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Conflict With the AEC on Low-Level Effects of Radiation (1969)

GOFMAN: At any rate, I was coming up to '69 and the talk that I gave. Tamplin had the invitation to this nuclear power thing. I'd given the talk at the IEEE, as I say, an extremely conciliatory talk: not a wild, raving, manic thing at all, which I'm capable of doing.

Anyway, Mike May calls me over and says, "Jack, the AEC is upset about your talk before the IEEE." I said, "Why? [It was] such a reasonable talk." He said, "No, no, it's not what you said. It's the fact that you didn't notify them in advance of giving it and they get flack from newspaper people and so forth." So he said, "Would it be agreeable with you, whenever you or Tamplin or somebody is going to give one of the papers on the health effects of radiation," (which was our mission; just doing my job), "would you consider sending a copy to the AEC in advance?" I said, "Sure, that's fine." I said, "They're not going to censor it?" He said, "Who would stand for that?"

The next paper up was Tamplin's for that nuclear power symposium. We gave a copy to Mike May and sent a copy off to Washington.

A couple of days later Tamplin walked into my office. Threw down this paper on my desk. He says, "Look at this!" I looked at it. Everything was lined out what he wanted to say-the only thing left were the prepositions and conjunctions. I said, "[Did] this come back from Washington?" He said, "Hell, no! This is Roger Batzel," who's Mike May's right hand. He told me that if I want to, go ahead and give the original talk at this meeting, [but] I can only go as a private citizen, not as a member of the Livermore Lab. I cannot use Laboratory secretaries to type anything and I must pay my own expenses for the travel. Ordinarily, the Lab loved it when we would go give a talk somewhere; it's publicity for the Lab.
GOURLEY: Especially if one said there were no harmful proven effects.
GOFMAN: Right. So all these things that [we] can't announce, even being a member of Livermore. I just couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe it. I called up Mike, and I believe that session he came over to see. I said, "Mike, what in world's going on? I agreed to have this stuff we are doing seen by the AEC in advance. But," I said, "censorship like this!"

[Mike said,] "Jack, why don't you be realistic?" That was the first time Mike had ever said anything like that to me. You know what I told him? You know, when I told Totter to go to hell about that Sternglass thing, he didn't say a word about it. He said, "Why don't you be realistic: you just can't put out stuff like this."

I said, "I'm very realistic, Mike. If this is going to stand, I'll tell you what I'm going to do this afternoon. I'm going to call up the guy who's organizing the [AAAS nuclear power] symposium and I'm going to tell him that Tamplin can't come to the meeting. The reason he can't come is the Livermore Lab is a scientific whorehouse. He's being censored by the Livermore Lab."

Mike said, "Jack, you know we've known each other a long time." He says, "Why don't you go home and sleep on it and we'll talk tomorrow." I said, "Well, I'm telling you what I'm going to do, Mike." He said, "Yeah I know, but just sleep on it."

The next day we got together and I had already called the guy [from the AAAS nuclear power symposium] and told him exactly what I told Mike that I was going to tell him. He was very upset because he was going to be the chairman of this meeting. He didn't want to have to read my letter to the assembled meeting saying that Livermore Lab is a scientific whorehouse.

So Mike said, "You really did that?" "Yeah, but it's just what I said I would do, Mike." He stormed out and we never talked for about 9 months after that. Well then, the rest is sort of history.

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