Manhattan Project Failure

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Security around the Manhattan Project was quite intense.  No doubt as a result of this Truman assumed that the Soviets had no inkling about the bomb.  Perhaps he was therefore surprised when Stalin had little reaction when Truman at the Potsdam Conference told him that the US had developed an atomic bomb.  Notwithstanding the intense security, the Soviets were kept quite informed about the steps the United States was taking to develop the Atomic Bomb, thanks to various spies and traitors:

1. Klaus Fuchs-A German anti-Nazi refugee to Britain, and a physicist, Fuchs worked at Los Alamos among the elite of the physicists.  A convinced Communist, Fuchs had his information sent on the Soviets, courtesy of Harry Gold.

2.  Harry Gold-An American laboratory assistant, Gold had been passing information to the Soviets since 1934.  Here is his report on his first meeting with Fuchs:

He (Fuchs) obviously worked with our people before and he is fully aware of what he is doing… He is a mathematical physicist… most likely a very brilliant man to have such a position at his age (he looks about 30). We took a long walk after dinner… He is a member of a British mission to the U.S. working under the direct control of the U.S. Army… The work involves mainly separating the isotopes… and is being done thusly: The electronic method has been developed at Berkeley, California, and is being carried out at a place known only as Camp Y… Simultaneously, the diffusion method is being tried here in the East… Should the diffusion method prove successful, it will be used as a preliminary step in the separation, with the final work being done by the electronic method. They hope to have the electronic method ready early in 1945 and the diffusion method in July 1945, but (Fuchs) says the latter estimate is optimistic. (Fuchs) says there is much being withheld from the British. Even Niels Bohr, who is now in the country incognito as Nicholas Baker, has not been told everything.

3.  David Greenglass-A machinist at Los Alamos, he passed information on to his sister Ethel Rosenberg and her husband Julius Rosenberg who passed it on to the Soviets.

4.  Theodore Hall-An American physicist working at Los Alamos.  Perhaps the most important of the atomic spies, beginning in October 1944 he passed on detailed information to the Soviets about the construction of the atomic bomb code-named “Fat Boy”.

5.  George Koval-A member of the Army’s Special Engineering Unit that recruited soldiers with a technical background to work on weapons development, Koval passed on details of the Oak Ridge uranium plan where he worked to the Soviets.  Koval is an example of just how bad security could be, despite all of the precautions, during the Manhattan Project.  His family had emigrated to the Soviet Union in 1932.  Koval was recruited as a Soviet agent in 1940 and sent back to the US.  With his background he might as well have had a sign reading “Soviet Spy” hung around his neck.

These are just the top spies.  There were others, and there is every indication that there were more, many more, who have not yet been identified.  The Manhattan Project has to rank as the greatest security failure in US history.

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17 Comments

  1. Perhaps what constitutes treason today could be part of our pre election discussions with candidates.. I want to ask them about pervasive amorality in gov agencies that perverts our Constitution and our constitution (as a people).
    a break down In our self concept as Good allows men like john Brennan to be in key positions.
    The definition of “giving aid and comfort to the enemy” may be adequate and necessarily broad But it seems we have trouble understanding that we do have enemies and Who they are. Maybe in the years past we also haas a clearer idea of who WE are.

  2. Robert Oppenheimer wasn’t a spy, but he had all manner of shady characters in his social circle at various points.

    At the peak of its membership ca 1947, about 0.1% of all American adults belonged to the Communist Party, but that 0.1% included 3 (out of 20) members of the MIT math faculty. There were enough in the upper ranks of labor to suborn 12 unions (with the co-operation of a red haze of non members). They counted the vice president of the United States as an ally for a period of roughly eight years. They managed to suborn one prominent diplomat and two subcabinet officers of the Roosevelt Administration. There’s a reason the red haze historians like Ellen Schrecker have shifted gears and moved to apologias for espionage and treason. By the way, Ellen Schrecker was for a time president of the Organization of American Historians. Your tuition dollars at work.

  3. Cactus Jack Garner, who survived until 1967 I was surprised to read, was Veep for eight; the Communists had a friend in Henry Wallace for four years. Wallace turned anti-Communist during the Korean War and had the guts to write a book stating how wrong he had been about the Communists.

    Agreed as to Oppenheimer. He was personally loyal and indispensable but the number of his associates who were Communist connected and of dubious loyalty except to Stalin was stunning.

  4. Who needs sophisticated spies today when our only enemy is the confederate flag and our leaders negotiate using the Lord Chamberlain school of thought ?

  5. Senator Joseph McCarthy was 100% correct. The opened (since the fall of the traitors’ boss slave-state) KGB files prove it. Everything they said, and that which tens of millions of useless idiots believe, about Senator McCarthy are rank falsehoods. Ooh, he was impolite to useful-idiot, commie spies and traitors. They should have been hanged, not just black-listed.
    .
    The tragedy is that Obama et al are implementing the horrors espoused by the 20th century, treasonous rats. .

  6. Wallace turned anti-Communist during the Korean War and had the guts to write a book stating how wrong he had been about the Communists.

    Sloppy of me; he was VP for about two of the years to which I was referring. Wallace abandoned the red haze in 1950, when he had been out of office for four years, having been dismissed as Secretary of Commerce in 1946. He was definitely a popular front denizen by the time of his tour of Siberia with Owen Lattimore in 1944. I’m not sure to what time period that disposition dates, but my guess would be ca. 1942. Hiss was a Soviet spymaster from about 1934. Not sure about Lawrence Duggan and Lauchlin Currie. I think the modal view of Harry Dexter White at this time was that he passed state secrets to the Soviets for reasons other than subscribing to the Communist viewpoint. (Forgot about Currie – it was three subcabinet officers suborned, not two).

