Interviewee: Dr. T. Keith Glennan

Interviewers: Mr. Martin Collins, Dr. Allan Needell

Location: At his home, Reston, Virginia

Date: February 20, 1987


MR. COLLINS: Last time when we concluded our interview, we discussed how you were approached for your position as Commissioner on the AEC.


COLLINS: As we were concluding the interview, you were talking about making a decision, and you talked to several of your colleagues. You mentioned Robert Bacher. And as we were concluding we ran off the end of the tape, and you were just starting to talk about after you had accepted, that you had called Lewis Strauss and wanted to discuss something with him. We missed that on the last portion of the tape, so we'll start with it.

GLENNAN: Yes. Well, my reason for calling Lewis was to try to understand as much as I could of what was expected of a commissioner. I asked for an interview with him, and he invited me to come down to his farm, located in Brandy Station, Virginia, and spend the night there, which I did. We discussed very thoroughly his viewpoints. Not mine. I didn't have any at that time.

DR. NEEDELL: What did he say, do you recall in general?

GLENNAN: No, I don't recall.

NEEDEDLL: Was there a discussion over how a Commission could function versus a single manager of an agency?

GLENNAN: I don't believe so. There were plenty of discussions later on. After I left the Commission, I guess, I probably talked with Lewis about that, but I hadn't had enough experience, really, to enter into any such discussion at that point in time, what the pros and cons of a Commission versus a single Administrator might be. No, I think it was simply his concerns over security which I'm sure came into the conversation. I'm sure too that he told me somewhat about the arguments that went on before they undertook the Super, as they called it. I don't believe that I, at that time, heard anything from him about his concerns about Oppenheimer, which later surfaced and unfortunately went forward to a dismal end. I don't remember.

COLLINS: You had mentioned in your recollections regarding your conversations with Truman that you felt in some sense distinctly unqualified for the position.

GLENNAN: That is quite correct.

COLLINS: So did you have questions for Strauss or other people that you talked to about how you could possibly work in the Commission framework?

GLENNAN: No, I did not. As a matter of fact, it was not a very collegial Commission at that time. I had accepted the job, so why debate that, then.

NEEDELL: So the issues that Strauss would have been concerned with were really substantive issues, the issues of, and these are really very difficult--

GLENNAN: Security, and--

NEEDELL: Was it internal security, or was he actually concerned with national security?

GLENNAN: Both, I think, but I don't really remember. I'd have to guess that he was trying to impress me with the need for a secure operation within the AEC.

NEEDELL: Because I know of course that security was something he was very deeply concerned about.

GLENNAN: That's right.

NEEDELL: He believed that there were internal threats, that there were in fact--

GLENNAN: That's always possible.

NEEDELL: --in State Department and other departments that one would have to--

GLENNAN: I don't remember that we covered a lot of ground. You must realize that at that time, I had talked to Carroll Wilson. I had talked to Gordon Dean, maybe for half an hour each. When I went back to Case, before coming down here, I took a personal course from the chairman of our physics department on nuclear matters. I didn't know much about it.

NEEDELL: Who was that at this time?

GLENNAN: Bob Shankland, head of our Physics Department and a fine all around physicist.

NEEDELL: Another real concern I guess was the technical situation with weapons production. I mean, those were a concern to Strauss, which also were highly classified, but those were the kinds of things that he discussed.

GLENNAN: I don't know. I don't remember, Allan. I'm not dissembling.

COLLINS: What then were the next steps? You accepted the position.

GLENNAN: And I reported.

COLLINS: You brought your family to Washington?

GLENNAN: No. I came down here and lived at the Cosmos Club, I guess, for a couple of weeks. While I was trying to find out where to live and how to live. Because our children were small and Mrs. Glennan was going to stay in Cleveland with them, my wife's cousin invited me to come out and spend a week with them while I was thinking this over. It turned out then that I lived with them the entire time I was here.

NEEDELL: What was the physical situation of the Atomic Energy Commission? They hadn't had their headquarters in--

GLENNAN: They were in the building originally built for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It was the first one they were in, on Constitution Avenue, right next to the Federal Reserve Board.

NEEDELL: The general manager had administrative offices, and each of the commissioners had, was it all on one floor?

GLENNAN: Oh no, it was an entire building. I guess it's a three or four story building. The commissioners, I believe, had probably the top floor or second floor. I remember each of us had a secretary and room for a personal assistant, and then there was the Commission Conference Room.

NEEDELL: How often did the Commission actually sit down and meet together?

GLENNAN: I would think at least once a week. That leads me to tell you that when I arrived there, in the first place, I didn't have a chance to talk with any other commissioners. Nobody came up and said, "Hi, boy, you're the new boy on the block, come in, let's get acquainted," with the exception of Harry Smythe. I had not known him before, but I certainly did get to know Harry very well. He died just recently, you know. His office was, as I recall, next to mine. After about two weeks, I stopped one of the commissioners in the hallway, said, "What the hell, where do you all eat? Don't you get together for lunch once in a while?" As a result, I finally got through to the various commissioners. In the first two or three months, nobody took me by the hand and walked me through what was going to happen, what happened in a meeting. Here you're sitting in there and there's staff, 40 or more, all around you.

NEEDELL: In the conference room?

GLENNAN: In the Commission meetings. We had very few executive meetings in that conference room. For about three months, I was stupid enough to try to take part. I did my homework. But I realized, this wasn't any way to run a railroad, in my opinion, and I proposed that the Commission have an executive session, with the general counsel and the general manager and the five commissioners and nobody else, before every Commission meeting, that we debate our differences, if we had any, over the items that were on the agenda for that particular meeting, and agree that we would continue to discuss that item at the meeting or put it over to another meeting. But that's the first time, I believe, that the Commission met in privacy, if you will. Some of those meetings got a bit hairy. I remember Tom Murray calling me names. Things of that kind.

COLLINS: It seems like a kind of obvious managerial step there. Did they express any reasons why they never did that before?

GLENNAN: No. I don't think so. Gordon Dean had served for a time on the original Commission, at the end of it, when Dave Lilienthal was the chairman. Dave apparently very soon had come to the conclusion that the Commission was not the way to run this railroad, even though he had come from the TVA. I think he just didn't work to make the Commission operationally viable. The general manager, Carroll Wilson, was really the general manager. He had a very great deal to do, I think. I can't be sure of this, but I think he had more to do with the operational decisions that were made in the early days of the Commission. I got there in 1 October, 1950, after Wilson had left. We searched for a man to replace Carroll Wilson and finally came up with a Vice President of Esso--Marion Boyer--who worked out well.

NEEDELL: As your assistant?

GLENNAN: No, as Carroll Wilson's replacement. I think the Commission, once we began to debate in these private sessions--and they were private for a good reason, to let your hair down--the general manager from then on took part in all of those so called executive sessions held in the Chairman's office.

NEEDELL: Could we just briefly step back, as far as your staffing up goes, getting a secretary and an assistant, did you do that right away? Did you ask for help?

GLENNAN: No, the Personnel Manager assigned me a secretary and I kept her. She was perfectly all right. Seemed to me that the first thing they really wanted to settle was, who was going to be my driver. What kind of a car did I want. I said I didn't want any car, I've got my own. For two months I did drive my own car, but I soon found that I got a lot of work done being driven, and wandering around Washington to see somebody in another area took a lot of time.

NEEDELL: What about a personal assistant?

