TS r NATIONAL SECURITY
Excerpts from the testimony of Dr. Edward U. Condon at the hearing before the Subcommittee
of the Committee on Un-American Activities of the House of Representatives,
September 5, 1952. Committee members present were: Representatives Francis E. Walter,
(D-Po.l; Morgan M. Moulder. (D-Mo.l; Harold H. Velde, IR-III.I, and Donald L. Jackson.
IR -Calif. I, with Representative Walter, acting chairman, presiding.
Frank S. Tavenner, Jr., served as counsel.
Mr. Tavenner: When did you go to
Dr. Condon: I can't remember the
I evict dates, but it was more or less
■March or April of 1942, I believe, or
| maybe 1943, I would have to do a little
Checking. We can check back but it was
|l''l'i. I am quite sure, on second
Mr. Tavenner: And I understood you
Ito say you remained there approximately
Dr. Condon: About a month; yes.
Mr. Tavenner: Well, during that
l|"i Hid of time, the one month when you
|were there, what was the general nature
id your duties?
Dr. Condon: Well, I had the title
Mr. Tavenner: I don't want you to
State anything of a secret nature.
eel^i' C)f U
SECOND IN COMMAND
Dr. Condon: Oh, no, I wouldn't do
v because of -
• raised I raO*1. ' never "°- 1 ha(l tll'e 0I associate
tremendously l"lrretor "f this, and as such was second
, ' . fil,,'!)'1" command to Robert Oppenheimer,
if rt to bl*vvho was the director, and at that par-
e no enori ticular time it was sort of just starling
1 ' „u> em«ge from the status of being a
ulization of i...- Iconstruction camp over to th
guard against > being a research laboratory;
was something .
Jyvere moving in and equipment was Delimit ol my cap „,„ s,., U|) go ^ (he b|ems were
lhat everybody |in.lh [arge,y il(|mi,lis|r.|liv(. ,..„]„.,. than
n within Ihe pr scientific.
r' °j "I"'i"";;, Mr. Tavenner: Well, during that
ml thai was no j i()(J 0f time, did you have occasion to
"f ;i"f"n,,:'"" '.,',1'^e access to scientific developments as
jll'cv were proceeding at Los Alamos?
like Lawrenc* .
,'d the -"'"' «
>'«'a,lsl' if ' br>u,„lh. bul I had
;• projcci. the)
job.. . .
,1. I didn't have
,f thim*. s„ *i>*!rss:
Condon: Well, yes; certainly
weren't any proceeding in thai
access to all of the
prior knowledge that was the basis fen
j pelting up the laboratory; yes.
Mr. Tavenner: The committee is in
of a copy of a letter which
,r (|i(| ..oiyou submitted lo Dr. J. Robert Oppen-
( Hi'i'iine'i. setting forth your reasons for
Ii with respe
of the security
V ..uif. ,<Hll 11 II .-.,,11;. IV, I
fir<'jrriin<. tl,,, |»osi[ion ai [jOS Alamos pro-
v of J"'1, ' (1,'sil"f' to read the letter, the entire
• < , feller, chiefly because I don't want any
rb ra\el vioUt^rarl °f '* l° be take" °Ut °f contexl'
' " 'i-V , ■ Jifff' l,!i- London: 1 think that is splendid.
us. that is on , ,,
ml be knew tjjj
was don-- b)
ization. . . .
Los ttamos, Santa Fet V, Mex.
')'. J. Hoht'rt Oppenheimer,
of compartment, _
amos project, «e incidentally, the copy is not dated.
(Continued on pa\ XCTB |,ORIJM NEWS( January, 1955
Do you recall the date when you sent
Dr. Condon: Well, it is about April
of 1943, I have a copy that is dated, but
I don't have it with me. I could supply
Dear Robert: This letter will serve
to put in the record some of the things
which we have discussed during the past
week which have led to my decision not
to accept a permanent connection with
the Los Alamos project and to return to
the W estinghouse Research Laboratories
at East Pittsburgh.
First let me apologize for failure to
emphasise the tentativeness of the situation in which I have been during the
past month. This came about because I
initially felt quite sure that I would
decide to stay, and secondly because J
though/ that if the tentativeness were too
much stressed it would interfere with my
settling down and trying to be. useful at
In trying to be clear about the reasons
for the decision I suppose it boils down
to this: With additional knowledge of
detailed needs of the project I was unable to get a strong conviction that I am
decidedly more useful to the war here
than at Westinghouse. Since the change
would entail considerable personal sacrifice, I do not feel justified in making
if. I do not see how such a view could
hare been reached without my coining
here to see the problem at first hand.
I am happy that you are generous
enough to feel that I was of a little help
during the first month. It will always he
my hope to be able to help from a dis-
tance in any way that I can. There are
many ways in which the technical resources with which Westinghouse could
aid this project are as yet unexplored.
\aturally, however, I will not take any
initiative on this at home as being inconsistent with security policy. But if
your people or others in related projects approach me with special needs
I am sure that f will be in a belter position to help because of the background I
There may be some point in making
some general observations based on my
brief experience. My own decision of
course was weighted pretty heavily with
personal factors which are not of general
interest so / nil! skip them except inso
far as they seem likely lo be things that
would also concern other people.
SECURITY RULES DEPRESSING
The thing which upsets me most is
the extraordinarily close security policy.
I do not feel qualified to question the
wisdom of this since I am totally unaware of the extent of enemy espionage
and sabotage activities. I only want to
say that in my case I found that the extreme concern with security was morbidly depressing — especially the discussion about censoring mail and telephone calls, the possible militarization
and complete isolation of the personnel
from the outside world. I know that
before long all such concerns would
make me be so depressed as to be of
little if any value. / think a great many
i't the other people are apt to he this
way, otherwise I wouldn't mention it.
An aspect of this policy for which J
am completely at a loss to find justification is the tendency to isolate this group
intellectually from the key members of
the other units of the ivhole project.
While I had heard that there were to be
some restrictions, I can say that I was
so shocked that I coidd hardly believe
my ears when General Groves undertook to reprove us, though he did so
with exquisite tact and courtesy, for a
—Wide World Photo