National Security Archive and Historians Secure Long Secret Rosenberg Grand Jury Testimony

Historians in the News

More than 50 years after the historic but controversial execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, who were convicted of atomic espionage, the U.S. government this Thursday, September 11, is expected to make public long shrouded grand jury testimony from its prosecution of the Rosenbergs, which will be the subject of a press briefing on September 11, 2008. Several noted Cold War scholars will provide expert analysis of the newly public documents at the briefing, organized by the National Security Archive, the independent nongovernmental research institute at George Washington University, which successfully led a coalition of historians in demands that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) unseal Rosenberg trial grand-jury records. The Archive, along with the American Historical Association, the American Society for Legal History, the Organization of American Historians, the Society of American Archivists, and New York Times reporter Sam Roberts, filed a petition in January 2008 seeking the release of grand jury records from the 1951 indictment of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, arguing that public interest outweighed privacy and national security concerns.

Historians have long speculated that the grand jury records may settle the debate over whether the government had evidence that directly linked Ethel Rosenberg to the conspiracy to steal atomic or other secrets, or whether she was indicted and prosecuted just to pressure Julius Rosenberg to confess. Historians also believe that, because only a handful of the 46 grand jury witnesses testified at trial, many of the witnesses discussed espionage activities that related to conventional, not atomic, weapons. Some historians believe that Julius Rosenberg helped orchestrate the theft of military secrets that caused substantial harm to the United States, but have not been fully revealed."Few cases in American history have stirred emotions, generated debate in and out of government and the judicial system, and have had as enduring and divisive a political impact as the prosecution of the Rosenbergs," said New York Times reporter Sam Roberts and author of The Brother: The Untold Story of Atomic Spy David Greenglass and How He Sent His Sister, Ethel Rosenberg, to the Electric Chair (New York: Random House 2001), as he petitioned the court.

WHAT: A press briefing on the Rosenberg grand jury evidence
WHEN: Thursday, September 11, 2008 1 pm EDT – Bring a photo ID for entry
WHERE: The George Washington University Gelman Library, 2130 H Street NW, Room 207
WHO: Thomas Blanton, Director, National Security Archive, who will be joined by:
David Vladeck, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
Bruce Craig, former Executive Director - National Coalition for History (NCH)
Ronald Radosh, Hudson Institute Fellow, co- author of the Rosenberg File, and author of Commies
Steve Usdin, author of Engineering Communism, and Senior Editor, BioCentury Publications

Read entire article at National Security Archive

comments powered by Disqus