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from the Congressional Record: September 26, 1997 
Page S10055-S10067

      By Mr. MOYNIHAN:

  S. 1232. A bill to provide for the declassification of the journal 
kept by Glenn T. Seaborg while serving as Chairman of the Atomic Energy 
Commission; to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.


  Mr. MOYNIHAN. Mr. President, Glenn T. Seaborg is a truly great 
American who for 14 years has suffered outrageous treatment from 
bureaucrats and is in need of our assistance. Dr. Seaborg, codiscoverer 
of plutonium, kept a journal whilst chairman of the Atomic Energy 
Commission from 1961 to 1971. The journal consisted of a diary written 
at home each evening, correspondence, announcements, minutes, and the 
like. He was careful about classified matters; nothing was included 
that could not be made public. Even as he was chairman the portions 
relating to the Kennedy and Johnson administrations were microfilmed 
for public access in their respective Presidential libraries. Before 
leaving the AEC, Dr. Seaborg got it all cleared virtually without 
deletion. Then lunacy descended. Or rather, the Atomic Energy 
Commission became the Department of Energy and bureaucracy got going. 
Seaborg writes of all this in an article "Secrecy Runs Amok" 
published in Science in 1994. It seems that in 1983 the chief historian 
of the Department asked to borrow one of two sets of the journal, some 
26 volumes in all, for work on a history of the Commission. By the time 
the author got his journal back passage after passage was redacted, 
much of it explicitly public information, such as the published code 
names of nuclear weapons tests, some of it purely personal, as for 
example his description of accompanying his children on a trick or 
treat outing on a Halloween evening. The 26 volumes, "in expurgated 
form" as Seaborg puts it, are now available in the Manuscript Division 
of the Library of Congress. But where does one go for sanity? Seaborg 
writes: "With the beginning of the Reagan administration, the 
government had begun to take a much more severe and rigid position with 
regard to secrecy." The balance between the "right of the public to 
know" and the "right of the nation to protect itself" was simply 
lost as, often apologetic, investigators poured over the papers of the 
great Americans of the time.
  Dr. Seaborg recently came to my office seeking assistance in cutting 
through the bureaucracy. At this stage in his career he should not be 
forced to expend valuable time and energy trying to get back what he 
lent the Department of Energy. I immediately agreed to offer what 
assistance I could, having had experience of such matters as chairman 
of the Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy.
  Last week, with the energy and water appropriations bill nearly ready 
for conference, I thought there might be a chance to include a 
provision that would require the return of the unedited journal to Dr. 
Seaborg. I wrote to

[[Page S10066]]

the chairman and ranking members of the subcommittee, asking for their 
help. On Tuesday, September 23, the clerk for Senator Reid, the ranking 
member of the subcommittee, reported to my staff that there had been a 
long staff discussion on the matter, that it was agreed the Department 
of Energy had acted inappropriately, that the journal was a valuable 
historical document, and that things looked promising for including the 
provision in the conference report.
  The report was filed today with no mention of the Seaborg journal. 
This afternoon the clerk for Senator Domenici, the chairman, reported 
that the Department of Energy had been consulted and that they had 
raised objections to the return of the unexpurgated journal. And so, 
absent the opportunity for a hearing, the provision was dropped. I 
suppose doing the right thing for Dr. Seaborg in a simple, expedient 
manner was too much to expect. I suppose it was wishful thinking that 
the Department would do its part to rectify the situation. So, Mr. 
President, I am introducing the same provision as a free-standing bill. 
I look forward to a hearing on the matter, which the appropriations 
staff advocates, so that at least this one egregious example of the 
regulation and control of valuable public information can be brought to 
light and, I trust, remedied.
  I ask unanimous consent that Dr. Seaborg's article in Science be 
included in the Record at this point. I send to the desk a bill 
requiring the return of Dr. Seaborg's journal in the original, 
unredacted form in which it was lent to the Department of Energy, and 
ask unanimous consent that it be printed in the Record and referred to 
the appropriate committee.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                S. 1232

