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STATEMENT BY THE ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION
[For immediate release June 29, 1954]
UNITED STATES ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION,
Washington 25, D. C.
The Atomic Energy Commission announced today that it had reached a decision in the matter of Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer.
The Commission by a vote of 4 to1 decided that Dr. Oppenheimer should be denied access to restricted data. Commissioners Strauss, Murray, Zuckert, and Campbell voted to deny clearance for access to restricted data, and Commissioner Smyth voted to reinstate clearance for access to restricted data. Messrs. Strauss, Zuckert, and Campbell signed the majority opinion; Mr. Murray concurred with the majority decision in a separate opinion. Dr. Smyth supported his conclusion in a minority opinion.
Certain members of the Commission issued additional statements in support of their conclusions. These opinions and statements are attached.
UNITED STATES ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION,
Washington 25, D. C., June 29, 1954.
The issue before the Commission is whether the security of the United States warrants Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer's continued access to restricted data of the Atomic Energy Commission. The data to which Dr. Oppenheimer has had until recently full access include some of the most vital secrets in the possession. of the United States.
Having carefully studied the pertinent documents--the transcript of the hearings before the Personnel Security Board (Gray Board), the findings and recommendation of the Board, the briefs of Dr. Oppenheimer's counsel, and the findings and recommendation of the General Manager-we have concluded that Dr. Oppenheimer's clearance for access to restricted data should not be reinstated.
The Atomic Energy Act of 1946 lays upon the Commissioners the duty to reach a determination as to "the character, associations, and loyalty" of the individuals engaged in the work of the Commission. Thus, disloyalty would be one basis for disqualification, but it is only one. Substantial defects of character and imprudent and dangerous associations, particularly with known subversives who place the interests of foreign powers above those of the United States, are also reasons for disqualification.
On the basis of the record before the Commission, comprising the transcript of the hearing before the Gray Board as well as reports of Military Intelligence and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, we find Dr. Oppenheimer is not entitled to the continued confidence of the Government and of this Commission because of the proof of fundamental defects in his "character."
In respect to the criterion of "associations," we find that his associations with persons known to him to be Communists have extended far beyond the tolerable limits of prudence and self-restraint which are to be expected of one holding the high positions that the Government has continuously entrusted to him since 1942. These associations have lasted too long to be justified as merely the intermittent and accidental revival of earlier friendships.
Neither in the deliberations by the full Commission nor in the review of the Gray Board was importance attached to the opinions of Dr. Oppenheimer as they bore upon the 1949 debate within the Government on the question of whether the United States should proceed with the thermonuclear weapon program. In this debate, Dr. Oppenheimer was, of course, entitled to his opinion.
The fundamental issues here are apart from and beyond this episode. The history of their development is follows :
On December 23, 1953, Dr. Oppenheimer was notified that his security clearance had been suspended, and he was provided with the allegations which had brought his trustworthiness into question. He was also furnished with a copy of the Atomic Energy Commission's security clearance procedures, and was informed of his right to a hearing under those procedures. By telegram dated January 29, 1954, Dr. Oppenheimer requested a hearing. On March 4, 1954, after requesting and receiving three extensions of time, he submitted his answer to the letter of December 23, 1953. On March 15, 1954, Dr. Oppenheimer was informed that Mr. Gordon Gray, Mr. Thomas A. Morgan, and Dr. Ward V. Evans would conduct the hearing.
The hearing before the Gray Board commenced on April 12, 1954, and continued through May 6, 1954. Dr. Oppenheimer was represented by four lawyers. He was present to confront all witnesses; he had the opportunity to cross-examine all witnesses; his counsel made both oral and written argument to the Board.
The Board submitted its findings and recommendation to the General Manager of the Commission on May 27,1954. A majority of the Board recommended against reinstatement of clearance, Dr. Evans dissenting.
Dr. Oppenheimer had full advantage of the security procedures of the Commission. In our opinion he had a just hearing.
On May 28, l954, the General Manager notified Dr. Oppenheimer of the adverse recommendation of the Personnel Security Board and forwarded to him a copy of the Board's findings and recommendation. The General Manager informed Dr. Oppenheimer of his right to request review of his case by the Personnel Security Review Board. Dr. Oppenheimer was also informed that upon consideration of the record in the case-including the recommendation of the Personnel Security Review Board in the event review by that Board was requested-the General Manager would submit to the Commission his own recommendation as to whether or not clearance should be reinstated and that the Commission would thereafter make the final determination.
By letter of June 1, 1954, Dr. Oppenheimer waived his right to a review of his case by the Personnel Security Review Board. He requested immediate consideration of his case by the Commission. On June 7, 1954, his counsel submitted a written brief to the Commission. The General Manager reviewed the testimony and the findings and recommendation of the Gray Board and the briefs; his conclusion that Dr. Oppenheimer's clearance should not be reinstated was submitted to the Commission on June 12, 1954.
Prior to these proceedings, the derogatory information in Government files concerning Dr. Oppenheimer had never been weighed by any board on the basis of sworn testimony.
The important result of these hearings was to bring out significant information bearing upon Dr. Oppenheimer's character and associations hitherto unknown to the Commission and presumably unknown also to those who testified as character witnesses on his behalf. These hearings additionally established as fact many matters which previously had been only allegations.
In weighing the matter at issue, we have taken into account Dr. Oppenheimer's past contributions to the atomic energy program. At the same time, we have been mindful of the fact that the positions of high trust and responsibility which Dr. Oppenheimer has occupied carried with them a commensurately high obligation of unequivocal character and conduct on his part. A Government official having access to the most sensitive areas of restricted data and to the innermost details of national war plans and weapons must measure up to exemplary standards of reliability, self-discipline, and trustworthiness. Dr. Oppenheimer has fallen far short of acceptable standards.
The record shows that Dr. Oppenheimer has consistently placed himself outside the rules which govern others. He has falsified in matters wherein he was charged with grave responsibilities in the national interest. In his associations he has repeatedly exhibited a willful disregard of the normal and proper obligations of security.
As to "character"
(1) Dr. Oppenheimer has now admitted under oath that while in charge of the Los Alamos Laboratory and working on the most secret weapon development for the Government, he told Colonel Pash a fabrication of lies. Colonel Pash was an officer of Military Intelligence charged with the duty of protecting the atomic-weapons project against spies. Dr. Oppenheimer told Colonel Pash in circumstantial detail of an attempt by a Soviet agent to obtain from him information about the work on the atom bomb. This was the Haakon Chevalier incident. In the hearings recently concluded, Dr. Oppenheimer under oath swears that the story he told Colonel Pash was a "whole fabrication and tissue of lies" (Tr., p. 149).
It is not clear today whether the account Dr. Oppenheimer gave to Colonel Pash in 1943 concerning the Chevalier incident or the story he told the Gray Board last month is the true version.
If Dr. Oppenheimer lied in 1943, as he now says he did, he committed the crime of knowingly making false and material statements to a Federal officer. If he lied to the Board, be committed perjury in 1954.
(2) Dr. Oppenheimer testified to the Gray Board that if he had known Giovanni Rossi Lomanitz was an active Communist or that Lomanitz had disclosed information about the atomic project to an unauthorized person, he would not have written to Colonel Lansdale of the Manhattan District the letter of October 19, 1943, in which Dr. Oppenheimer supported the desire of Lomanitz to return to the atomic project.
