Oppenheimer’s reputation repaired by unredacted security records

Oppenheimer with a socialist who wouldn’t be allowed into the country, today

The release of unredacted transcripts of secret government hearings held in 1954 by the Atomic Energy Commission produced headlines last week as the disclosures reaffirmed the once-questioned loyalty of Los Alamos Manhattan Project mastermind J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Many are asking why it took six decades to release the previously secret sections, other than that the now-restored portions tended to exonerate Oppenheimer. One expert says there was no classified information in the redactions.

All questions of security in the United States are regulated by paranoid idiots.

In a monumental fall from grace, Oppenheimer went from the man who harnessed the power of the atom for the bombs that ended World War II to losing his security clearance after the AEC hearings amid accusations that this chain-smoking American eccentric was a Soviet spy.

The hearings were held against the backdrop of 1950s red-scare America, fueled by factors including the fact that Oppenheimer’s brother and wife had been communists, and his lack of enthusiasm for building the more powerful hydrogen or “Super” bomb.

RTFA. The JOURNAL isn’t quite as much of a PITA as some. They don’t require registration; but, you must answer one or more survey questions which earns them relevant baksheesh I guess.

Cold War hysteria fit perfectly into the reactionary politics of the American establishment post-WW2. Oppenheimer, with a scientist’s objectivity and reliance on observable and verifiable fact did not. Our politicians would rather reject talent than admit their foolishness. Which is why government transparency is a contradiction in terms.

His earnestness about trying to build peace – alienated him from hawkish thugs like Edward Teller who wanted more and bigger bombs every week [and got them] – sealed the deal. No pleas for peace in imperial ideology.

I was lucky enough to meet Dr. Oppenheimer a couple of times. He was just part of the audience at discussions about working to promote peace at forums sponsored by the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy.

3 thoughts on “Oppenheimer’s reputation repaired by unredacted security records

  1. moss says:

    Americans don’t know Einstein wrote a famous essay – published in first issue of MONTHLY REVIEW – entitled “Why Socialism”

  2. Footnote says:

    Oppenheimer’s daughter Katherine (“Toni”) went on to pursue a career in trilingual translation, which led to her applying for a job at the United Nations in 1969. However the job required a security clearance, which she was denied as a result of the FBI exhuming the allegations against her father. She committed suicide at the age of 32 in 1977.
    The complete text of “United States Atomic Energy Commission In The Matter Of J.Robert Oppenheimer” is available @ http://archive.org/stream/unitedstatesatom007206mbp/unitedstatesatom007206mbp_djvu.txt

  3. Footnote says:

    In 1953, as a political battle raged over the US’s nuclear future, John Wheeler, the head of Project Matterhorn B H-bomb project, lost a highly classified document about the hydrogen bomb on an overnight train from Philadelphia to Washington, DC.
    The six page extract of “Policy and Progress in the H-Bomb Program”, which contained the entire history of the development of the first successful H-bomb design, was no ordinary technical report but part of a smear campaign against Robert Oppenheimer and others within the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) who opposed the development of thermonuclear weapons, claiming they had at least been negligent with regard to the H-bomb’s development, and at worst may even have been trying to sabotage the program.
    The document was never recovered.
    Wheeler’s Federal Bureau of Investigation file, recently released under the Freedom of Information Act, has shed new light on the incident, the secrets that lay at its heart, and the massive search for the missing document. A multitude of consequences came out of that single event—a testimony to the power of secrecy during the Cold War and to the ways in which a few pages, improperly situated in spacetime, can set off an unexpected chain of events.
    (12/1/2019) https://physicstoday.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/PT.3.4364

    See also “That time physicist John Wheeler left classified H-bomb documents on a train” (12/30/20) https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/12/that-time-physicist-john-wheeler-left-classified-h-bomb-documents-on-a-train/

    “Hydrogen vs atomic bomb: What’s the difference?” https://www.dw.com/en/hydrogen-vs-atomic-bomb-whats-the-difference/a-40343297

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