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UNITED STATES ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION,
Washington, D. C., May 27,1954.
Subject: Findings and recommendation of the Personnel Security Board in the case of Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer.
Mr. K. D. NICHOLS,
General Manager, U. S. Atomic Energy Commission,
1901 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington 25, D. C.
DEAR MR. NICHOLS: On December 23, 1953, Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer was notified by letter that his security clearance had been suspended. He was furnished a list of items of derogatory information and was advised of his rights to a hearing under AEC procedures. On March 4, 1954, Dr. Oppenheimer requested that he be afforded a hearing. A hearing has been conducted by the Board appointed by you for this purpose, and we submit our findings and recommendation.
Dr. Ward V. Evans dissents from the recommendation of the majority of the Board, and his minority report is attached. He, specifically subscribes to the "Findings" of the majority of the Board, and to a portion of the material entitled "Significance of the Findings."
It must be understood that in our world in which the survival of free institutions and of individual rights is at stake, every person must in his own way be a guardian of the national security. It also must be clear that, in the exercise of this stewardship, individuals and institutions must protect, preserve, and defend those human values for which we exist as a nation, as a government, and as a way of life.
The hard requirements of security, and the assertion of freedoms, together thrust upon us a dilemma, not easily resolved. In the present international situation, our security measures exist, in the ultimate analysis, to protect our free institutions and traditions against repressive totalitarianism and its inevitable denial of human values. Thoughtful Americans find themselves uneasy, however, about those policies which must be adopted and those actions which must be taken in the interests of national security, and which at the same time pose a threat to our ideals. This Board has been conscious of these conflicts, presenting as they do some of the grave problems of our times, and has sought to consider them in an atmosphere of decency and safety.
We share the hope that some day we may return to happier times when our free institutions are not threatened and a peaceful and just world order is not such a compelling principal preoccupation. Then security will cease to be a central issue; man's conduct as a citizen will be measured only in the terms of the requirements of our national society; there will be no undue restraints upon freedom of mind and action; and loyalty and security as concepts will cease to have restrictive implications.
This state of affairs seems not to be a matter of early hope. As we meet the present peril, and seek to overcome it, we must realize that at no time can the interests of the protection of all our people be less than paramount to all other considerations. Indeed, action which in some cases may seem to be a denial of the freedoms which our security barriers are erected to protect, may rather be a fulfillment of these freedoms. For, if in our zeal to protect our institutions against our measures to secure them, we lay them open to destruction, we will have lost them all, and will have gained only the empty satisfaction of a meaningless exercise.
We are acutely aware that in a very real sense this case puts the security system of the United States on trial, both as to procedures and as to substance. This notion has been strongly urged upon us by those who recommended clearance for Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, and no doubt a similar view is taken by those who feel he should not be cleared.
If we understand the two points of View, they may be stated as follows: There are those who apprehend that our program for security at this point in history consists of an uneasy mixture of fear, prejudice, and arbitrary judgments. They feel that reason and fairness and justice have abdicated and their places have been taken by hysteria and repression. They, thus, believe that security procedures are necessarily without probity and that national sanity and balance can be served only by a finding in favor of the individual concerned. On the other hand, there is a strong belief that in recent times our government has been less than unyielding toward the problem of communism, and that loose and pliable attitudes regarding loyalty and security have prevailed to the danger of our society and its institutions. Thus, they feel that this proceeding presents the unrelinquishable opportunity for a demonstration against communism, almost regardless of the facts developed about the conduct and sympathies of Dr. Oppenheimer.
We find ourselves in agreement with much that underlies both points of view. We believe that the people of our country can be reassured by this proceeding that it is possible to conduct an investigation in calmness, in fairness, in disregard of public clamor and private pressures, and with dignity. We believe that it has been demonstrated that the Government can search its own soul and the soul of an individual whose relationship to his Government is in question with full protection of the rights and interests of both. We believe that loyalty and security can be examined within the frameworks of the traditional and inviolable principles of American justice.
The Board approached its task in the spirit of inquiry, not that of a trial. The Board worked long and arduously. It has heard 40 witnesses including Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer and compiled over 3,000 pages of testimony in addition to having read the same amount of file material.
Dr. Oppenheimer has been represented by counsel, usually four in number, at all times in the course of the proceedings. He has confronted every witness appearing before the Board, with the privilege of cross-examination. He is familiar with the contents of every relevant document, which was made available to Board, except those which under governmental necessity cannot be disclosed, such as reports of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He has, in his own words, received patient and courteous consideration at the hands of the Board. The Board has, in the words of his chief counsel, displayed fairness in the conduct of the hearings. And, finally, perhaps it should be said that the investigation has been conducted under the auspices of the responsible agency which has the obligation of decision.
As it considered substance, the Board has allowed sympathetic consideration for the individual to go hand in hand with an understanding of the necessities for a clear, realistic, and rugged attitude toward subversion, possible subversion, or indeed broader implications of security.
It was with all these considerations in mind that we approached our task.
This proceeding is based upon the Atomic Energy Act of 1946; upon the Atomic Energy Commission's published Security Clearance Procedures, dated September 12, 1950; and Personnel Security Clearance Criteria for Determining Eligibility, dated November 17, 1950; and upon Executive Order No. 10450, dated April 27, 1953.
Subparagraphs (ii) and (iv) of section 10 (b) (5) (B) of the Atomic Energy Act provide that, except as authorized by the Commission in case of emergency, no individual shall be employed by the Commission until the Civil Service Commission or (in certain instances) the Federal Bureau of Investigation shall have made an investigation and report to the Commission on the "character, associations, and loyalty" of such individual.
The AEC published Procedures provide, among other things, for written notice to the individual (1) listing the items of derogatory information and (2) explaining his rights (a) to reply in writing to the information set forth in the Commission's letter, (b) to request a hearing before a personnel security board, (c) to challenge the appointment of the members of the Board for cause, (d) to be present for the duration of the hearing, (e) to be represented by counsel of his own choosing, and (f) to present evidence in his own behalf through witnesses, or by documents, or by both. The Commission's Procedures further provide that in the event of a recommendation for a denial of security clearance, the individual shall be immediately notified of that fact and of his right to request a review of his case by the AEC Personnel Security Review Board, with the right to submit a brief to that Board before the case goes to the general manager for final determination.
The AEC published Criteria establish the uniform standards to be applied in determining eligibility for clearance. These Criteria, which, of course, are binding on this Board, provide that it is the responsibility of the Atomic Energy Commission to determine whether the common defense or security will be endangered by granting security clearance.
The Executive order requires the head of each department and agency of the Government to establish and maintain within his department or agency an effective program to insure that "the employment and retention in employment of any civilian officer or employee within the department or agency is clearly consistent with the interests of the national security." The Executive order further provides that information on this issue shall relate, but shall not be limited, to certain categories of information set forth in the order.
In compliance with section 4.16 (c) of the Commission's Security Clearance Procedures, the Board makes the following specific findings as to the allegations contained in Mr. K. D. Nichols' letter of December 23, 1953 to Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer:
1. It was reported that in 1940 you were listed as a sponsor of the Friends of the Chinese People, an organization which was characterized in 1944 by the House Committee on Un-American Activities as a Communist-front organization.
The Board concludes that this allegation is true.
Dr. Oppenheimer in his answer replied that he had no recollection of the Friends of the Chinese People, or of what, if any, his connection with this organization was. The Board had before it a four-page pamphlet (undated) entitled, "American Friends of the Chinese People." The fourth page contains a list of sponsors which includes "Prof. J. R. Oppenheimer."
2. It was further reported that in 1940 your name was included on a letterhead of the American Committee for Democracy and Intellectual Freedom as a member of its National Executive Committee. The
American Committee for Democracy and Intellectual Freedom was characterized in 1942 by the House Committee on Un-American Activities as a Communist-front which defended Communist teachers, and in 1943 it was characterized as subversive and Un-American by a Special Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations.
The Board concludes that this allegation is true.
Dr. Oppenheimer testified before the Board to having joined the American Committee for Democracy and Intellectual Freedom in 1937. He said that it then stood as a protest against what had happened to intellectuals and professionals in Germany. The Board had before it a letterhead of the "American Committee for Democracy and Intellectual Freedom." The letterhead contains a printed list of the National Executive Committee, which includes "Prof. J. R. Oppenheimer." Dr. Oppenheimer testified that he supposed he accepted membership on this Executive Committee although he did not meet with it.
Dr. Oppenheimer stated in his personnel security questionnaire, which he executed on April 28, 1942, for the purpose of obtaining a clearance for work on the atomic program, that he had joined the "American Committee for Democratic Intellectual Freedom" in 1937 and was still a member on the date the PSQ was executed. He testified that he did not know how long after that be continued to be a member; that, in any event, he was not active thereafter.
3. It was further reported that in 1938 you were a member of the Western Council of the Consumers Union. The Consumers Union was cited in 1944 by the House Committee on Un-American Activities as a Communist-front headed by the Communist Arthur Kallet.
The Board concludes that this allegation is true.
Dr. Oppenheimer in his answer stated that for perhaps a year he had been a member of the Western Council of the Consumers Union. In his personnel security questionnaire, which he executed on April 28, 1942, Dr. Oppenheimer stated that he had been a member of the Consumers Union (Western) in 1938-39.
