ATOMIC SCIENTISTS r
Following is a transcript of testimony given by General Leslie R. Groves. Retired—
director of the original A-bomb project and now vice-president of Remington Rand—before the
Atomic Energy Commission's Personnel Security Board. The interrogators are Gordon
Gray, chairman of the security board, and Lloyd K. Garrison, counsel for J. Robert Oppenheimer.
—Wide World Pholo
Interrogator: Mr. Garrison
Witness: Gen. Groves
Q. During the war, you headed the
Manhattan Project in complete charge
and development planning for use of the
A. That is correct.
Q. During the postwar period you were
Commanding General of the Armed
Forces Special Weapons Project, 1947
A. Yes. My charge of the atomic
work ended on the first of January,
1947. I think you also should add that
during the period from about March of
1947 until my retirement on the 29th of
February, 1948, I was a member of the
Military Liaison Committee to the
Atomic Energy Commission.
Q. You appointed Dr. Oppenheimer to
be the director of the work at Los
A. Yes, sir.
Q. You devolved great responsibility
A. Yes. . . . Complete responsibility
for the operation of Los Alamos Laboratory, the mission of which was to
carry on the research necessary to develop the design of a bomb, to develop
the probabilities of whether a bomb was
possible—and if the design would be
feasible—and to develop what the power
of the bomb would be. That was so that
we would know at what altitude the
bomb should be exploded.
... Dr. Oppenheimer was used by me
as my adviser .. . not to tell me what
Ben. Leslie H. Groves, war-time
head of the atom-bomb project was called by defense
counsel in the matter of J.
Robert Oppenheimer to testify
regarding Dr. Oppenheirner's
continuing eligibility for an
AEC "Q" clearance with access
to new secret atomic information. In the course of his testimony General Groves emphasized the importance of the
security principle known as
'compartmentalization," by $
which every man is given only
the information he needs for his
own job, on the theory that no
man will reveal what he does
not know. This principle broke
down at the outset within the
Los Alamos area. While speculating on the origin of that
security collapse General Groves
criticized severely the performance of Dr. Edward U. Condon.
Dr. Condon, once called by
the House Un-American Activities Committee "the weakest
link in our atomic security," was
subsequently elected President
of the American Association for
the Advancement of Science. In
October, 1954, his security clearance was suspended by the Department of the Navy. In
December he resigned his position as Director of Research of
the Corning Glass Works, with
an announcement that he would
no longer seek to resolve questions concerning his security
The severest indictment of his
ability, though not of his loyalty, is that by General Groves.
The most extended statement in
his own behalf is that which he
before the House Un-
erican Activities Committee
session at Chicago September
Both are reprinted here
to do, but to confirm my opinion. ...
We didn't know what any of the constants that were so vital were. We didn't
know whether it could be made to explode. ...We were groping entirely in
the dark. That is the reason that General \ie heels and myself were' able, I
think, to make intelligent scientific decisions, because we knew just as much
as everybody else. ... So when 1 say
that we were responsible for the scientific decisions. I am not saying thai we
were extremely able nuclear physicists,
because actually we were not. \\ e were
what might be termed "thoroughly practical nuclear physicists. '
As a result of this experiem
because Dr. Oppenheimer agreed *
me and particularly because of ° .
clinnc thnt ,.7,.ri. reeled I c:eUlc .
questions that were
depend upon him tremendously
scientific advice on the rest of the
eel, although I made no effort to 1'' [i( '
down my compartmentalization. A'LQ
know, compartmentalization of inf"' ( (j||
lion was my chief guard againsl
mation passing. It was something ,wt.r
I insisted on to the limit of my cap* jn„
It was something that everybody |ll(
trying to break down within the |
I did not bring Dr. Oppenheimer j ,
the whole project, but that was no' ■ .
because of security of information |lu
him in particular but all the other •-' ji|(„
tific leaders, men like Lawrence]
Compton, were treated the same "'' .
but it was also done because if I br*J*
them into the whole project, they ,„■
never do their own job. . . . B,|t'
While I may have dominated
situation in general, I didn't hav*
own way in a lot of things. So »'lf'"
say lhat Dr. Oppenheimer did a<*%'"
ways keep the Faith with respect "Y,"
shirt interpretation of the security ^j,.;.'.
. . . he was no worse Iban any Jt.,,,
other leading scientists. ... I can I
a case where he deliberately \ iol
security instructions. That is <lif'f
from violating what he knew tn^
would waul. That was done l>v
body in my organization.
Q. The absence of com part men-j
tion on the Los Alamos project, *'f
(Continue! tin P**"
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