GLENNAN: I didn't have a personal assistant for quite a long while, and then I think I got a fellow by the name of Donkin, I think.

NEEDELL: Where did you find him?

GLENNAN: Oh, he was working there at the Commission, and I suppose we came to know each other and I was concerned about how things got done.

NEEDELL: What level position was that? Did they have the GS schedule then?

GLENNAN: I don't know. He probably held an "exempt" position outside the Civil Service.

COLLINS: So how did you come to understand what your responsibilities were as a Commission member, and more broadly what the role of the Commission was, if there was this lack of communication in the early period?

GLENNAN: There was a chap by the name of Walt Williams who was the production manager, who was one of God's good people. I got to know him, and we became very good friends, and through him, we set up a series of meetings, within one week, with the military people.

NEEDELL: The liaison committee?

GLENNAN: No, not that. Military Applications group. MacCormack, who was a colonel at that time, came to my office and spent considerable time describing the weapons program of that time.

NEEDELL: This is within the Commission.

GLENNAN: Within the Commission. The production people would come in and spend a half a day with me, the raw materials people, the reactor development people, so in a week I was given a series of lectures really, I didn't know enough to be a real participant in the discussion.

NEEDELL: You arranged this on your initiative. Nobody set it up for you, you just--

GLENNAN: I did. Yes. Of course, I followed the advice of Walt Williams.

NEEDELL: Had any of the other commissioners done such a thing for themselves?

GLENNAN: No. Let's see, who were they? There was Sumner Pike and Smythe and Dean and Tom Murray. Now, I don't know how they did it. I think Smythe was on the original Commission.

COLLINS: That's right.

NEEDELL: He was of course interested in the research in national laboratories probably as much or more than any of the others.

GLENNAN: The two of us were, and I added my concern about the longer term future in the power reactor business. But as a result of my experience, when Eugene Zuckert replaced Sumner Pike, I've forgotten, I hadn't known him but I got to know him casually, I said, "Gee, I'm going to do something for you that I wish had been done for me. I'm going to advise you, don't vote on anything for three months. Sit through the Commission discussion and all the rest of that, but abstain from voting. I'll set up a course of sprouts for you. You'll spend a week in headquarters with the raw materials people, and then you'll go out and spend a week in the field visiting some of the mines and smelters" and one thing and another like that. I think it did him a lot of good. He knew more about the atomic business than almost any other commissioner when we finished that drill, he was a lawyer, not a physicist, but he was smart and a fast learner.

COLLINS: Was your reason for counselling him to abstain during Commission meetings for his first three months simply because he wouldn't have enough detailed knowledge of the operation to cast a knowledgeable vote, or was there some other reason for it?

GLENNAN: No, he was very capable. He'd been in government, you know, before that. He came I think from the Air Force, Assistant Secretary to Symington over there. It was simply that I didn't think it made sense to vote until one had acquired some knowledge of the Commission's business. I wanted to look back and see what I'd voted on and how I'd voted, whether I'd been right, wrong or in between, whether I'd been following the crowd--

NEEDELL: You hadn't done that, you had gone right in and when there was a vote, you--

GLENNAN: Sure. I didn't want to appear to shirk that responsibility, I suppose.

NEEDELL: So was it in a sense you advised him that his vote would be much more credible in the long run, to himself and to the others--

GLENNAN: And I would think he would be very much more at ease. Nothing bothers me more than--I don't like to argue in front of a group of people. I'd have arguments with the two of you here till hell freezes over, but if you got ten more people in here, I'll shut up. I don't argue in public. That finally resulted in my recommending that we have an architect look at the physical layout of the conference room with a view to rearranging it, so that we could look each other in the eye, not just be around the table with all the staff in back of us. We put the staff out there where we could look at them, too. And a lot of visual aids and projectors, that type of thing. I was an engineer you see. How do you make this thing work better? I'm not sure I told you, I started to keep a diary, which I guess I still have. I kept it for about two months, and I found I had so many pieces of paper coming at me, and they were all classified, everything was classified in those days, that I didn't have the time to keep a diary.

COLLINS: You say one of the things you first noticed as you began to participate in the Commission was that there were ways in which the business of the Commission could be done more effectively. It seems that certainly there was some criticism to that end before you came on the Commission. For example, that Lilienthal was not properly managing the Commission's business.

GLENNAN: I'm not sure he wasn't properly managing it.

COLLINS: I'm just saying that was some of the criticisms that were leveled, whether they were justified or not. I'm just kind of curious whether that kind of concern filtered down to you fairly quickly.

GLENNAN: No, no. That's just the way I tackle a new situation. About four or five months after I'd been on the Commission, I thought, gee, it might be fun to meet Dave Lilienthal. I hadn't before. And so I asked Joe, the General Counsel, Joe Volpe who was Lilienthal's personal counsel as well, if he could set up a lunch. So we had lunch, at what was a good restaurant in those days, La Salle du Bois. As we passed through the chitchat, I finally turned to Dave and I said, "Mr. Lilienthal, I'd like to ask you a personal question." "Sure," he said. "What do you expect of a commissioner? How should a commissioner operate?" He said, "Go home." Very bluntly and with sincerity. Then he expanded and said, "It's a lousy way to run a business. It's a big business where decisions are hard to come by. You can acquire all the information you want to acquire, but sit down with yourself and look in a mirror and decide what the hell you want to do. If you're not that good, you shouldn't be there." And that's how I came to know David. I saw him quite a bit after that.

NEEDELL: So he wasn't suggesting that the Commissioners not do anything.

GLENNAN: No, he just felt that he wanted a single man to organize and run the business.

NEEDELL: Do you think that should have been the general Manager, or the Chairman of the Commission?

GLENNAN: Chairman. He wanted a Chairman of the Commission, just as we did at NASA. We had a general manager, called him associate administrator to satisfy the people from NACA. They didn't like the words "general manager." Associate administrator was all right. I don't know what the hell is the difference, it's the same thing, so let's call him an associate administrator. I notice now that they have a general manager at NASA.

NEEDELL: How would you characterize in general terms what you think the main concerns of the Commission were? I suppose, just guessing, that one of them was the political relations with Congress and the Bureau of the Budget, etc., and the whole issue of developing industrial commercial nuclear energy. Are these things that the Commissioners were concerned with? What were their concerns?

GLENNAN: I was, I suppose, as I usually am, lucky to be early on in the game. We were concerned with increasing our ability to turn out the weapons grade materials, and to design and produce the weapons that were needed, said to be needed. We were concerned, to an extent, with security. We were concerned with protecting information, protecting the materials. We were concerned with the supply of raw materials. At that point in time, it was thought that the supply of uranium was rather limited. You probably had pockets in the Belgian Congo from which a good portion of our raw uranium had come in the first days. While I was there, we made the deal with South Africa to take the tailings from the gold cyaniding process, which ultimately provides a lot of uranium. We certainly were concerned with our relationships with the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy (JCAE). For the most part, in both the appropriations matters and in other matters, the Chairman of the Commission did the talking. The rest of us --that was Gordon Dean, yes-- the rest of us were there, and from time to time we would be asked for a comment. Gordon Dean was spokesman for the Commissioners as he should have been. I think I was the spokesman on only one subject and for a short period of time. I went to England in 1952, for a discussion of the physical security, personnel security, in the British nuclear program. I came back and testified on my findings to the Joint Committee.