The Board had before it a photostat of a four-page pamphlet (undated) entitled, "Western Consumers Union," containing a list of Western sponsors, which included the name "Dr. Robert J. Oppenheimer-Internationally-known Physicist at the University of California."
4. It was further reported that you stated in 1943 that you were not a Communist, but had probably belonged to every Communist-front organization on the west coast and had signed many petitions in which Communists were interested.
The Board concludes that this statement was made by Dr. Oppenheimer, and the Board had before it considerable evidence indicating Dr. Oppenheimer's membership in, and association with, Communist-front organizations and activities on the west coast. However, Dr. Oppenheimer, in his answer, claimed that the quotation was not true and that if he had said anything along the lines quoted, it was a half-jocular overstatement.
The Board had before it a memorandum, dated September 14, 1943, prepared by Lt. Col. John Lansdale, Jr., who was then head of Security and Intelligence for the Manhattan District, which reported "Oppenheimer categorically stated (to General Groves) that he himself was not a Communist and never had been, but stated that he had probably belonged to every Communist-front organization on the west coast and signed many petitions concerning matters in which Communists were interested.
The Board also had before it a transcript of an interview between Colonel Lansdale and Dr. Oppenheimer on September 12, 1943, which reflected that Colonel Lansdale had asked Dr. Oppenheimer, "You've probably belonged to every front organization on the coast," to which Dr. Oppenheimer replied, "Just about." The transcript further records that Dr. Oppenheimer also stated that he thought we would have been considered at one time a fellow-traveler and that "my association with these things was very brief and very intense."
Dr. Oppenheimer in his testimony defined "fellow-traveler" as "someone who accepted part of the public program of the Communist Party, who was willing to work with and associate with Communists, but who was not a member of the party." He testified to having been a fellow-traveler from late 1936 or early 1937, with his interest beginning to taper off after 1939, and with very little interest after 1942. He further stated that within the framework of his definition of a fellow-traveler, he would not have considered himself as such after 1942.
He further stated that with respect to things that the Communists were doing, in which he still had an interest, it was not until 1946 that it was clear to him that he would not collaborate with Communists no matter how much he sympathized with what they pretended to represent.
5. It was reported that in 1943 and previously you were intimately associated with Dr. Jean Tatlock, a member of the Communist Party in San Francisco, and that Dr. Tatlock was partially responsible for your association with Communist-front groups.
The Board concludes that this allegation is true.
Dr. Oppenheimer in his testimony before this Board admitted having associated with Jean Tatlock from 1936 until 1943. He stated that he saw her only rarely between 1939 and 1943, but admitted that the association was intimate. He admitted having seen Jean Tatlock under most intimate circumstances in June or July of 1943, during the time when he was Director of the Los Alamos Laboratory, and admitted that he knew she had been a Communist and that there was not any reason for him to believe that she was not at that time still a Communist. He named several Communists, Communist functionaries or Communist sympathizers whom he had met through Jean Tatlock, or as a result of his association with her.
6. It was reported that your wife, Katherine Puening Oppenheimer, was formerly the wife of Joseph Dallet, a member of the Communist Party, who was killed in Spain in 1937 fighting for the Spanish Republican Army.
The Board concludes that this allegation is true.
Mrs. Oppenheimer testified that she was married to Joseph Dallet from 1934 until he was killed in Spain, fighting for the Spanish Republican Army in 1937.
Mrs. Oppenheimer admitted knowing that Dallet was a member of the Communist Party and was actively engaging in Communist Party activities.
7. It was further reported that during the period of her association with Joseph Dallet, your wife became a member of the Communist Party. The Communist Party has been designated by the Attorney General as a subversive organization which seeks to alter the form of government of the United States by unconstitutional means, within the purview of Executive Order 9835 and Executive Order 10450.
The Board concludes that this allegation is true.
Mrs. Oppenheimer testified to having been a member of the Communist Party from about 1934 to June 1936 and having engaged in Communist Party activities in the Youngstown, Ohio, area.
8. It was reported that your brother Frank Friedman Oppenheimer became a member of the Communist Party in 1936 and has served as a party organizer and as educational director of the professional section of the Communist Party in Los Angeles County.
The Board concludes that this allegation is true.
Dr. Frank Friedman Oppenheimer admitted in testimony before the Committee on Un-American Activities of the House of Representatives, on June 14, 1949, that he had been a member of the Communist Party from about 1937 until the early spring of 1941. He testified that he joined under the name of "Frank Folsom."
From information before it, the Board concludes that Dr. Frank Oppenheimer had served as a party organizer and as educational director of the professional section of the Communist Party in Los Angeles County.
9. It was further reported that your brother's wife, Jackie Oppenheimer, was a member of the Communist Party in 1938.
The Board concludes that this allegation is true.
Mrs. Jacquenette Oppenheimer in testimony before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, on June 14,1949, admitted having been a member of the Communist Party from 1937 until the spring of 1941.
10. and that in August, 1944, Jackie Oppenheimer assisted in the organization of the East Bay branch of the California Labor School.
On the basis of information before it, the Board concludes that this allegation is true.
11. It was further reported that in 1945 Frank and Jackie Oppenheimer were invited to an informal reception at the Russian Consulate, that this invitation was extended by the American-Russian Institute of San Francisco and was for the purpose of introducing famous American scientists to Russian scientists who were delegates to the United Nations Conference on International Organization being held at San Francisco at that time, and that Frank Oppenheimer accepted this invitation.
On the basis of information before it, the Board concludes that this allegation is true.
12. It was further reported that Frank Oppenheimer agreed to give a 6-week course on The Social Implications of Modern Scientific Development at the California Labor School, beginning May 9, 1946, The American Russian Institute of San Francisco and the California Labor School have been cited by the Attorney General as Communist organizations within the, purview of Executive Order 9835 and ExecutiveOrder 10450.
On the basis of information before it, the Board concludes that this allegation is true.
13. It was reported that you have associated with members and officials of the Communist Party, including Isaac Folkoff, Steve Nelson, Rudy Lambert, Kenneth May, Jack Manley, and Thomas Addis.
The Board concludes that this allegation is substantially true.
Dr. Oppenheimer in his answer and in his testimony admitted having associated with Isaac Folkoff, Steve Nelson, Rudy Lambert, Kenneth May, and Thomas Addis. He testified that he knew at the time of his association with them that Folkoff, Nelson, Lambert, and May were Communist Party functionaries, and that Addis was either a Communist or close to one. He admitted that his associations with these persons continued until 1942. There was no evidence before the Board with respect to an association with Jack Manley.
Dr. Oppenheimer testified that he made contributions to the Spanish War and Spanish Relief through Isaac Folkoff and Thomas Addis. He testified that he had seen Lambert on half a dozen occasions, and that he discussed such contributions once or twice at luncheon with Lambert and Folkoff.
Dr. Oppenheimer testified that Steve Nelson and his family visited his home on several occasions, the last being probably in 1942; that such visits lasted "a few hours;" that he had met Steve Nelson through his (Oppenheimer's) wife since Nelson had befriended her in Paris at the time of Dallet's death; that he had nothing in common with Nelson "except an affection for my wife."
14. It was reported that you were a subscriber to the Daily People's World, a west coast Communist newspaper, in 1941 and 1942.
The Board concludes that this allegation is true.
Dr. Oppenheimer testified that he had subscribed to the People's World "for several years." He could not recall when the subscription expired and stated that he did not believe he had canceled the subscription. He testified that he knew the Daily People's World was the west coast Communist newspaper.
15. It was reported in 1950 that you stated to an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that you had in the past made contributions to Communist-front organizations, although at file time you did not know of Communist Party control or extent of infiltration of these groups. You further stated to an agent of
the Federal Bureau of Investigation that some of these contributions were made through Isaac Folkoff,
whom you knew to be a leading Communist Party functionary, because you had been told that this was the most effective and direct way of helping these groups.
The Board finds that Dr. Oppenheimer made the statements attributed to him by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The Board concludes that Dr. Oppenheimer in the past made contributions to Communist-front organizations and that some of these contributions were made through Isaac Folkoff, a leading Communist Party functionary.
Dr. Oppenheimer testified that he contributed to Spanish causes through Communist Party channels from the winter of 1937-38 until early in 1942. He said that he had contributed more than $500 and less than $1,000 each year during this period. He testified that he had made the contributions in cash and, in explaining how these contributions came to an end, he said (in referring to Pearl Harbor) that he "didn't like to continue a clandestine operation of any kind at a time when I saw myself with the possibility or prospect of getting more deeply involved in the war."
Dr. Oppenheimer in his answer admitted making the contributions through Thomas Addis and Isaac Folkoff. He testified that he knew Addis was a Communist or very close to a Communist. He knew that Folkoff was connected with the Communist Party. In addition, Dr. Oppenheimer admitted having contributed about $100 in cash to the Strike fund of one of the major strikes of "Bridges' Union" about 1937 or 1938.
16. It was reported that you attended a house-warming party at the home of Kenneth and Ruth May on September 20, 1941, for which there was an admission charge for the benefit of The Peoples World, and that at this party you were in the company of Joseph W. Weinberg and Clarence Hiskey, who were alleged to be members of the Communist Party and to have engaged in espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union. It was further reported that you informed officials of the United States Department of Justice in 1942 that you had no recollection that you had attended such a party, but that since it would have been in character for you to have attended such a party, you would not deny that you were there.
