Tom Archer's Blog

Windows and Web developer with Social Media tendencies

Rosenberg Grand Jury Transcripts Released

I’ve always had a personal fascination and academic interest in cryptography, codes and espionage.

So I was especially pleased to see on MSNBC tonight that the transcripts of the grand jury testimony of Ethel Rosenberg and Ruth Greenglass were released today by the National Archives – as a result of a lawsuit filed by the National Security Archive.

Julius and Ethel Greenglass Rosenberg were alleged American communists who were executed in 1953 after having been found guilty of conspiracy to commit espionage. The charges were in relation to the passing of information about the American atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. (Ruth Greenglass was Ethel’s sister-in-law and provided key testimony against Ethel)

The guilt of the Rosenbergs and the appropriateness of their sentence have been the subject of perennial debate and from the little I already know about from reading these documents, they are only going to add fuel to that controversy.

Sadly, U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein decided to make public the grand jury testimony of 36 of the 46 witnesses but not that of David Greenglass (Ethel’s brother). Citing the objections of David Greenglass and two other living witnesses, the judge claimed that their privacy rights “overrides the public’s need to know.” How many lives has the government and media destroyed (Can you say “Richard Jewell“?) while supposedly serving the “public’s right to know” and now we’re supposed to believe that the privacy of a witness to a crime committed over 50 years ago is more important than the rights of citizens to see for themselves if a miscarriage of justice occurred? Is it me or does our government have less respect for our collective intelligence each passing year?

That little diatribe aside, I’m definitely looking forward to carving out some time to read through the documents that marked a critical time and issue in our country’s history.

  1. List of Witnesses Interviewed (including interview, pages numbers and page counts)
  2. Downloadable options for reading transcripts

September 12, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,

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