COLLINS: Did individual members of Congress, even though Gordon Dean was the spokesman for the Commission, approach you or other Commissioners to put forward their views and interests on various matters?

GLENNAN: No, not that I remember Marty. I think you came to know them, you came to be reasonably friendly with them.

NEEDELL: Did the whole Commission meet with the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, or did Gordon Dean essentially meet with them?

GLENNAN: On no, no, he seldom was up there alone. He might have the general manager with him. He might have Joe Volpe, the General Counsel. Any of the other Commissioners could go up as they wished, if there was something of interest to them.

NEEDELL: What was Gordon Dean like? Did you meet with him privately regularly?

GLENNAN: Not regularly, but I met with him when I had something that I wanted to discuss--this matter of lack of collegiality.

NEEDELL: Was he concerned about that?

GLENNAN: He was when he thought about it. He didn't resist a bit. And neither did any of the others. They just hadn't thought about it. They preferred to do business with their own assistants.

COLLINS: Did you come to have some special areas of interest or expertise as a Commissioner?

GLENNAN: I've said that I was very much interested in the research activities, because I came from academia, and more than got my feet wet by now. As I came to know what the AEC laboratories were like, and the size of them and the richness of the support and that sort of thing, I wondered how long we would keep these going. Harry Smythe and I collaborated in trying to understand what might happen to those laboratories. By that time, I think, they hadn't reached the point where I thought they were a national resource, as I think they are now, with much broader programs. I think I was one who did initiate, or spend time with, the problem of how were we going to bring industry into this business? I proposed the Atomic Industrial Forum, in a speech which Ollie Townsend wrote up for me.

NEEDELL: Because of Smythe's connection with Princeton and the Northeast, did you feel that he favored the Brookhaven, the concept of a scientist-run laboratory, as opposed to the more applied work at Argonne and Oak Ridge?

GLENNAN: No, I don't think that consciously he did. He might have subconsciously had that kind of a leaning, but I don't think anybody worried about it. It didn't show.

NEEDELL: Did you meet regularly with people like Lawrence?

GLENNAN: Yes. Lawrence saw to it that we did. He was an aggressive person.

NEEDELL: Right. Did he realize that you were someone who was really quite interested in this, and sort of focussed in on it?

GLENNAN: To some extent. But he didn't come in and lobby me, he came in and lobbied the Commission. He'd spend a lot of time alone with Gordon Dean. I don't think Ernest Lawrence spent a lot of time beating on Harry Smythe. He worked on people on the Hill--Brian McMahon, and Gordon Dean.

NEEDELL: This has to do with the question of developing another weapons laboratory and these other things?

GLENNAN: That didn't come up until the second year, I think. And that was the result of a scrap between Norris Bradbury and Teller. I'm not sure that I was the only one who voted against Livermore. I think Harry Smythe was against setting up Livermore, as well. I did this because I was convinced Los Alamos had a fine record, great esprit there. Livermore was really squeezed out by Teller and Lawrence, and a few others that were concerned about the fact that the Super was not being prosecuted as they thought it should be.

NEEDELL: Were you concerned that the more basic research at Berkeley and just in general, supported by the Commission, was in this period being squeezed out by this, for instance, the MTA project at Livermore?

GLENNAN: I'm not sure, as far as being squeezed out goes. I opposed it.

NEEDELL: You opposed the MTA.

GLENNAN: Yes, just on an engineering basis. You know, that's another place to put 50 million dollars. We got out of that some good work on vacuum pumps, but not much in the way of fissionable material.

NEEDELL: I guess the question is at some point, and I suppose it has to do with the Korean War and after the Soviet weapons test, just a general feeling of needing to go into serious development of military research. Were you concerned that this was going to undermine the basic research effort or was that not a main concern?

GLENNAN: No. You can't really reach back and put yourself in the ambience in which we worked in those days. There was, I'm sure, a feeling of real competition with the Soviets, and whatever we did, we ought to really get on with it. The things we were short of were enrichment plants and raw materials and the rest of the fuel cycle.

NEEDELL: Now, the MTA was going to be a production facility.

GLENNAN: Yes. It was going to be a production facility. But it seems a hard way to do it, and why, it's exactly like or it's somewhat analogous to the enrichment business, you know, and Lawrence's electromagnetic separation. It was an alternative way of producing plutonium.


GLENNAN: Y-12 yes. In fact we were going on with the diffusion plants because no one really knew how the K-25 and the barrier were going to stand up. One of the very difficult tasks, any manager of a research operation has, is to know when to shut off two of the three channels you're working on and concentrate on the one which appears to be the best.

NEEDELL: When does the debate over siting what became the Savannah River Production facility come in? Is this very early?

GLENNAN: I don't recall at what period. I recall only that we knew we wanted heavy water, and we knew we would have to have more plutonium production and tritium producing facilities.

NEEDELL: MTA would have also produced tritium.

GLENNAN: I don't recall see, I'm not a scientist. I don't know the ins and outs of these things. I was sufficiently concerned to find out that, when we agreed that we would take Savannah River, nobody, had seen it. So I got an airplane and Harry Smythe went with me. We flew down there, flew all over that area, Aiken, South Carolina. At least we could say we'd seen it, if called up before the joint committee and asked what kind of a place is this? What's its location.

NEEDELL: Let me ask you then, would you characterize then the heart of the debates that went on in the Commission, this is a period when you had to somehow meet the challenge of getting more production facilities.

GLENNAN: Exactly.

NEEDELL: Strong personalities with hobby horses, with special interests in doing it this way or that way, political pressures for putting it here. I suppose there are some industrial pressures somewhere.

GLENNAN: Industrial pressures, yes.

NEEDELL: So this is the kind of thing that the high level management of an organization grapples with.

GLENNAN: Oh, sure. We had a very good staff. It came from the Army Engineer Corps really. Names go away.

NEEDELL: Did you rely on the General Advisory Committee for these issues? I suppose the question whether--

GLENNAN: That's another thing that I didn't understand when I got there. I served as a member of it later.

NEEDELL: Whether the MTA was a good idea or not. You say you're not a scientist. How would you make a judgment on whether the MTA would work or whether it was worth the five whatever million dollars?

GLENNAN: I was an engineer, and that's not much of a step from being a scientist, but you apply some cost figures to it, and it seemed to me that it was a waste of time and money to put all of that effort out there, when we could be building additional plants on sites that we knew would work.

NEEDELL: What was the argument on the other side?

GLENNAN: Teller wanted to do it and Lawrence wanted to do it. That was the argument.

NEEDELL: Not that it would spin off in development of--

GLENNAN: Not that I remember.

NEEDELL: Why did Teller and Oppenheimer want to do it?

GLENNAN: Oppenheimer didn't want to do it.

NEEDELL: I'm sorry, Teller and Lawrence.

GLENNAN: Well, Lawrence was a creative person. They both rode hobbies. Both were really great men. I got along well with Ernest. With Teller, I got along, but not well. I found myself opposing him. I was on the GAC myself in the mid-fifties, and Teller was there. I found myself on the other side of the road from him on almost everything that came before us. That's when he got the Ploughshare (program) started, and I finally said, "Balls, Edward--all you want is another chance to have some tests to improve the weapons. You're not talking about building harbors and that sort of thing, because you honestly believe that that's a great future." We got into arguments like that.


NEEDELL: Do you remember the first time you met with the GAC?