The Board concludes on the basis of information before it, that it was probable that Dr. Oppenheimer attended "the house-warming party" at the home of Kenneth and Ruth May. The Board concludes that Dr. Oppenheimer made the statements to the United States Department of Justice officials attributed to him.
Dr. Oppenheimer did not deny having attended such a party and testified that he knew Kenneth May. He denied knowing Hiskey but testified that he, Oppenheimer, was at parties at which Weinberg was present.
17. It was reported that you attended a closed meeting of the professional section of the Communist Party of Alameda County, Calif., which was held in the latter part of July or early August 1941, at your residence, 19 Kenilworth Court, Berkeley, Calif., for the purpose of hearing an explanation of a change in Communist Party policy. It was further reported that you denied that you attended such a meeting and that such a meeting was held in your home.
The Board is of the opinion that the evidence with respect to this meeting is inconclusive. The Board finds that Dr. Oppenheimer did deny that he attended such a meeting and that such a meeting was held in his home.
18. It was reported that you stated to an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1950 that you attended a meeting in 1940 or 1941, which may have taken place at the home of Haakon Chevalier, which was addressed by William Schneiderman, whom you knew to be a leading functionary of the Communist Party. In testimony in 1950 before the California State Senate Committee on Un-American Activities, Haakon Chevalier was identified as a member of the Communist Party in the San Francisco area in the early 1940's.
The Board finds that Dr. Oppenheimer made the statements attributed to him by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Dr. Oppenheimer testified that on December 1, 1940, he attended an evening meeting at the home of Haakon Chevalier at which perhaps 20 people were present and at which William Schneiderman, secretary of the Communist Party in California, gave a talk about the Communist Party line. He testified that he thought that possibly Isaac Folkoff, Dr. Addis, and Rudy Lambert were there.
He also testified that "after the end of 1940" he attended a similar meeting at the home of Louise Bransten, "a Communist sympathizer," at which some of the same people were present and at which Schneiderman also spoke and expounded the Communist Party line.
Dr. Oppenheimer testified that sometime between 1937 and 1939 as a guest he attended a Communist Party meeting at the home of his brother, Frank.
19. It was reported that you have consistently denied that you have ever been a member of the Communist Party. It was further reported that you stated to a representative of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1946 that you had a change of mind regarding the policies and politics of the Soviet Union about the time of the signing of the Soviet-German Pact in 1939. It was further reported that during 1950 you stated to a representative of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that you had never attended a closed meeting of the Communist Party; and that at the time of the Russo-Finnish War and the subsequent break between Germany and Russia in 1941, you realized the Communist Party infiltration tactics into the alleged anti-Fascist groups and became fed up with the whole thing and lost what little interest you had.
Dr. Oppenheimer testified that he had never been a member of the Communist Party. The Board finds that Dr. Oppenheimer made the statements attributed to him by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
It was further reported, however, that:
19. (a) Prior to April 1942 you had contributed $150 per month to the Communist Party in the San Francisco area, and that the last such payment was apparently made in April 1942 immediately before your entry into the atomic bomb project.
The Board concludes on the basis of testimony and other information before it that Dr. Oppenheimer made periodic contributions through Communist Party functionaries to the Communist Party in the San Francisco area in amounts aggregating not less than $500 nor more than $1,000 a year during a period of approximately 4 years ending in April 1942. As of April 1942, Dr. Oppenheimer had been for several months participating in Government atomic energy research activities. He executed a questionnaire for Government clearance on April 28, 1942, and subsequently assumed full-time duties with the atomic energy project.
19. (b) During the period 1942-45 various officials of the Communist Party, including Dr. Hannah Peters, organizer of the Professional Section of the Communist Party, Alameda County, Calif., Bernadette Doyle, secretary of the Alameda County Communist Party, Steve Nelson, David Adelson, Paul Pinsky, Jack Manley, and Katrina Sandow, are reported to have made statements indicating that you were then a member of the Communist Party; that you could not be active in the party at that time; that your name should be removed from the Party mailing list and not mentioned in any way; that you had talked the atomic bomb question over with Party members during this period; and that several years prior to 1945 you had told Steve Nelson that the Army was working on an atomic bomb.
The Board finds that during the period 1942-45, Dr. Hannah Peters, Bernadette Doyle, Steve Nelson, Jack Manley, and Katrina Sandow made statements indicating that Dr. Oppenheimer was then a member of the Communist Party; and that the other statements attributed to officials of the Communist Party in this allegation were made by one or more of them. The Board does not find on the basis of information available to it that such statements were made by David Adelsbn and Paul Pinsky.
19. (c) You stated in August of 1943 that you did not want anybody working for you on the project who was a member of the Communist Party, since "one always had a question of divided loyalty" and the discipline of the Communist Party was very severe and not compatible with complete loyalty to the project. You further stated at that time that you were referring only to present membership in the Communist Party and not to people who had been members of the party. You stated further that you knew several individuals then at Los Alamos who had been members of the Communist Party. You did not, however, identify such former members of the Communist Party to the appropriate authorities. It was also reported that during the period 1942-45 you were responsible for the employment on the atomic bomb project of individuals who were members of the Communist Party or closely associated with activities of the Communist Party, including Giovanni Rossi Lomanitz, Joseph W. Weinberg, David Bohm, Max Bernard Friedman, and David Hawkins. In the case of Giovanni Rossi Lomanitz, you urged him to work on the project, although you stated that you knew he had been very much of a "Red" when he first came to the University of California and that you emphasized to him that he must forego all political activity if he came on to the project. In August 1943 you protested against the termination of his deferment and requested that he be returned to the project after his entry into the military service.
The Board concludes that Dr. Oppenheimer did state in 1943 that he did not want anybody working for him on the project who was a member of the Communist Party, since "one always had a question of divided loyalty" and the discipline of the Communist Party was very severe and not compatible with complete loyalty to the project. He further stated at that time he was referring only to present membership in the Communist Party and not to people who had been members of the party. He stated further that he knew several individuals then at Los Alamos who had been members of the Communist Party. He did not, however, identify such former members of the Communist Party to the appropriate authorities.
The Board concludes that Dr. Oppenheimer was responsible for the employment on the atom bomb project of Giovanni Rossi Lomanitz at Berkeley and David Hawkins at Los Alamos.
The Board concludes that Dr. Oppenheimer asked for the transfer of David Bohm to Los Alamos, although Bohm was closely associated with the Communist Party. In his answer, Dr. Oppenheimer admitted that while at Berkeley he had assigned David Bohm to a problem of basic science having a bearing on atomic research.
Dr. Oppenheimer testified that he understood that Hawkins had left-wing associations; and that Hawkins "talked about philosophy in a way that indicated an interest and understanding and limited approval anyway of Engels."
The Board does not conclude that Dr. Oppenheimer was responsible for the employment of Friedmann or Weinberg on the atomic energy program.
Dr. Oppenheimer testified that Joseph W. Weinberg was a graduate student of his; that he had heard that Weinberg had been a member of the Young Communist League before coming to Berkeley and the Board had before it a transcript of a conversation with Dr. Oppenheimer indicating that at least by August 1943, he knew Weinberg to be a member of. the Communist Party and that he "suspected that before but was not sure." Weinberg gave Oppenheimer as a reference at the time he (Weinberg) obtained employment at the Radiation Laboratory on April 22, 1943.
Dr. Oppenheimer testified that he asked General Groves for the transfer of David Bohm to Los Alamos in 1943, but was told by General Groves that he could not be transferred since he had relatives in Nazi Germany. In March 1944 after a conversation with Bohm at Berkeley (a surveillance report indicated that the talk took place at a sidewalk meeting), he checked with the security officer at Los Alamos to see whether the objections to Bohm still obtained.
Dr. Oppenheimer testified that he thought that in 1946 or 1947 he helped Bohm get a job as Assistant Professor of Physics at Princeton. He testified that he happened to meet Bohm and Lomanitz on the street in Princeton in 1949 just prior to their testifying before the House Committee on Un-American Activities; that he said that "they should tell the truth"; that he later saw Bohm at Princeton and attended a farewell party for him in Princeton; that he would, if asked, have written a letter of recommendation for Bohm as a competent physicist in connection with a job in Brazil, although he knew and was worried about Bohm having pleaded the Fifth Amendment when he testified.
The Board finds that Dr. Oppenheimer did urge Lomanitz to work on the project although he knew he had been very much a "Red" when he first came to the University of California and, in fact, during his attendance at the University, and that Dr. Oppenheimer later stated to a Manhattan District official that he had warned Lomanitz that he must forego all political activity if he came to the project. The Board finds further that in August 1943, Dr. Oppenheimer protested against the termination of Lomanitz' deferment and urgently requested that he be returned to the project after his entry into the military service. It appears from the testimony that Dr. Oppenheimer first learned of the impending induction of Lomanitz in a letter from Dr. E. U. Condon who wrote to him "About it in a great sense of outrage."
20. It was reported that you stated to representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on September 5, 1946, that you had attended a meeting in the East Bay and a meeting in San Francisco at which there were present persons definitely identified with the Communist Party. When asked the purpose of the East Bay meeting and the identity of those in attendance, you declined to answer on the ground that this had no bearing on the matter of interest being discussed.
The Board concludes that this allegation is true. The Board finds that Dr. Oppenheimer did attend a meeting in the East Bay and a meeting in San Francisco (see item 18 above) at which there were present persons definitely identified with the Communist Party and that when he was asked about this meeting by representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on September 5, 1946, he declined to answer on the ground that this had no bearing on the matter of interest being discussed.
