."

Dr. Oppenheimer did not avail himself of this opportunity.

Furthermore, you were given an opportunity by the Commission, prior to the hearings, to request security clearance for yourself. You will recall that the question of your clearance was discussed with you on January 18, and that on January 27 I wrote you stating that the Commission was prepared to process your clearance as expeditiously as possible upon receipt of your personnel security questionnaire. On February 3, 1954, you wrote me stating that you had decided not to request clearance. In your letter to me of March 26, 1954, you stated that you had finally decided that one of Dr. Oppenheimer's counsel should be cleared. The Board first convened on April 5. At the time your March 26 letter was received, it was not possible to complete the necessary background investigation, which is a prerequisite to clearance, until after the hearings had been concluded and the Board's report had been submitted. At the hearings themselves, whenever any document was introduced which still bore a security classification, Dr. Oppenheimer himself was permitted to read the document. Since his counsel had not been cleared, they were not, and could not be, given access to such classified documents. I know of no other material, considered by the Gray Board, which could be made available to Dr. Oppenheimer at the present time.

Sincerely yours,

K. D. NICHOLS, General Manager.

127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511.