GLENNAN: I think regularly, four times a year, maybe six, but I think at least four times a year.

NEEDELL: Did they meet in private or with the Commission?

GLENNAN: They met in private. Now, when I say in private, I suspect that Gordon Dean met with them for discussion of the items they were going to discuss.

NEEDELL: I suppose Carroll Wilson provided them with the staff?

GLENNAN: They had their own staff. It wasn't large.

NEEDELL: My goodness. But they must have had a big stack of issue papers that was prepared by their own staff.

GLENNAN: Yes. Or they may have called upon some of the research divisions, something of that sort. They brought in members of our staff, the production manager and raw materials manager and others for briefings. After they had discussed an agenda item for two or three days the Commissioners were brought in for the last half day and given their findings and recommendations.

NEEDELL: Who was working for who?

GLENNAN: They were independent. They were appointed by the President and they were independent of the Commission.

NEEDELL: And if they said "do this", did the Commission do it?

GLENNAN: We didn't have to do it. They were advisory. There's a difference.

NEEDELL: But they had a lot of weight, because--

GLENNAN: Oh, sure they had a lot of weight.

NEEDELL: Because of their scientific reputation?

GLENNAN: Yes, I think so. I think for the most part, you know, Eger Murphree was the one--he was Esso's, Standard's, Vice President for Research, but he had been in the nuclear business from the very beginning. He was the one industrialist that I remember sitting on the GAC while I was a Commissioner.

NEEDELL: Did they meet independently with JCAE?

GLENNAN: Yes, if they wanted to.

NEEDELL: Was it the Commission's feeling that they were sort of your technical arm, or that they were sort of a separate power center that would somehow--

GLENNAN: No, I think from time to time we referred matters to them and asked for their advice. On the other hand, there were times when they ginned up something that was of interest to them, and they thought it would be of interest to us and that we should pay more attention to. It was not an adversarial relationship.

NEEDELL: What I'm gathering from what you're saying is that the basic research support that the AEC was involved in, both machines and the individual grants to universities, was not something that was really a very central concern at this time. It was something that--

GLENNAN: It was a concern. The Research Division, as I recall it, Ken Pitzer was our Director of Research at that time. I mixed it with him on several occasions, had debates about how we supported the work in universities, and that awful thing called overhead. You know, there was more than enough work to do without getting into arguments.

NEEDELL: Was there an integral theoretical discussion about why you should be supporting research and doing productions and weapons development and all the things that you did, did you all stick together, or was there this research program over here-- did you talk about the relationships between them and why you should be doing them at all?

GLENNAN: I don't recall any precise discussions of that kind. As I say, this was early on in the nuclear business, and there was plenty of work to be done in all those fields, and they all had some interrelationships. It depended upon, I think, more than most, the production activities, and the design activities and the laboratories. We were just getting into the technology for redesign of the bombs. We had a stock of Marc VIs, which as I recall was the one bomb that was in the stockpile when I was there. We were converting those, and working hard on making them smaller and more effective--getting more bang for the buck which very much affected what we could do later on in NASA. We didn't have to build those great big monsters that the Soviets did.

NEEDELL: You means as launch vehicles. Obviously the primary concern and responsibility of the Commission, is to oversee weapons production.

GLENNAN: Exactly. That went from the search for ore to the design of the weapons and the supply of the weapons.

NEEDELL: So I guess my question is, for instance, the university scientist gets a grant from support that you gave--why not just leave it to ONR? Why not look to NSF to do that? Was this something you just inherited from the Manhattan District?

GLENNAN: Oh yes. I think so, and it was called for in the 1946 Act. ONR was pretty new, and it was a pretty small operation compared with the AEC. They didn't have to supply weapons. They were really a great creation of the Navy's. That was a bright idea.

NEEDELL: Realizing that you can't go back and say what you were thinking about this issue or that issue at that time, I wonder in general whether you have an opinion about whether the AEC felt that its support for basic research, for high energy physics or nuclear physics in general, contacts with the universities, was an integral part of its overall mission?

GLENNAN: I don't think there was any question on the part of any one of the Commissioners that the support of research in the universities, and in the big laboratories, was crucial to what we were trying to do, which was to build better and more weapons, warheads and carry out the program required by the law.

NEEDELL: This is a long time and indirect cruciality?

GLENNAN: Indirect? To a considerable extent that is true-- except for particular universities. Iowa State, for instance, in the materials field. Frank Spedding and his group out there. We treated them almost as we did our own laboratories. In fact, and it was different in a way from Mr. Webb's very well conceived support of graduate study in the university world, which I think he did very well indeed. We didn't go back the production of scientists through the college system. We simply supported research as it was presented to us. I suspect that Paul McDaniels and his crew searched out people on university campuses. But you must recall, too, it wasn't so long after the war. There were lots of people who probably had only one or two years in the Manhattan District Project and then were back in their own laboratories. So our research people knew who to go to when they wanted to get some little thing investigated.

NEEDELL: Was there some aspect of this that was paying off a debt of the old OSRD, that somehow these people had given up research for years during the war, that the AEC--

GLENNAN: I'd like to think that that was true, but I don't think anybody was ever quite that thoughtful. The one thing that was true, and it was certainly true of my going to Case, supporting graduate work on that campus. I am very certain that by the end of the war, generally it was considered by the important people in science that we had to build our own scientific base. We could no longer expect to get all of the basic scientists and good scientists from Europe. In the AEC we didn't feel the necessity that Webb did, where his operation gave the money to create centers of excellence in material sciences. One thing that we did do was to support the design and building of computers, because, as time went on, we realized that if we were really going to get a thermonuclear, we were going to have more powerful computers. Tom Murray, strangely enough, was the man who was the father confessor for that, and he drove very hard to get support on university campuses for people like Johnny von Neumann.

NEEDELL: So for instance to serve the Matterhorn project, you set up a computer at NYU.

GLENNAN: That's right, Courant's operation.

NEEDELL: And these were again to provide the capability you need for the bomb?

GLENNAN: Absolutely.

NEEDELL: But there was extra capacity, and you could train people to use it.

GLENNAN: Yes. On university campuses, I don't think I could remember any that were dedicated machines as they were at Brookhaven or Livermore.

NEEDELL: Looking back in the records, it seems as though they were offered this computer center out of Brookhaven, and Hayworth says that he couldn't get the physicists to be interested in it.

GLENNAN: Well, there was a difficulty in getting--all physicists aren't research physicists. They all want the stimulation of young graduate students--teaching--that type of thing. I would suspect that's why Lee felt that way.

NEEDELL: He said that he wanted the computer center out at Brookhaven, but he couldn't convince the physicists.

GLENNAN: And I think that's why he couldn't convince them. He didn't look far ahead enough to see that if he got ahead in computing, he'd have men running out of his ears.

NEEDELL: Well, they went ahead and tried to build built their own computer system out there, which wasn't very good.

GLENNAN: Yes, they weren't very good when I was president of AUI.

NEEDELL: I'm looking for rationalizations or reasons for the AEC supporting the university program in high energy physics and basic science. Was it consciously thought that the AEC needed reserves, a sense of scientific talent to be called on?

GLENNAN: Not at all to the extent that Webb and his people felt that way, about people for the space program. I don't think that many institutions in the immediate postwar period--when not only was it shortly after the end of World War II but we were in the middle of the Korean War--felt that they had enough work in science and technology. They laid at our doorstep lots of proposals, some were funded, some didn't get funded. I don't think that has changed over the years, you know. It's just, got more money or less money, as the cycles go. You'll always find people who want to get money to play with.