The Board finds that Dr. Oppenheimer advised representatives of the FBI of this meeting in a subsequent interview in 1950.
21. It was reported that you attended a meeting at the home of Frank Oppenheimer on January 1, 1946, with David Adelson and Paul Pinsky, both of whom were members of the Communist Party. It was further reported that you analyzed some material which Pinsky hoped to take up with the Legislative Convention in Sacramento, Calif.
The Board concludes that this allegation is true.
22. It was reported in 1946 that you were listed as vice chairman on the letterhead of the Independent Citizens Committee of the Arts, Sciences, and Professions, Inc., which has been cited as a Communist-front by the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
The Board concludes that this allegation is true, although the Board finds that Dr. Oppenheimer advised the organization in a letter on October 11, 1946, that he was not in accord with its policy and wished to resign. He wrote again on December 2, 1946, insisting upon resignation. The resignation was accepted on December 10, 1946.
23. It was reported that prior to March 1, 1943 possibly 3 months prior, Peter Ivanov, secretary at the Soviet Consulate, San Francisco, approached George Charles Eltenton for the purpose of obtaining information regarding work being done at the Radiation Laboratory for the use of Soviet scientists; that George Charles Eltenton subsequently requested Haakon Chevalier to approach you concerning this matter; that Haakon Chevalier thereupon approached you, either directly or through your brother, Frank Friedman Oppenheimer, in connection with this matter; and that Haakon Chevalier finally advised George Charles Eltenton that there was no chance whatsoever of obtaining the information. It was further reported that you did not report this episode to the appropriate authorities until several months after its occurrence; that when you initially discussed this matter with the appropriate authorities on August 26, 1943, you did not identify yourself as the person who had been approached, and you refused to identify Haakon Chevalier as the individual who had made the approach on behalf of George Charles Eltenton; and that it was not until several months later, when you were ordered by a superior to do so, that you so identified Haakon Chevalier. It was further reported that upon your return to Berkeley following your separation from the Los Alamos project, you were 'visited by the Chevaliers on several occasions; and that your wife was in contact with Haakon and Barbara Chevalier in 1946 and 1947.
The Board concludes that this allegation is substantially true.
The Board had before it a recording of a conversation between Dr. Oppenheimer and Lt. Col. Boris T. Pash, War Department intelligence officer, who had the responsibility for investigating subversive activities at the Radiation Laboratory, University of California at Berkeley. This conversation took place on August 26, 1943, at the Radiation Laboratory.
It was on this occasion that Dr. Oppenheimer reported the incident to Government authorities. He named Eltenton but refused to identify Chevalier. He also stated that the unnamed contact (Chevalier) had approached three persons on the atomic project and in the course of the interview mentioned other factors, such as the use of microfilm or other means and the involvement of the Russian Consulate.
The Board also had before it a transcript of a conversation between Dr. Oppenheimer and Lieutenant Colonel Lansdale which records that on September 12, 1943, Dr. Oppenheimer again refused to name Chevalier but reported the involvement of three others.
It was not until December 1943, that Dr. Oppenheimer, after being told by General Groves that he would be ordered to divulge the identity of the contact, reported the name of Chevalier. However, the record shows that having been told of the identity of Chevalier by Dr. Oppenheimer, the Manhattan District officials were still of the opinion that Chevalier had contacted three employees on the atomic project.
Dr. Oppenheimer, in his answer, stated that his friend, Haakon Chevalier, with his wife, visited him at his home on Eagle Hill probably in early 1943. He stated further that during the visit Chevalier came into the kitchen and told him that George Eltenton had spoken to him of the possibility of transmitting technical information to Soviet scientists. Dr. Oppenheimer said that he made some strong remark to the effect that this sounded terribly wrong to him, and the discussion ended there.
Dr. Oppenheimer's answer further states that nothing in his long-standing friendship would have led him to believe that Chevalier was actually seeking information, and he was certain that Chevalier had no idea of the work on which Dr. Oppenheimer was engaged.
Dr. Oppenheimer testified that the detailed story of the Chevalier incident which he told to Colonel Pash on August 26, 1943, and affirmed to Colonel Lansdale on September 12, 1943, was false in certain material respects. 'Dr. Oppenheimer testified that this story was "a cock-and-bull story"; that "the whole thing was a pure fabrication except for the one name, Eltenton." He said that his only explanation for lying was that he "was an idiot" and he "was reluctant to mention Chevalier" and "no doubt somewhat reluctant to mention myself." He admitted on cross examination, however, that if the story he told Colonel Pash had been true, it would have shown that Chevalier "was deeply involved"; that it was not just a casual conversation; that Chevalier was not an innocent contact, and that it was a criminal conspiracy.
Dr. Oppenheimer admitted that if this story to Colonel Pash had been true, it made things look very bad for both Chevalier and himself. He acknowledged that he thought the request for information by Eltenton was "treasonable." He admitted that he knew when he talked to Colonel Pash that his falsification impeded Colonel Pash's investigation.
Dr. Oppenheimer testified that in June or July of 1946 shortly after Chevalier was interviewed by the FBI about the Eltenton-Chevalier Incident, Chevalier came to Oppenheimer's home in Berkeley and told Oppenheimer about the interview; that Chevalier said the FBI had pressed him about whether he talked to anyone besides Oppenheimer; that quite awhile later Dr. Oppenheimer was interviewed by the FBI about the same matter, and at this time he knew from Chevalier substantially what Chevalier had said to the FBI about the incident.
Dr. Oppenheimer testified that he recalled getting a letter from Chevalier in 1950 asking him about Dr. Oppenheimer's testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee concerning the Chevalier-Eltenton incident. He responded, giving Chevalier a summary of what he, Dr. Oppenheimer, had testified. This letter was later used by Chevalier in support of his application for a passport. Dr. Oppenheimer further testified that at about that time, Chevalier came to Princeton and spent 2 days with Dr. Oppenheimer, discussing Chevalier's personal affairs and that he also then mentioned the matter of his passport. Dr. Oppenheimer said that on this occasion he recommended to Chevalier a lawyer named Joseph Fanelli, who, cross examination disclosed, was the attorney who represented Joseph Weinberg at his trial for perjury. Dr. Oppenheimer testified that he did not know Mr. Fanelli at this time but he had represented Frank Oppenheimer at his appearance before the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
Dr. Oppenheimer testified further that in December of 1953, when he and Mrs. Oppenheimer were in Paris, they had dinner with Dr. and Mrs. Chevalier and, on the following day, went with the Chevaliers to visit a Dr. Malraux. According to Dr. Oppenheimer, Dr. Malraux had given a speech at a "Spanish Relief" meeting in California at which Chevalier presided in about 1938. Dr. Oppenheimer said that since that time, Malraux had undergone "rather major political changes"; that "Malraux became a violent supporter of DeGaulle and his great brainman and deserted politics and went into purely philosophic and literary work." It appears also that subsequent to his meeting with Dr. Oppenheimer in Paris in December 1953, Chevalier wrote a letter to an official of the United States Embassy in Paris, reading as follows:
"My friend-and yours-Robert Oppenheimer, gave me your name when he was up for dinner here in our apartment early last December, and urged me to get in touch with you if a personal problem of mine which I discussed with him became pressing. He gave me to understand that I could speak to you with the same frankness and fullness as I have with him, and he with me, during the 15 years of our friendship.
"I should not have presumed to follow up such a suggestion if it had come from anyone else. But, as you know, Opje never tosses off such a suggestion lightly.
"If you are in Paris, or will be in the near future, I should, then, like to see you informally and discuss the problem.
"On rereading what I have written, I have a feeling that I have made the thing sound more formidable than it really is. It's just a decision that I have to make, which is fairly important to me, and which Opje in his grandfatherly way suggested that I shouldn't make before consulting you.
Dr. Oppenheimer testified that the problem which was bothering Chevalier and his wife was that Chevalier was employed as a translator for UNESCO, and he understood that if he continued this work as an American citizen, he would have to be cleared after investigation, and he was doubtful as to whether he would be cleared. He did not wish to renounce his American citizenship but did wish to keep his job, and he was in a conflict about it. Dr. Oppenheimer in his testimony denied going to the American Embassy to assist Dr. Chevalier in getting a passport to return to the United States although he admitted having had lunch with the official in question.
Dr. Oppenheimer also denied discussing with the official in question or anyone else the matter of Chevalier's passport.
Dr. Oppenheimer in his testimony has stated that his association with Chevalier has continued and that he still considers him to be his friend.
24. It was reported that in 1945 you expressed the view that "there is a reasonable possibility that it (the hydrogen bomb) can be made," but that the feasibility of the hydrogen bomb did not appear, on theoretical grounds, as certain as the fission bomb appeared certain, on theoretical grounds, when the Los Alamos Laboratory was started; and that in the autumn of 1949 the General Advisory Committee expressed the view that "an imaginative and concerted attack on the problem has a better than even chance of producing the weapon within 5 years." It was further reported that in the autumn of 1949, and subsequently, you strongly opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb: (1) on moral grounds, (2) by claiming that it was not feasible, (3) by claiming that there were insufficient facilities and scientific personnel to carry on the development, and 4) that it was not politically desirable. It was further reported that even after it was determined, as a matter of national policy, to proceed with development of a hydrogen bomb, You continued to oppose the project and declined to cooperate fully in the project. It was further reported you departed from your proper role as an adviser to the Commission by causing the distribution, separately and in private, to top personnel at Los Alamos of the majority and minority reports of the General Advisory Committee on development of the hydrogen bomb for the purpose of trying to turn such top personnel against the development of the hydrogen bomb. It was further reported that you were instrumental in persuading other outstanding scientists not to work on the hydrogen bomb project, and that the opposition to the hydrogen bomb, of which you are most experienced, most powerful, and most effective member, has definitely slowed down its development.