The record shows, however, that on August 26, 1943, Dr. Oppenheimer told Colonel Pash that he (Oppenheimer) knew that Lomanitz had revealed information about the project. Furthermore, on September 12, 1943, Dr. Oppenheimer told Colonel Lansdale that he (Oppenheimer) had previously learned for a fact that Lomanitz was a Communist Party member (Tr. pp. 118, 119, 128, 129, 143, 875).
(3) In 1943, Dr. Oppenheimer indicated to Colonel Lansdale that he did not know Rudy Lambert, a Communist Party functionary. In fact, Dr. Oppenheimer asked Colonel Lansdale what Lambert looked like. Now, however, Dr. Oppenheimer under oath has admitted that be knew and had seen Lambert at least half a dozen times prior to 1943; he supplied a detailed description of Lambert; he said that once or twice he had lunch with Lambert and Isaac Folkoff, another Communist Party functionary, to discuss his (Oppenheimer's) contributions to the Communist Party; and that he knew at the time that Lambert was an official in the Communist Party (Tr. pp. 139, 140, 877).
(4) In 1949 Dr. Oppenheimer testified before a closed session of the House Un-American Activities Committee about the Communist Party membership and activities of Dr. Bernard Peters. A summary of Dr. Oppenheimer's testimony subsequently appeared in a newspaper, the Rochester Times Union. Dr. Oppenheimer then wrote a letter to that newspaper. The effect of that letter was to contradict the testimony he had given a congressional committee (Tr. pp. 210-215).
(5) In connection with the meeting of the General Advisory Committee on October 29, 1949, at which the thermonuclear weapon program was considered, Dr. Oppenheimer testified before the Gray Board that the General Advisory Committee was "surprisingly unanimous" in its recommendation that the United States ought not to take the initiative at that time in a thermonuclear program. Now, however, under cross-examination, Dr. Oppenheimer testifies that he did not know how Dr. Seaborg (1 of the 9 members of Dr. Oppenheimer's committee) then felt about the program because Dr. Seaborg "was in Sweden, and there was no communication with him." On being confronted with a letter from Dr. Seaborg to him dated October 14, 1949-a letter which had been in Dr. Oppenheimer's files-Dr. Oppenheimer admitted having received the letter prior to the General Advisory Committee meeting in 1949. In that letter Dr. Seaborg said: "Although I deplore the prospects of our country putting a tremendous effort into this, I must confess that I have been unable to come to the conclusion that we should not." Yet Dr. Seaborg's view was not mentioned in Dr. Oppenheimer's report for the General Advisory Committee to the Commission in October 1949. In fact the existence of this letter remained unknown to the Commission until it was disclosed during the hearings (Tr. pp. 233, 237-241).
(6) In 1950, Dr. Oppenheimer told an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he had not known Joseph Weinberg to be a member of the Communist Party until that fact become public knowledge. Yet on September 12, 1943, Dr. Oppenheimer told Colonel Lansdale that Weinberg was a Communist Party member (Tr., p. 875).
The catalog does not end with these six examples. The work of Military Intelligence, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Atomic Energy Commission-all, at one time or another have felt the effect of his falsehoods, evasions, and misrepresentations.
Dr. Oppenheimer's persistent and willful disregard for the obligations of security is evidenced by his obstruction of inquiries by security officials. In the Chevalier incident, Dr. Oppenheimer was questioned in 1943 by Colonel Pash, Colonel Lansdale, and General Groves about the attempt to obtain information from him on the atomic bomb project in the interest of the Soviet Government. He had waited 8 months before mentioning the occurrence to the proper authorities. Thereafter for almost 4 months Dr. Oppenheimer refused to name the individual who had approached him. Under oath he now admits that his refusal to name the individual impeded the Government's investigation of espionage. The record shows other instances where Dr. Oppenheimer has refused to answer inquiries of Federal officials on security matters or has been deliberately misleading.
As to "associations"
"Associations" is a factor which, under the law, must be considered by the Commission. Dr. Oppenheimer's close association with Communists is another part of the pattern of his disregard of the obligations of security.
Dr. Oppenheimer, under oath, admitted to the Gray Board that from 1937 to at least 1942 he made regular and substantial contributions in cash to the Communist Party. He has admitted that he was a "fellow traveler" at least until 1942. He admits that he attended small evening meetings at private homes at which most, if not all, of the others present were Communist Party members. He was in contact with officials of the Communist Party, some of whom had been engaged in espionage. His activities were of such a nature that these Communists looked upon him as one of their number.
However, Dr. Oppenheimer's early Communist associations are not in themselves a controlling reason for our decision.
They take on importance in the context of his persistent and continuing association with Communists, including his admitted meetings with Haakon Chevalier in Paris as recently as last December-the same individual who had been intermediary for the Soviet Consulate in 1943.
On February 25, 1950, Dr. Oppenheimer wrote a letter to Chevalier attempting "to clear the record with regard to your alleged involvement in the atom business." Chevalier used this letter in connection with his application to the State Department for a United States passport. Later that year Chevalier came and stayed with Dr. Oppenheimer for several days at the latter's home. In December 1953, Dr. Oppenheimer visited with Chevalier privately on two occasions in Paris, and lent his name to Chevalier's dealings with the United States Embassy in Paris on a problem which, according to Dr. Oppenheimer, involved Chevalier's clearance. Dr. Oppenheimer admitted that today he has only a "strong guess" that Chevalier is not active in Communist Party affairs.
These episodes separately and together present a serious picture. It is clear that for one who has had access for so long to the most vital defense secrets of the Government and who would retain such access if his clearance were continued, Dr. Oppenheimer has defaulted not once but many times upon the obligations that should and must be willingly borne by citizens in the national service.
Concern for the defense and security of the United States requires that Dr. Oppenheimer's clearance should not be reinstated.
Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer is hereby denied access to restricted data.
LEWIS L. STRAUSS, Chairman.
EUGENE M. ZUCKERT,* Commissioner.
JOSEPH CAMPBELL,* Commissioner.
STATEMENT BY COMMISSIONER ZUCKERT
1. BASIS OF AGREEING TO DENY ACCESS
In subscribing to the majority decision and the substance of the Commission opinion, I have considered the evidence as a whole and no single factor as decisive. For example, Dr. Oppenheimer's early Communist associations by themselves would not have led me to my conclusion. The more recent connections, such as those with Lomanitz and Bohm, would not have been decisive. The serious 1943 incident involving Chevalier would not have been conclusive, although most disturbing and certainly aggravated by the continuation of the relationship between Chevalier and Dr. Oppenheimer. Individual instances of lack of veracity, conscious disregard of security considerations, and obstruction of proper security inquiries would not have been decisive.
But when I see such a combination of seriously disturbing actions and events as are present in this case, then I believe the risk to security passes acceptable bounds. All these actions and events and the relation between them make no other conclusion possible, in my opinion, than to deny clearance to Dr. Oppenheimer.
There follow some additional observations of my own which I believe are pertinent in the consideration of this case and the problems underlying it.
It is a source of real sadness to me that my last act as a public official should be participation in the determination of this matter, involving as it does, an individual who has made a substantial contribution to the United States. This matter certainly reflects the difficult times in which we live.
2. "SECURITY" IN 1954
The fact is that this country is faced with a real menace to our national security which manifests itself in a great variety of ways. We are under the necessity of defending ourselves against a competent and ruthless force possessed of the great advantage that accompanies the initiative. There is no opportunity which this force would not exploit to weaken our courage and confuse our strength.