NEEDELL: Was the Commission involved in choosing what kind of research to support in universities, based on what the needs of the Commission were?

GLENNAN: To an extent. We were interested, basically, in chemistry and physics, Pitzer was a chemist, McDaniels was a physicist. Later, I don't remember who was the honcho on the materials. It wasn't called material science then, it was just called physics of the solid state. But I don't think we had a conscious--let me say I didn't discuss this enough with the research division to understand that they had on the horizion some points thay wanted to reach, and if they were going to reach it, they had to get six university groups working on that problem. I didn't know enough about that.

NEEDELL: If you remember, in the paper I wrote I had some suspicion that when the AEC realized it was facing the problem of detecting fission projects, monitoring, that one of the things that they needed would be the ability to maybe launch rockets. And that may have something to do with the reason they went in with ONR to support the rocket research of some university groups. How would that mechanism have worked? Would that have been just between the head of research and--

GLENNAN: I think so. I think so. That really pre-dated my time on the Commission, and Strauss was very much behind that kind of thing.

NEEDELL: The long range detection system.

GLENNAN: Yes. But we were in pretty good shape, relatively speaking, by the time I got there, for picking up fission products around the world.

NEEDELL: Were there separate programs funded by AEC and the Air Force, or were they all coordinated, as far as long rangedetection goes?

GLENNAN: I don't know. I don't know.

COLLINS: Just to switch gears a little bit, did you have any contact with the RAND Corporation during your time as Commissioner? Were they involved in any AEC activities at that time?

GLENNAN: Not that I can remember. Collbohm headed RAND at that time.


GLENNAN: I don't remember ever meeting with him, for instance.

NEEDELL: There's one other general philosophical issue that comes up again, looking back, and I realize you probably didn't talk about it in this way, and that is the whole question about what role should a government agency have in developing an industry like the nuclear power industry. The whole question about whether public money should go essentially to things that would be--was that an active area of discussion?

GLENNAN: I don't recall it as a very active or series of debates or anything of that sort. I think we were really on a run. We were busy building things. We wanted to develop reactors, as a result of the need for fissionable material.

NEEDELL: There was the Navy's need for power reactors.

GLENNAN: Well, they didn't know at the time. When I was there they did because Rickover was there.

NEEDELL: Was the Commission committed to develop the technical base for a nuclear power industry in this country? Was that one of its mandates?

GLENNAN: I don't know. Read the law. It would be in the law. I think so.

COLLINS: You indicated that one of your interests as a Commission member was somehow working out that government-industry relationship.

GLENNAN: Well, I'm not so sure I was trying to work out the relationship. But I was concerned that we were completely dependent upon industry to run Hanford and Savannah River and the other plants. I was also concerned that in the normal economic areas, I was not, never have been, a person who believes that the government should do everything. I think I'm much on the other side of the fence. I finally reasoned that the people who were really doing the work were industry. The scientists had the General Advisory Committee to represent them in the discussions. The public had the Congress, and industry got a dollar a year, and a lot of complaints. It seemed to me that they ought to look at themselves as not just being a handmaiden, but look down the road. If, as we all then believed, nuclear power was going to be useful and possible, they ought to be in on the ground floor with it. I assume you've read my speech. Well, I discussed this when I proposed the Atomic Industrial Forum, for just this purpose, at a meeting of the Manufacturing Chemists' Association, on 25 November, 1952. I proposed it in just the way I've been discussing it now, that industry really ought to get in with both feet and play a part in the development of a nuclear power industry, and not simply take what came out of the interests of scientists. One of the persons that I admire very greatly, Hal Weinberg, Director of Oak Ridge National Lab, was as slippery as an eel, you know, when it came to his trying to build power reactors. One didn't work, he had another one right on the shelf coming along, and he ran his laboratory that way, bless him, and it was a good way. He looked ahead and saw that there were several designs or concepts that needed to be looked at. He turned his laboratory toward that. That phase of his laboratory got a lot of attention, more so than I could get Brookhaven to do, for instance, years later.

COLLINS: So can you describe a little bit more about the Forum and how you thought it might operate to help industry have a better--

GLENNAN: Marty, like the story they tell about our friend, call him Will Rogers, says, "You don't have any problem here, you want to beat this submarine menace, just get the seawater boiling." "How do you do that?" "Go out and think about it. You do it. I gave you the idea." That's the way I've lived my life. I don't solve these problems. I see a problem, I point down the road, and urge good people to work on it.

COLLINS: Just to follow on, had you discussed this question of industry's role in the future at all with David Lilienthal?

GLENNAN: Not prior to the time that I left the Commission. I did later on, because you see, by that time he had his own consulting firm, so he was in industry. You may recall that he did a lot of work in the Middle East and India, based to a considerable extent on his work at the TVA. I talked with him and I think we saw eye to eye on the use of industry sensibly, responsibly.

NEEDELL: One of the things--

GLENNAN: If you're asking, did you have a plan worked out? No, I just set the framework out, and I said, "I don't understand why you're content to sit back and grumble about it. Why don't you get together, and in a Forum atmosphere, develop some ideas as to how you, industry, will relate to a growing field like nuclear energy, and be prepared to deal with the Congress, the Commission, finally become a producer--not just a middleman."

COLLINS: You didn't want them to be a lobbyist, you wanted them to be thoughtful, to present ideas to the Commission or Congress.

GLENNAN: That is quite right. To the extent that, after I left the Forum board, several years, they began talking about lobbying, I went back and anti-lobbied the "lobby".

NEEDELL: So after all, it really wasn't controversial, in the sense that the United States government as a matter of policy decided that they would keep a monopoly over the technical control of nuclear materials and technology?

GLENNAN: No, Allan, what you're up against here is a very expensive field in which very few industrial companies had the cash flow to toss a billion dollars at a reactor concept and work it through to the finish.

NEEDELL: And even if they had, the government would not allow it.

GLENNAN: They had enough regulations and hold on them to make it a difficult way to do it. So, starting out as a cooperative venture, with the part that industry was doing, drawing the basic design and that sort of thing, as at G E's Knolls Laboratory. That was the one institution that really took the whole thing from start to finish, to a greater extent than anybody else.

NEEDELL: Later on, I suppose, under Eisenhower with Atoms for Peace, it becomes a political decision that the United States, having developed atomic energy for weapons, took it as a public responsibility that they also felt a responsibility toward using this development for peaceful purposes.

GLENNAN: I don't think it waited for Mr. Eisenhower.

NEEDELL: That's not what I'm asking, this is a general--

GLENNAN: I'm not sure that Ike would have expressed it that way either. I think there comes a time when, as we're in now, things get so gummed up in government that industry would seem a better road to accomplishment. It isn't always the case, but--

COLLINS: This period you were at the Commission saw a tremendous increase in the number of employees, in the budget, allotted to AEC. Did these growing pains raise any special problems of management for the Commission during this period?

GLENNAN: No, I don't think so. Again, this was a new business, and exciting business, and there was enough of the ordinary structure of business, content of business, in what we were doing, which was to build, build, build. I can remember, as an example--this is not, I'm sure, characteristic of everything that the Commission did--but the production division, construction, I guess it was the general manager's office, came in proposing that we needed to add to a facility at Oak Ridge. Over a weekend, Walt Williams went down to Oak Ridge, I think I remember this accurately, and came back with a 60 million dollar request on Monday and the Commission approved it.