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       (1) Whereas Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg is a truly great American 
     who has made indispensable contributions in the development 
     of nuclear energy.
       (2) Whereas Dr. Seaborg is the co-discoverer of plutonium 
     and eight other elements and as a result of these discoveries 
     was awarded the 1951 Nobel Prize for chemistry.
       (3) Whereas while serving as Chairman of the Atomic Energy 
     Commission (AEC), Dr. Seaborg maintained a journal consisting 
     of a diary, correspondence, announcements, minutes of 
     meetings, and other documents of historical value.
       (4) Whereas in preparing the journal, Dr. Seaborg took care 
     to include only information which was not classified and 
     could be made public.
       (5) Whereas before leaving the Atomic Energy Commission, 
     Dr. Seaborg submitted the journal to the AEC's Division of 
     Classification for review.
       (6) Whereas Dr. Seaborg's journal was cleared by the 
     Division of Classification, virtually without deletion.
       (7) Whereas twelve years later, in 1983, the chief 
     historian at the Department of Energy asked to borrow a copy 
     of Dr. Seaborg's journal in order to write a history of the 
       (8) Whereas when the journal was returned to Dr. Seaborg 
     three years later, passage after passage was redacted, 
     including explicitly public information, such as the 
     published code names of nuclear weapons tests, and purely 
     personal material, such as his description of accompanying 
     his children on a "trick or treat" outing one Halloween 


       The Secretary of Energy shall return to Dr. Glenn T. 
     Seaborg his journal which he prepared while serving as 
     Chairman of the AEC. The journal shall be returned in the 
     original, unredacted form in which it was lent to the 
     Department of Energy in 1983.

                           Secrecy Runs Amok

                         (By Glenn T. Seaborg)

       Publishing information on scientific projects related to 
     national security requires resolution of the conflicts 
     between the "right of the public to know" and the "right 
     of the nation to protect itself." A recent experience of 
     mine in regard to the declassification of historical material 
     may illuminate the problems that can arise.
       During my years as chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission 
     (AEC) (1961 to 1971), I maintained a daily journal. The core 
     of the journal was a diary, much of which I wrote at home 
     each evening. (This continued a habit I had started at the 
     age of 14.) The diary was supplemented by copies of 
     correspondence, announcements, minutes of meetings, and other 
     relevant documents that crossed my desk each day. Both in the 
     diary and the supporting documents rigorous attention was 
     given to excluding any subject matter that could be 
     considered classified information under standards of the day. 
     My purpose was to provide for historians and other scholars a 
     record that might not be available elsewhere of what occurred 
     at high levels of government regarding the AEC's important 
     areas of activity.
       Illustrative of the general recognition that my journal was 
     unclassified was the fact that in 1965 the AEC historian 
     microfilmed for public access in the John F. Kennedy and 
     Lyndon B. Johnson libraries portions that correspond to those 
     presidencies. To assure myself further that the journal 
     contained no classified material I had it checked by the AEC 
     Division of Classification during the summer and fall of 
     1971, just before my departure from the AEC. It was cleared, 
     virtually without deletions. (Unfortunately, I received no 
     written confirmation of this action which is perhaps 
     understandable because of the obvious unclassified origin of 
     the material.) A copy, which I will refer to as copy #1, was 
     then transmitted by the AEC to my office at the University of 
     California in Berkeley. Also, at about this time, the AEC 
     tansferrd another copy of the journal, referred to 
     hereinafter as copy #2, first to my Berkeley office, then to 
     the Livermore laboratory, and, soon thereafter, to my home in 
     Lafayette, California. It was known that neither my Berkeley 
     office nor my home had any provision for the protection of 
     classified material, and the fact that the AEC saws fit to 
