137. Memorandum of Discussion Prepared by McCone, July 271

[Facsimile Page 1]

Dr. Northrup stated he was in difficulty because of criticism of his handling of newly developed information on seismic detection, and this concerned him because he followed the procedures that he and Dr. Romney had followed for many years. Northrup pointed out that although he was responsive to General Rodenhauser, who in turn reports to General Breitweiser, who in turn reports to General LeMay and the Secretary of the Air Force, nevertheless traditionally he had always consulted directly with all sections of the Executive Branch of the Government, and had testified regularly before interested committees.

Indications of improved detection capabilities was controversial and hence he had gotten in bad. Northrup left me with the impression that recent technology improves our seismic capability and therefore reduces the number of stations and probably the number of necessary on site inspections, without increasing the hazards. However, I was left with the impression that Northrup felt that Mr. Foster and Dr. Long in testifying before the Joint Committee and others had seized upon the improvements and had not mentioned the fact that the same scientific information proved an increased ability to deceive the system; and furthermore that the unknown geological phenomena proved that the direction finding capability of the seismographs was not as great [Typeset Page 369] as was thought and this raised a question as to the effectiveness of on-site inspection. Dr. Northrup stated that although all of his actions were known to Mr. McNaughton, apparently they irritated General LeMay, but more particularly General Breitweiser, who ordered General Rodenhauser to remove Northrup, assigning him to the position of chief scientist, and placing a Colonel in charge of AFTAC. This resulted in an indication that five key people would resign; hence the order was rescinded by General Breitweiser and Northrup was [Facsimile Page 2] ordered reprimanded. Also Northrup was ordered not to give any information outside of the Air Force without General Rodenhauser’s approval. Later an exchange between Rodenhauser and Mr. Fisher removed this injunction and resulted in an arrangement where AFTAC and ACDA could work together but that General Rodenhauser and General Breitweiser wished to be informed of the requests made of AFTAC for information and the information which would be given.

The sense of Northrup’s decision was that he felt AFTAC was an extremely important national facility, that information developed by it must be made known currently and accurately and fully to many departments of government, that he had acted in a traditional and established manner and with the knowledge of Mr. McNaughton, and that he felt he should continue to do so if AFTAC was to serve various departments of government, most particularly CIA, in the future as it had in the past. He therefore hoped that he could find some way to remove the injunction placed upon him which in effect confined him so that he could now only respond to communications placed formally through “Air Force channels.” I told Northrup I would go into the matter and try to straighten it out as CIA must have complete access to AFTAC.

John A. McCone
  1. Meeting with Dr. Northrup on seismic detection technology. Secret. 2 pp. CIA Files, Job 80B01285A, DCI Memos for the Record, 4/7/62–8/21/62.