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Rosenbergs caused damage

October 11, 2008

Re "The essential lessons of the Rosenberg case," Opinion, Oct. 5

Michael and Robert Meeropol correctly point out that recently released grand jury testimony supports long-standing criticisms of the fairness of their parents' prosecution. The trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and Morton Sobell was a travesty of justice, and the Rosenbergs' execution was a tragedy.

That said, the historical record does not bear out their statement that "there is no clear proof to this day of the value of the military/industrial information that [Julius Rosenberg], Sobell or others transmitted." Soviet intelligence cables decrypted under the "Venona" program, declassified FBI files, memoirs of former Soviet intelligence officers and other sources make it possible to assess the significance of the "non-atomic" information the Rosenberg ring stole from the U.S. government. The Rosenberg spy ring put the lives of Americans at risk during World War II.

Sobell and others defend the Rosenberg ring's actions as merely helping an ally in the war against fascism. In fact, they were motivated by a devotion to communism. Rosenberg's attempts to spy for the U.S.S.R. started before the German invasion of Russia, when Hitler and Stalin were allies. He and his recruits continued spying until June 1950, long after the defeat of the fascists.

Steve Usdin

Washington

The writer is the author of "Engineering Communism: How Two Americans Spied for Stalin and Founded the Soviet Silicon Valley."

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