The Manhattan Project

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George Harrison's memo for
the Secretary of War (Stimson)
May 1, 1945

War Department

1 May 1945

Memorandum for the Secretary of War
Subject: Interim Committee on S-1.

Last week you presented to President Truman a fairly complete memorandum on the S-1 project, outlining its genesis, its present state of development and in general its availability for military usage. Your presentation was accompanied by a brief memo which you prepared relative to the broader political and international implications of the problem and the need for post war controls, both national and international. You had in mind the advisability of setting up a committee of particular qualifications for recommending action to the executive and legislative branches of the government when secrecy is no longer fully required. The committee would also be expected to recommend actions to be taken by the War Department in anticipation of the post war problems.

In view of the possibly short time available before actual military use and the relaxation of secrecy, it seems to me - and as you know both Dr. Conant and Dr. Bush agree - that it is becoming more and more important to organize such a committee as promptly as possible. This committee should, I think, be a relatively small committee which should be prepared to serve temporarily or until Congress might appoint a permanent Post War commission to supervise, regulate and control the use of the product.

Certain things, however, must be done now before use if we are to avoid the risk of grave repercussions on the public in general and on Congress in particular. For instance, the committee will need to prepare appropriate announcements to be available for issue (a) by the President and (b) by the War Department as soon as the first bomb is used. These announcements or later publicity would presumably give some of the history of the project, its importance from a military standpoint, its scientific background, and some of its dangers. Most importantly as soon as possible after use some assurance must be given of the steps to be taken to provide the essential controls over post-war use and development, both at home and abroad. With that in mind it will be necessary as soon as possible after use to make recommendations for the necessary congressional legislation covering patents, use, controls, etc.

All of these and many other factors will have to be studied by the committee with the understanding that all recommendations must be for your own approval and for submission to the President for his approval.

It seems clear that some machinery is essential now to provide the way for continuous and effective controls and to insure or provide for the necessary and persistent research and development of the possibilities of atomic energy in which the United States now leads the way. If properly controlled by the peace loving nations of the world this energy should insure tile peace of the world for generations. If misused it may lead to the complete destruc-tion of civilization.

In the circumstances I suggest that a committee of six or seven be set up at once to study and report on the whole problem of temporary war controls and publicity, and to survey and make recommendation on post-war research, development and controls, and the legislation necessary to effec-tuate them.

The members of this committee should be appointed by you as Secretary of War subject to the approval of the President. When appointed the committee will need promptly to organize appropriate panels to aid in its work-panels of specially qualified scientists, Army and Navy personnel, Congressional advisers, legislative draftsmen and others.

George L. Harrison

Source: Manhattan Engineer District -- Top Secret, Harrison-Bundy files, folder 69, National Archives, Washington, D.C.