DeBlasio’s New York, amirite? No, seriously, this is shameful:
Ethel Rosenberg, who was executed with her husband for treason in 1953, was honored Monday by the City Council on what would have been her 100th birthday. Three council members joined Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer in issuing two proclamations lauding Rosenberg, a Lower East Side resident, for “demonstrating great bravery” in leading a 1935 strike against the National New York Packing and Supply Co., where she worked as a clerk. The proclamations also said she was “wrongfully” executed for helping her husband, Julius, pass atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. “A lot of hysteria was created around anti-communism and how we had to defend our country, and these two people were traitors and we rushed to judgment and they were executed,” said Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Queens).
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were tried and convicted of espionage in 1951, having been found guilty of stealing atomic secrets on behalf of the Soviet Union. They were executed two years later, despite loud protests from the American Left, which insisted the couple had been railroaded. Many on the Left remain wedded to the narrative that the Rosenbergs were innocent victims of America’s Cold War red scare, breathlessly reporting claims that support their thesis. What many accounts omit entirely is ironclad evidence of the Rosenbergs’ treachery, declassified decades after the controversial case:
Providing startling evidence on one of the most divisive controversies of the Cold War, intelligence officials revealed Tuesday that the U.S. investigation that led to the executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1953 was based on intercepted Soviet messages that identified them as atomic spies. The government declassified and released the transcripts of 49 messages intercepted from Soviet intelligence agencies dating from the 1940s, revealing that the FBI’s investigation of the Rosenbergs was prompted by top-secret–and damning–intelligence never mentioned in the trial of the Rosenbergs, the first U.S. civilians put to death for espionage. The transcripts “may lay to rest one of the most significant controversies of the Cold War,” observed David Kahn, historian of the National Security Agency, which released the messages during a ceremony at the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency. “This shows that the Rosenbergs spied for the Soviet Union.” … The messages were intercepted and analyzed as part of a top-secret code-breaking program called Venona, which was begun during World War II and which led the FBI to penetrate an extensive Soviet espionage ring aimed at stealing the secrets of the American atomic bomb. The messages were kept secret because the government did not want to compromise the Venona program … The revelations appear to end lingering doubts about the guilt of the Rosenbergs, whose double execution in 1953 led to charges of anti-Semitism and sparked a national controversy that continued long after the end of the McCarthy-era anti-Communist frenzy.
The government convicted the Rosenbergs based on testimony from co-conspirators and circumstantial evidence. For years, critics charged that the overall case against the couple was flimsy; what many people didn’t know was that US intelligence had solid proof of the spies’ guilt that couldn’t be used at trial without tipping off the Soviets. Though Julius Rosenberg (KGB code name: “LIBERAL”) appears to have been the more active agent, the Venona intercepts also mentioned his wife, Ethel. Intelligence expert and former NSA agent John Schindler lays waste to apologists’ latest theory that even if Julius was guilty, Ethel’s conviction was unjust:
VENONA made very clear what Ethel was up to. I’ve worked with VENONA materials for years, including intercepts never released to the public, and I thereby shut the door on denialism regarding Alger Hiss, another one of Stalin’s spies inside the U.S. government that many on the left simply refused to accept was a traitor, although his guilt was firmly established by VENONA…Several VENONA messages reveal important facts about Ethel Rosenberg…This KGB report establishes that Ethel Rosenberg was a trusted person as far as the Kremlin was concerned, a Communist Party member who was witting of her husband’s secret work for Soviet intelligence, as well as the roles of other agents who were part of Julius’ spy network. Code-phrases such as being “devoted” and “well developed politically” reveal that Ethel was a committed Stalinist in whom the Soviet secret police placed trust. That Ethel’s role in Soviet espionage went beyond sympathy was revealed in another KGB message from New York to Moscow, sent on 21 September 1944…Ethel was a such a willing and witting member of the Soviet espionage apparat in mid-1940s America that she was setting up her own sister-in-law as a candidate for recruitment by the KGB. The observation that Ruth Greenglass had a “safe” flat indicates they had clandestine work in mind for her.
Schindler also notes that an influential KGB official’s memoirs referred to Mrs. Rosenberg as a “probationer,” which Schindler explains was KGB-speak for ‘agent.’ Furthermore, he writes, “today’s Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, the SVR, successor to the KGB famed foreign intelligence arm, proudly proclaims both Julius and Ethel Rosenberg as ‘greats’ who served Moscow.” The Rosenbergs were Soviet spies, as was the contemptible Alger Hiss. Period. These are established facts, no matter how badly some on the Left still seek to wish them away. Hats off to you, New York City Council; now that you’ve fulsomely saluted an infamous American traitor, you’re now free to follow in the footsteps of other big city governing bodies by, say, tackling the important business of harassing Chick-fil-A over executives’ thought crimes. I’ll leave you with a link to Seth Barron’s City Journal piece chronicling New York progressives’ stomach-turning romanticism of anti-American radicals.