The degree of attention which Dr. Oppenheimer's status has evoked is indication of the extent to which this force has imposed upon us a new degree of intensity of concern with security. There has always been a recognition of the need for security precautions when war threatened or was actually in progress. It is new and disquieting that security must concern us so much in times that have so many of the outward indications of peace. Security must indeed become a daily concern in our lives as far as we can see ahead.
In this Nation, I believe we have really commenced to understand this only within the past 10 years. It would be unrealistic to imagine that in that brief period of time we could have acquired a well-rounded understanding, much less an acceptance, of the implications of such a change in our way of life. It will not prove easy to harmonize the requirements of security with such basic concepts as personal freedom. It will be a long and difficult process to construct it thoroughly articulated security system that will be effective in protecting strength and yet maintain the basic fabric of our liberties.
It is clear that one essential requirement of the struggle in which this Nation is engaged is that we be decisive and yet maintain a difficult balance in our actions. For example, we must maintain a positive armed strength, yet in such a manner that we do not impair our ability to support that strength. We must be vigilant to the dangers and deceits of militant communism without the hysteria that breeds witch hunts. We must strive to maintain that measure of discipline required by real and present-day danger without destroying such freedoms as the freedom of honest thought. Our Nation's problem is more difficult because of a fundamental characteristic of a democratic system: We seek to be a positive force without a dominated uniformity in thought and action dictated by a small group in power.
The decision in this particular matter before us must be made not in 1920 or 1930 or 1940. It has to be made in the year 1954 in the light of the necessities of today and, inevitably, with whatever limitations of viewpoint 1954 creates. One fact that gives me reassurance is that this decision was reached only after the most intensive and concerned study following a course of procedure which gave the most scrupulous attention to our ideas of justice and fair treatment.
The problem before this Commission is whether Dr. Oppenheimer's status as a consultant to the Atomic Energy Commission constitutes a security risk.
3. THE CONCEPT OF "SECURITY RISK"
One of the difficulties in the development of a healthy security system is the achievement of public understanding of the phrase "security risk." It has unfortunately acquired in many minds the connotation of active disloyalty. As a result, it is not realized that the determination of "security risk" must be applied to individuals where the circumstances may be considerably less derogatory than disloyalty. In the case of Dr. Oppenheimer, the evidence which convinced me that his employment was not warranted on security grounds did not justify an accusation of disloyalty.
The "security risk" concept has evolved in recent years as a part of our search for a security system which will add to the protection of the country. In that quest, certain limited guidelines have emerged. With respect to eligibility of people for sensitive positions in our Government we have said, in effect, that there must be a convincing showing that their employment in such positions will not constitute a risk to our security. Except in the clearest of cases, such as present Communist membership, for example, the determination may not be an easy one. In many cases, like the one before us, a complex qualitative determination is required. One inherent difficulty is that every human being is to some degree a security risk. So long as there are normal human feelings like pain, or emotions like love of family, everyone is to some degree vulnerable to influence, and thus a potential risk in some degree to our security.
Under our security system it is our duty to determine how much of a risk is involved in respect to any particular individual and then to determine whether that risk is worth taking in view of what is at stake and the job to be done. It is not possible, except in obvious cases, to determine in what precise manner our security might be endangered. The determination is rather an evaluation of the factors which tend to increase the chance that security might be endangered. Our experience has convinced us that certain types of association and defects of character can materially increase the risk to security.
Those factors-many of which are set forth in the majority opinion-are present in Dr. Oppenheimer's case to such an extent that I agree he is a security risk.
4. POSSIBILITY OF AN ALTERNATIVE ACTION
There have been suggestions that there may be a possible alternative short of finding Dr. Oppenheimer a security risk. One possibility suggested was that the Commission might merely allow Dr. Oppenheimer's consultant's contract to lapse when it expires on June 30, 1954, and thereafter not use his services. I have given the most serious consideration to this possibility and have concluded that it is not practical.
The unique place that Dr. Oppenheimer has built for himself in the scientific world and as a top Government adviser ' make it necessary that there be a clear-cut determination whether he is to be given access to the security information within the jurisdiction of the Commission.
As a scientist, Dr. Oppenheimer's greatest usefulness has been as a scientific administrator and a scientific critic. He has been looked to for scientific judgment by people within the profession. He is a personality in whom students place particular reliance for leadership and inspiration. These qualities, coupled with a nature that enables him to keep in active touch with great numbers of people in the scientific professions, have given him a unique place in the scientific community.
The Commission's clearance has permitted Dr. Oppenheimer to carry out his role as an active consultant of scientists. For example, Los Alamos Laboratory reports on the most intimate details of the progress of the thermonuclear and fission programs have continued to flow to him. I would gather that these reports were sent to Dr. Oppenheimer because his leadership and scientific judgment were recognized, and it was felt that he should be kept intensively abreast of the development of the weapon art.
I think the Commission is clearly obligated to determine whether Dr. Oppenheimer may continue to carry out this function and whether scientists may continue to call upon him as they have in the past in regard to highly classified material.
In addition, the scope of Dr. Oppenheimer's activities as a top adviser to various agencies of Government on national security policies make imperative a determination of his security status.
After the development of the atomic bomb and the end of World War II, Dr. Oppenheimer was quite suddenly projected into a far more important capacity than he had held as a scientist and laboratory director at Los Alamos. He was given responsibilities for the formulation of international controls of atomic energy. His post as chairman of the General Advisory Committee and a host of other committees in the Defense Establishment made him an adviser on national security problems at the top level of Government. His advice was sought on many matters in which science or technical aspects of atomic energy were important, but important as incidentals and background. With his unique experience, his intellect, his breadth of interests and his articulateness it was almost inevitable that he was consulted on a growing number of national security policy matters. As a result, his degree of access to the detailed essentials of our most secret information was, in my opinion, among the greatest of any individuals in our Government. I doubt that there have been contemporaneously more than a handful of people at the highest levels who have possessed the amount of sensitive information which was given to Dr. Oppenheimer.
Since Dr. Oppenheimer's retirement from the General Advisory Committee he has been employed as a consultant to the Commission. It is true that since 1952 the Commission has used him very little. Commission clearance has, however, been a basis for other agencies using him in connection with delicate problems of national security. It is logical to expect that would continue. For example, the Commission has recently received a letter from Dr. DuBridge, Chairman of the Science Advisory Committee, Office of Defense Mobilization which says:
"Our Committee is planning to undertake during the coming months an intensive study of important matters related to national security on which Dr. Oppenheimer's knowledge and counsel will be of critical importance."
I believe that the outlined facts concerning Dr. Oppenheimer's activities in the scientific profession and employment by the Government demonstrate that the Commission could not decide the matter on any other basis than to grant or deny clearance. Any other action would merely postpone the problem. His activities cannot be compartmented to some particular area of scientific effort. It is only reasonable to expect that he would be used in connection with broad assignments such as he has had in the past. Inevitably the question would arise whether he should be given access to the most sensitive restricted data which is under the Commission's jurisdiction.
Therefore, there must be a determination as to his security status with respect to this data.
All of the facts concerning Dr. Oppenheimer's activities, scientific and governmental, and the consequent access to vital information emphasize the degree of his security responsibility.
For the reasons outlined in the first paragraphs of these comments, I conclude that he falls substantially below the standard required by that responsibility. There seems to me no possible alternative to denying Dr. Oppenheimer clearance.
5. THERMONUCLEAR CONTROVERSY DISREGARDED
There is one final comment which I should add. My decision in this matter was influenced neither by the actions nor by the attitudes of Dr. Oppenheimer concerning the development of thermonuclear weapons. Nor did I consider material any advice given by Dr. Oppenheimer in his capacity as a top level consultant on national security affairs.