In order to assess the influence of Dr. Oppenheimer on the thermonuclear program, it has been necessary for the Board not only to consider the testimony but also to examine many documents and records, most of which are classified. Without disclosing the contents of classified documents, the Board makes the following findings, which it believes to be a sufficient reference to this allegation.
The Board confirms that in 1945 Mr. Oppenheimer expressed the view that there is reasonable possibility that it (the hydrogen bomb) can be made, but that the feasibility of the hydrogen bomb did not appear, on theoretical grounds, as certain as the fission bomb appeared certain, on theoretical grounds, when the Los Alamos Laboratory was started; and that in August of 1949, the General Advisory Committee expressed the view that 'an imaginative and concerted attack on the problem has a better than even chance of producing the weapon within 5 years.'"
With respect to Dr. Oppenheimer's attitude and activities in relation to the hydrogen bomb in World War II, the evidence shows that Dr. Oppenheimer during this period had no misgivings about a program looking to thermonuclear development and, indeed, during the latter part of the war, he recorded his support of prompt and vigorous action in this connection. When asked under cross examination whether he would have opposed dropping an H-bomb on Hiroshima, he replied that "It would make no sense," and when asked "Why?" replied, "The target is too small." He testified further under cross examination that he believed he would have opposed the dropping of an H-bomb on Japan because of moral scruples although he did not oppose the dropping of an A-bomb on the same grounds. During the postwar period, Dr. Oppenheimer favored, and in fact urged, continued research in the thermonuclear field and seemed to express considerable interest in results that were from time to time discussed with him. However, he was aware that the efforts being put forth in this endeavor were relatively meager and he knew that if research were continued at the same pace, there would be little likelihood of success for many years. Testimony in this connection indicated that there was a feeling on his part that it was more important to go forward with a program for the production of a wider range of atomic bombs.
The Board finds further that in the autumn of 1949, and subsequently, Dr. Oppenheimer strongly opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb on moral grounds; on grounds that it was not politically desirable: he expressed the view that there were insufficient facilities and scientific personnel to carry on the development without seriously interfering with the orderly development of the program for fission bombs; and until the late spring of 1951, he questioned the feasibility of the hydrogen bomb efforts then in progress.
Dr. Oppenheimer testified that what he was opposing in the fall of 1949 was only a "crash program" in the development and production of thermonuclear weapons. In this connection, Dr. Oppenheimer contended that the main question relating to thermonuclear weapons presented to the GAC at its meeting of October 29, 1949, was whether or not the United States should undertake such a crash program. The Board does not believe that Dr. Oppenheimer was entirely candid with the Board in attempting to establish this impression. The record reflects that Dr. Oppenheimer expressed the opinion in writing that the "super bomb should never be produced," and that the commitment to this effect should be unqualified. Moreover, the alternatives available to the GAC were not a choice between an "all-out effort" and no effort at all; there was a middle course which might have been considered.
The Board further concludes that after it was determined, as a matter of national policy (January 31, 1950) to proceed with development of a hydrogen bomb, Dr. Oppenheimer did not oppose the project in a positive or open manner, nor did he decline to cooperate in the project. However, Dr. Oppenheimer is recognized in scientific circles as one of the foremost leaders in the atomic energy field and he has considerable influence on the "policy direction" of the atomic program. The Board finds that his views in opposition to the development of the H-bomb as expressed in 1949 became widely known among scientists, and since he did not make it known that he had abandoned these views, his attitude undoubtedly had an adverse effect on recruitment of scientists and the progress of the scientific effort in this field. In other words, the Board finds, that if Dr. Oppenheimer had enthusiastically supported the thermonuclear program either before or after the determination of national policy, the H-bomb project would have been pursued with considerably more vigor, thus increasing the possibility of earlier success in this field.
The Board finds that Dr. Oppenheimer was not responsible for the distribution, separately and in private, to top personnel at Los Alamos of the majority and minority reports of the General Advisory Committee on development of the hydrogen bomb, but that such distribution was made on the direction of the then general manager of the Atomic Energy Commission, Carroll L. Wilson, apparently in order to prepare the personnel at Los Alamos to discuss the matter with the chairman of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy of the Congress.
The Board does not find that Dr. Oppenheimer urged other scientists not to work on the program. However, enthusiastic support on his part would perhaps have encouraged other leading scientists to work on the program.
Because of technical questions involved, the Board is unable to make a categorical finding as to whether the opposition of the hydrogen bomb "has definitely slowed down its development." The Board concludes that the opposition to the H-bomb by many persons connected with the atomic energy program, of which Dr. Oppenheimer was the "most experienced, most powerful, and most effective member" did delay the initiation of concerted effort which led to the development of a thermonuclear weapon.
We do not believe that our findings with respect to the letter of notification provide a full and automatic answer to the categorical question posed to us in these proceedings. Only the dimensions of the problem have perhaps been defined. On the one hand, we find no evidence of disloyalty. Indeed, we have before us much responsible and positive evidence of the loyalty and love of country of the individual concerned. On the other hand, we do not believe that it has been demonstrated that Dr. Oppenheimer has been blameless in the matter of conduct, character, and association.
We could in good conscience, we believe, conclude our difficult undertaking by a brief, clear, and conclusive recommendation to the general manager of the Commission in the following terms: There can be no tampering with the national security, which in times of peril must be absolute, and without concessions for reasons of admiration, gratitude, reward, sympathy, or charity. Any doubts whatsoever must be resolved in favor of the national security. The material and evidence presented to this Board leave reasonable doubts with respect to the individual concerned. We, therefore, do not recommend reinstatement of clearance.
It seemed to us that an alternative recommendation would be possible, if we were allowed to exercise mature practical judgment without the rigid circumscription of regulations and criteria established for us.
In good sense, it could be recommended that Dr. Oppenheimer simply not be used as a consultant, and that therefore there exists no need for a categorical answer to the difficult question posed by the regulations, since there would be no need for access to classified material.
The Board would prefer to report a finding of this nature. We have had a desire to reconcile the hard requirements of security with the compelling urge to avoid harm to a talented citizen.
The Board questioned why the Commission chose to revoke Dr. Oppenheimer's clearance and did not follow the alternative course of declining to make use of his services, assuming it had serious questions in the area of security. To many, this would seem the preferable line of action. We think that the answer of the Commission to this question is pertinent to this recital. It seemed clear that other agencies of Government were extending clearance to Dr. Oppenheimer on the strength of AEC clearance, which in many quarters is supposed to be an approval of the highest order. Furthermore, it was explained that without the positive act of withdrawal of access, he would continue to receive classified reports on Atomic Energy activities as a consultant, even though his services were not specifically and currently engaged. Finally it is said that were his clearance continued, his services would be available to, and probably would be used by, AEC contractors. It is noted that most AEC work is carried on by contractors. Withdrawal of clearance and Dr. Oppenheimer's request for a hearing precipitated this proceeding.
In view of the fact that we must address ourselves to security, we feel constrained to examine some of the great issues and problems brought into focus by the case. Many of these are perhaps more important than the outcome of this inquiry. We believe their examination is a necessary precondition to its disposition on security grounds.
What, within the framework of this case, is meant by loyalty?
Because of widespread confusions and misapprehensions about the security system of the United States, the Board feels that it must state some considerations with respect to loyalty. If a person is considered a security risk in terms of loyalty, the fact or possibility of active disloyalty is assumed, which would involve conduct giving some sort of aid and comfort to a foreign power. The Communist Party is an international conspiracy organized in support of the Soviet Union. It should then be clear that (1) a member of the Communist Party is automatically barred from a position of trust with the United States Government; (2) a fellow-traveler must be declared ineligible for such a position of trust-such a person being described as one who perhaps may not be subject to party discipline, but who is sufficiently close to the party, or sympathetic with its aims, purposes and methods that danger inheres in the situation; (3) any person whose absolute loyalty to the United States is in question, aside from present or former Communist affiliations or associations, should be rejected for Government service; (4) a person whose former status would be encompassed in (1), (2), or (3) above, has the burden of proof of change in position and attitude which must be so clearly borne by him as to leave no reasonable doubt in the minds of those who are called upon to make a governmental decision in the case. If he fails in this demonstration, he must be considered a security risk and denied access to classified information.
One of the important issues presented in cases of this sort is that of rehabilitation
Stated in the context of this proceeding, must we accept the principle that once a Communist, always a Communist, once a fellow-traveler, always a fellow-traveler? Can an individual who has been a member of the Communist Party, or closely enough associated with it to make the difference unimportant at a later time, so comport himself personally, so clearly have demonstrated a renunciation of interest and sympathy, so unequivocally have displayed a zeal for his country and its security as to overcome the necessary presumptions of security risk? We, as a Board, firmly believe that this can be the case, and, if we may be permitted something in the nature of a dictum, we believe that this principle should be a part of the security policy of the United States Government. The necessary but harsh requirements of security should not deny a man the right to have made a mistake, if its recurrence is so remote a possibility as to permit a comfortable prediction as to the sanity and correctness of future conduct.