NEEDELL: This was because the need for fissionable materials was so clear that--

GLENNAN: Sure. If you're interested, the Military Liaison Committee was chaired by Bill LeBaron at that time, and the more I saw of that operation, the less I thought of it.

NEEDELL: How did the Liaison Committee work, how often did you see them, how was that set up?

GLENNAN: They had their own staff. They had access to everything we did. From time to time, we would meet with the MLC. I don't recall if it was regularly or not. One side or the other wanted to see the other. But once a year, we sent over to DOD the capabilities that we had for producing fissionable materials for the coming year. They presumably analyzed and worked through that and sent it back as their request for particular weapons. Then we'd send it up to the President and he approved it or didn't. He always did.

NEEDELL: Had the price tag on it.

GLENNAN: At that time, no. I got to the point where I thought, what the hell is this all about? And I got to know an Army general, "Doc" Loper was his name, well enough so that we could talk frankly to each other.

COLLINS: Are you referring to Nichols?

GLENNAN: No, Loper. I noted that what we got back was what we sent over.

NEEDELL: In other words, they always said, "We need everything that you can make."

GLENNAN: Yes. And I had that traced through. This is when I had Bill Donkin with me. Clearly they had done nothing to our document, but re-address it and send it back. I said, "That doesn't make sense. We're not running the military. We can tell them what kind of materials we can make, and what kind of warheads we can produce, and they can tell us how many they want of this, that or the other thing." I finally had a meeting with the Military Liaison Committee, or at least with the--yes, I guess it must have been just the service members. I said, "I just wonder what the hell you do with this when you get it over in your shop and look at it. What kind of thinking do you do? How can we send something to you and you just endorse it and send it back to us? We're not military people." And this Doc Loper said, "Keith, you know, we're charged with the defense of this country, and whether it be diapers or guns or ships, we're never going to ask for less than we possibly believe we can get. Ours is not the task of deciding how much to spend. That's up to the civil part of the government." That was an interesting discussion. I wish I could reproduce it in the words that were used then.

NEEDELL: So what was driving the development of the strategic forces and atomic weapons was really the technical capability of producing them.

GLENNAN: Yes. At that time.

NEEDELL: They would assimilate just as much as you could produce, and develop a strategy.

GLENNAN: At that point in time. Yes, you're quite right. And that's a concern that I have today, that so long as you have the money and so long as you have the scientists' base, Livermore, to a greater extent than Los Alamos but not to much greater extent these days, will keep on trying to build more effective or more efficient weapons. You'll never get to the complete test ban that might turn this world around. People who are keeping that from being dealt with are scientists. Ike was right--military-- industrial and he should have added, scientific complex.

NEEDELL: Was it your impression that in that equation, in that consideration, was genuine intelligence about what the military threat was? In other words, there really was a bottomless need for as much fire power as they could get?

GLENNAN: At that point in time, Allan, I think it was simply that we had such a small supply that, although we had more than the Soviets did, we'd better keep ahead of them. I think that just drove us. It was very early in the Commission's life. Not like it is today, when we have 50,000 warheads sitting around.


NEEDELL: Very quickly, was there much concern over the costs of the cosmotron and the betatron at that time, or was it still such a small amount that it really wasn't a major issue?

GLENNAN: I don't think it was a major issue. The amount we were spending on support of basic research got a good going over by Congressman Albert Thomas, all behind closed doors. None of this was done in the open.

NEEDELL: He's from the Joint Committee.

GLENNAN: No, Albert Thomas was Chairman of the Subcommittee on Appropriations that heard our budget. He knew more about that budget than we did. Later on, he was in that same position with respect to NASA. "Keith, I'm so glad"--"Doc," he called me, "I'm so glad to see you."

COLLINS: Your mentioning Thomas, did you get to know him fairly well at this time?

GLENNAN: Oh, well enough. I had dinner at his home once. He had dinner with me at my home once. I called him Albert. He called me Doctor. That's just what Lyndon did, too. Texas cordiality.

COLLINS: I'm curious, later on Thomas was renowned for his interest in getting NASA to locate certain facilities in Texas.

GLENNAN: Well, when we get to that I'll tell you the story.

COLLINS: Did he express any similar desires with AEC?

GLENNAN: No, I don't think so. What was of concern to him was the amount of money we were spending. His questions were about fences, etc. Something that he knew something about. Again, this is all behind closed doors, but he would take off on the amount of money we were spending, for instance, that we were proposing to spend at Los Alamos for a dog and cat hospital. "What the hell has this got to do with atomic energy?" Well, we'd go through the routine. We have a great many scientists there and their wives, their families, and they're just like any other community. We want them to be comfortable and to have the amenities they can get in another community, and a dog and cat hospital is one of those, and that's why it's in there, Sir. Well, he might cut $20,000 off it or something like that.

NEEDELL: Any other characters who impressed you that we haven't talked about? For instance, Oppenheimer, as GAC chairman.

GLENNAN: Well, no, I don't think so. Rabi was there at the time. Eger Murphree was on GAC at that time.

NEEDELL: Is this when you first got to know Rabi?

GLENNAN: Yes. And never mind how bright those people were! I do not really recall any instance where one of them, say Rabi, started out to analyze or discuss some particular issue that before he got through, Oppie broke in and finished the discussion. The GAC members accepted such interruptions from Oppie.

NEEDELL: It was Oppie's committee.

GLENNAN: It was Oppie's committee, yes. His mind just worked like that. He wasn't interested in going through the details.

NEEDELL: So were you impressed by him?

GLENNAN: Oh yes, very much so. I testified for him. I didn't see much of him then, personally. I'd see him with the Commission from time to time, not very often, but at the GAC meetings. I didn't know him that well. But after his being ostracized, I got to know him quite well. Spent some time with him.

NEEDELL: At Princeton?

GLENNAN: Yes. As a matter of fact, early on in the space business, I was very conscious of the international implications, that we had a mandate to develop cooperative programs with other countries, and I thought, now, who can I get to advise me on this? I called Jim Perkins, I said, "Jim, I'd like to talk to George Kennan. I don't know him, he lives in Princeton, could you set that up? I want to talk to him about, how do we work with the Soviets?" And Jim did set it up, and I had a half a day with George Kennan at Oppie's home. Jim was there, and we debated, not much of a debate, I must say, but Kennan was very helpful, straightforward. You just have to keep on working at it and go right to the top, keep moving up the ladder as fast as you can, but some day you'll get to the point where you can have joint operations with the Soviets. But that was a personal answer.

COLLINS: Was there something central in your AEC experience that made you feel that was a desirable goal? Cooperation with the Russians?

GLENNAN: No, we had that in our law in NASA, you know. So that was at least a partial mandate. So little was known about the Soviets. So few of their good people were able to get out and come to meetings here. So I was trying to find some way, is there a way that you can really get to the people who can make decisions? And that's what I went up there to see Kennan for.

COLLINS: So it was in part from your NASA mandate, not from a personal philosophical view?

GLENNAN: Well, I think it was a personal philosophical view as well, but it was triggered certainly by NASA.

NEEDELL: This was just entirely different, you had nothing to do with the Soviets of course in--

GLENNAN: --oh no, no, I should say not.

