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The 4th Spy at Los Alamos – conclusion

Los Alamos and the Seborers

The new documents show that Mr. Seborer worked at the heart of the implosion effort. The unit that employed him, known as X-5, devised the firing circuits for the bomb’s 32 detonators, which ringed the device. To lessen the odds of electrical failures, each detonator was fitted with not just one but two firing cables, bringing the total to 64. Each conveyed a stiff jolt of electricity.

A major challenge for the wartime designers was that the 32 firings had to be nearly simultaneous. If not, the crushing wave of spherical compression would be uneven and the bomb a dud. According to an official Los Alamos history, the designers learned belatedly of the need for a high “degree of simultaneity.”

David Greenglass, Los Alamos spy

Possible clues of Mr. Seborer’s espionage lurk in declassified Russian archives, Mr. Wellerstein of the Stevens Institute said in an interview. The documents show that Soviet scientists “spent a lot of time looking into the detonator-circuitry issue,” he said, and include a firing-circuit diagram that appears to have derived from spying.

Greenglass implosion diagram

The diagram shows an implosion bomb. Several labels of the schematic diagram appear first in English, then Russian. In a 2012 analysis, Mr. Wellerstein described the order as “betraying their obvious roots in espionage.” The English labels include “Power Supply” and “Fusing Unit.” In a follow-up analysis, Mr. Wellerstein concluded that Igor Kurchatov, the head of the Soviet bomb project, drew the schematic for Lavrenty Beria, the head of Stalin’s secret police.

The Soviet diagram was dated June 1946, four months after Mr. Seborer left Los Alamos. It shows pairs of wires running from an electrical controller to detonators on the bomb’s exterior — a clear echo of the American reliance on redundant firing circuits.

The main appeal of implosion was that it drastically reduced the amount of bomb fuel needed. The dense metals were hard to obtain and far more valuable than gold. The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were roughly equal in destructiveness — but fuel for the Nagasaki bomb weighed just 14 pounds — one-tenth the weight of the fuel for the Hiroshima bomb. The secret of implosion thus represented the future of atomic weaponry.

Slowly, nuclear experts say, bomb designers cut the plutonium fuel requirement from 14 pounds to about two pounds — a metal ball roughly the size of an orange. These tiny atomic bombs became enormously important in the Cold War, because their fiery blasts served as atomic matches to ignite the thermonuclear fuel of hydrogen bombs.

The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima killed some 80,000 people. But hydrogen bombs can pack 1,000 times the destructive energy — a terrifying fact of atomic life that generated widespread fear of mutual annihilation. A single SS-18 missile, the Cold War’s deadliest Soviet weapon — Western intelligence agencies called it Satan — could easily fire 10 or more hydrogen warheads halfway around the globe.

If the 1956 documents shed light on Mr. Seborer’s crime, they do little to explain why the United States kept the nature of his job and likely espionage secret for 64 years.

One possibility was domestic politics. Several atomic spy scandals shook the nation in the early 1950s, staring with the arrest of the first Los Alamos spy. His testimony led to the capture of the second, and to the execution of the Rosenbergs. The anti-Communist hysteria of the McCarthy era reached a fever pitch between 1950 and 1954. President Dwight Eisenhower, who had put himself above the fray, began to fight back with information leaks and administrative fiats.

Morris and Jack Childs, 1954

The story of Oscar Seborer’s atomic espionage is found in a few dozen easily overlooked pages scattered among tens of thousands of pages of FBI files released in 2011. The rest comes from partially released FBI files on Oscar and Stuart that document Operation SOLO, the codename for the FBI’s recruitment and direction of two communist brothers, Morris and Jack Childs, as informants inside the senior leadership of the Communist Party, USA, (CPUSA) from 1952 until 1980.

Mr. Klehr of Emory said it was late 1955 when the F.B.I. first uncovered firm evidence that Mr. Seborer had been a Soviet spy, prompting the inquiry that led to the Los Alamos correspondence of Sept. 1956. A presidential campaign was then underway, and the last thing President Eisenhower needed was another spy scandal. The same held true in 1960, when Mr. Eisenhower’s vice president, Richard Nixon, fought John F. Kennedy for the White House.

He noted, too, that much F.B.I. information about the Seborers had come from a hugely successful undercover operation known as Solo, which had infiltrated the American Communist Party in the 1950s and continued the monitoring as late as 1977. Most likely, the bureau wanted to do nothing that might risk revealing the identities of its informants.

While the F.B.I. remains tight-lipped, the C.I.A. has shown considerable pride in helping publicly unmask the fourth spy at wartime Los Alamos, perhaps in part because more than seven decades have now passed since Mr. Seborer first entered the secretive site in the New Mexico wilderness.

On Jan. 24, the intelligence agency gave Mr. Klehr and Mr. Haynes an award at C.I.A. headquarters in Virginia for an outstanding contribution to the literature of intelligence. Mr. Klehr, 74, said he and his colleague were delighted with the official recognition of their work. Even so, he said the two men foresaw a need for more research, despite having stumbled on the Seborers seven years ago and having already done much to unveil the hidden drama.

“There’s still a lot to learn,” he said.