This Board has been conscious of the atmosphere of the time in which Dr. Oppenheimer's clear-cut Communist affiliations occurred. We have considered his activities against the background of the pervasive disillusionment among many of our people arising out of the effects of the great depression and the perhaps normal tendency of a humanitarian to turn to an organization which seemed to him to be espousing primarily humanitarian causes. We recognize what may have seemed to be at the time a beckoning towards a better social order. We know that many academic people and other intellectuals, honest and moral though they were, misinterpreted the talk, aims and purposes of the Communist Party and its affiliated organizations. We are aware that the fact that the Soviet Union was an ally during some of those years cannot be overlooked. This intellectual exercise has, we think, not been inappropriate because we recognize that 1943 conduct cannot be judged solely in the light of 1954 conditions. At the same time, it must be remembered that standards and procedures of 1943 should not be controlling today.
Another vital question is, can an individual be loyal to the United States and, nevertheless, be considered a security risk?
Because the security interests of this country may be endangered by involuntary act, as well as by positive conduct of a disloyal nature, personal weaknesses of an individual may constitute him a security risk. These would include inordinate use of alcohol or drugs, personal indiscretion (in the sense of careless talk), homosexuality, emotional instability, tendency to yield to pressures of others, unusual attachment for foreign systems. The presence of any of these items would support a finding of security risk, even though in every case accompanied by a deep love of country.
There remains also an aspect of the security system which perhaps has had insufficient public attention. This is the protection and support of the entire system itself. It must include an understanding and an acceptance of security measures adopted by responsible Government agencies. It must include an active cooperation with all agencies of Government properly and reasonably concerned with the security of our country. It must involve a subordination of personal judgment as to the security status of an individual as against a professional judgment in the light of standards and procedures when they have been clearly established by appropriate process. It must entail a wholehearted commitment to the preservation of the security system and the avoidance of conduct tending to confuse or obstruct.
The Board would assert the right of any citizen to be in disagreement with security measures and any other expressed policies of Government. This is all a part of the right of dissent which must be preserved for our people. But the question arises whether an individual who does not accept and abide by the security system should be a part of it.
In this connection, we should acknowledge that in the early war years very few people were aware of the full implications of security or security measures which needed to be undertaken. Even many of those in the military services found themselves for a time in a new field. This was a new concept under strange and alien pressures. We believe that no person should now be held accountable for lack of full knowledgeability in the early years of the war. However, those who have been associated with it during the war years and subsequently and who have been exposed repeatedly to security measures, should not fail to understand the need for their full support of the system.
Another major question posed by these proceedings is whether we should take Calculated risks where the national security is involved
It has been urged upon us that where there is lingering doubt about the security status of an individual in the absence of a finding of disloyalty or a tendency towards indiscretion, we should take a calculated risk in granting clearance to such an individual if he is a man of great attainments and capacity and has rendered outstanding services.
Within the framework of our national philosophy which rests in large part upon the declaration that all men are equal before the bar of justice, can we apply one test to an individual, however brilliant his capacities and however magnificent his contributions, and another test to an individual with more mundane capabilities and lesser contributions? In other words, can a different test for security purposes be justified in the case of the brilliant technical consultant than in the case of the stenographer or clerk? It seems to us that such a distinction can be justified only on the ground of critical national need and that otherwise there can be but one standard for all.
We acknowledge that the national necessity may at times require the taking of a calculated risk. Such a calculated risk was taken in the employment and retention of Dr. Oppenheimer as Director of the Los Alamos Laboratory during the war years, on the ground of the overriding need for his services. The officer-in-charge has said that, had he found the risk becoming a danger, he would have felt impelled to open up the whole project and throw security to the winds rather than lose the talents of the individual. Again, wartime exigencies demanded the use of Nazi scientists before the issues with Germany were settled.
What we have learned in this inquiry makes the present application of this principle inappropriate in the instant case. Notwithstanding the undoubted and unparalleled contributions of Dr. Oppenheimer to the atomic energy program, it appears that his services as a consultant were used by the Atomic Energy Commission during the entire year of 1953 for a period approximating only 21/2 days' time. We conclude, therefore, that our recommendation should not be based upon such principle, overriding all other considerations.
Another major issue which has been highlighted by this inquiry is whether a moral principle akin to double jeopardy in the traditional legal sense should have a place in the jurisprudence of security
We properly ask ourselves the question: How many times may the same circumstances of a man's life be examined with a view toward determination of his security status? Once a responsible agency of the Government has made an evaluation, should this not be a bar to later and similar consideration by the same or another agency in the absence of newly discovered evidence or developments. This is an important consideration and the Board has undertaken to examine it with care.
It must be made clear to the public by the Government that its employees and consultants are not to be subject to repeated and capricious reviews of their loyalty or security status. In general, this Board believes that responsible prior clearance should be given great weight and should be virtually considered a settled matter in cases where there is manifestly no new material or developments of consequence. We would not urge this as an absolute principle, however, for the reason that the criminal law concept referred to is for the protection of the individual whereas security measures are for the protection of the country, whose interests should never be foreclosed.
There seems to be a widespread view that such a principle should apply in the case at hand. It has been suggested that the clearance by the Manhattan Engineering District and the subsequent action of the AEC in 1947 should be controlling. We believe this not to be sound.
In the first place, we must acknowledge the important difference between an administrative review of files not involving the personal appearance of the employee and of which he is probably not aware, and a hearing before the Board at which the employee appears and at which testimony is taken. This is the first occasion of review of this case by a Personnel Security Board. Indeed, this is the only time that all of the available evidence regarding Dr. Oppenheimer has been correlated and presented in a package. This latter fact suggests the second reason why Dr. Oppenheimer is not being placed in double jeopardy in a moral sense by this proceeding. It was necessary to the national security that material information not considered in previous clearances be studied.
Third, new developments have occurred since the granting of previous clearances. Among these are changed national and international circumstances and new security standards and criteria which have been published in the interim. We refer specifically to the AEC criteria published since 1947 and the Executive order of the President of April 27, 1953.
It must be recalled that the Manhattan District criteria were primarily loyalty and discretion. Such records as are available with respect to the AEC clearance in 1947 indicate that in general it was based in large part upon the earlier clearance by the Manhattan Engineering District, upon a finding of loyal service to the country, and the risk to the program in the loss of services of the individual.
Fourth, viewed against the background of earlier history, the conduct of the individual subsequently to 1947 has been such as to raise questions of security risk.
Another major issue prompted by these proceedings concerns itself with the extent of the right of a citizen, to continued employment by his Government because of loyal and distinguished accomplishment in Government service
There are those who seem deeply convinced that Dr. Oppenheimer has a right to continued employment, in view of his previous contributions and in the light of his brilliant capabilities. Citizens of this country have many inalienable rights, but it is clear that Government service is a privilege and not a right. This principle was simply, but effectively, stated by Oliver Wendell Holmes:
"* * * The petitioner may have a constitutional right to talk politics, but he has no constitutional right to be a policeman * * *"
We deem it, therefore, to be within the power of Government in the absence of Civil Service requirement or contractual relationships to terminate employment of a consultant at any time.
A major question which has repeatedly emerged in our deliberations is whether in determining the security status of an individual who is a scientist, the Government must take into account the reactions of, and the possible impact upon, all other scientists
The Board takes cognizance of the serious alarm expressed to it by witnesses and frequently adverted to in the public press that denial of clearance to Dr. Oppenheimer would do serious harm in the scientific community. This is a matter of vital concern to the Government and the people.
We should express our considered view that, because the loyalty or security risk status of a scientist or any other intellectual may be brought into question, scientists and intellectuals, are ill-advised to assert that a reasonable and sane inquiry constitutes an attack upon scientists and intellectuals generally. This Board would deplore deeply any notion that scientists are under attack in this country and that prudent study of any individual's conduct and character within the necessary demands of the national security could be either in fact or in appearance a reflection of anti-intellectualism.
The Board has taken note of the fact that in some cases of this sort groups of scientists have tended toward an almost professional opposition to any inquiry about a member of the group. They thus, by moving in a body to the defense of one of their number, give currency, credence, and support to a notion that they as a group are under attack. A decision of a Board of this sort, whether favorable or unfavorable to the individual whose case is before it, should be considered neither as an exoneration of all scientists from imputations of security risk nor a determination that all scientists are suspect.
We know that scientists, with their unusual talents, are loyal citizens, and, for every pertinent purpose, normal human beings. We must believe that they the young and the old and all between, will understand that a responsible Government must make responsible decisions. If scientists should believe that such a decision in Government, however distasteful with respect to an individual, must be applicable to his whole profession, they misapprehended their own duties and obligations as citizens.
In this connection, the Board has been impressed, and in many ways heartened by the manner in which many scientists have sprung to the defense of one whom many felt was under unfair attack. This is important and encouraging when one is concerned with the vitality of our society. However, the Board feels constrained to express its concern that in this solidarity there have been attitudes so uncompromising in support of science in general, and Dr. Oppenheimer in particular, that some witnesses have, in our judgment, allowed their convictions to supersede what might reasonably have been their recollections.
One important consideration brought into focus by this case is the role of scientists as advisers in the formulation of Government policy.
