ISCAP Release Provides Oral History of Distinguished Career in Nuclear Detection Technology

The newly declassified transcript of an oral history interview conducted in 1973 with United States Air Force scientist Doyle Northrup has been posted by the ISCAP Staff on its webpage. The document can be viewed here.

The document, tracked as appeal 2015-107, is remarkable in two primary respects. First, it is a comprehensive first-person account of the career of a distinguished physicist who started his career with the Navy before World War II and finished it with the Air Force in the middle of the Cold War. Northrup describes in detail his work first in submarine detection and then in the critical field of the detection of nuclear detonations, including accounts of the Pearl Harbor attack and of international conferences concerning long range nuclear detection that included Soviet scientists.

Second, the document illustrates the longevity of the national security sensitivity of specific aspects of nuclear detection technology. The public will see portions in this document that remain classified under three categories of declassification exemption: 50X4, 50X6, and 50X8. These exemption categories, taken from section 3.3(b) of Executive Order 13526, concern information that would reveal classified details of state-of-the-art technology (exemption 4), impair foreign relations (exemption 6), and reveal vulnerabilities of systems relating to national security (exemption 8). The provision for the exemption of information contained in records older than 50 years (including records within five years of approaching that age, like this document) is section 3.3(h) of that Order. There is also information in the document identified as Restricted Data, which is classified under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended. The public should understand that these redactions have been applied as narrowly as possible in order to maximize disclosure while continuing to protect national security information. 

–Bill Carpenter, ISCAP Staff

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