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Biographer to give Oppenheimer lecture

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By Roger Snodgrass

Sitting before the Personnel Security Board of the Atomic Energy Commission in April 1954, J. Robert Oppenheimer found his eligibility for a security clearance under attack. Like the mythical Greek hero Prometheus, who was caught stealing fire from the gods, Oppenheimer, was about to go through a punishing ordeal.

The government he had served with such an uncommon set of skills and abilities was about to humiliate him and immobilize his career because of a few suspicious reports of circumstantial old connections. Among other charges these included old associations of his wife and his brother, a subscription to an unacceptable newspaper, contributing money, attending various meetings, making suspicious scientific inquiries and for doubting the feasibility of the hydrogen bomb.

After his attorney, Lloyd Garrison, protested the fact that the accusers were examining items of evidence that were not available to the accused, he engaged his client in a conversation about the trail that had led Oppenheimer to Los Alamos and what happened there.


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