Lot 57 D 688

The Acting Chairman of the Military Policy Committee ( Conant ) to the Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development ( Bush )


Subject: Exchange of Information on S–l Project with the British.

A recent letter from President Roosevelt1 awaits you directing you to exchange information on the S–l project on an “inclusive basis”. As your deputy in re chairmanship of the Military Policy Committee, this letter came to my attention. Two cables2 were sent, copies of which are in Mr. C. L. Wilson’s hands. I have taken no action pending word from you on your return. Since I now hear you will be in your office next week, the matter should surely await your consideration.

May I record the conviction expressed in previous memoranda in your files that a complete interchange with the British on the S–l project is a mistake. The proposition put up officially by the American Government I firmly believe was in the best interests of the war effort, the United States and the eventual peace of the world. I can only express the hope that the President did not reverse his decision on a matter which may have such important bearings on the future of the United States without proper understanding of the potential possibilities of the weapon we are now engaged in developing, nor the difficulties of our enterprise.

It would not be proper for me to express an opinion now as to whether you as Chairman of the Military Policy Committee should protest this decision and once again explain to the President all the potentialities of our secret project. I should like, however, to be on record that in my opinion the reopening of the exchange with the British without reservation (as contrasted to our restricted offer of some months ago) cannot in any way assist the war effort and will greatly diminish our security provisions here in the United States. Whatever time and energy those concerned with the S–1 project devote to British interchange (outside of the areas we have already offered to open) will be a pure waste as far as the job of winning this war is concerned. You are, of course, free to quote me on this point to those in higher authority if you see fit.

James B. Conant
  1. Ante, p. 633.
  2. Not printed. See post, p. 644.