Friday, September 12, 2008


Julius Rosenberg guilty of treason:
In 1951, Morton Sobell was tried and convicted with Julius and Ethel Rosenberg on espionage charges. He served more than 18 years in Alcatraz and other federal prisons, traveled to Cuba and Vietnam after his release in 1969 and became an advocate for progressive causes.

Through it all, he maintained his innocence.

But on Thursday, Mr. Sobell, 91, dramatically reversed himself, shedding new light on a case that still fans smoldering political passions. In an interview, he admitted for the first time that he had been a Soviet spy.

And he implicated his fellow defendant Julius Rosenberg, in a conspiracy that delivered to the Soviets classified military and industrial information and what the American government described as the secret to the atomic bomb.

In the interview with The New York Times, Mr. Sobell, who lives in the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx, was asked whether, as an electrical engineer, he turned over military secrets to the Soviets during World War II when they were considered allies of the United States and were bearing the brunt of Nazi brutality. Was he, in fact, a spy?

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, call it that,” he replied. “I never thought of it as that in those terms.”

h/t: Below the Beltway

Worth mentioning that this is why showing leniency in the case of spying for a "friendly" nation is a bad idea. Spying is spying, and treason is treason. Unless it's "espionage," which brings me to my other point. I understand the pragmatic reasons for prosecuting people for espionage vice treason, but I find it incredible that someone who compromised information that cost American lives was able to get off with a sentence of 18 years. I find it incredible that someone like Robert Hanssen or Aldrich Ames who did irreparable damage to U.S. intelligence efforts is able to live out the rest of their days in a federal prison. Of course, there's a flip side in that Ethel Rosenberg was probably executed for the crime of being Julius' wife, but that makes it all the more amazing to me that in an open-shut case like Hanssen or Ames they are still able to plea out to life without parole. Like I said, I understand the pragmatic reasons, but it doesn't make it any less unsatisfying.

Personally, I'm old school when it comes to treason...