We must address ourselves to the natural constraints and the particular difficulties inherent in the AEC program itself. As a Nation we find it necessary to delegate temporary authority with respect to the conduct of the program and the policies to be followed to duly elected representatives and appointive officials as provided for by our Constitution and laws. For the most part, these representatives and officials are not capable of passing judgment on technical matters and, therefore, appropriately look to specialists for advice. We must take notice of the current and inevitable amplification of influence which attaches to those giving advice under these circumstances. These specialists have an exponential amplification of influence which is vastly greater than that of the individual citizen.
It must be understood that such specialists did not, as scientists, deliberately create this condition. For example, Dr. Oppenheimer served his Government because it sought him. The impact of his influence was felt immediately and increased progressively as his services were used. The Nation owes these scientists, we believe, a great debt of gratitude for loyal and magnificent service. This is particularly true with respect to Dr. Oppenheimer.
A question can properly be raised about advice of specialists relating to moral, military and political issues, under circumstances which lend such advice an undue and in some cases decisive weight. Caution must be expressed with respect to judgments which go beyond areas of special and particular competence.
Any man, whether specialist or layman, of course, must have the right to express his deep moral convictions; must have the privilege of voicing his deepest doubts. We can understand the emotional involvement of any scientist who contributed to the development of atomic energy and thus helped to unleash upon the world a force which could be destructive of civilization. Perhaps no American can be entirely guilt-free, and, yet, these weapons did not bring peace nor lessen the threats to the survival of our free institutions. Emotional involvement in the current crisis, like all other things, must yield to the security of the nation.
Dr. Oppenheimer himself testified, "I felt perhaps quite wrongly that having played an active part in promoting a revolution in warfare I needed to be as responsible as I could with regard to what came of this revolution."
We have no doubt that other distinguished and devoted scientists have found themselves beset by a similar conflict.
It is vitally important that Government and scientists alike understand the need for and value of the advice of competent technicians. This need is a present and a continuing one. Yet, those officials in Government who are responsible for the security of the country must be certain that the advice which they seriously seek appropriately reflects special competence on the one hand, and soundly based conviction on the other, uncolored and uninfluenced by considerations of an emotional character.
In evaluating advice from a specialist which departs from the area of his specialty, Government officials charged with the military posture of our country must also be certain that underlying any advice is a genuine conviction that this country cannot in the interest of security have less than the strongest possible offensive capabilities in a time of national danger.
Significance of the findings of the Board
The fact referred to in General Nichols' letter fall clearly into two major areas of concern. The first of these, which is represented by items 1 through 23, involves primarily Dr. Oppenheimer's Communist connections in the earlier years and continued associations arising out of those connections.
The second major area of concern is related to Dr. Oppenheimer's attitudes and activities with respect to the development of the hydrogen bomb.
The Board has found the allegations in the first part of the Commission letter to be substantially true, and attaches the following significance to the findings: There remains little doubt that, from late 1936 or early 1937 to probably April 1942, Dr. Oppenheimer was deeply involved with many people who were active Communists. The record would suggest that the involvement was something more than an intellectual and sympathetic interest in the professed aims of the Communist Party. Although Communist functionaries during this period considered Dr. Oppenheimer to be a Communist, there is no evidence that he was a member of the party in the strict sense of the word.
Using Dr. Oppenheimer's own characterization of his status during that period, he seems, to have been an active fellow-traveler. According to him, his sympathies with the Communists seem to have begun to taper off somewhat after 1939, and very much more so after 1942. However, it is not unreasonable to conclude from material presented to this Board that Dr. Oppenheimer's activities ceased as of about the time he executed his Personnel Security Questionnaire in April 1942. He seems to have had the view at that time and subsequently that current involvement with Communist activities was incompatible with service to the Government. However, it also would appear that he felt that former Communist Party membership was of little consequence if the individual concerned was personally trustworthy.
Dr. Oppenheimer's sympathetic interests seemed to have continued beyond 1942 in a diluted and diminishing state until 1946, at which time we find the first affirmative action on his part which would indicate complete rejection. In October 1946, he tendered his resignation from the Independent Citizens Committee of the Arts, Sciences, and Professions, Inc., and he now says it was at this time that he finally realized that he could not collaborate with the Communists, whatever their aims and professed interests. We would prefer to have found an affirmative action at an earlier date.
The Board takes a most serious view of these earlier involvements. Had they occurred in very recent years, we would have found them to be controlling and, in any event, they must be taken into account in evaluating subsequent conduct and attitudes.
The facts before us establish a pattern of conduct falling within the following Personnel Security Clearance criteria: Category A, including instances in which there are grounds sufficient to establish a reasonable belief that an individual or his spouse has (1) Committed or attempted to commit or aided or abetted another who committed or attempted to commit any act of sabotage, espionage, treason, or sedition. (2) Establish an association with espionage agents of a foreign nation * * * (3) Held membership or joined any organization which had been declared by the Attorney General to be * * * Communist, subversive * * * These criteria under the AEC procedures establish a presumption of security risk.
The Board believes, however, that there is no indication of disloyalty on the part of Dr. Oppenheimer by reason of any present Communist affiliation, despite Dr. Oppenheimer's poor judgment in continuing some of his past associations into the present. Furthermore, the Board had before it eloquent and convincing testimony of Dr. Oppenheimer's deep devotion to his country in recent years and a multitude of evidence with respect to active service in all sorts of governmental undertakings to which he was repeatedly called as a participant and as a consultant.
We feel that Dr. Oppenheimer is convinced that the earlier involvements were serious errors and today would consider them an indication of disloyalty. The conclusion of this Board is that Dr. Oppenheimer is a loyal citizen.
With respect to the second portion of General Nichols' letter, the Board believes that Dr. Oppenheimer's opposition to the hydrogen bomb and his related conduct in the postwar period until April 1951, involved no lack of loyalty to the United States or attachment to the Soviet Union. The Board was impressed by the fact that even those who were critical of Dr. Oppenheimer's judgment and activities or lack of activities, without exception, testified to their belief in his loyalty.
The Board concludes that any possible implications to the contrary which might have been read into the second part of General Nichols' letter are not supported by any material which the Board has seen.
The Board wishes to make clear that in attempting to arrive at its findings, and their significance with respect to the hydrogen bomb, it has in no way sought to appraise the technical judgments of those who were concerned with the program.*
We cannot dismiss the matter of Dr. Oppenheimer's relationship to the development of the hydrogen bomb simply with the finding that his conduct was not motivated by disloyalty, because it is our conclusion that, whatever the motivation, the security interests of the United States were affected.
We believe that, had Dr. Oppenheimer given his enthusiastic support to the program, a concerted effort would have been initiated at an earlier date.
Following the President's decision, he did not show the enthusiastic support for the program which might have been expected of the chief atomic adviser to the Government under the circumstances. Indeed, a failure to communicate an abandonment of his earlier position undoubtedly had an effect upon other scientists. It is our feeling that Dr. Oppenheimer's influence in the atomic scientific circles with respect to the hydrogen bomb was far greater than he would have led this Board to believe in his testimony before the Board. The Board has reluctantly concluded that Dr. Oppenheimer's candor left much to be desired in his discussions with the Board of his attitude and position in the entire chronology of the hydrogen-bomb problem.
We must make it clear that we do not question Dr. Oppenheimer's right to the opinions he held with respect to the development of this weapon. They were shared by other competent and devoted individuals, both in and out of Government. We are willing to assume that they were motivated by deep moral conviction. We are concerned, however, that he may have departed his role its scientific adviser to exercise highly persuasive influence in matters in which his convictions were not necessarily a reflection of technical judgment, and also not necessarily related to the protection of the strongest offensive military interests of the country.
In the course of the proceedings, there developed other facts which raised questions of such serious import as to give us concern about whether the retention of Dr. Oppenheimer's services would be clearly consistent with the security interests of the United States.
It must be said that Dr. Oppenheimer seems to have had a high degree of discretion reflecting an unusual ability to keep to himself vital secrets. However, we do find suggestions of a tendency to be coerced, or at least influenced in conduct over a period of years.
By his own testimony, Dr. Oppenheimer was led to protest the induction into military service of Giovanni Rossi Lomanitz in 1943 by the outraged intercession of Dr. Condon. It is to be remembered that, at this time Dr. Oppenheimer knew of Lomanitz's connections and of his indiscretions. In 1949, Dr. Oppenheimer appeared in executive session before the House Un-American Activities Committee, and at that time was asked about his friend, Dr. Bernard Peters. Dr. Oppenheimer confirmed the substance of an interview with the security officer which took place during the war years and in which he had characterized Dr. Peters as a dangerous Red and former Communist. This testimony soon appeared in the Rochester, N. Y., newspapers. At this time. Dr. Peters was on the staff of the University of Rochester. Dr. Oppenheimer, as a result of protestations by Dr. Condon, by Dr. Peters himself, and by other scientists, then wrote a letter for publication to the Rochester newspaper, which, in effect, repudiated his testimony given in secret session. His testimony before this Board indicated that he failed to appreciate the great impropriety of making statements of one character in a secret session and of a different character for publication, and that he believed that the important thing was to protect Dr. Peters' professional status. In that episode, Dr. Condon's letter, which has appeared in the press, contained a severe attack on Dr. Oppenheimer. Nevertheless, he now testifies that he is prepared to support Dr. Condon in the loyalty investigation of the latter.
Executive Order 10450 in listing criteria to be taken into account in cases of this sort indicates in part the following:
"Section 8 (a) (1) (i) any behavior, activities, or associations which tend to show that the individual is not reliable or trustworthy.
(v) Any facts which furnish reason to believe that the individual may be subjected to coercion, influence, or pressure which may cause him to act contrary to the best interest of the national security."
Whether the incidents referred to clearly indicate a susceptibility to influence or coercion within the meaning of the criteria or whether they simply reflect very bad judgment, they clearly raise the question of Dr. Oppenheimer's understanding, acceptance, and enthusiastic support of the security system. Beginning with the Chevalier incident, he has repeatedly exercised an arrogance of his own judgment with respect to the loyalty and reliability of other citizens to an extent which has frustrated and at times impeded the workings of the system. In an interview with agents of the FBI in 1946, which in good part concerned itself with questions about Chevalier, when asked about a meeting which Dr. Oppenheimer had attended, at which Communists and Communist sympathizers were in attendance, he declined to discuss it on the ground that it was irrelevant, although the meeting itself was held in Chevalier's home. In a subsequent interview, he declined to discuss people he had known to be Communists.
Indeed, in the course of this proceeding, Dr. Oppenheimer recalled pertinent details with respect to Communist meetings and with respect to individuals with Communist connections, which he had never previously disclosed in the many interviews with Government authorities, in spite of the fact that he had been interviewed regarding such matters.
In 1946 or 1947, he assisted David Bohm in getting a position at Princeton and, at least on a casual basis, continued his associations with Bohm after he had reason to know of Bohm's security status. He testified that today he would give Bohm a letter of recommendation as a physicist, and, although not asked whether he would also raise questions about Bohm's security status, he in no way indicated that this was a matter of serious import to him.
While his meeting with Lomanitz and Bohm, immediately prior to their appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1949, at which time both pleaded the fifth amendment, may have been a casual one as he testified, he nevertheless discussed with them their testimony before that committee.
Moreover, his current associations, with Dr. Chevalier, as discussed in detail in item No. 23, are, we believe, of a high degree of significance. It is not important to determine that Dr. Oppenheimer discussed with Chevalier matters of concern to the security of the United States. What is important is that Chevalier's Communist background and activities were known to Dr. Oppenheimer. While he says he believes Chevalier is not now a Communist, his association with him, on what could not be considered a casual basis, is not the kind of thing that our security system permits on the part of one who customarily has access to information of the highest classification.
Loyalty to one's friends is one of the noblest of qualities. Being loyal to one's friends above reasonable obligations to the country and to the security system, however, is not clearly consistent with the interests of security.
We are aware that in these instances Dr. Oppenheimer may have been sincere in his interpretation that the security interests of the country were not disserved; we must, however, take a most serious view of this kind of continuing judgment.
We are constrained to make a final comment about General Nichols' letter. Unfortunately, in the press accounts in which the letter was printed in full, item No. 24, which consisted of 1 paragraph, was broken down into 4 paragraphs. Many thoughtful people, as a result, felt that the implication of one or more of these paragraphs as they appeared in the press standing alone was that the letter sought to initiate proceedings which would impugn a man on the ground of his holding and forcefully expressing strong opinions. It is regrettable that the language of the letter or the way in which it publicly appeared might have given any credence to such an interpretation. In any event, the Board wishes strongly to record its profound and positive view that no man should be tried for the expression of his opinions.
In arriving at our recommendation we have sought to address ourselves to the whole question before us and not to consider the problem as a fragmented one either in terms of specific criteria or in terms of any period in Dr. Oppenheimer's life, or to consider loyalty, character, and associations separately.
However, of course, the most serious finding which this Board could make as a result of these proceedings would be that of disloyalty on the part of Dr. Oppenheimer to his country. For that reason, we have given particular attention to the question of his loyalty, and we have come to a clear conclusion, which 3hould be reassuring to the people of this country, that he is a loyal citizen. If this were the only consideration, therefore, we would recommend that the reinstatement of his clearance would not be a danger to the common defense and security.
We have, however, been unable to arrive at the conclusion that it would be clearly consistent with the security interests of the United States to reinstate Dr. Oppenheimer's clearance and, therefore, do not so recommend.
The following considerations have been controlling in leading us to our conclusion:
GORDON GRAY, Chairman.
THOMAS A. MORGAN.
I have reached the conclusion that Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer's clearance should be reinstated and am submitting a minority report in accordance with AEC procedure.
The Board, appointed by the Commission, has worked long and arduously on the Oppenheimer case. We have heard 40 witnesses and have taken some 3,000 pages of testimony in addition to having read a similar number of pages of file material. We have examined carefully the notification letter to Dr. Oppenheimer from Mr. Nichols of December 23, 1953, and all other relevant material.
I am in perfect agreement with the majority report of its "findings" with respect to the allegations in Mr. Nichols' letter and I am in agreement with the statement of the Board concerning the significance of its "findings" to the end of page 32.* 1 also agree with the last paragraph of this section in which the Board makes a final comment on Mr. Nichols' letter. I do not, however, think it necessary to go into any philosophical discussion to prove points not found In Mr. Nichols' letter.
The derogatory information in this letter consisting of 24 items has all been substantiated except for one item. This refers to a Communist meeting held in Dr. Oppenheimer's home, which he is supposed to have attended.
On the basis of this finding, the Board would have to say that Dr. Oppenheimer should not be cleared.
But this is not all.
Most of this derogatory information was in the hands of the Commission when Dr. Oppenheimer was cleared in 1947. They apparently were aware of his associations and his left-wing policies; yet they cleared him. They took a chance on him because of his special talents and he continued to do a good job. Now when the job is done, we are asked to investigate him for practically the same derogatory information. He did his job in a thorough and painstaking manner. There is not the slightest vestige of information before this Board that would indicate that Dr. Oppenheimer is not a loyal citizen of his country. He hates Russia. He had communistic friends, it is true. He still has some. However, the evidence indicates that he has fewer of them than he had in 1947. He is not as naive as he was then. He has more judgment; no one on the Board doubts his loyalty-even the witnesses adverse to him admit that-and he is certainly less of a security risk than he was in 1947, when he was cleared. To deny him clearance now for what he was cleared for in 1947, when we must know he is less of a security risk now than he was then, seems to be hardly the procedure to be adopted in a free country.
We don't have to go out of our way and invent something to prove that the principle of "double jeopardy" does not apply here. This is not our function, and it is not our function to rewrite any clearance rules. The fact remains he is being investigated twice for the same things. Furthermore, we don't have to dig deeply to find other ways that he may be a security risk outside of loyalty, character, and association. He is loyal, we agree on that. There is, in my estimation, nothing wrong with his character. During the early years of his life, Dr. Oppenheimer devoted himself to study and did not vote or become interested in political matters until be was almost 30. Then, in his ignorance, he embraced many subversive organizations.
His judgment was bad in some cases, and most excellent in others but, in my estimation, it is better now than it was in 1947 and to damn him now and ruin his career and his service, I cannot do it.
His statements in cross examination show him to be still naive, but extremely honest and such statements work to his benefit in my estimation. All people are somewhat of a security risk. I don't think we have to go out of our way to point out how this man might be a security risk.
Dr. Oppenheimer in one place in his testimony said that he had told "a tissue of lies." What he had said was not a tissue of lies; there was one lie. He said on one occasion that he had not heard from Dr. Seaborg, when in fact he had a letter from Dr. Seaborg. In my opinion he had forgotten about the letter or he would never have made this statement for he would have known that the Government had the letter. I do not consider that he lied in this case. He stated that he would have recommended David Bohm as a physicist to Brazil, if asked. I think I would have recommended Bohm as a physicist. Dr. Oppenheimer was not asked if he would have added that Bohm was a Communist. In recent years he went to see Chevalier in Paris. I don't like this, but I cannot condemn him on this ground. I don't like his about face in the matter of Dr. Peters, but I don't think it subversive or disloyal.
He did not hinder the development of the H-bomb and there is absolutely nothing in the testimony to show that he did.
First he was in favor of it in 1944. There is no indication that this opinion changed until 1945. After 1945 he did not favor it for some years perhaps on moral, political or technical grounds. Only time will prove whether he was wrong on the moral and political grounds. After the Presidential directive of January 31, 1950, he worked on this project. If his opposition to the H-bomb caused any people not to work on it, it was because of his intellectual prominence and influence over scientific people and not because of any subversive tendencies.
I personally think that our failure to clear Dr. Oppenheimer will be a black mark on the escutcheon of our country. His witnesses are a considerable segment of the scientific backbone of our Nation and they endorse him. I am worried about the effect an improper decision may have on the scientific development in our country. Nuclear physics is new in our country. Most of our authorities in this field came from overseas. They are with us now. Dr. Oppenheimer got most of his education abroad. We have taken hold of this new development in a very great way. There is no predicting where and how far it may go and what its future potentialities may be. I would very much regret any action to retard or hinder this new scientific development.
I would like to add that this opinion was written before the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists came out with its statement concerning the Oppenheimer case.
This is my opinion as a citizen of a free country.
I suggest that Dr. Oppenheimer's clearance be restored.
WARD V. EVANS.
*This is the end of p. 32 referred to in the minority report of Dr. Ward V. Evans. (back)
*The reference is to p. 32 of the typewritten document. In this reproduction the material referred to is to the end of the seventh full paragraph on p. 19.(back)