The Evils of the Manhattan Project

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As ‘Oppenheimer’ movie debuts, FBI’s secret search for lesbians in Manhattan Project revealed.

SEATTLE — In 1943, thousands of workers began arriving at remote outposts in Washington, New Mexico and Tennessee where American ingenuity would be pressed to its limit in a secret and frantic push to build the first atomic bomb.

One particular group of eight women at Hanford in Eastern Washington and Los Alamos in New Mexico would have been among the forgotten, if not for the FBI’s feverish hunt for private details about their lives. The government that had recruited them to the elite Manhattan Project was now trying to strip them of vital security clearances by proving they were lesbians.

The Manhattan Project’s defining role in U.S. history is now in the spotlight via the newly released movie “Oppenheimer,” which chronicles the famed scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer’s work and the government’s hard-line efforts to kick him, too, out of the nuclear weapons program.

While movies and biographies spotlight Oppenheimer, thousands of others toiled in obscurity in the Manhattan Project, even as their contributions altered the trajectory of history. They were history’s extras.

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