Nobody can definitively say whether Oppenheimer truly deserved to lose his security clearance. He made several mistakes of great import. However, he loyally served the United States throughout his life and was instrumental in creating the weapon that ultimately ended the war (whether that weapon needed to be used is another debate altogether). His associations during several key times in his past were shady at best. However, those associations were part of his past. The debate stems to this date, and barring further evidence for either side, there is no resolution forthcoming. This deadlock does not come for lack of trying. Oppenheimer's FBI file was brimming with surveillance, interviews, and other forms of monitoring befitting a man of his importance.
[...] He was a witness for the defense during Oppenheimer's security clearance hearing, and in yet in the end, he had to tone down his testimony in defense of Oppenheimer for fear of being attacked for his own mistakes. Groves had failed to look into Oppenheimer's concern over his brother Frank as to his associations at the time. Couple this with the trap set by Strauss, which utilized the letter, he had initially sent to defend Oppenheimer against Paul Crouch's allegations, and it is clear that Groves was in no position to testify. [...]
[...] considerable newspaper publicity has been afforded to conflicting statements and testimony given by Paul Crouch as a Government witness in court action and other proceedings against Communists and alleged Communists.” Crouch's testimony had been doubted for quite some time, and its questionable reliability was the reason it was not included in Oppenheimer's security clearance hearing. However, even after Oppenheimer gave what appeared to be a solid alibi, the investigation did not end. In an interview with the FBI, Oppenheimer, “denied ever being a member of the CP, ever having attended a meeting of the CP, ever being invited to join CP, or ever being at any meeting of a Communistic nature at which Joseph Weinberg or David Joseph Bohm were both present.” The party to which the file refers is specifically the one that Crouch allegedly attended at Oppenheimer's house. [...]
[...] To advance the theory that the reactions of the FBI were reflections of American society at the time, one could take a look at Chevalier. The aforementioned memo was written in 1944. In 1947, Chevalier resigned as a French Professor at the University of California. The reason for his resignation was that he was actually, as the memo put it, “frozen out of his job. [name blanked out] explained that by all academic standards, Chevalier was due for a promotion, but instead the heads of the French Department had actually given him a demotion which caused him to resign.” The proximity of his demotion to his being subpoenaed to testify before the Tenney Un-American Activities Committee seems too close to be coincidental. [...]
[...] The FBI's insistence on attempting to pin Oppenheimer down as having attended that party, despite solid evidence to the contrary, smacks of desperation, trying to find any way to connect him to the Communist party and thus remove him as head of the General Advisory Committee. Hoover's FBI was not impervious to corruption, as evidenced by the obvious politically motivated bias against Oppenheimer. Haakon Chevalier's case was entirely different from that of the Crouchs. Chevalier was a known active Communist. [...]
[...] On top of this, Paul drew diagrams of the interior of the household, which he could not have seen otherwise. He also claimed to have seen a bassinet in the house, which would correspond to the child recently born to the Oppenheimers, Peter. These were the allegations made by the Crouchs, and an entire section of Oppenheimer's FBI file was devoted to investigating these claims. On several occasions, the FBI files mention that the reliability of the Crouch allegations had come into question. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee