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Ethel Rosenberg Convicted and Executed on Basis of Perjured Testimony

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  • Ethel Rosenberg Convicted and Executed on Basis of Perjured Testimony

    Rosenberg transcripts raise possibility of perjury

    By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer Fri Sep 12, 10:46 AM ET

    WASHINGTON - Newly released grand jury transcripts add strong evidence to the argument that the conviction and execution of Ethel Rosenberg in the Cold War's biggest espionage case were based on perjured testimony.

    In recent years, one of the two key witnesses against Rosenberg recanted his testimony. It now appears that the other witness made up her testimony. too. The witnesses were Ethel's brother and sister-in-law, David and Ruth Greenglass.

    Thanks to the work of a team of lawyers and historians, the government released the grand jury testimony that formed the basis for the charges against Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

    At the Rosenbergs' trial, the Greenglasses testified that Ethel Rosenberg had typed stolen atomic secrets from notes provided by David Greenglass. The testimony provided the direct involvement the jury needed to convict Ethel Rosenberg and that the judge in the case needed to sentence her to death.

    On Thursday, after spending several hours poring over the transcripts, the lawyers and historians spotted a major omission in Ruth Greenglass' testimony to the grand jury. Nowhere does Ruth Greenglass tell the story about seeing Ethel Rosenberg type up the secrets.

    In fact, in her grand jury testimony, Ruth Greenglass says she herself wrote out the secrets in longhand. That testimony is consistent with subsequently decrypted Soviet cables from the time in which the Soviets describe material received from the Rosenbergs as being in longhand.

    Also Thursday, a man who was convicted with the Rosenbergs on espionage charges in 1951 admitted for the first time that he spied for the Soviet Union.

    Morton Sobell, 91, told The New York Times that he turned over military secrets to the Soviets during World War II, when the country was allied with Washington fighting the Nazis. Asked if he was spying, he said: "Yeah, yeah, yeah, call it that. I never thought of it as that in those terms."

    Sobell, who lives in New York, was released from prison in 1969 and had maintained his innocence.

    In the interview for the Times' Friday editions, Sobell, an electrical engineer, said the equipment he stole for the Russians were radar and artillery devices, not atomic secrets.

    Sobell said he believes Ethel Rosenberg was aware of espionage by her husband but didn't actively participate. "What was she guilty of? Of being Julius's wife," he said.

    The grand jury testimony from Ruth Greenglass confirms that the trial testimony about Ethel Rosenberg typing secrets is a fabrication, said Georgetown University law professor David Vladeck, part of the team that succeeded in gaining public release of the transcripts.

    "The Rosenberg case illustrates the excesses that can occur when we're afraid," said Meredith Fuchs, general counsel to the National Security Archive, one of the private groups that fought in court to get the testimony released.

    "In the 1950s, we were afraid of communism; today, we're afraid of terrorism. We don't want to make the same mistakes we made 50 years ago," Fuchs said.

    The material reveals that nearly four dozen witnesses testified to the grand jury. Only four of them testified at the Rosenbergs' trial. Among those who did not testify at the trial but did testify to the grand jury were a man and wife who the FBI believed were Soviet agents.

    But they never were charged and the transcripts show that prosecutors made no effort to question any of the grand jury witnesses about a series of stolen U.S. non-nuclear defense secrets that the government felt many of the witnesses knew about. The stolen secrets included proximity fuses used by the Soviets to shoot down the U-2 spy plane of Francis Gary Powers.

    The government also had evidence that the Rosenberg ring gave the Soviets secrets about airborne radar, land-based radar, analog computers used for guiding anti-aircraft weapons and information for the first designs of U.S. jet engines, said Steve Usdin, an author who helped win release of the grand jury material.

    Why didn't the grand jury delve into the theft of non-nuclear secrets?

    "I think that discussion of all of these other secrets that they gave the Soviets probably would have caused a great deal of alarm among the public and would have raised questions about the competence of American counterintelligence," said Usdin.
    Moon

  • #2
    Great book out there on David Greenglass that sort of makes this point. Good read.
    On my mind: How can I shut up the singing English graduate student? How many more lossess will KU's basketball team have than its football team? How will the Rams front office screw up this year?


