August 10th, 1945 — another very important day in the history of nuclear weapons. Groves informs Marshall (and Truman) that another bomb will be ready to use in a week. Truman tells Marshall that they are NOT to use it without his express permission. Image
This, and not the "decision to use the bomb" (which Truman played almost no role in), is what establishes the tradition and eventually the policy of "presidential control" for nuclear use orders in the United States (it was still de facto before 1948, when NSC-30 codified it). Image
Truman told his cabinet — as recorded in the diary of Henry Wallace, his secretary of commerce, that he had issued the "stop order" because "he didn't like the idea of killing, as he said, 'all those kids.'" Image
I see all of this as key evidence in my argument that Truman did not truly understand that Hiroshima was a city prior to the first damage reports, and did not understand the level of civilian casualties that would be inflicted by the bomb.
We always spill a lot of ink on Truman's supposed "decision to use the bomb," (see link) but I think the choice by Truman to halt the atomic bombings is worth a lot more attention and analysis.…
The "stop" order is not just the origins of the nuclear use system that still exists in the United States — it's a core part of Truman's later aversion to use of nukes while the US still had an atomic monopoly, and part of the nuclear taboo.…

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More from @wellerstein

8 Aug
August 8, 1945, has become one of the more important atomic bombing dates in my mind over the years. It's after Hiroshima, but before Nagasaki. It's easy to ignore for that reason. But a few very significant things happened that day.

(A fairly shortish thread)
16 hours after Hiroshima was bombed, the US released Truman's statement about what had happened. The Japanese, of course, did not take it at face value, and sent a delegation of scientists to Hiroshima to confirm that it wasn't just firebombing or something else.
Because of the disruption, it took until the evening of August 8th for them to get to Hiroshima, inspect the damage, do some tests, and to report back to the Japanese high command:
Read 10 tweets
8 Aug
In a dream I had last night, I was talking to someone about pitching a Shout and Murmurs about "buying your dream house," except "dream house" here meant the weird houses that appear in your dreams — those weird mashups of real and imaginary dwellings, with secret rooms, etc.
Separately, I've been thinking a lot about dream architecture lately — my brain clearly has "dream versions" of certain places that I dream about more than once, and they clearly represent real-life places, but are really different than the real ones.
I find them so odd because they have almost a "theme" of the original place (e.g., college, a house I lived in during grad school, a library I used to go to) but they end up being totally different (almost impossibly larger and grander, for example).
Read 4 tweets
7 Aug
"Key words and phrases that could indicate the presence of Restricted Data/Formerly Restricted Data"
The plot thickens
I looked into this a tiny bit more... according to Chuck Hansen, BURRITO was a code-name for a device tested at Upshot-Knothole Badger (1953), which was apparently a test of a mockup of the TX-16 ("Jughead") secondary. So it may, in fact, have been a frozen burrito.
Read 4 tweets
11 Mar
As probably the historian who has spent the most time researching World War II secret atomic parents, I can confirm that a) there is no single patent for the atomic bomb (there are many!), b) none of them have Hirohito listed as an author (ht @pashulman) Image
There are patent applications that cover the atomic bombs themselves. They are still classified and have never been granted. They can never be granted under the Atomic Energy Act, as it prohibits patents on nuclear weapons. Read my article for details:…
A while back I FOIAed the names/titles/dates for the still-secret "patents of the atomic bomb," and it's mostly the standard Los Alamos scientists you all know about. Oppenheimer. Bethe. Teller. Von Neumann. A few lower-level folks are the only surprises.
Read 5 tweets
19 Oct 20
This week in my nuclear class we looked at security and loyalty in the 1950s, and read and talked at length about the Oppenheimer security hearing. I asked the students whether they would have, based on the hearing transcripts, restored or stripped Oppenheimer's clearance:
As you can see, most thought they'd strip it, and even those in favor of restoring it did so on the basis that it was just a political hearing anyway, and had no real consequences (since his clearance was about to expire anyway).
As I said to them, I suspect they'd feel differently if I had framed it in a more pro-Oppenheimer way, the way it is usually portrayed popularly.
Read 5 tweets
6 Oct 20
For awhile I've thought the framing of the "crazy President" for nuclear use authority — e.g., in which a POTUS might get up one day and have VERY WILD ideas about nukes — was not a great one, because real mental illness doesn't suddenly appear overnight.
But I did not anticipate the current conditions of the Presidency — a POTUS who appears extremely in denial about being sick, self-discharging while on heavy drugs, essentially allowed to dictate his own care. COVID-19 does not go away in 3 days. He looks quite sick.
This is a completely bizarre situation. Short of the 25th Amendment — a huge decision under any conditions, obviously not one any of his cabinet or cronies are willing to invoke a few months from an election — it appears nobody has any control over this very sick man.
Read 7 tweets

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