  7. Senator Joseph McCarthy was 100% correct.

    Good God, no. He went gallivanting about in 1950 claiming he had a list of 205 Communists on the State Department staff. What he had was a three year old letter from James Byrnes discussing in general terms a mass of State Department employees who had been dismissed for a variety of reasons, including drunkenness. His last act was an idiot series of hearings which derived from public charges and counter-charges which ensued when the Army refused to be intimidated by Roy Cohn. The supposed ‘issue’ was that an Army dentist (with a captain’s commission) had been given a promotion. The dentist in question was a member of the American Labor Party, which was rapidly descending into a rancid condition at that point. Not much there.

    Joseph McCarthy was an alcoholic opportunist who damaged the cause he supposedly subscribed to and Roy Cohn was the rare example of a man with no scruples whatsoever about anything. No point in spraying Fabreeze on this pair; it’ll never work.

  8. What Americans remember is the alleged Red Scare and not the reality of Red Espionage.

    No, what ‘most Americans’ of a certain class who’ve been through a certain educational program remember. Lousy social studies teachers, lousy professors, &c. But, yes, a multi-generational exercise in ‘look squirrel’. Schrecker’s recent work suggests the act is wearing thin even for them. Not quite for everyone, though. One of Victor Navasky’s proteges managed to place an article in The American Scholar contending that the ALES of the Venona transcripts was a heretofore obscure public relations apparatchik named Wilder Foote. This hypothesis is supported with no evidence other than a brief statement about Hiss’ whereabouts in a cable by a known Soviet agent compared to newspaper articles that week. On this, we are expected to believe that the Soviets recruited a sleeper agent who spent the 1930s editing small town newspapers in Vermont and spent the last dozen years of his working life writing press releases and supervising the the distribution of official publications at the United Nations. Mr. Foote’s family is suitably contemptuous of the author of this travesty.

  9. I apologize fory almost incoherent comment earlier thisorning.
    What I am concerned about is treason within our government Today.

  10. That is nothing. It’s ancient history. You attack your own. That’s the problem. The castrati GOP and conservative milquetoasts eat each other, while the anti-American, lying left closes ranks and whips them like stepchildren.

    .

    The reds are in the dustbin of history but their credentialed-cretin lackeys wrote the history, i.e, propaganda; and they indoctrinated generations of witless drones, er, democrat votes. Luckily, they failed to do to Reagan what they did to McCarthy when Reagan called the USSR an “evil empire.” FYI It isn’t outrageous if it’s true.
    .
    Do a google search “McCarthy was Right.”
    .

    If I weren’t cold prepared for the end of the World as we know it, I’d be nauseated.

  11. Strange as it may seem to you, T. Shaw, Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn weren’t the only people concerned with and investigating Soviet infiltration of trade unions, academe, and the government. They were merely the most exhibitionistic, clumsy, and self-aggrandizing.

  12. I read the book FDR Goes to War a few years ago. According to the book, the Soviet Union had infiltrated the US Government in a way that nobody ever suspected was possible. Stalin knew more about the Manhattan Project than Harry Truman did.

    In Paul Kengor’s book The Last Crusader, President Reagan was informed by, of all people, French intelligence, of the USSR’s Line X initiative that was involved in industrial espionage. The USSR had the best spy organization in the world, but they were hopelessly behind in innovation in anything else. They had to steal the B-29, the atomic bomb and countless other things.

    The Reagan Administration made sure that Line X got their hands on computer software that was designed to be defective. In the early 1980s, Western Europe was hell bent on buying Soviet Union natural gas. The natural gas pipeline in Siberia was controlled by the defective-designed software and as a result, it blew up. It was the largest non-nuclear explosion on record and it was visible from space.

  13. The bottom line is that McCarthy, and the controversy he aroused, largely obscured the fact of the success of Soviet espionage due to aid from traitors among the left wing of the Democrat party.

    Kind of calls to mind current events and Donald Trump. While some appreciate Trump’s “truth telling” when it comes to the issue of illegal immigration, in the end he’s made himself the issue, and thus his exaggerations obscure the fact that he’s hit upon a larger truth.

  14. PZ good point, but can’t it be said that is the problem with our entire practice (as opposed to system) of wanting to elect the next hero–the next man on a white horse–that will come and save us from ourselves?
    Until we put God at the core of our thinking as we form our political and economic decisions, all the great men in the world on white horses can’t save us.
    I doubt we (the entire society)are capable of even recognizing “great men” anymore, for, like Trump, far too many of us are entranced only with ourselves.
    We appear to be replicating the Jews wishes for the messiah to be a mere king. Even the Vatican appears of that mindset.

  15. he’s hit upon a larger truth.

    No, he didn’t. He jumped on a bandwagon. The Rapp-Coudert investigations occurred in 1941, Truman’s loyalty program for federal employees was inaugurated in 1947, the House Committee on Un-American Activities opened it’s investigations into Hollywood in 1947, and Arthur Goldberg et al engineered the expulsion of twelve corrupted unions from the CIO in 1949. Alger Hiss was exposed and then convicted of perjury in 1948 and 1949. McCarthy was hunting down such threats to the Republic as Capt. Irving Peress, DDS.

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