Oppenheimer, Nullified and Vindicated

This story may not be your cup of tea. I found it interesting. Interesting it took way too long to bring justice for a man falsely accused and carrying the burden of such to his grave. There are three different articles to be read for which I did not do enough justice. NYT has a different version than the New Yorker. Energy Secretary Granholm’s letter vacating the AEC’s order makes for an interesting read also.

The story in the New Yorker by Kai Bird about “J. Robert Oppenheimer, being the top government scientist leading the making of the atomic bomb in World War II. He was suspected of being a Soviet spy at the height of the McCarthy era” scare when everyone was suspect. At the time, he was suspected, he had come out against the usage of the atomic bomb he created. Last December a story was reported in the NYT, “Architect of Atomic Bomb Cleared of ‘Black Mark'” by William Board.

Kai Bird is also one of two authors of the 2005 book “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer,” Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. Both Kai and Martin were instrumental in getting Oppenheimer cleared f the accusation. The story of how this occurred is in the New Yorker article and the same can also be found in The Reader. If you can not get into the New Yorker, you may try The Reader. It is an interesting story as many important people also balked at Oppenheimer’s vindication. President Obama in his last remaining in the Presidency did not act on it either.

The attempts finally reached the Biden administration where a few key people took up the cause. A letter was written to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, signed by 43 Senators, as well as eight surviving former directors of the Los Alamos lab, etc. The effort gained momentum as more people signed on to the vindication of Oppenheimer. The J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Committee weighed in and the Los Alamos County Council adopted a resolution urging nullification.

Secretary Granholm signed on to the attempt, concluding that vacating the A.E.C. decision was not only necessary to correct a grave injustice but was also important to the integrity of the security-review process. At the end of her six-page memo justifying her decision, she wrote,

“When Dr. Oppenheimer died in 1967, Senator J. William Fulbright took to the Senate floor and said,

‘Let us remember not only what his special genius did for us; let us remember what we did to him.’”

The former Governer of Michigan Granholm wrote a six page letter vacating the AEC’s order and, in the case of an active clearance seeker, would warrant a new adjudication conducted in accordance with the applicable rules. In the case of Dr. Oppenheimer there will of course be no new adjudication. Vacatur of the AEC’s 1954 decision In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer will conclude the Department’s actions in this matter.
Pursuant to the authority vested in the Secretary of Energy to carry out the functions of the Atomic Energy Commission, I hereby order that the decision rendered on June 29, 1954, In The Matter of
J. Robert Oppenheimer be vacated.