     ship the journal to those places is a clear indication 
     that the AEC regarded the journal as an unclassified 
       The office and home copies of the journal remained 
     accessible to scholars for the ensuing 12 years. Then the 
     problems began. In July 1983 the chief historian of the 
     Department of Energy (DOE) asked to borrow a copy for use in 
     the next phase of the History Division's long-term project, 
     the writing of A History of the United States Atomic Energy 
     Commission. Volume IV of the History was to be devoted 
     largely to the years of my chairmanship. The historian 
     promised to return the journal within 3 weeks as soon as 
     copies had been made. I sent him copy #1, the one in my 
     Berkeley office. When the University of California historian, 
     John Heilbron, learned of this transaction, he warned me that 
     the DOE was likely to find classified material in the journal 
     and to hold it indefinitely pending a complete classification 
     review. Relying on past history during which the journal had 
     been treated by the AEC as a wholly unclassified document, I 
     told him I was not worried that this would happen. But, as 
     Heilbron may have been aware from his own experience, times 
     had changed. With the beginning of the Reagan administration, 
     the government had begun to take a new, much more severe and 
     rigid position with regard to secrecy.
       Despite my repeated entreaties, the historian's office did 
     not return the journal in 3 weeks, nor in 3 months, nor in a 
     year-and-a-half. Nor was any explanation ever offered to me 
     for the delay. Finally, just as Heilbron had predicted, I was 
     informed in February 1985 that the journal had indeed been 
     found to contain classified information. Accordingly, DOE 
     ordered its San Francisco Area Office to pick up copy #2, the 
     one that I kept at home, so that it also could be subjected 
     to a classification review. At first I said I would not allow 
     this. But then I was told that, legally, the journal could be 
     seized and that I could be subject to arrest if I resisted. 
     Faced with this disagreeable prospect, I acceded to a 
     compromise plan (the best of several unsatisfactory 
     alternatives) whereby DOE provided me with a locked storage 
     safe, complete with burglar alarm, so that I could continue 
     to have access to the journal, which I was at that time 
     preparing for publication. It was no longer, however, to be 
     available for use by scholars.
       Then in May 1985 I was contacted by DOE's San Francisco 
     Area Manager. He said that he had been instructed by DOE 
     headquarters to institute a classification review of copy 
     #2 at my home. He added that the consequence of my not 
     agreeing to this would be that the FBI would seize the 
     papers under court order. He said that the weakness of my 
     case, if I chose to resist, was that there was no record 
     of the journal ever having been declassified by the AEC. 
     Thus, I could be accused of having illegally removed 
     classified material when I left the AEC. He noted that if 
     legal proceedings were instituted, I could, of course, 
     hire a lawyer to defend myself, but that he knew of no 
     case like this where the government, with all its 
     resources, had lost.
       Under this ultimatum, I agreed to the classification review 
     with the understanding that it would be completed within 10 
     days. The reviewer started work in my home on 9 May 1985, 
     kept at it for several weeks (not the promised 10 days), and 
     came up with 162 deletions of words, phrases, sentences, or 
     paragraphs, affecting 137 documents.
       Then in May 1986 I learned that copy #1, the one borrowed 
     by the DOE historian, was also undergoing a classification 
     review. This review was complete in October 1986 and led to 
     deletions from 327 documents. In addition, 530 documents were 
     removed from the journal entirely pending further review by 
     DOE or by other government agencies.
       At the same time as reviews of my complete journal were 
     being undertaken in DOE and in my home, a further review was 
     taking place in the Bethesda, Maryland, home of Benjamin S. 
     Loeb, who was then collaborating with me in preparation of 
     the book, Stemming the Tide: Arms Control in the Johnson 
     Years, which was to be published in 1987 (1). Copies had been 
     sent to Loeb of just those portions of the journal that 
     related to

[[Page S10067]]

     arms control. Beginning 10 July 1986, as many as six DOE 
     Division of Classification staff members sat around his 
     dining room table for a few days, selecting a large number of 
     documents which they then took with them back to DOE 
     headquarters in Germantown, Maryland. In due course, most of 
     these were returned with deletions, except that a number of 
     documents that required review by U.S. government agencies 
     other than DOE, or by the United Kingdom, were not returned 
     until August 1990.
       But there was more. In October 1986 I was informed that the 
     DOE classification people wanted to perform another review of 
     copy #2, the one in my home, in order to "sanitize" it, a 
     euphemism for a further classification review of the already 
     reviewed journal. I was informed that the sanitization 
     procedure would take place at Livermore, that it would last 3 
     to 6 weeks, and that it would involve from 8 to 12 people. 
     Copy #2 was duly picked up at my home and delivered to 
     Livermore on 22 October 1986. When the sanitized version 
     was returned almost 2 months later, it had been subjected, 
     including the prior review, to about 1000 classification 
     actions. These included the entire removal of about 500 
     documents for review by other U.S. agencies or, in a few 
     cases, by the British. Over my objection, an unsightly 
     declassification stamp was placed on every surviving 
       Finally, the DOE sent to the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory a 
     team of about 12 people to begin a "catalog," that is, an 
     itemized listing, of all the personal correspondence I had 
     brought from the AEC and of the contents of my journal and 
     files for the prior 25 years of my working life before I 
     became AEC chairman. Beginning on 29 April 1987, the team 
     spent about 2 weeks at this task. In March 1988 another DOE 
     group visited me for about a month in order to complete the 
     catalog. The motives of DOE in undertaking this task were not 
     clear. They may well have intended to be helpful to me. 
     Before they finished, however, the two groups uncovered some 
     additional "secret" material.
       My grammar and high school and university student papers 
     stored in another part of my home, overlooked by the DOE 
     classification teams, have so far escaped a security review.
       My journal was finally reproduced in January 1989 (2) in 25 
     volumes, averaging about 700 pages each, many of them defaced 
     with classification markings and containing large gaps where 
     deletions had been made. In June 1992 a 26th volume was 
     added. It contained a batch of documents initially taken away 
     for classification review and subsequently returned to me, 
     with many deletions, after the production of the other 25 
     volumes in January 1989. (Many other removed documents have 
     still not been returned.). All 26 volumes are now publicly 
     available in the expurgated form in the Manuscript Division 
     of the Library of Congress.
       This, then, is a summary narrative of the rocky voyage of 
     my daily journal amid the shoals of multiple classification 
     reviews. Those interested in a more detailed account can find 
     it among the daily entries in my journal for the period after 
     I left the AEC. This is available in the Manuscript Division 
     of the Library of Congress, and has fortunately not yet been 
     subjected to classification review.
       What is to be concluded about this sorry tale? One 
     conclusion I have reached is that the security classification 
     of information became in the 1980s an arbitrary, capricious, 
     and frivolous process, almost devoid of objective criteria. 
     Witness the fact that the successive reviews of my journal at 
     different places and by different people resulted in widely 
     varying results in the types and number of deletions made or 
     documents removed. Furthermore, some of the individual 
     classification actions seem utterly ludicrous. These include 
     my description of one of the occasions when I accompanied my 
     children on a "trick or treat" outing on a Halloween 
     evening, and my account of my wife Helen's visit to the Lake 
     Country in England. One would have to ask how publication of 
     these bits of family lore would adversely affect the security 
     of the United States. A particular specialty of the reviewers 
     was to delete from the journal many items that were already 
     part of the public record. These included material published 
     in my 1981 book (with Benjamin S. Loeb), "Kennedy, 
     Khrushchev, and the Test Ban" (3). Another example concerned 
     the code names of previously conducted nuclear weapons tests. 
     These were deleted almost everywhere they appeared regardless 
     of the fact that in January 1985 the DOE had issued a report 
     listing, with their code names, all "Announced United States 
     Nuclear Tests, July 1945 through December 1984" (4). A third 
     category of deletions concerned entries that might have been 
     politically or personally embarrassing to individuals or 
     groups but whose publication would not in any way threaten 
     U.S. national security. In fact, I would go so far as to 
     contend that hardly any of the approximately 1,000 
     classification actions (removals of documents or deletions 
     within document) taken so randomly by the various reviewers 
     could be justified on legitimate national security grounds.
       Consistent with this belief, I have requested repeatedly 
     throughout this difficult time that a copy of my journal as 
     originally prepared, that is, before all the classification 
     reviews, be kept on file somewhere. I had in mind that there 
     might come a day when a more rational approach to secrecy 
     might prevail and permit wider access, especially to 
     historians, of the complete record. There are indications 
     that, especially with the end of the Cold War, such an era 
     may be at hand or rapidly approaching. While the DOE has made 
     no commitment to honor my request. I am informed that DOE's 
     History Division does maintain an unexpurgated copy for 
     its own use. Perforce, it is handled as a classified 
       I would like to emphasize that I received fine and 
     sympathetic treatment from many in the DOE who made it clear 
     to me that they were not in agreement with the treatment 
     accorded me and my journal during the process recounted 
     above. In fact, more than one person in DOE has told me 
     informally that evidence does indeed exist verifying that my 
     journal did indeed receive a clearance before my departure 
     from the AEC in 1971.
       The problems posed by classification and declassification 
     of sensitive materials are major ones and require wise people 
     who must make sophisticated decisions. It requires a range of 
     individuals who, on the one hand, have vision in regard to 
     the whole range of scientific and national security policies, 
     and on the other hand, have the time to read pages of 
     detailed descriptions in a wide range of areas. Sometimes 
     this complex goal gets derailed by those who see the trees 
     and not the forest. Those in charge of classification should 
     have an appreciation of the need, in our open society, to 
     publish all scientific and political information that has no 
     adverse national security effect (realistically defined).
       Although I have in general received sympathetic treatment, 
     I cannot help but note that this treatment has produced quite 
     different conclusions at different periods in the country's 
     history. Actually, the AEC, from its beginning in 1947, 
     initiated and executed an excellent progressive program of 
     declassification with an enlightened regard for the need of 
     such information in an open, increasingly scientific society. 
     By the 1960s, this program was serving our country well. 
     Unfortunately, during the 1980s the program had retrogressed 
     to the extent of reversing many earlier declassification 
     actions. Fortunately, the present situation is very much 
     improved so we can look forward to the future with 
     considerable optimism.


       1. G.T. Seaborg and B.S. Loeb. Stemming the Tide: Arms 
     Control in the Johnson Years (Free Press, New York, 1987).
       2. G.T. Seaborg. Lawr. Bork, Lab. Tech. Inf. Dep. Publ. 
     PUB-625 (1989).
       3. G.T. Seaborg and B.S. Loeb. Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the 
     Test Ban (Univ. of California Press, Berkeley, 1981).
       4. U.S. Dep. Energy Rep. NVO-209 (revision 5) (1985).


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