Testimony in the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer

- Gen. Leslie Groves

Q. General, did your security officers on the project advise against the clearance of Dr. Oppenheimer?

A. Oh, I am sure that they did. I don't recall exactly. They certainly were not in favor of his clearance. I think a truer picture is to say that they reported that they could not and would not clear him.

Q. General, you were in the Army actively for how many years?

A. I don't know. 1916 to 1948, and of course raised in it, also.

Q. And you rose to the rank of lieutenant general?

A. That is right.

Q. During your entire Army career, I assume you were dealing with matters of security?

A.  I would say I devoted about 5 percent of my time to security problems.

Q.  You did become thoroughly familiar with security matters.

A. I think that I was very familiar with security matters.

Q. In fact, it could be said that you became something of an expert in it?

A. I am afraid that is correct.

Q. I believe you said that you became pretty familiar with the file of Dr. Oppenheimer?

A. I think I was thoroughly familiar with everything that was reported about Dr. Oppenheimer; and that included, as it did on every other matter of importance, personally reading the original evidence if there was any original evidence. In other words, I would read the reports of the interviews with people. In other words, I was not reading the conclusions of any security officer. The reason for that was that in this project there were so many things that the security officer would not know the significance of that I felt I had to do it myself. Of course, I have been criticized for doing all those things myself and not having a staff of any kind; but, after all, it did work, and I did live through it.

Q. General, in the light of your experience with security matters and in the light of your knowledge of the file pertaining to Dr. Oppenheimer, would you clear Dr. Oppenheimer today?

A. I think before answering that I would like to give my interpretation of what the Atomic Energy Act requires. I have it, but I never can find it as to just what it says. Maybe I can find it this time.

Q. Would you like me to show it?

A. I know it is very deeply concealed in the thing.

Q. Do you have the same copy?

A. I have the original act.

Q. It is on page 14, 1 think, where you will find it, General. You have the same pamphlet I have.

A. Thank you. That is it. The clause to which I am referring is this: It is the last of paragraph (b) (i) on -page 14. It says:
"The Commission shall have determined that permitting such person to have access to restricted data will not endanger the common defense or security," and it mentions that the investigation should include the character, associations, and loyalty.

My interpretation of "endanger" - and I think it is important for me to make that if I am going to answer your question - is that it is a rea-sonable presumption that there might be a danger, not a remote pos-sibility, a tortured interpretation of maybe there might be something, but that there is something that might do. Whether you say that is 5 percent or 10 percent or something of that order does not make any difference. It is not a case of proving that the man is a danger. It is a case of thinking, well, he might be a danger, and it is perfectly logical to presume that he would be, and that there is no consideration whatsoever to be given to any of his past performances or his general usefulness or, you might say, the imperative usefulness. I don't care how important the man is, if there is any possibility other than a tortured one that his associations or his loyalty or his character might endanger.

In this case I refer particularly to associations and not to the associ-ations as they exist today but the past record of the associations. I would not clear Dr. Oppenheimer today if I were a member of the Commission on the basis of this interpretation.

If the interpretation is different, then I would have to stand on my interpretation of it.