Rosenbergs, VERONA, the Bomb

Sat Oct 14 09:34:43 PDT 2000

In a message dated 10/14/00 12:15:59 PM Eastern Daylight Time, jmage at writes:

<< A discussion of the VENONA materials >>

Someome mentioned that VERONA is not conclusive: well, I agree. However, I am deeply impressed by the fact that Walter and Miriam Schneier now accept that Julius was a spy, and that this was established by the VERONA materials. They wrote the definitive book on the case showing that the Rosenbergs were framed, which is consitent with them (or Julius) being guilty; they are very able scholars and know this matter inside out. Until they said they were convinced, I'd have said, we don't know, and maybe, since the Rs _were_ framed, the evidence suggests that they were innocent. But if the VERONA materials and other evidence is good enough for them, it is good enough for me.

Btw, I agree with Charles, sort of, that it was not necessarily so terrible what Julius did, if (as it appears) he did it--certainly I oppose the death penalty for that sort of crime, and it might be argued that since we and the Russians were allies at the time the spying occurred, that even if there was a technical violation of disclosure of classified material or something like that, it was not espionage strictly so called. Such an argument had no chance in the high cold war, but maybe we can see that it would be legally right. Still, I do not know the case law on espionage.

Charles also makes the argument made by Tom Lehrer more memorably:

"First we got the bomb and that was good Cause we love peace and motherhood Then Russia got the bomb, but that's OK Cuase the abalnce of power is preserved that way Who's next?"

If you really believe in the deterrence theory, it would not be bad, speaking in those terms, for the Soviets to get the bomb, given that the US had it. I don't know if I do believe the deterrence theory. I certainly reject the idea that the US could be trusted to have unilateral control over atomic weapons, or indeed that the Soviets could be so trusted, if that had been possible. The immediate postwar proposals to put the weapons under international control would have been best, if they could not have been abolished altogether. But,a s Chales says, none of thgis goes to whether Julius was a spy.


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