Michael Dukakis, the Democratic former governor of Massachusetts, has written President Obama to pardon Soviet spy Ethel Rosenberg, wife of Julius Rosenberg. The husband and wife team were executed in 1953 for stealing atomic secrets to pass on to the USSR.
“The Rosenberg case provides a compelling lesson about the denial of justice and due process in times of hysteria, and the abuse of government power against politically unpopular groups — a lesson that remains alarmingly relevant today, with Islamophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment, and racism still infecting our criminal justice system, electoral politics, and public policy," Dukakis stated.
In his letter to Obama, Dukakis shoehorns the Rosenberg case into the Democrat’s current party line. What does that tell you?
In any case, long before Dukakis sent his recent letter, the children of the couple have spent their adult lifetimes also claiming their parents are innocent. The truth, however, was verified in 1996 by the Venona project, a U.S. code-breaking operation able to decipher and read messages from Moscow to their American spies.
Execution would have been avoided if the Rosenberg couple had admitted they were communists. The martyrdom the two sought by remaining silent became the standard modus operandi employed by communists. For example, in front of the House Un-American Committee’s investigation into communist activity in the entertainment industry, the so-called Hollywood Ten tried to out-do sacrifices to communism — and the USSR — by refusing to confirm they were, or had been, Party members. All ten went to prison, but avoided execution. But they did suffer economically from the Black List, imposed by studio heads and other Hollywood and New York entertainment companies.
Though the Hollywood Ten refused to verify they were ever communists, everyone else knew. This refusal not to tell the truth to Congress was all for show, seeking martyrdom in the Rosenberg manner. Most were proud of their commitment to the Party, so why the ridiculous subterfuge?
The Rosenberg’s gave their lives for communism — and the Party — the ultimate sacrifice to demonstrate elevating the collective propaganda over the weaknesses of the individual. For setting the bar at ultimate sacrifice, it can be argued the Rosenberg trial and execution is among the most lasting symbols of the communist side in the Cold War.
Yet, there is something grotesque about the Rosenberg’s abandoning their two small boys for ideological reasons. Michael and Robert Meropol, taking the name of the kindly couple who adopted them, continue their lifetime search for evidence that exonerates their parents. Now the brothers are at it again, lobbying Obama to grant a pardon — but only for Ethel. Why?
The answer begins with the 1975 British declassification of the now famous World War 11 Ultra project, the hush-hush operation to break the “unbreakable” German Enigma code. Prompted by the declassification of Ultra, the U.S. made a splash by releasing Venona, its own secret code-breaking achievement. Beginning in 1942, and in use until the early 1960s, the U.S. was intercepting and decoding messages sent from Moscow to the Soviet Union’s American spies.
Among the attendees at the CIA/NSA conference to publicize Venona were Michael and Richard Meeropol, hoping Venona messages did not mention their parents. Sadly for them, several messages did mention their father, with personal code names and direct messages describing stolen documents. The Meeropol brothers gave in reluctantly and re-directed their efforts for a pardon for Ethel only.
One way to understand the Rosenberg drama is the film "Heir to an Execution," an authentic account, written, directed, and presented by none other than Ivy Meeropol, the daughter of Michael Meeropol. She takes audiences on a personal tour of New York City’s left-wing and communist community in her trek to find out if her grandparents were really Soviet spies. Near the end of the film, Ivy interviews her father and brings up Venona. Michael wept.
Bernie Reeves founded five regional publications and the Raleigh Spy Conference. His writing has appeared in National Review and American Thinker. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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