In my judgment, it was proper to include Dr. Oppenheimer's activities regarding the thermonuclear program as part of the derogatory allegations that initiated these proceedings. Allegations had been made that Dr. Oppenheimer was improperly motivated.
The Gray Board, although doubting the complete veractiy of Dr. Oppenheimer's explanations, found that these most serious allegations were not substantiated. I have carefully reviewed the evidence and concur in the finding.
CONCURRING OPINION OF COMMISSIONER CAMPBELL
On November 7, 1953, Mr. William L. Borden, legislative secretary to the late Senator Brien McMahon in 1948 and later executive director of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy from 1949 to June 1953, addressed a letter to the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation relative to Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer.
In this letter Mr. Borden, who had previously had access to the Atomic Energy Commission files and FBI reports concerning Dr. Oppenheimer, made very grave accusations, allegations, and charges pertaining to the character, loyalty, and associations of Dr. Oppenheimer. Upon receipt of this letter, the FBI prepared a summary report on Dr. Oppenheimer and November 30, 1953, distributed that report and the Borden letter to interested agencies of the Government, including the Office of the President.
On December 10, 1953, the Commission unanimously voted to institute the regular procedures of the Commission to determine the veracity or falsity of the charges. At the direction of, and with the unanimous approval of the Commission, the General Manager on December 23, 1953, informed Dr. Oppenheimer of the substance of the information which raised the question concerning his eligibility for employment on Atomic Energy Commission work and notified him of the steps which he could take to assist in the resolution of the question.
At the request of counsel for Dr. Oppenheimer, an extension of time was granted Dr. Oppenheimer for the preparation of his case. Other extensions were subsequently granted. On March 15, 1954, Dr. Oppenheimer was notified that Mr. Thomas A. Morgan, Mr. Gordon Gray, and Dr. Ward V. Evans had been selected for the Personnel Security Board. On March 17, 1954, Dr. Oppenheimer, by letter, advised the Commission that he had received the notification of the membership of the Board and that he knew of no reason why he should challenge any member of that Board, as it was his right to do under the Personnel Security Procedures of the Atomic Energy Commission.
As early as January 18, 1954, Dr. Oppenheimer's counsel discussed the possibility of securing Q clearance with the Chairman and the General Manager of the Commission, and he was notified that clearance would be expedited as rapidly as possible if be would submit the required papers. These papers were not submitted until March 26, 1954-over 60 days later.
During the week of April 5 through 9, the Personnel Security Board met and familiarized themselves with the pertinent files relative to Dr. Oppenheimer. On April 12 the hearings began and were continued until May 6. After a 10-day recess the Board convened again on May 17.
On May 17, 1954, counsel for Dr. Oppenheimer submitted a brief to the Personnel Security Board which was included in the record.
On May 18, 1954, the Commission moved that at each step the case of Dr. Oppenheimer be brought to the Commission for a vote. This motion was carried 3 to 2. I voted against this motion since I felt that this was a very definite change in the official procedures. In my opinion, it was not desirable to change the rules in the midst of the proceedings. At this same Commission meeting on May 18, I moved that the procedures, as published in the Federal Register, be revised to indicate that, after determination had been made by the General Manager, the Commission would make the final determination in this matter. This motion did not carry by a vote of 3 to 2.
A recommendation was submitted by the Personnel Security Board to the General Manager on May 27, 1954. In essence the recommendation of the Personnel Security Board, by a 2 to 1 majority, was that: "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."
Upon receipt of the recommendation of the Board, the General Manager notified counsel for Dr. Oppenheimer on May 28 of the majority and minority recommendations of the Board and furnished a copy of the Personnel Security Board report. At the same time notification was given that Dr. Oppenheimer was entitled to make an appeal to the Personnel Security Review Board. The General Manager further stated that following such an appeal he would make a recommendation and the Commission would then make a final determination in the case.
By letter of June 1, counsel for Dr. Oppenheimer responded that they would waive the right of appeal to the Personnel Security Review Board and instead wished to present oral arguments and a written brief directly to the Commission for a final determination.
On June 3, 1954, the Commission denied the counsel for Dr. Oppenheimer the privilege of oral argument before the Commission but granted permission to file a written brief with the provision that the brief be presented on or before June 7. It was my personal opinion that this permission constituted another departure from the procedures, but my view was not sustained by my colleagues.
Counsel for Dr. Oppenheimer filed a brief with the Commission on June 7, 1954.
On June 12, the General Manager submitted his findings to the Commission in which he reaffirmed the recommendation of the Gray Board. The General Manager's letter stated:
"I have reviewed the entire record of the case, including the files, the transcript of the hearing, the findings and recommendation of the Personnel Security Board and the briefs filed by Dr. Oppenheimer's attorneys on May 17, 1954, and June 7, 1954, and have reached the conclusion that to reinstate the security clearance of Dr. Oppenheimer would not be clearly consistent with the interests of national security and would endanger the common defense and security."
In addition, Mr. Nichols stated:
"In regard to Dr. Oppenheimer's net worth to atomic energy projects, I believe, first, that through World War II he was of tremendous value and absolutely essential. Secondly, I believe that since World War II his value to the Atomic Energy Commission as a scientist or as a consultant has declined because of the rise in competence and skill of other scientists and because of his loss of scientific objectivity probably resulting from the diversion of his efforts to political fields and matters not purely scientific in nature. Further, it should be pointed out that in the past 2 years since he has ceased to be a member of the General Advisory Committee, his services have been utilized by the Atomic Energy Commission on the following occasions only:
"I doubt that the Atomic Energy Commission, even if the question of his security clearance had not arisen, would have utilized his services to a markedly greater extent during the next few years. * * * Dr. Oppenheimer * * * is far from being indispensable. * * * Dr. Oppenheimer's clearance should not be reinstated."
On June 28, 1954, the question of the clearance of Dr. Oppenheimer was presented to the Commission and by a vote of 4 to 1 it was decided that clearance should be denied him.
My vote was to sustain the recommendations of the Gray Board and the General Manager for the following reasons:
1. I have had no personal association with Dr. Oppenheimer and no personal knowledge as to his contributions to the atomic energy program. Neither do I have any personal knowledge as to his character, loyalty, and associations.
The responsibility of a Commissioner of the Atomic Energy Commission in a proceeding of this type is, in my view, an appellate responsibility.
2. Having examined the transcript of the hearings, it is established that Dr. Oppenheimer had an opportunity prior to the hearings to challenge the members of the Board and did not choose to do so. At all times, Dr. Oppenheimer was represented by four attorneys. At no time during the course of the hearings has the integrity, honesty, and impartiality of any of the Board members been subject to challenge by any parties to the proceedings. Dr. Oppenheimer, through his counsel, has had the opportunity to produce any witnesses he desired to call on his behalf. Through his counsel he had opportunity to cross-examine any persons who testified on items which he might have considered to be of a derogatory nature. Ample opportunity was given to Dr. Oppenheimer's counsel to present their case. In fact, extensions and delays were granted, which by some might be considered unreasonable, so that there can be no possibility that there was any pressure of time in the presentation of the information which Dr. Oppenheimer desired to place before the Board.
3. From an examination of the transcript and from the report, both majority and minority of the Board, it is evident that the members of the Board were fully aware of the criteria which had been established by the Atomic Energy Commission and by the various executive orders and public laws relative to the clearance of individuals for classified work. At no time was any question raised by any party to the proceedings as to the competence of the Board insofar as its knowledge of the criteria and procedures under which the hearing was being conducted.
