Testimony in the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer

- Isador Rabi

Q. Dr. Rabi, Mr. Robb asked you whether you had spoken to Chairman Strauss in behalf of Dr. Oppenheimer. Did you mean to suggest in your reply - in your reply to him you said you did among other things - did you mean to suggest that you had done that at Dr. Oppenheimer's  investigation?

A. No; I had no communication from Dr. Oppenheimer before these charges were filed, or since, except that I called him once to just say that I believed in him, with no further discussion.

Another time I called on him and his attorney at the suggestion of Mr. Strauss. I never hid my opinion from Mr.   Strauss that I thought that this whole proceeding was a most unfortunate one.

Dr. Evans: What was that?

The Witness: That the suspension of the clearance of Dr. Oppenheimer was a very unfortunate thing and should not have been done. In other words, there he was; he is a consultant, and if you don't want to consult the guy, you don't consult him, period. Why you have to then proceed to suspend clearance and go through all this sort of thing, he is only there when called, and that is all there was to it. So it didn't seem to me the sort of thing that called for this kind of proceeding at all against a man who had accomplished what Dr. Oppenheimer has accomplished. There is a real positive record, the way I expressed it to a friend of mine. We have an A-bomb and a whole series of it, and what more do you want, mermaids? This is just a tremendous achievement. If the end of that road is this kind of hearing, which can't help but be humiliating, I thought it was a pretty bad show. I still think so. By Mr. Marks:

Q. Dr. Rabi, in response to a question of the Chairman, the substance of which I believe was, was Dr. Oppenheimer unalterably opposed to the H-bomb development at the time of the October 1949 GAC meeting, I think you said in substance no, and then you added by way of explanation immediately thereafter the two annexes or whatever they were.

A. During the discussion.

Q. During the discussion he said he would be willing to sign either or both. Can you explain what you meant by that rather paradoxical statement?

A. No, I was just reporting a recollection.

Q. What impression did you have?

A. What it means to me is that he was not unalterably opposed, but on sum, adding up everything, he thought it would have been a mistake at that time to proceed with a crash program with all that entailed with this object that we didr;t understand, when we had an awfully good program on hand in the fission field, which we did not wish to jeopar-dize. At least we did not feel it should be jeopardized. It turned out in the events that both could be done. Los Alamos just simply rose to the occasion and worked miracles, absolute miracles. Mr. Marks. That is all.