Potentially exculpatory testimony unsealed in Rosenberg spy case


Newly unsealed court records may provide fodder for those who believe Ethel Rosenberg was wrongly convicted and executed.

Rosenberg and her husband, Julius, who were Jewish, were famously put to death in 1953 in Ossining, New York, for conspiring to share atomic secrets with the Soviet Union.

The potentially exculpatory material is in testimony by Rosenberg’s brother David Greenglass that was unsealed Wednesday, The Associated Press reported. Greenglass, who died last July at 92, was the lead witness in the McCarthy-era case against the Rosenbergs.

In the 1951 trial, Greenglass said he shared information he had obtained from the Los Alamos, New Mexico, headquarters of the Manhattan Project with the Rosenbergs and that he saw Ethel Rosenberg transcribe the information on a typewriter in 1945.

In the newly released 46-page transcript of a grand jury hearing on Aug. 7, 1950, which is believed to be the last material from the case to have remained classified, Greenglass made no mention of his sisters’ typing and said he had never discussed spying with her.

Greenglass, who was indicted as a co-conspirator, served nearly 10 years in prison, then changed his name, The New York Times reported.

Tracked down decades later by a New York Times reporter, Greenglass said he had lied on the witness stand to save his wife from prosecution, according to the Times.

Greenglass said in the 1950 testimony that while his brother-in-law urged him to stay in the U.S. Army in order to “continue giving him information,” he never spoke to his sister about the topic.

“I said before, and say it again, honestly, this is a fact: I never spoke to my sister about this at all,” he said.

After Greenglass’ death, the Rosenbergs’ sons, according to the AP, issued a statement saying that David and Ruth Greenglass had passed atomic secrets to the Soviets, then “pinned what they did on our parents — a calculated ploy to save themselves by fingering our parents as the scapegoats the government demanded.”

James Baker says Bush’s Syria policy is ‘ridiculous’; Sobell finally gives it up


Baker Calls Bush ‘Ridiculous’ on Syria

The Bush administration’s refusal to deal with Syria is “ridiculous,” said James Baker, a former U.S. secretary of state.

Five former secretaries of state met Monday under the auspices of CNN to discuss what advice they would give the next president.

“I would advise the president to fully engage with Syria,” said Baker, who as secretary of state under Bush’s father helped convene the 1991 Madrid talks, which for the first time brought Israelis, Palestinians, Syrians and other Arab nations into the same process. “I think it is ridiculous for us to say we’re not going to talk to Syria and yet Israel has been talking to them for six to eight months.”

The Bush administration has discouraged Israel’s talks with Syria, currently held under Turkish auspices. Israel wants to draw Syria away from the Iranian sphere; the Bush administration says it will not engage Syria until it fully disengages from Lebanon and stops its support for terrorist groups.

Also appearing at the session were Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher, who served under President Bill Clinton; Colin Powell, who served under the current President Bush; and Henry Kissinger, who served under presidents Nixon and Ford.

Figure in Rosenberg Case Admits Spying

One of the co-defendants in the Rosenberg espionage case has admitted to spying for the Soviets.

Morton Sobell, who was tried and convicted in 1951 with Julius and Ethel Rosenberg on espionage charges, admitted for the first time on Sept. 11 in an interview with The New York Times that he had turned over military secrets to the Soviets during World War II.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, call it that,” he told The Times when asked if he was a spy. “I never thought of it as that in those terms.”

Sobell drew a distinction between providing information on defensive radar and artillery, which he did, and the information that, he said, Julius Rosenberg provided to the Soviets on the atomic bomb. He said he believes the Soviets already had obtained from other sources most of the information Rosenberg provided.

Sobell also said he believed that Ethel Rosenberg was aware of her husband’s spying, but did not actively participate. Both Rosenbergs were executed for their crimes.

The 91-year-old Sobell, who long had professed his innocence, refused to testify at his trial and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. He was released in 1969 and currently lives in the Bronx, N.Y.

He spoke as the National Archives released the bulk of the grand jury testimony in the Rosenberg case.