4. I have carefully studied the recommendations of the General Manager and have concluded that from the presentation of the testimony before the Personnel Security Board and the information made available to the parties in the proceedings from the investigative files, the General Manager has arrived at the only possible conclusion available to a reasonable and prudent man.
The finding, by the General Manager, that the services of Dr. Oppenheimer are not indispensable to the atomic energy program, is compelling.
5. I have read the brief submitted by counsel for Dr. Oppenheimer to the Atomic Energy Commission and though this brief is argumentative and perhaps persuasive to some, it contains no new evidence and it does not directly or indirectly charge that Dr. Oppenheimer has been unfairly treated or deprived of a full and complete opportunity to make the best possible presentation available in his defense.
(I neither concur nor dissent from the findings of the Personnel Security Board and the General Manager relating to the allegation that Dr. Oppenheimer initially opposed and later declined to cooperate in the program for the development of thermonuclear weapons. It is my view that the opinions and judgments of Dr. Oppenheimer on this subject were not relevant to the inquiry. I, therefore, have made my determination as to Dr. Oppenheimer's illness for continued employment upon other evidence and testimony presented which bears on his loyalty, character, and associations.)
I conclude, therefore, that serious charges were brought against Dr. Oppenheimer; that he was afforded every opportunity to refute them; that a board was appointed, composed of men of the highest honor and integrity, and that in their majority opinion Dr. Oppenheimer did not refute the serious charges which faced him; that the record was reviewed by the General Manager, keenly aware of his serious responsibility in this matter, and that he concurred, and even strengthened the findings of the Personnel Security Board.
If the security system of the United States Government is to be successfully operated, the recommendations of personnel security boards must be honored in the absence of compelling circumstances. If the General Manager of the Atomic Energy Commission is to function properly, his decisions must be upheld unless there can be shown new evidence, violations of procedures, or other substantial reasons why they should be reversed.
Therefore, I voted to reaffirm the majority recommendation of the Personnel Security Board and to uphold the decision of the General Manager. Clearance should be denied to Dr. Oppenheimer.
CONCURRING OPINION OF COMMISSIONER THOMAS E. MURRAY
I concur in the conclusion of the majority of the Commission that Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer's access to restricted data should be denied. However, I have reached this conclusion by my own reasoning which does not coincide with the majority of the Commission. Therefore, I submit my separate opinion.
In my opinion the Personnel Security Board report and the recommendations of the General Manager as well as the majority opinion do not correctly interpret the evidence in the case. They do not make sharply enough certain necessary distinctions. They do not do justice to certain important principles. What is more important they do not meet squarely the primary issue which the case raises.
The primary issue is the meaning of loyalty. I shall define this concept concretely within the conditions created by the present crisis of national and international security. When loyalty is thus concretely defined and when all the evidence is carefully considered in the light of this definition, it will be evident that Dr. Oppenheimer was disloyal.
There is a preliminary question. It concerns Dr. Oppenheimer's opposition to the hydrogen bomb program and his influence on the development of the program. On this count I do not find evidence that would warrant the denial to Dr. Oppenheimer of a security clearance.
I find that the record clearly proves that Dr. Oppenheimer's judgment was in error in several respects. It may well be that the security interests of the United States were adversely affected in consequence of his judgment. But it would be unwise, unjust, and dangerous to admit, as a principle, that errors of judgment, especially in complicated situations, can furnish valid grounds for later indictments of a man's loyalty, character, or status as a security risk. It has happened before in the long history of the United States that the national interests were damaged by errors of judgment committed by Americans in positions of responsibility. But these men did not for this reason cease to merit the trust of their country.
Dr. Oppenheimer advanced technical and political reasons for his attitude to the hydrogen-bomb program. In both respects he has been proved wrong; nothing further need be said.
He also advanced moral reasons. Here two comments are necessary. First, in deciding matters of national policy, it is imperative that the views of experts should always be carefully weighed and never barred from discussion or treated lightly. However, Dr. Oppenheimer's opinions in the field of morality possess no special authority. Second, even though Dr. Oppenheimer is not an expert in morality, he was quite right in advancing moral reasons for his attitude to the hydrogen bomb program. The scientist is a man before he is a technician. Like every man, he ought to be alert to the moral issues that arise in the course of his work. This alertness is part of his general human and civic responsibilities, which go beyond his responsibilities as a scientist. When he has moral doubts, he has a right to voice them. Furthermore, it must be firmly main
tained, as a principle both of justice and of religious freedom, that opposition to governmental policies, based on sincerely held moral opinions, need not make a man a security risk.
The issue of Dr. Oppenheimer's lack of enthusiasm for the hydrogen bomb program has been raised; so, too, has the issue of his failure to communicate to other scientists his abandonment of his earlier opposition to the program. Here an important distinction is in order. Government may command a citizen's service in the national interest. But Government cannot command a citizen's enthusiasm for any particular program or policy projected in the national interests. The citizen remains free to be enthusiastic or not at the impulse of his own inner convictions. These convictions remain always immune from governmental judgment or control. Lack of enthusiasm is not a justiciable matter.
The point that I shall later make in another connection is pertinent here. The crisis in which we live, and the security regulations which it has rendered necessary in the interests of the common good, have made it difficult to insure that justice is done to the individual. In this situation it is more than ever necessary to protect at every point the distinction between the external forum of action and omission, and the internal forum of thought and belief. A man's service to his country may come under judgment; it lies in the external forum. A man's enthusiasm for service, or his lack of it, do not come under judgment; they are related to the internal forum of belief, and are therefore remote from all the agencies of law.
The citizen's duty remains always that of reasonable service, just as the citizen's right remains always that of free opinion. There is no requirement, inherent in the idea of civic duty, that would oblige a man to show enthusiasm for particular governmental policies, or to use his influence in their favor, against his own convictions; just as there is no permission, inherent in the idea of intellectual freedom, that would allow a man to block established governmental policies, against the considered judgment of their responsible authors.
The conclusion is that the evidence with regard to Dr. Oppenheimer's attitude toward the hydrogen bomb program, when it is rightly interpreted in the light of sound democratic principles, does not warrant the denial to Dr. Oppenheimer of a security clearance.
The primary question concerns Dr. Oppenheimer's loyalty. This idea must be carefully defined, first, in general, and second, in concrete and contemporary terms.
The idea of loyalty has emotional connotations; it is related to the idea of love, a man's love of his country. However, the substance of loyalty does not reside solely in feeling or sentiment. It cannot be defined solely in terms of love.
The English word "loyal" comes to us from the Latin adjective "legalis," which means "according to the law." In its substance the idea of loyalty is related to the idea of law. To be loyal, in Webster's definition, is to be "faithful to the lawful government or to the sovereign to whom one is subject." This faithfulness is a matter of obligation; it is a duty owed. The root of the obligation and duty is the lawfulness of the government, rationally recognized and freely accepted by the citizens.
The American citizen recognizes that his Government, for all its imperfections, is a government under law, of law, by law; therefore he is loyal to it. Furthermore, he recognizes that his Government, because it is lawful, has the right and the responsibility to protect itself against the action of those who would subvert it. The cooperative effort of the citizen with the rightful action of American Government in its discharge of this primary responsibility also belongs to the very substance of American loyalty. This is the crucial principle in the present case.
