Institute for Telecommunication Sciences / September 1952

September 1952: NBS Chief Called Before House Un-American Activities Committee

On September 5, 1952 Ed Condon, former chief of the National Bureau of Standards, made his second appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) at the behest of Senator Richard Vail. Condon had made political enemies on the committee with his unapologetic demands for civilian control of atomic energy and his support of international organizations like the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), an organization dedicated to sharing scientific discoveries between the US and USSR. The Committee was especially interested in investigating Truman appointees who were involved with nuclear secrets, and Condon fit the bill perfectly. Condon first appeared before the HUAC in 1948 on charges that he was the "weakest link in our atomic security."  Condon defended himself successfully, without pleading the fifth amendment, which was seen by the committee as as sign of guilt, but despite the support of scientists both within and outside government ranks, Condon was consistently hounded by the HUAC until he resigned his government commission in 1951. He was brought before the committee a second time in September 1952 to defend himself again. Despite his separation from the Bureau, and a second successful defense, his security clearance, which he required for his new job with Corning Glass, was revoked in 1954. Unable to work in industry on military contracts, Condon moved into academia, but his career continued to suffer from attacks by anti-communist crusaders until the mid 1960s. Today, ITS continues to work hard to ensure that  research results are published as they are obtained, in accordance with the Department of Commerce Administrative Order 219-1 prohibiting "approval or non-approval [of publication] to be based on policy, budget, or management implications of the research."