    Official lounge sponsor of Will Witherspoon, Russell Robinson, and all other things Jayhawk at the lounge (which ain't much).

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    • #3
      We did a re-enactment of the Rosenberg trial in history class in eighth grade. I got Morton Sobell off.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Maverick View Post
        We did a re-enactment of the Rosenberg trial in history class in eighth grade. I got Morton Sobell off.
        Hand, mouth, or arse?

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        • #5
          Reason number 1 for no death penalty.
          Be passionate about what you believe in, or why bother.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by madyaks View Post
            Reason number 1 for no death penalty.
            So if there's 100% scientific proof someone is guilty the death penalty shouldn't be enforced?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by madyaks View Post
              Reason number 1 for no death penalty.
              Knowledge of espionage without reporting it is probably grounds for the exact same crime she was convicted of.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by 210 View Post
                So if there's 100% scientific proof someone is guilty the death penalty shouldn't be enforced?
                After the fact that we might be killing innocent people (the best reason to end it, that and the "who made you god" part)

                But the second set of reasoning is important too, your guy might be 100% guilty, they have him on video and DNA, I want a system that is equal to all involved, no issue of race, no issues of prosecutions for political reasons (prosecutors needing convictions for rel-election), the same crimes being looked at for death cases in Chicago that are looked at in Vandalia (as examples).

                I will still dislike the idea that a jury of people decide who lives and dies, but if we are going to have it make it fair, totally impartial.
                Be passionate about what you believe in, or why bother.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Maverick View Post
                  Knowledge of espionage without reporting it is probably grounds for the exact same crime she was convicted of.
                  "Ride with an outlaw, die with an outlaw."

                  -- Augustus McRae, fictional character

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by madyaks View Post
                    After the fact that we might be killing innocent people (the best reason to end it, that and the "who made you god" part)

                    But the second set of reasoning is important too, your guy might be 100% guilty, they have him on video and DNA, I want a system that is equal to all involved, no issue of race, no issues of prosecutions for political reasons (prosecutors needing convictions for rel-election), the same crimes being looked at for death cases in Chicago that are looked at in Vandalia (as examples).

                    I will still dislike the idea that a jury of people decide who lives and dies, but if we are going to have it make it fair, totally impartial.
                    The "who made you God?" argument doesn't hold much water as the Old Testament indicates the death penalty is acceptable for murder (He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death. Exodus 21:12).

                    Now granted there are other offenses that qualify for the death penalty in the Old Testament that don't qualify now (including some that are not even crimes in modern society), but murder is pretty well spelled out.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Maverick View Post
                      Knowledge of espionage without reporting it is probably grounds for the exact same crime she was convicted of.
                      Well...no.

                      At the Rosenbergs' trial, the Greenglasses testified that Ethel Rosenberg had typed stolen atomic secrets from notes provided by David Greenglass. The testimony provided the direct involvement the jury needed to convict Ethel Rosenberg and that the judge in the case needed to sentence her to death.
                      Moon

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                      • #12
                        Moon, I know little of detail about this case. Is that the only thing they fried her on, the typing?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Moon Man View Post
                          Well...no.



                          Moon
                          Yeah, I read that, but I can't believe that knowledge of an espionage plot without reporting it couldn't be turned into conspiracy to commit espionage by a prosecutor at the height of the red scare. Maybe I'm wrong.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Maverick View Post
                            Yeah, I read that, but I can't believe that knowledge of an espionage plot without reporting it couldn't be turned into conspiracy to commit espionage by a prosecutor at the height of the red scare. Maybe I'm wrong.
                            Treason requires the direct testimony of two eyewitnesses to the said treasonous act. And...

                            U.S. Code: Title 18, Chapter 115 - Misprision of Treason:

                            Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States and having knowledge of the commission of any treason against them, conceals and does not, as soon as may be, disclose and make known the same to the President or to some judge of the United States, or to the governor or to some judge or justice of a particular State, is guilty of misprision of treason and shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than seven years, or both.
                            Moon

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Reggie Cleveland View Post
                              Moon, I know little of detail about this case. Is that the only thing they fried her on, the typing?
                              Dunno. Supposeably.

                              Moon

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