This general definition of loyalty assumes a sharper meaning within the special conditions of the present crisis. The premise of the concrete, contemporary definition of loyalty is the fact of the Communist conspiracy. Revolutionary communism has emerged as a world power seeking domination of all mankind. It attacks the whole idea of a social order based upon freedom and justice in the sense in which the liberal tradition of the West has understood these ideas. Moreover, it operates with a new technique of aggression; it has elaborated a new formula for power. It uses all the methods proper to conspiracy, the methods of infiltration and intrigue, of deceit and duplicity, of falsehood and connivance. These are the chosen methods whereby it steadily seeks to undermine, from within, the lawful governments and communities of the free world.
The fact of the Communist conspiracy has put to American Government and to the American people a special problem. It is the problem of protecting the national security, internal and external, against the insidious attack of its Communist enemy. On the domestic front this problem bas been met by the erection of a system of laws and Executive orders designed to protect the lawful Government of the United States against the hidden machinery of subversion.
The American citizen in private life, the man who is not engaged in governmental service, is not bound by the requirements of the security system. However, those American citizens who have the privilege of participating in the operations of Government, especially in sensitive agencies, are necessarily subject to this special system of law. Consequently, their faithfulness to the lawful Government of the United States, that is to say their loyalty, must be judged by the standard of their obedience to security regulations. Dr. Oppenheimer was subject to the security system which applies to those engaged in the atomic energy program. The measure of his obedience to the requirements of this system is the decisive measure of his loyalty to his lawful Government. No lesser test will settle the question of his loyalty.
In order to clarify this issue of the meaning of loyalty, the following considerations are necessary. First, the atomic energy program is absolutely vital to the survival of the Nation. Therefore the security regulations which surround it are intentionally severe. No violations can be countenanced. Moreover, the necessity for exact fidelity to these regulations increases as an individual operoperates (sic.) in more and more sensitive and secret areas of the program. Where responsibility is highest, fidelity should be most perfect.
Second, this security system is not perfect in its structure or in its mode of operation. Perfection would be impossible. We are still relatively unskilled in the methods whereby we may effectively block the conspiratorial efforts of the Communist enemy without damage to our own principles. Moreover, the operation of the system is in the hands of fallible men. It is therefore right and necessary that the system should be under constant scrutiny. Those who are affected by the system have a particular right to criticize it. But they have no right to defy or disregard it.
Third, the premise of the security system is not a dogma but a fact, the fact of the Communist conspiracy.The system itself is only a structure of law, not a set of truths. Therefore this system of law is not, and must not be allowed to become, a form of thought control. It restricts the freedom of association of the governmental employee who is subject to it. It restricts his movements and activities. It restricts his freedom of utterance in matters of security import, not in other matters. It restricts his freedom of personal and family life. It makes special demands on his character, moral virtue, and spirit of sacrifice. But no part of the security system imposes any restrictions on his mind. No law or Executive order inhibits the freedom of the mind to search for the truth in all the great issues that today confront the political and moral intelligence of America. In particular, no security regulations set any limits to the free-ranging scientific intelligence in its search for the truths of nature and for the techniques of power over nature. If they were to do so, the result would be disastrous; for the freedom of science is more than ever essential to the freedom of the American people.
Fourth, the preservation of the ordered freedom of American life requires the cooperation of all American citizens with their Government. The indispensable condition of this cooperation is a spirit of mutual trust and confidence. This trust and confidence must in a special sense obtain between governmental officials and scientists, for their partnership in the atomic-energy program and in other programs is absolutely essential to the security interests of the United States. It would be lamentable if conscientious enforcement of security regulations were to become a danger to the atmosphere of trust and confidence which alone can sustain this partnership. In order to avert this danger, there must be on the part of Government a constant concern for justice to the individual, together with a concern for the high interests of the national community. On the part of scientists there should be a generous disposition to endure with patient understanding the distasteful restrictions which the security system imposes on them.
Finally, it is essential that In the operation of the security system every effort should be made to safeguard the principle that no American citizen is to be penalized for anything except action or omission contrary to the well-defined interests of the United States. However stringent the need for a security system, the system cannot be allowed to introduce into American Jurisprudence that hateful concept, the "crime of opinion." The very security of America importantly lies in the steady guaranty, even in a time of crisis, of the citizen's right to freedom of opinion and of honest and responsible utterance. The present time of crisis intensifies the civic duty of obedience to the lawful government in the crucial area of security regulations. But it does not justify abridgment of the civic right of dissent. Government may penalize disobedience in action or omission. It may not penalize dissent in thought and utterance.
When all these distinctions and qualifications have been made, the fact remains that the existence of the Security regulations which surround the atomic-energy program puts to those who participate in the program a stern test of loyalty.
Dr. Oppenheimer failed the test. The record of his actions reveals a frequent and deliberate disregard of those security regulations which restrict a man's associations. He was engaged in a highly delicate area of security; within this area he occupied a most sensitive position. The requirement that a man in this position should relinquish the right to the complete freedom of association that would be his in other circumstances is altogether a reasonable and necessary requirement. The exact observance of this requirement is in all cases essential to the integrity of the security system. It was particularly essential in the case of Dr. Oppenheimer.
It will not do to plead that Dr. Oppenheimer revealed no secrets to the Communists and fellow travelers with whom he chose to associate. What is incompatible with obedience to the laws of security is the associations themselves, however innocent in fact. Dr. Oppenheimer was not faithful to the restrictions on the associations of those who come under the security regulations.
There is a further consideration, not unrelated to the foregoing. Those who stand within the security system are not free to refuse their cooperation with the workings of the system, much less to confuse or obstruct them, especially by falsifications and fabrications. It is their duty, at times an unpleasant duty, to cooperate with the governmental officials who are charged with the enforcement of security regulations. This cooperation should be active and honest. If this manner of cooperation is not forthcoming, the security system itself, and therefore the interests of the United States which it protects, inevitably suffer. The record proves Dr. Oppenheimer to have been seriously deficient in his cooperation with the workings of the security system. This defect too is a defect of loyalty to the lawful government in its reasonable efforts to preserve itself in its constitutional existence. No matter how high a man stands in the service of his country he still stands under the law. To permit a man in a position of the highest trust to set himself above any of the laws of Security would be to invite the destruction of the whole security system.
In conclusion, the principle that has already been stated must be recalled for the sake of emphasis. In proportion as a man is charged with more and more critical responsibilities, the more urgent becomes the need for that full and exact fidelity to the special demands of security laws which in this overshadowed day goes by the name of loyalty. So too does the need for cooperation with responsible security officers.
Dr. Oppenheimer occupied a position of paramount importance; his relation to the security interests of the United States was the most intimate possible one. It was reasonable to expect that be would manifest the measure of cooperation appropriate to his responsibilities. He did not do so. It was reasonable to expect that he would be particularly scrupulous in his fidelity to security regulations. These regulations are the special test of the loyalty of the American citizen who serves his Government in the sensitive area of the Atomic Energy program. Dr. Oppenheimer did not meet this decisive test. He was disloyal.
I conclude that Dr. Oppenheimer's access to restricted data should be denied.
THOMAS E. MURRAY,
DISSENTING OPINION OF HFNRY DE WOLF SMYTH
I dissent from the action of the Atomic Energy Commission in the matter of Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer. I agree with the "clear conclusion" of the Gray Board that he is completely loyal and I do not believe he is a security risk. It is my opinion that his clearance for access to restricted data should be restored.
In a case such as this, the Commission is required to look into the future. It must determine whether Dr. Oppenheimer's continued employment by the Government of the United States is in the interests of the people of the United States. This prediction must balance his potential contribution to the positive strength of the country against the possible danger that he may weaken the country by allowing important secrets to reach our enemies.