NEEDELL: The AEC, just a question about whether you recall interactions with a couple of people, Walter Zinn from Argonne?


NEEDELL: Was he essentially just interested in reactor development?

GLENNAN: Yes, I think so.

NEEDELL: What about Lloyd Berkner, who I guess became AUI president while you were still there.

GLENNAN: Yes. Well, Lloyd was a little bit above the fray, it always seemed to me. He had a vision about everything. He worked pretty hard at it. Actually, while I was on the Commission, he became president of AUI.

NEEDELL: Did the Commission have much to say about that? I know it's the kind of organization--did they ask the Commission?

GLENNAN: I'm sure that AUI, the nine institutions, discussed that with the Commission, but we had no reason not to--that was the first time they had a president of that sort, from outside, and had an office in New York. I had contacts with Lloyd Berkner throughout the balance of my career, and never very easy. I don't think that I was enough of a scientist to really understand what made his mind tick.

NEEDELL: But then again, he wasn't much of a scientist himself.

GLENNAN: No, but he worked hand in glove with them, understood them a hell of a lot better than I did.

NEEDELL: So your feeling was, from his point of view, you were not one of the movers and shakers that he was--

GLENNAN: No. Not from my point of view, either. I moved and shook in different fields.

COLLINS: I'm wondering, just as an overview, what you feel your AEC experience brought to your Case activity when you returned to Case? What new ideas or thoughts did you have after that?

GLENNAN: Oh, I think that I certainly had confirmed in my mind the need to move into graduate work, actively and aggressively. I certainly paid more attention to the kinds of proposals that we made for support. We were not a great research university at that time, not nearly what Case Western Reserve is today. From a standpoint of operations, I don't think that changed my view. I think I took more to the Commission than I took away from it, in that sense.

COLLINS: Any different thoughts about relationships between industry and research entities?

GLENNAN: Oh, I suppose so. Certainly, being constructed the way I am, I always felt that we ought to be getting more support, and develop more intimate relationships with industry. They didn't see beyond the end of their fiscal years, usually. To spend money on far out projects didn't occur to many of them.

NEEDELL: How did your tenure at the AEC end, how did you get over Potomac Fever and did you ever catch it?

GLENNAN: I have been in a good many different fields, but not of any of them, and I didn't miss Washington. Mrs. Glennan and I are not built that way. Even when I was at NASA, and had the top spot, I don't believe that we went to a tenth of the invitations that we had. I didn't become smitten by Potomac Fever. I must say that I guess that I had a much different view of government then, as an activity in which, from the outside, when you had something to say you could get in and say it to the right people. You can't get in, today.

NEEDELL: It wasn't a matter of course that the Commissioners would submit resignations on change of administration, was it?

GLENNAN: No. We were appointed for five years.

NEEDELL: Five year terms. You didn't serve for five years?

GLENNAN: I told Mr. Truman--after all, I came away from Case on leave. University trustees don't want to get rid of you if you're doing a reasonable job so long as you've got some blood running in your veins. It gives them more headaches to try and find somebody else. I felt that I would not want to be away more than 18 months, and I told Mr. Truman this. As we came to the 18 month period, I guess I became more interested in the political aspects of the persons that might be appointed to the Commission, and I decided that I would wait until the election, because I didn't want the Commission to become predominantly Democratic. I think I was the only Republican. I always was one of those persons who says he's an Independent, but I've only voted for a Democratic candidate twice in my life.

NEEDELL: Do you think that the political people around Truman knew this? They didn't come and remind you, it was supposed to be--

GLENNAN: No. You can't believe what they tell you. Donald Dawson was a head hunter for him. When I went down there, I went into his office, and he gave me a lecture on--said in the course of that lecture that he didn't know whether I was a Democrat or a Republican, he didn't care. I said, "Well, it's rather strange, Mr. Dawson, that the head of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party was searching to find out what my political inclinations were, before I came to see you." He just took it in stride.

COLLINS: Well, was your concern that a Democrat might bring in a different philosophy to the Commission, or was it just kind of pragmatic?

GLENNAN: Just pragmatic. I felt this was a non-partisan thing, just like space should be non-partisan. When you have it non-partisan, you have to balance people on one side and the other side of the aisle.

NEEDELL: There was a chance of a change of administration in 1952, you would just assume that the next administration would pick a Commissioner that--

GLENNAN: Well, I'm--now, wait a minute, say that again?

NEEDELL: Your feeling was that by hanging on, another half a year, something like that?


NEEDELL: You already knew that Eisenhower had won the election.

GLENNAN: No. No, I left the Commission on the 1st of November 1952, just before the election, and just before Greenhouse. I was very much concerned that we not delay Greenhouse until we found out what the election turned out to be. I think the Commission was generally concerned about that. So it did go off before, just before the election.

NEEDELL: So this was much more a foreign affairs kind of thing than it was domestic political, Republican or Democrat philosophy on the economy, so much as who would support the--

GLENNAN: Yes. That's right. I really don't understand the difference between Republicans and Democrats.

COLLINS: Let's talk a little bit about going back to Case here.

NEEDELL: I haven't re-read this chronology, and I know it was a very big issue, but that was all done before you got there, that is, the decision to go ahead with the hydrogen bomb development.

GLENNAN: The decision had been made, yes. They didn't know how they could do it. One of the most fascinating discussions that I attended was in June of 1952, I believe, when Stan Ulam and Edward Teller came up with a new concept. We decided that we ought to have this discussed before the General Advisory Committee and ourselves. We went up to Princeton to the Institute, and for two days we talked back and forth. Even at that time, this is only a few months before Greenhouse, there was still very, very great opposition on the part of Rabi and Oppie. It was a gentlemanly but strongly held set of views. I can remember, Edward, with those big bushy eyebrows and that foot of his, stomping up and down to write on the blackboard things that I couldn't understand, and mentioning one word, one phrase, that so far as I was concerned, I've never heard it used. It's still buried in my memory. Whether it's still classified or not, I don't know. It was highly classified at the time. But Harry Smythe bought me lunch and answered my question of, what did he mean when he said so and so? And that's where Oppie commented, after Edward had completed his presentation and answered questions, "It's too beautiful a concept not to try it," or something like that. Thus lifting a little bit of the gate of opposition to it, to an effort to--

NEEDELL: Were there reverberations still on the Commission? Were some Commissioners angry, thought that Oppenheimer was obstructing development?

GLENNAN: I think without any question Tom Murray felt that way.

NEEDELL: My reading is that Oppenheimer's position was that the Commission should go ahead and concentrate on atomic weapons.

GLENNAN: Exactly.

NEEDELL: That this would be a diversion of energy.

GLENNAN: That's right. As we began to go through that question, up to the point of this new concept, I think I remember the figures correctly, if we had gone as originally planned, you'd have to give up 60 atomic weapons for one thermonuclear weapon, because of the materials that would be required.

NEEDELL: Greenhouse was a test of the old, without the benefit of the--

GLENNAN: I don't think so. I don't recall, Allan. I'll speak of it. It was a hell of a big thing, and had its own cryogenic generator with it, for instance. It would take a C5 A to move the damned thing.

NEEDELL: Okay, I just didn't want to leave this area without touching on that, because obviously that was a central thing that went on at the time. Anything else?

COLLINS: Along these lines, did this lead you to make a decision about whether this new design would make the thermonuclear research a little more attractive? How did the Commission participate in that kind of decision?

