In 1948 a young scientisl al AEC's
Brookhaven National Laboratory talking
to Theodore H. While aboul Dr. E. (J.
Condon — called by thc House In-
\merican Activities Committee "lhe
weakest link in our alomie security"
said, "My God, no matter what the score
on Condon could be. you just can't have
a bunch of dumb jerks like lhal passing
on the- credentials of scientists." The
credentials in question were nol scientific. The statement means that scientists
should in every way he above tbe criticism of members of Congress.
When AEC took over atomic energy
from the Army in 1917. an initial problem was business accounts and audits of
scientific operations. The "Loofbourovi
Report" suggested thai scientiits he held
to a minimum of financial and property
responsibility. About a year later Ihe
"l.oomis Report" urged maximum pen
rales and privileges for scientific personnel.
Bul the main light centered on security. Here unwillingness to admit any
check on Science was encouraged to the
hill by Communists and other pro-Soviel
groups. Susceptibility of scientists to
such influences has been meted hy Richard I.. Meier, former executive secTetarj
of tin' Federati if American Scientists.
who has written, "The physicist by nature is politically radical." and by C.
P. Snow. English authority on scientific
personnel, who in The New Men has
discriminated between engineers and
scientists: "...th,- physicists, whose
whole intellectual life- was spent in see-king new truths, found il uncongenial to
slop seeking when they had a look at
society. They wen- rebellious, questioning, protestant, curious for the future
and unable to resisl shaping il. The engineers buckled to their jobs anil gave
no trouble, in America, in Bussia. in
Germany; il wa- nol from them, bul
from lhe scientists, thai came heretics,
forerunners, martyrs, traitors."
Oppenheimer in 1919 testified before
ihe Joint Committee on Atomic Energy
about lb,- advisability of exporting
radioisotopes produced in American
atomic energy plants and laboratories.
Here, said Oppenheimer, "is one- of the
few areas In which we are- free- lei act
the way we would like- lee ait. generously,
imaginatively ami decently; in the things
thai involve security we are inhibited
from doing that . . .'
This emotional revulsion from security as nut "decent" hail ;i logical corollary. Dr. Oppenheimer told the Graj
Board in April 1951. speaking eef his
association with sometime Communisl
David Hawkins. "I discussed security
with him many times. His views and
mine were in agreement. '
Lewis I.. Strauss had quite other
\iews. On ace,emit ol them he losl favor
wilh an important segment of lhe Ame-r-
ican press which ill 1910 had praised
his appointment lo lhe AEC. Bul he
won tbe respect of Congress and of
Eisenhower, lb' was appointed anil enthusiastically confirmed as AEC chairman in the summer of 1953, after an
absence of three years from tin- AEC
executive offices al 1901 Constitution
The' severest criticism of Admiral
Slrauss is lhal of Joseph and Stewart Alsop. who have written: "We
aei use- Oppenheimer's chief judge, the
Ch.finnan eel the Atomic Energy Com-
mission, Admiral Lewis Strauss, ...of
venting thc bitterness of "l'l disputes
through the security system ol this
country." This charge' means, logically,
either that Strauss ought to he impeached or the Alsop brothers convicted
of libel. It is a serious charge against
the honesty and patriotism of a man
wilh a distinguished public record of
honesty and patriotism.
The' -\lsops" accusation <,l Strauss ob-
viousl) stems from their hysterical attachment lo Dr. Oppenheimer. The) see
him on his return from Europe in 1929
with first-class training in the Nev,
Physics a- "the- In ing, r ,el a revelation."
Such a point of view must he curious
I,, Arthur Compton, 1929 Nobel Prize
winner, and to E. 0. Lawrence, Nobel
laureate in 19>9 for his earlier invention of the' cyclotron on the same campus which Robert Oppenheimer appeared to the Msops I but nol to the
Nobel Prize committee) t" dominate,
I'lie Msops feel that the' decision in
lln' Oppenheimer case a 7-2 decision
at tin- highest levels "did ii"t disgrace
Robert Oppenheimer; it dishonored ami
disgraced tin- high name of American
freedom." They see hope that the "forces
in America which have created the climate in which Oppenheimer was judged
may . . . break their teeth anil power on
the Oppenheimer ease."