Since Dr. Oppenheimer is one of the most knowledgable (sic.) and lucid physicists we have, his services could be of great value to the country in the future. Therefore, the only question being determined by the Atomic Energy Commission is whether there is a possibility that Dr. Oppenheimer will intentionally or unintentionally reveal secret information to persons who should not have it. To me, this is what is meant within our security system by the term security risk. Character and associations are important only insofar as they bear on the possibility that secret information will be improperly revealed.
In my opinion the most important evidence in this regard is the fact that there is no indication in the entire record that Dr. Oppenheimer has ever divulged any secret information. The past 15 years of his life have been investigated and reinvestigated. For much of the last 11 years he has been under actual surveillance, his movements watched, his conversations noted, his mail and telephone calls checked. This professional review of his actions has been supplemented by enthusiastic amateur help from powerful personal enemies.
After reviewing the massive dossier and after hearing some forty witnesses, the Gray Board reported on May 27. 1954, that Dr. Oppenheimer "seems to have had a high degree of discretion reflecting an unusual ability to keep to himself vital secrets." My own careful reading of the complete dossier and of the testimony leads me to agree with the Gray Board on this point. I am confident that Dr. Oppenheimer will continue to keep to himself all the secrets with which he is entrusted.
The most important allegations of the General Manager's letter of December 23 related to Dr. Oppenheimer's conduct in the so-called H-bomb program. I am not surprised to find that the evidence does not support these allegations in any way. The history of Dr. Oppenheimer's contributions to the development of nuclear weapons stands untarnished.
It is clear that Dr. Oppenheimer's past associations and activities are not newly discovered in any substantial sense. They have been known for years to responsible authorities who have never been persuaded that they rendered Dr. Oppenheimer unfit for public service. Many of the country's outstanding men have expressed their faith in his integrity.
In spite of all this, the majority of the Commission now concludes that Dr. Oppenheimer is a security risk. I cannot accept this conclusion or the fear behind it. In my opinion the conclusion cannot be supported by a fair evaluation of the evidence.
Those who do not accept this view cull from the record of Dr. Oppenheimer's active life over the past 15 years incidents which they construe as "proof of fundamental defects in his character" and as alarming associations. I shall summarize the evidence on these incidents in order that their proper significance may be seen.
Chevalier incident.-The most disturbing incidents of his past are those connected with Haakon Chevalier. In late 1942 or early 1943, Chevalier was asked by George Eltenton to approach Dr. Oppenheimer to see whether he would be willing to make technical information available for the Soviet Union. When Chevalier spoke to Dr. Oppenheimer he was answered by a flat refusal. The incident came to light when Dr. Oppenheimer, of his own accord, reported it to Colonel Pash in August 1943. He did not at that time give Chevalier's name and said that there had been 3 approaches rather than 1. Shortly thereafter, in early September, Dr. Oppenheimer told General Groves that, if ordered, he would reveal the name. Not until December 1943, did General Groves direct him to give the name. It is his testimony that he then told General Groves that the earlier story concerning three approaches had been a "cock and bull story." Not until 1946 were Eltenton, Chevalier, and Dr. Oppenheimer himself interviewed by security officers in this matter. When interviewed by the FBI in 1946, Dr. Oppenheimer recounted the same story of the incident which he has consistently maintained ever since. He stated explicitly in 1946 that the story told to Colonel Pash in 1943 had been a fabrication. In the present hearings before the Gray Board he testified, before the recording of the Pash interview was produced, that the story told to Colonel Pash was a fabrication to protect his friend Chevalier. The letter which he wrote Chevalier in February 1950, concerning Chevalier's role in the 1943 incident, stated only what Dr. Oppenheimer has consistently maintained to the FBI and to the Gray board concerning Chevalier's lack of awareness of the significance of what he was doing.
The Chevalier incident involved temporary concealment of an espionage attempt and admitted lying, and is inexcusable. But that was 11 years ago; there is no subsequent act even faintly similar; Dr. Oppenheimer has repeatedly expressed his shame and regret and has stated flatly that he would never again so act. My conclusion is that of Mr. Hartley Rowe, who testified, "I think a man of Dr. Oppenheimer's character is not going to make the same mistake twice."
Dr. Oppenheimer states that he still considers Chevalier his friend, although be sees him rarely. In 1950 just before Chevalier left this country to take up residence in France, he visited Dr. Oppenheimer for 2 days in Princeton; in December 1953, Dr. Oppenheimer visited with the Chevaliers in Paris at their invitation. These isolated visits may have been unwise, but there is no evidence that they had any security significance. Chevalier was not sought out by Dr. Oppenheimer in Paris but, rather, the meeting was proposed by the Chevaliers in a letter to Mrs. Oppenheimer. The contact consisted of a dinner and, on the following day, driving with Chevalier to meet Andre Malraux, the famous French literary figure for whom Chevalier was a translator. Malraux in the later years of his political life has been an active anti-Communist adviser to General deGaulle. These short visits were followed 2 months later by Chevalier's use of Dr. Oppenheimer's name in connection with clearance for employment by UNESCO. Dr. Oppenheimer's action in this matter seems quite correct. When Chevalier mentioned the problem, Dr. Oppenheimer suggested that the proper place for advice was the American Embassy and that Dr. Geoffrey Wyman, the scientific attaché might be in a position to give the advice. Before seeing Chevalier, Dr. Oppenheimer had lunched at the Embassy with Dr. Wyman, a former classmate, but it is clear from Dr. Wyman's affidavit in the record that Dr. Oppenheimer did not at that time or later mention or endorse Chevalier.
Associations.-It is stated that a persistent and continuing association with Communists and follow travelers is part of a pattern in Dr. Oppenheimer's actions which indicates a disregard of the obligations of securtiy (sic.) . On examination, the record shows that, since the war, beyond the two visits with the Chevaliers, Dr. Oppenheimer's associations with such persons have been limited and infrequent. He sees his brother, Frank Oppenheimer (an admitted former Communist who left the party in 1941) not "much more than once a year" and then only for "an evening together," By chance, while returning from the barber, he ran into Lomanitz and Bohm on the streets of Princeton in May 1949. Dr. Peters called on him once to discuss testimony given by Dr. Oppenheimer before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He has seen Bohm and 1 or 2 other former students at meetings of professional groups. I find nothing in the foregoing to substantiate the charge that Dr. Oppenheimer has had a "persistent and continuing" association with subversive individuals. These are nothing more than occasional incidents in a complex life, and they were not sought by Dr. Oppenheimer.
Significance has been read into these occasional encounters in the light of Dr. Oppenheimer's activities prior to 1943.
The Gray Board found that he was an active fellow traveler, but that there was no evidence that he was a member of the party in the strict sense of the word. Dr. Oppenheimer's consistent testimony, and the burden of the evidence, shows that his financial contributions in the 1930's and early 1940's were directed to specific causes such as the Spanish Loyalists, even though they may have gone through individual Communists.
The Communists with whom he was deeply involved were all related to him by personal ties: his brother and sister-in-law, his wife (who had left the party before their marriage), and his former fiance, Jean Tatlock. Finally, while there are self-serving claims by Communists on record as to Dr. Oppenheimer's adherence to the party, none of these is attributed to Communists who actually knew him, and Steve Nelson (who did know him) described him in a statement to another Communist as not a Marxist. The evidence supports Dr. Oppenheimer's consistent denial that he was ever a Communist.
Dr. Oppenheimer has been repeatedly interrogated from 1943 on concerning his associations and activities. Beyond the one admitted falsehood told in the Chevalier incident, the voluminous record shows a few contradictions between statements purportedly made in 1943 and subsequent recollections during interrogations in 1950 and 1954. The charges of falsehood concerning Weinberg and Lambert relate to such contradictions, and are dependent on a garbled transcript. In my opinion, these contradictions have been given undue significance.
Peter's letter.-I find it difficult to conclude that the letter written by Dr. Oppenheimer in 1949 following his testimony about Dr. Bernard Peters before a congressional committee is evidence of any fault in character. This carefully composed letter, a copy of which was sent to the congressional committee, was not an attempt to repudiate the testimony relating to Dr. Peters' background but, rather, was a manifestation of a belief that political views should not disqualify a scientist from a teaching job. He was led to this action by the protests of Dr. Bethe, Dr. Weisskopf, and Dr. Peters himself, and of Dr. Condon, and by the "overwhelming belief of the community in which I lived that a man like that ought not to be fired either for his past or for his views, unless the past is criminal or the views led him to wicked actions." One might disagree with this belief without taking it as evidence of untrustworthiness.
Lomanitz deferment.-It is clear that in cross-examination in 1954, Dr. Oppenheimer was led into contradictions concerning the induction into the Army of Rossi Lomanitz in 1943. These contradictions, understandable as errors of memory, are serious only if Dr. Oppenheimer's behavior at that time was improper. Actually, Dr. Oppenheimer's letter to Colonel Lansdale in 1943 says: "Since I am not in possession of the facts which led to Mr. Lomanitz's induction, I am, of course, not able to endorse this request in an absolute way. I can, however, say that Mr. Lomanitz's competence and his past experience on the work in Berkeley should make him a man of real value whose technical service we should make every effort to secure for the project." The letter was sent to Colonel Lansdale, the man to whom Dr. Oppenheimer had given information on Lomanitz' Communist affiliation and the man who had told Dr. Oppenheimer that Lomanitz had been indiscreet with information.
Obstruction of security officers.-The majority opinion cites the Chevalier incident as an instance of obstruction of security officers and states without specification that there are other instances. I have sought to identify these other instances. The only instance I have found is a refusal by Dr. Oppenheimer in 1950 to answer FBI questions about Dr. Thomas Addis and Dr. Jean Tatlock on the ground that they were dead and could not defend themselves. This reticence to discuss the activities of a friend and of a former fiance years after their deaths may have been an error. But in the circumstances, it seems understandable hesitation, and does not indicate a persistent "willful disregard" of security.
Seaborg letter.-Before the October 1949 meeting of the General Advisory Committee at which the H-bomb program was discussed, Dr. Seaborg, a member of the General Advisory Committee who was unable to be present, sent Dr. Oppenheimer a letter on the topics to be discussed. In Dr. Oppenheimer's letter to the Commission reporting the unanimous view of the eight members present at the General Advisory Committee meeting, there is no mention of Dr. Seaborg's views. It is hard to see how Dr. Oppenheimer could have forgotten the letter, but it is still harder to see what purpose he could have hoped to achieve by intentionally suppressing it-and then turning it over to the Commission in his files. At the next meeting of the General Advisory Committee in December 1949, the action of the October meeting was reviewed, and the minutes show that Dr. Seaborg raised no objection. It seems likely that Dr. Seaborg himself did not consider that he had expressed any formal conclusions. His letter of October 14, 1949. opens as follows:
"I will try to give you my thoughts for what they may be worth regarding the next GAC meeting, but I am afraid that there may be more questions than answers-it seems to me that conclusions will be reached, if at all, only after a large amount of give and take discussion at the GAC meeting" (Tr., p. 238).
The instances that I have described constitute the whole of the evidence extracted from a lengthy record to support the severe conclusions of the majority that Dr. Oppenheimer has "given proof of fundamental defects in his character" and of "persistent continuing associations." Any implication that these are illustrations only and that further substantial evidence exists in the investigative files to support these charges is unfounded.
With the single exception of the Chevalier incident, the evidence relied upon is thin, whether individual instances are considered separately or in combination. All added together, with the Chevalier incident included, the evidence is singularly unimpressive when viewed in the perspective of the 15 years of active life from which it is drawn. Few men could survive such a period of investigation and interrogation without having many of their actions misinterpreted or misunderstood.
To be effective a security system must be realistic. In the words of the Atomic Energy Commission security criteria:
"The facts of each case must be carefully weighed and determination made in the light of all the information presented, whether favorable or unfavorable. The judgment of responsible persons as to the integrity of the individuals should be considered. The decision as to security clearance is an overall, commonsense judgment, made after consideration of all the relevant information as to whether or not there is risk that the granting of security clearance would endanger the common defense or security."
Application of this standard of overall commonsense judgment to the whole record destroys any pattern of suspicious conduct or catalog of falsehoods and evasions, and leaves a picture of Dr. Oppenheimer as an able, imaginative human being with normal human weaknesses and failings. In my opinion the conclusion drawn by the majority from the evidence is so extreme as to endanger the security system.
If one starts with the assumption that Dr. Oppenheimer is disloyal, the incidents which I have recounted may arouse suspicion. However, if the entire record is read objectively, Dr. Oppenheimer's loyalty and trustworthiness emerge clearly and the various disturbing incidents are shown in their proper light as understandable and unimportant.
The "Chevalier incident" remains reprehensile (sic.); but in fairness and on all of the evidence, this one admitted and regretted mistake made many years ago does not predominate in my overall judgment of Dr. Oppenheimer's character and reliability. Unless one confuses a manner of expression with candor, or errors in recollection with lack of veracity, Dr. Oppenheimer's testimony before the Gray Board has the ring of honesty. I urge thoughtful citizens to examine this testimony for themselves, and not be content with summaries or with extracts quoted out of context.
With respect to the alleged disregard of the security system, I would suggest that the system itself is nothing to worship. It is a necessary means to an end. Its sole purpose, apart from the prevention of sabotage, is to protect secrets. If a man protects the secrets he has in his hands and his head, he has shown essential regard for the security system.
In addition, cooperation with security officials in their legitimate activities is to be expected of private citizens and Government employees. The security system has, however, neither the responsibility nor the right to dictate every detail of a man's life. I frankly do not understand the charge made by the majority that Dr. Oppenheimer has shown a persistent and willful disregard for the obligations of security, and that therefore he should be declared a security risk. No gymnastics of rationalization allow me to accept this argument. If in any recent instances, Dr. Oppenheimer has misunderstood his obligation to security, the error is occasion for reproof but not for a finding that he should be debarred from serving his country. Such a finding extends the concept of "security risk" beyond its legitimate justification and constitutes a dangerous precedent.
In these times, failure to employ a man of great talents may impair the strength and power of this country. Yet I would accept this loss if I doubted the loyalty of Dr. Oppenheimer or his ability to hold his tongue. I have no such doubts.
I conclude that Dr. Oppenheimer's employment "will not endanger the common defense and security" and will be "clearly consistent with the interests of the national security." I prefer the positive statement that Dr. Oppenheimer's further employment will continue to strengthen the United States.
I therefore have voted to reinstate Dr. Oppenheimer's clearance.
HENRY D. SMYTH, Commissioner.
JUNE 29, 1954.
*See additional statements by Commissioners Zuckert and Compbell (sic.) and separate opinion, concurring with the decision, by Commissioner Murray.back