This article was condensed from the records of the CIA.

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Military Humor – 

WAS KILROY A SPY TOO?!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Kathleen Condliffe – Waipukurau, NZ; WAAF # 82629

Donald Emmons Sr. – Bay Minette, AL; US Navy, WWII

Paul Gualtieri – Prairie Village, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, SSgt., 58th Bomber Wing, radar

John Kildow – Post Falls, ID; US Navy, WWII / US Air Force, Korea

Betty McAdams – Albion, PA; US Navy WAVE, WWII

George T. Millson – Snobomish, WA; USMC, WWII, Korea / US Air Force, Vietnam

Dewey Partin – MIddleboro, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI

Dorothy Romer – Mindin, NE; US Army WAC, WWII, nurse

Ronald E. Shay – King City, OR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 674th Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Miguel Villalon – Brownsville, TX; US Army, combat engineer, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

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Research for Stefaan…..  click on images to enlarge.

Camp MacKall

New Guinea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I heard back from one contact, Matt Underwood, last night – here is an excerpt from that letter…..

Jeeps assigned to HHQ Co., 187th Glider Infantry Regt., would be if there were 2 jeeps assigned, then each bumper would look the same except one would end in a 1, and the other in a 2.
I will try to find the formula this fellow needs and get back to you by this upcoming Monday, mid-day.  Hopefully, I can find it tonight.  But even this information in this email here may help him to figure it out on his own.  Really and truly, the motor pool of the 11th Airborne Division and its elements would have used the same formula as every other Army unit….meaning, if he can find several examples of other unit markings, he can probably begin to learn how to alter them into similar form for the 11th A/B.

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OSS in the C.B.I. – 1945

In the book, “A COVERT AFFAIR”, Jennet Conant follows the OSS detachments that operated in the CBI Theater.  These members of the forerunner of the CIA included Elizabeth (Betty) MacDonald, her future husband Frederick MacIntosh, Julia McWilliams and her future husband Paul Child, and many others.

From time to time, the OSS teams would report armed clashes in the area (China) as local factions jockeyed for position, “The warlords were always shooting at each other,” recalled Betty, “But we never really felt scared.  We had pretty good protection, and the Flying Tigers kept the Japanese at bay.”

Betty MacDonald w/ colleagues in the doorway of the flooded MO print shop during the 1945 flood in Kumming. The fortified walls around the outpost made the OSS compound a lagoon.

Betty also reported, “the Chinese never followed the rules.  Smuggling was a way of life.  They brazenly peddle state secrets and are equally overt about trading everything from information to arms with  the Japanese.  Everything is for sale.”

Chiang’s people had to approve any proposed OSS operation.  Paul Child said, “The warp and woof of war in China is complex beyond belief.  The inner workings, the who-influences-who, the deals, the sleights of hand, the incredible chicaneries, the artistic venalities, the machinations and the briberies.

Julia Child & others of the OSS

“Some facts are so incredibly romantic and sinister that only hearing hundreds of verbal reports from the mouths of horses themselves finally convinces me of the dreadful reality of the under-the-sea war – the war of back alleys, back rooms, big parties, magnificent whores and equally magnificent blackmails.  It almost becomes the “real” war of which the news-war is only the surface expression.”

American officers of OSS Detachment 101

The chances for honest-to-God peace in China seemed almost impossible.  Even with the European part of the war officially over, the action in the CBI seemed to be amplifying.  Paul Child wrote home to his twin brother Charles in dismay, “Building up, plans for months ahead, materials and personnel being striven for and allocated, and anticipated dangers faced.  Perhaps you will never know what it is to feel profoundly lonely.  Well, you become empty, unbased and bereft.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

Roundup’s staff cartoonist, Sgt. Ralph J. Somerville, was so overjoyed on V-E Day that he sat right down and drew up this cartoon of the situation in which Mussolini, Hitler, and Hirohito find themselves. Of course, as nay fool can plainly see, there isn’t but one title for this: Two off their War Horses and One on His Ass.

Bulletin Board: “There will be absolutely no more experiments in jet propulsion with company vehicles!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Elmer Brown – Orlando, FL; US Navy, WWII, Lt.Commander (Ret. 30 y.)

Arthur Kelm-Gelien (Tab Hunter) – San Francisco, CA; US Coast Guard, (actor)

Saman Kunan – Roi Et, THAI; Thai Navy SEAL, Cave rescue

Cidon Long – Anson, TX; US Army, WWII, homefront German POW guard

Joseph Maciel – South Gate, CA; US Army, Afghanistan, Cpl., 1/28/3rd Infantry Division, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, KIA

Helen Miller – St. Paul, MN; US Army WAC, WWII, ETO

George Ritter – Toledo, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Robert Sutcliffe – Lynbrook, NY; US Navy, WWII

Deisel Tykeson – Ross, ND; US Army, WWII, PTO

Harrison Ward – Lenoir, NC; US Army, WWII, Bronze Star

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PERSONAL NOTE:  My internet was cut-off this morning, hence the late post and lack of visits to your sites.  I will make every attempt this afternoon to correct this.  I thank you in advance for your patience.

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