Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Phantom report/ Robert Meeropol: Sixty Years Ago Today



I picked up Phantom today after the Tuesday peace vigil.  Fortunately, he has no broken bones.  Instead, a puncture was found in his right shoulder, and the infection caused his limp.  So he had the infection cleaned up, and I have to give him an antibiotic.  Of course, he wanted to go out once we got home, but he will have to wait until Wednesday. He is as frisky as ever with an appetite.






Sixty Years Ago Today


By Robert Meeropol

Director's Blog, The Rosenberg Fund for Children

April 05,2011




Sixty years ago today, Federal Judge Irving R. Kaufman

sentenced my parents to death. He justified the death penalty

for their 'Conspiracy to Commit Espionage' (planning to

commit espionage) conviction by saying their 'conduct in

putting into the hands of the Russians the A-bomb years

before our best scientists predicted Russia would perfect the

bomb has already caused, in my opinion, the Communist

aggression in Korea, with the resultant casualties exceeding

fifty thousand.'


The hoopla about Morton Sobell's recent statements that he

and my father engaged in non-atomic espionage to help the

Soviet Union both during and after World War II serves to

distract attention from Judge Kaufman's towering lie: that

the government of the United States knew that neither Ethel

nor Julius Rosenberg stole the secret of the atomic bomb, and

that Ethel Rosenberg did not actively participate in any

illegal activity. Nevertheless, the government arrested,

charged, tried, convicted and ultimately executed her, solely

to put pressure on my father to acquiesce to the lie that he

stole atomic secrets.


Judge Kaufman's statement remains as false today as it was in

1951. The FBI, the Justice Department and Judge Kaufman were

guilty of a much more serious conspiracy than any my father

was involved in. The formers' involved the fabrication of

evidence, the subornation of perjury, the manipulation of the

jury and the wrongful execution of two young parents. It

subverted the rule of law, violated the constitution and

damaged our democracy. Sixty years later, the government

still refuses to come clean, and most of the corporate-

controlled media continue to ignore this scandal.


I'd be less than honest if I did not admit that the latest

news that Morton Sobell, my father and two others provided

aeronautical information to the Soviet Union in 1948 gives me

pause. My parents wrote in their last letter to me and my

brother: 'Always remember that we were innocent and could not

wrong our conscience.' My father, at least, doesn't seem

quite so innocent anymore.


Right-wing cold warriors trumpet that Sobell's recent

statement proves that my parents were lying manipulators, but

it is much more complicated than that. Neither Julius nor

Ethel was guilty of the crime for which they faced the

executioner. Ethel was not a spy and Julius was ignorant of

the atomic bomb project. They were innocent of stealing the

secret of the atomic bomb and they were fighting for their

lives. It would have been next to impossible for them to

explain to their children and supporters the subtle

distinction between not being guilty of stealing atomic

secrets and blanket innocence. Given that, I can understand

the course of action they took from a political standpoint


But how does this impact me personally? How could they engage

in such high-risk activities that could potentially leave

their children orphans? When I wrote An Execution in the

Family, I thought my father might only have engaged in

helping the Soviet Union fight fascism during World War II

and I asked, 'How many tens of thousands of American men with

young children willingly went to fight during World War II

knowing that they might not survive the conflict? Was my

father, whose poor eyesight disqualified him for military

service, taking a greater risk by choosing this role in the battle?'


I disagree with my parents' uncritical support for the USSR

and the strategy my father employed to aid it after World War

II. And knowing the terrible toll parents' activism can take

on the family, I believe parents should always take their

children into account when they engage in risky activity. But

I do not believe it axiomatic that all parents of young

children should refrain from such activity. The RFC helps

parents who engage the world and take courageous actions even

though they have children. Our best chance of building a more

humane and just society rests on the activism of ordinary

citizens with family concerns.


Still, I question my parents' actions more than I used to.

I've had the luxury of living a much longer life than they

did and hopefully I've learned from many experiences that

were foreclosed to them. I may question my parents' judgment,

but I remain proud of them, even if my father did what he

could to aid the Soviet Union throughout the 1940's and my

mother supported him. Despite the awful consequences of their

choices and of Judge Kaufman's lie, my parents acted with

integrity, courage and in furtherance of righteous ideals,

and passed their passion for social justice on to me and my brother.


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