Howard Morland

Howard Morland (born September 14, 1942) is an American journalist and activist against nuclear weapons who, in 1979, became famous for apparently discovering the "secret" of the hydrogen bomb (the Teller–Ulam design) and publishing it after a lengthy censorship attempt by the Department of Energy (United States v. The Progressive).[1] Because of some similarities in experience, he became outspoken in the protest against the detention of Mordechai Vanunu.[2]

Howard Morland
Howard Morland 2008.jpg
Born (1942-09-14) September 14, 1942 (age 77)
Birmingham, Alabama
Occupationjournalist, author, activist


Morland graduated from Emory University in 1965 and entered Air Force pilot training, at Lubbock, Texas, aspiring to a career in astronautics or commercial aviation.[3][4][5] As a C-141 jet transport pilot, he was trained to carry nuclear weapons as cargo. He noted that the full-size bomb casings used in training were astonishingly small, of a size that could easily be mishandled.[3]

His wartime assignment was flying from California to Vietnam two to three times a month, returning with combat veterans and the bodies of soldiers who were killed in the war.[6] Having opposed the war since before it began, he left the Air Force and embarked on a two-year trip around the world starting and ending in Hawaii. In fifteen months abroad, he passed through two dozen countries of southern Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, acquiring a personal feel for cultural diversity and global issues. Back in Hawaii, he surfed big waves and flew ten-passenger "Twin Beech" aircraft on all-island aerial tours.[3] As a flight instructor, he developed a novel method of teaching new students to land an airplane by the end of the first lesson.[7]

When Dennis Meadows, co-author of The Limits to Growth, gave a lecture in Honolulu, Morland took him surfing and was invited to join his new graduate study program at Dartmouth, where, after a year of course work, Morland joined the New England anti-nuclear Clamshell Alliance and became a full-time organizer. His objection to nuclear power was its potential for reactor melt-down, but his real concern was nuclear weapons, which he wanted to see abolished worldwide.[3]

In 1978, magazine editor Samuel H. Day recruited Morland to write a series of articles on nuclear weapons for The Progressive, a magazine based in Madison, Wisconsin. The federal government tried to halt publication of his second article, "The H-Bomb Secret: How We Got It, Why We're Telling It", taking the magazine to court.[8][9] Publication was blocked for six months by government intervention which provoked a landmark First Amendment legal case, United States v. The Progressive. The government's case for censorship collapsed when the information in question was shown to be in the public domain. Ironically, the court case produced new information that enabled Morland to correct a number of errors in his original article.[10]

The article is often erroneously described as a set of instructions for building a thermonuclear bomb. Morland has rebutted that such a bomb could only be built a nation state; moreover, the information is conceptual -- no engineering details are provided in the article. According to Morland, the article's purpose was to help energize the Ban-the-bomb movement and merge it with the broader Anti-nuclear movement.[11]

During the 1980s Morland worked on Capitol Hill as an arms-control lobbyist with the Coalition for a New Foreign and Military Policy, a group that (under a slightly different name) had played a key role in forcing the House of Representatives to begin publishing recorded vote tallies on amendments to bills during the Vietnam war era.[12] Morland published the group's annual voting record, wrote articles, toured the college and activist [13] lecture circuits, was active in the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign, and specialized in connecting activists from the most liberal, i.e., most urbanized, Congressional districts to an annual effort to de-fund the Navy's Trident II D-5 ballistic missile.[14] At the end of the decade, he worked for the House of Representatives, as the military legislative analyst for the liberal Democratic Study Group.[15]

After the Cold War ended, he created multi-media training programs for a company started by a graduate school colleague, and started his own residential carpentry company, Morland Designs. In retirement, he participates in kayak races and works on Wikipedia articles about nuclear weapons and kayaking.

His wife, Barbara Morland, retired in 2017 from a thirty-year-career at the Library of Congress, the last twenty years as head of the Main Reading Room.[16] They have two daughters and four grandchildren.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Kennedy, Caroline; Ellen Alderman (1991). "Freedom of the press: United States v. The Progressive". In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action. Avon Books. pp. 37–55. ISBN 978-0380717200.
  2. ^ Loeb, Vernon (February 10, 2000). "Nuclear Sorehead: How Howard Morland Learned to Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb". The Washington Post. The Washington Post Company. p. C01. Retrieved April 15, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d Morland, Howard (1981). The Secret That Exploded. Random House. ISBN 978-0394512976. pp 23, 24.
  4. ^ Garrison, Peter (September 2005). "White Rocket: How all U.S. Air Force pilots since 1968 have met their Mach". Air & Space Magazine. Retrieved 2013-04-19.
  5. ^ Morland, Howard (5 June 2008). "Memories of Reese T-38's". Reese Air Force Base website. Bruce Richardson. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  6. ^ Morland, Howard (15 October 1990). "Why War is Ignoble". Newsweek. Retrieved 2013-04-19.
  7. ^ Garrison, Peter (1984). "Learning to Land". Flying. 111 (8): 79, 80. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  8. ^ Edward Wong (February 5, 2001). "Samuel H. Day Jr., Champion of Free Speech, Dies at 74". The New York Times.
  9. ^ Morland, Howard (November 1979). "The H-Bomb Secret: to Know How is to Ask Why" (PDF). The Progressive. 43 (11): 3–12. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  10. ^ Morland, Howard (March 2005). "The Article". Cardozo Law Review. 26 (4): 1366–1378. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  11. ^ Morland, Howard (5 June 2008). "The Holocaust Bomb: A Question of Time". Federation of American Scientists website. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  12. ^ O'Neill, Thomas P. Jr.; Novak, William (1987). Man of the House, The Life and Political Memoirs of Speaker Tip O'Neill. Random House. ISBN 978-0-394-56505-7. p 205.
  13. ^ Joyce, Janey (1 June 1982). "Do-It-Yourself H-Bomb Maker Brings Anti-Nuke Drive Here". Amarillo Globe Times: 1.
  14. ^ McCarthy, Colman (12 January 1986). "The D5: One Preemptive Strike, You're Out". The Washington Post: H10.
  15. ^ Harper, Ivy (June 1988). "By-Bye Hydrogen Pie: In 1979, America freaked out when Howard Morland explained how to build an H-Bomb. In 1988, the Democrats hired him as a defense analyst". American Politics. 3 (6).pp 18-23.
  16. ^ Osterberg, ed. (2016), "Morland, Hessler Receive Billington Staff Awards", Library of Congress Gazette, Washington (Vol. 27, No. 47, December 9, 2016), p. 3

Further readingEdit

  • Howard Morland, The secret that exploded (New York: Random House, 1981).
  • A. DeVolpi, G.E. Marsh, T.A. Postol, and G.S. Stanford, Born Secret: The H-bomb, the Progressive Case and National Security (New York: Pergamon Press, 1981).

External linksEdit