HomeTechnologyOppenheimer Wrongly Stripped of Security Clearance, US Says

Oppenheimer Wrongly Stripped of Security Clearance, US Says


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration has reversed a decades-old decision to revoke the security clearance of Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist dubbed the father of the atomic bomb for his leading role in the World War II Manhattan Project.

“As time has passed, more evidence of the bias and unfairness of the process to which Dr. Oppenheimer was subjected has come to light, while the evidence of his loyalty and love for country has only been further affirmed. Granholm said in a statement on Friday.

Oppenheimer, who died in 1967, led the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. The theoretical physicist he was later accused of having communist sympathies and his security clearance was revoked after a four-week closed-door hearing.

In stripping Oppenheimer of his clearance, the Atomic Energy Commission did not allege that he disclosed or mishandled classified information, nor did it call into question his loyalty to the country, according to Granholm’s order. The commission, however, concluded that there were “fundamental flaws” in his character.

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Years later, a lawyer for the Atomic Energy Commission concluded after an internal review that “the system failed” and that “substantial injustice was done to a loyal American,” according to the secretary’s order.

Granholm said the commission’s decision was prompted by his political leadership’s desire to “discredit Oppenheimer in public debates on nuclear weapons policy.”

“Such political motives should have no place in our personnel security process,” he wrote.

US Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont applauded the reversal, saying the 1954 decision followed a “grossly unfair and unethical hearing that would be roundly condemned today.”

“This decision reaffirms that government scientists, whether renowned like Oppenheimer or a technician going about their day jobs, including those willing to raise security concerns or express unpopular views on matters of national security, are free to do so and that their cases will be fairly reviewed based on the facts, not personal or political animosity,” Leahy said in a statement.

The decision comes as the story of Oppenheimer headed to the big screen. Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” is expected to open in theaters in July. It is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer,” and stars Cillian Murphy in the title role.

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