Ron Radosh

To the Mainstream Media, Ethel Rosenberg Was Completely Innocent

The mainstream media has again proclaimed the innocence of Ethel Rosenberg. They are being influenced by the ongoing campaign of her sons, Michael and Robert Meeropol, to have their mother declared not guilty of “conspiracy to commit espionage.”

The Meeropols’ campaign began in mid-October, when 60 Minutes devoted its two top segments to the effort to exonerate her. I was asked to appear on the show to supposedly offer balance, but 60 Minutes edited out my most convincing arguments.

I responded with this article, published by the Washington Free Beacon:

I and my associates, Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes, Steven Usdin, and Mark Kramer, all of whom have written on the Rosenberg case, provided the producers of the show copious copies of KGB material from the Vassiliev files, specific KGB messages from the Venona decrypts, and thoroughly answered their questions about the case.

The material proved beyond any doubt that Ethel Rosenberg was indeed guilty of “conspiracy to commit espionage.”

Mark Kramer, director of Harvard University’s Center for Cold War Studies, responded this way after watching the program:

When Ron Radosh was finally brought in, he explained well why the Meeropols are dead wrong, but unfortunately the 60 Minutes producers gave him much less time, and they omitted some of his crucial arguments.

And Steve Usdin summed up the case against Ethel as co-conspirator:

She met with at least three of the Soviet KGB officers who Julius reported to, served as a “cut out” for communications with a KGB officer on at least one occasion, and she recruited her brother to become an atomic spy.

KGB documents indicate that Ethel knew of her husband’s activities, knew he had recruited several of his comrades to spy for Stalin, and that the Soviet intelligence agency trusted Ethel.

The Meeropols are nothing if not persistent. They were dealt a terrible legacy when Ethel told them — in a letter she wrote to them before being executed — that she and her husband Julius were both innocent. Their sons have spent their adulthood trying to prove it.

Last week, the brothers appeared at the White House gates, seeking to give President Obama a letter asking him to exonerate her. Their appearance received major press attention.

First came an unprecedented full-page editorial in The Boston Globe. Then an AP press report, followed by a column by Joe Helm in the Washington Post. Today, it’s the topic of a feature article in the Times of Israel from reporter Rich Tenorio.

These articles have two things in common: not one of the writers seems to know anything about the Rosenberg case; and they all accept the Meeropols claims as true.

Evidently, not a single writer or reporter bothered to find out if the claims were correct, nor did those who mentioned the 60 Minutes feature note that I was on that same program presenting the opposite view.

The research wouldn’t have been tough. Within seconds, they could have found the two articles I wrote on Ethel’s guilt for the Wall Street Journal.

In my first article, I showed that even though her brother David Greenglass lied on the stand when he said that Ethel had typed handwritten material he had given her and Julius Rosenberg, meant to be passed to the Soviets, that did not mean Ethel was innocent:

It never occurs to these reporters that at the early stage of his arrest David Greenglass was desperately trying to protect his sister and to convince the government to leave her out of the indictment.

We also know that when he first went for legal advice, he even left Julius out of his confession.

In my second article, I again pointed out the above points:

[T]he Venona decrypts of KGB transmissions to its American agents in the 1940s, and KGB files released by a Russian defector who now lives in Britain, Alexander Vassiliev — showed concretely Ethel’s involvement in her husband’s espionage ring.

How many times does one have to do this?

Before the trial, David Greenglass tried to keep his sister out of harm’s way, and he said she was not involved. When it became clear that Greenglass provided nothing about the guilt of his sister — and the government prosecutors made it clear they needed something — he changed his earlier position. At the trial, he said that Ethel had, in his sight, typed handwritten material he had given the network to go to the Soviet Union, and that the Soviets received the typewritten material. This was false testimony.

Both the Venona decrypts and the Vassiliev Notebooks show that the network handed over David’s handwritten report, and it was this that Soviet intelligence received. If that false testimony was the only evidence available about what Ethel did, she indeed should have been found innocent.

But it was not.

All the media that accepted the Meeropols’ statement on 60 Minutes did not even check to see what other evidence exists that proves Ethel was involved in the espionage network Julius Rosenberg set up. Nor did they seek any of our group to find out if the brothers’ claims were true.

These reporters should also have taken the time to read the article written by intelligence expert John Schindler about the 60 Minutes episode. Because Schindler attached all the pertinent documents, none of which were seemingly examined by the press, that prove Ethel’s guilt and negate the Meeropols claim.

Why does it seem not even one of these journalists did a Google search on the topic?

The writer in Times of Israel mentions that the petition declaring Ethel Rosenberg innocent was signed by … Michael Moore, Angela Davis, and Noam Chomsky.

He evidently thinks their signatures bring prestige to the campaign. In fact, it only proves that three of the most distrusted, deceitful people from the far left-wing fringe know the petition could be strong propaganda against the U.S., which all three see as a nation that has no justice.

The facts do not matter to them. Recruiting more soldiers to their left-wing activities is their real concern.

In a few decades, if not sooner, no one will remember the Meeropols’ failed campaign. All they will know is that Ethel and her husband Julius were both Soviet spies. And that they sought to, and succeeded in, giving the Soviet Union valuable material pertaining to the atomic bomb, as well as other top secret military data.

Americans should learn their true history, and come to understand why some of American citizens acted to betray their country. The media obviously does not want them to find out. That is why we cannot let this myth that Ethel Rosenberg was innocent continue.