GLENNAN: We agreed with that concept. In a meeting after we returned from Princeton, June 19th and 20th, I believe it was the late summer of 1952, and authorized the change in direction. I think they had been really working on this new concept for maybe six months or so.

NEEDELL: Was it your impression that as soon as Oppenheimer fully understood the idea of the new concept, technically sweet or something like that?

GLENNAN: Yes, delicious.

NEEDELL: That he then got behind it, and the Commission didn't feel--

GLENNAN: I don't think he got behind it, the way you're suggesting. He thought it was just a beautiful concept, and it could not be left as a concept, we should try it out. I don't think this was a change in his attitude toward building thermonuclear weapons thousands of times more powerful than an atomic bomb such as the one used at Hiroshima.

COLLINS: Well, here the scientists had presented the Oppenheimer view from the Teller point of view, the attractiveness of doing this particular change. What were the factors that the Commission would weigh in finally making the decision, besides the scientific arguments? Were there additional factors that entered in?

GLENNAN: I don't think so. I don't think so. I think it was-- after all, it was a Commission of five ordinary men, with a certain amount of knowledge and background, and I think we felt that it was indeed a concept whose time might have come.

NEEDELL: The security pressures must have been enormous once you realized that there was a concept like this.

GLENNAN: Yes. Yes.

NEEDELL: Did this mean that there was an increase in concern, it had been enormous until then, but this is now one of the first times when there really is a secret that could be written on a laboratory book of some sort and really--

GLENNAN: Yes. I don't recall. I really don't recall that we tightened up this or tightened up that. There is one thing that you should know. You maybe know, but it ought to get on the record. Until shortly before I left the Commission, the members of the Joint Committee refused to ever have a direct knowledge of the size of the stockpile, and I think I played some small part in saying, "Let's force this issue."

NEEDELL: Yes, what was the Joint Committee's position?

GLENNAN: They didn't want to know how many bombs we had in the stockpile.

NEEDELL: And they hadn't known, from the creation of the AEC until 1952.

GLENNAN: So far as I know, that is correct. I helped to force the issue and they came down, one by one, not all of them, but a good many of them. How the hell could they judge the proposals we were taking to them, if they didn't know what the situation was with respect to the stockpile?

COLLINS: Was this simply a security concern on their part?

GLENNAN: I suppose so. They lived in a different world. We lived behind closed doors. And a secret is no longer a secret if two people know it.

NEEDELL: As far as technical matters go, what's the nature of this--you invented the name New Super, just to give it a name, after the fact. The technical details, the Joint Committee had no need to know.


NEEDELL: What that was, and they were not given access to that.

GLENNAN: I don't recall whether they did know or not. Or were briefed on it or not. I can't believe that Edward Teller didn't somehow see that some of them were.

NEEDELL: They knew that there was a new idea, but exactly what it was--

COLLINS: Were there any ramifications at this time from Joseph McCarthy's concerns?

GLENNAN: I don't recall. Didn't his vendetta really get flowering in Ike's administration?

COLLINS: Absolutely. But I think there were some--

GLENNAN: Oh, there were rumblings before that.

NEEDELL: There were incidents at various laboratories, public scandals of one sort or other, where I guess the Commission was concerned. Was it a real concern with losing secrets or with bad publicity?

GLENNAN: Oh no, no, no. You must recall that in the postwar atomic world, we refused to live up to an agreement we had with the British that we would share commercical technology with them. We worked at that interface trying to mend that breech between us. I certainly was involved in this. We'd get up to the doorstep and then something else would happen, like the Fuchs case or Burgess McClean. I think all of those must have happened while I was at the Commission. So we were--and the fellow Alan Nunn May, was it in Canada.

NEEDELL: So there was political pressure on this.

GLENNAN: Oh yes. The Commission wanted to work with Britain, and we would get the first step from the doorstep, and then something else, another shoe would drop.

NEEDELL: But besides the politics and the newspapers and the publicity, how much real concern was there that national security was at stake, secrets were--

GLENNAN: That was our way of life at the time. We had our own security system. Dr. Colby was the head of that, followed by retired Navy Captain Waters.

NEEDELL: Were you ever personally concerned that someone would try and conduct espionage through some misstep of yours?

GLENNAN: Well, I was subjected to some of it. Boris Morros, does that name mean anything to you? His book I WAS A COUNTER SPY. This is the title, I think. He had worked for me when I was at Paramount. He was head of the music department. He was a roly poly Russian Jew, as I recall it, and I was involved in meeting with him. He told me what he was doing. In his book I'm mentioned as a target. He had been given the task by his handlers in the Soviet Union to try and find out who I was sleeping with, things of that sort. I saw Mr. Hoover two or three times on that. The FBI didn't come to me, I took it to them.

NEEDELL: It's really hard for us to imagine what that period was like. Being in that situation. You would go directly to Hoover himself?

GLENNAN: Oh, sure. Yes, sir.

COLLINS: Do you have any more questions on the AEC? This kind of leads into another point after AEC, Allan's already asked you the question about Potomac Fever, but along a slightly different line. Here you were really exposed to big time politics for the first time, contact with fairly high level government officials. How did it feel to go back to Case, after that kind of experience, which I'm sure was heady in some ways?

GLENNAN: Strangely enough, I guess it wasn't that heady. It was an interesting job, and a tough one. I went back to Case full of ideas for what we wanted to do with Case. I had gone back every other weekend, to be with my family. I didn't see much of my family even then. The acting president would save up all the problems, and I spent Saturdays and Sundays with him on some of Case's problems at that time. So I hit the ground running when I got back, got right into putting together a 75th anniversary money raising program--the first time Case had ever gone out for money like that, 7 1/2 million bucks.

NEEDELL: And just left the AEC, just really left that behind.

GLENNAN: Yes. I kept an interest in it. I was in a situation at Case where the president had, by tradition sort of, run the Commencement, and proposed for the faculty's acceptance the people for honorary degrees. I thought it might be interesting to give some people in the atomic business an honorary degree. I think we had Smythe and Bradbury, Frank Spedding, Johnny von Neumann and Gene Wigner--all in the atomic field.

NEEDELL: But you didn't act as consultant, didn't go back to Washington?

GLENNAN: No. Washington came back after me, and I became a member of the General Advisory Committee.

NEEDELL: After how long?

GLENNAN: Two or three years. And then the NSF, I was appointed to that board.

NEEDELL: The National Science Board.

GLENNAN: Yes. I don't believe I served out my term on either one of those. As I recall it.

COLLINS: Did you have occasion to use your Washington contacts after you went back to Case to further Case business? Was it useful to have these contacts, in building up your efforts at Case?

GLENNAN: I think it was useful in the sense that other people had greater knowledge of and possibly greater respect for me. I went back, as I did after NASA, to Case and stayed away from trying to get money for support of research, building, things of that sort, from either the AEC and--I did not intervene, in other words. Although there's a building at Case, the Glennan Building, for which half the cost was paid by NASA. This was done at their suggestion. I didn't go after any of that. I thought that was a wrong thing to do.

COLLINS: That's all the questions I had.

GLENNAN: Yes, that's 2 1/2 hours, that ought to be about enough.

COLLINS: Thank you very much.

Glennan 3 || Glennan 5

Rev. 09/06/96

© 1996 National Air and Space Musuem