Most Justice Department lawyers assigned to the case want to abandon a lawsuit that would block publication of a magazine article on the building of a hydrogen bomb, it was learned yesterday.
A majority of the seven-member team has told Attorney General Griffin B. Bell that public availability in a Los Alamos, N.M., library of H-bomb secrets badly undercuts the case for prohibiting the Progressive magazine from publishing the controversial piece.
Bit Terrence B. Adamson, a special assistant to Bell who has been working on the case, indicated that the government will continue the court action.
". . . In any case, you have divergent views expressed as to various strengths and weaknesses, and that is healthy," Adamson said.
Under the Atomic Energy Act, Adamson said, the attorney general's authorization is required for an injunction to block publication "and the attorney general is up to date on the case."
"We've assessed the facts, and we very much believe in the position that prompted us to file suit," Adamson said.
Meanwhile, it was learned that the FBI's interest in pursuing a criminal investigation of Howard Morland, author of the H-bomb article, "waned considerably" when it was established that similar material was already "in the public domain," as one source put it. An FBI spokesman would not comment on the bureau's investigation.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert W. Warren has scheduled a hearing for next Tuesday in Milwaukee on a motion by the American Civil Liberties Union to lift the premilinary injunction he issued against publication of the H-bomb article March 26.
The ACLU, counsel for Progressive editors Erwin Knoll and Samuel H. Day Jr., asked for the hearing to weigh new evidence.