The Oppenheimer case is one of the
greal events ol recent history. It is
probable that from 1945 to 1952 Robert
Oppenheimer was lhe mosl powerful
man in tin- world. Thai is based on the
assumptions, 11 l lhal he was lhe mosl
influential man in the I .S. alomie energy project. t2i lhal the Soviel atomic
energy project was to us,- Oppenheimer's own word "imitative" of the I . S.
project, (3) that tin- power relation
between the I . S. ami the Soviel i nieen
was the greal world issue of those years.
The' 1 .S.-S.l . power relation is slill
lln- great issue, anil tin- Soviel atom i-
-till probably imitative "I the I . S. atom.
For that matter. Roberl Oppenheimer
still has a gn-ai deal of influence. Bul
In- mi longer has an AEC "Q" clearance,
and In' is no longer lln- mosl influential
man in lhe project.
Slrauss is by no means solely responsible for Oppenheimer's downfall. Harry
Truman was the firsl official to a''1
against Oppenheimer, whom he would
not reappoint to lln- General \dvisorJ
Committee in 1952. Ami when tin- Com'
mission came to vote in June 1951 it
was met Lewi- Slraii-s win, wa- a minority of one. It wa- Henry Sim th. ph\si-
,-ist. Against Oppenheimer ami will'
Slrauss were not only Joseph Campbell
hut also Eugene Zuckert, often considered a Fair Deal administrator, am'
Thomas I-!. Murray, another Truman
appointee, who has opposed Strauss o"
Yel it cm hen,IK be denied thai '&
anyone- excepl Lewis Slrauss had been
made Chairman in 1953 Oppenheime'
would have retained till toda) his am"
Ordinari, rules do not wink in tl"
Oppenheimer ease-. Conviction of perjury sent Ili-s to jail and Vlsopian •"'
cusation senl Paul Crouch to (loventry.
Circumstantial rumors of extra-marital
romance an- ordinaril) considered damaging to officeholders. Bul Oppenheiffl'
er, who has admitted adulter) and a*
milled the mosl elaborate and deliberate
lying in the most serious cin-nnislan'''"
quite over and above admitting l'"'
most involved, intimate, and prolong'''
association with Communists is still
called "seer and saint."
Men- astonishment, or outrage, is h"1
an eiele-ipiiiti- response lo ibis phcnoll""
That anyone can publich call Opp<'"'
heimer a saint after all thai has I"'1'1
published aboul him means thai the- p-v
cholog) of Roberl Oppenheimer ma) '"
a good deal less complex and nnsleii"""
than the psycholog) of the •.merit*11
iel he has had a greal Fall, and neither the king's horses, men. nor Fel»"i'
I!. Murrow can quite put his form?
reputation together again. Only, il '"
worth noting thai lhe Humph Dump1!
who survives such a fall cracked i"1'
recognizable was hard-boiled in '''''
Robert Oppenheimer maj yel come •''
the wen over. Hi- life ha-' been <l""''j
-,' long. His two professorships -in"1
taneously, one al Berkeley and one ■'
Cal-Tech; his philosophic preoccup"
linn with "complementarity." the I11'"'
ciple b) which logicall) antagonistic ''"._'
ories are both accepted in practice; '''
ambiguous relationship with Comm0/''
nists and communism, supporting ','
Party, favoring its members, befrie"'
ing Bernard Peters, yel refusing to j""''
condemning it- principles, and de- '.''.
ing Peters to the I n- American \'liv'"'|'
Committee all thi- suggests thai "'
FACTS FORUM NEWS, Marel