In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer: The Security Clearance Hearing

In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer: The Security Clearance Hearing

by Richard Polenberg

At the end of World War II, J. Robert Oppenheimer was one of America's preeminent physicists. For his work as director of the Manhattan Project, he was awarded the Medal for Merit, the highest honor the U.S. government can bestow on a civilian. Yet...See more details below


At the end of World War II, J. Robert Oppenheimer was one of America's preeminent physicists. For his work as director of the Manhattan Project, he was awarded the Medal for Merit, the highest honor the U.S. government can bestow on a civilian. Yet...

Product Details

Cornell University Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.13(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: "All the Evil of the Times"
The Setting and the Participants
Pt. IThe Hearing
Monday, April 123
"The Commission has no other recourse...but to suspend your clearance until the matter has been resolved"3
"The items of so-called derogatory information...cannot be fairly understood except in the context of my life and my work"10
"An inquiry and not...a trial"29
"Exploding one of these things as a firecracker over a desert"30
Tuesday, April 1335
"Strictly confidential"35
"Those who are not cleared...will necessarily be excused"38
"When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it"41
Wednesday, April 1449
"Both an older brother and in some ways perhaps...a father"49
"In the case of a brother you don't make tests"53
"Then I invented a cock-and-bull story"61
"You spent the night with her, didn't you?"72
Thursday, April 1575
"I would not clear Dr. Oppenheimer today"75
"One can be mistaken about anything"81
"Your memory is not refreshed by what I read you?" "No, on the whole it is confused by it"85
"Of the known leakages of information, Fuchs is by far the most grave"93
Friday, April 1694
"I would have done anything that I was asked to do ... if I had thought it was technically feasible"94
"I am not sure the miserable thing will work...[but it] would be folly to oppose the exploration of this weapon"99
"The program in 1951 was technically so sweet that you could not argue about that"108
"We kept him under surveillance whenever he left the project. We opened his mail. We did all sorts of nasty things"111
Monday, April 19120
"A very human man, a sensitive man,...a man of complete integrity"120
"Only...when the bomb dropped on Japan,...did we start thinking about the moral implications"126
Tuesday, April 20139
"It is only the great sinners who become the great saints"139
"Dr. Oppenheimer's appraisal of the Russian menace...was hard headed, realistic, and thoroughly anti-Soviet"148
"My opinion...was that one should try to outlaw the thing before it was born"153
"Here is a man of good character, integrity, and of loyalty to his country"156
Wednesday, April 21166
"He is a consultant, and if you don't want to consult the guy, you don't consult him period...We have an A-bomb...and what more do you want, mermaids?"166
Thursday, April 22179
"A scientist wants to know. He wants to know correctly and truthfully and precisely"179
"I don't like to see women and children killed wholesale because the male element of the human race are so stupid that they can't...keep out of war"185
"Dr. Oppenheimer...was a natural and respected and at all times a loved leader"188
Friday, April 23194
"Mr. Chairman, unless ordered to do so by the board, we shall not disclose to Mr. Garrison in advance the names of the witnesses we contemplate calling"194
"Here is a man who is being pilloried because he had strong opinions, and had the temerity to express them"199
Monday, April 26
"I was emotionally involved in the Spanish cause"207
"I think there is a great deal of difference between being a Communist in 1935 and being a Communist in 1954"216
"I am afraid that wars are evil...But the question of do not have time for when you are trying to think how you fight"221
"Dr. Oppenheimer's individual contribution was the greatest of any member of the General Advisory Committee"225
Tuesday, April 27228
"All of us in the war suddenly in contact with a universe we had not know before...; we suddenly were dealing with something with which one could blow up the world"228
"I kept turning over in my mind...what was in Oppenheimer that gave him such tremendous power over these men"237
Wednesday, April 28244
"My feeling is that the masters in the Kremlin cannot risk the loss of their base. This base is vulnerable only to attack by air power"244
"I would not rate Dr. Oppenheimer's importance in this field very high for the rather personal reason...that I have disagreed with a good many of his important positions"249
"I feel that I would like to see the vital interests of this country in hands which I understand better, and therefore trust more"252
Thursday, April 29265
"He used the graphic expression like two scorpions in a bottle, that each could destroy the other"265
"ZORC are the letters applied by a member of this group to the four people: Z is for Zacharias, O for Oppenheimer, R for Rabi, and C for Charlie Lauritsen"271
"I realized that the program that we were planning to start was not one that the top man in the scientific department of the AEC wanted to have done"276
Friday, April 30283
"The adversary process which we seem to be engaged in should be carried out to the fullest extent"289
"Dr. Oppenheimer knew the name of the man, and it was his duty to report it to me"291
"More probably than not, J. Robert Oppenheimer is an agent of the Soviet Union"298
Monday, May 3309
"I wish I could explain to you better why I falsified and fabricated"311
Tuesday, May 4
"I left the Communist Party. I did not leave my past, the friendships, just like that"327
Wednesday, May 5333
"I felt, perhaps quite strongly, 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"333
Thursday, May 6346
"His life has been an open book"346
Pt. IIThe Decision
The Personnel Security Board Reports, May 27355
"We have...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"355
"Our failure to clear Dr. Oppenheimer will be a black mark on the escutcheon of our country"362
Lloyd K. Garrison's Reply to Kenneth D. Nichols, June 1366
"How can this be?"366
Kenneth D. Nichols's Recommendations to the AEC, June 12371
"I have given consideration to the nature of the cold war...and the horrible prospects of hydrogen bomb warfare if all-out war should be forced upon us"371
Publishing the Transcript, June 13-15376
Decision and Opinions of the AEC, June 29378
"We find Dr. Oppenheimer is not entitled to the continued confidence of the Government...because of the proof of fundamental defects in his 'character'"378
"This matter certainly reflects the difficult times in which we live"383
"The General Manager has arrived at the only possible conclusion available to a reasonable and prudent man"385
"Dr. Oppenheimer failed the test...He was disloyal"386
"There is no indication in the entire record that Dr. Oppenheimer has ever divulged any secret information"388
Conclusion: "An Abuse of the Power of the State"395
Suggested Reading399

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >