60 years ago communists Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage in the United States after passing details about the American atomic bomb to the Soviet Union.
However, in light of WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning, and Julian Assange, were the Rosenbergs traitors or whistle blowing heroes working for the greater good?
A number of scholars have argued the couple was heroes who helped establish a nuclear balance of power that has ensured and prevented the continued use of nuclear weapons. Others disagree.
In the end however both were put to death.
Seton Motley, the president of Less Government argued they were found guilty, later documents released by the Soviet Union proved it and they deserved to be executed as spies.
“They got what they deserved,” he stated.
Brian Becker, the national coordinator for the ANSWER Coalition however argued the conviction had less to do with being guilty of spying and more to do with anti-communism hysteria across the US.
“This was a legal lynching,” he said.
He argued that Ethel Rosenberg was put to death as a pawn as US authorities held here in an attempt to get her husband to name names.
The Rosenberg case was justified in the use of execution, argued Motley, just as it would be if a similar incident occurred. It was about spying and committing espionage, not mere hysteria.
“What the Rosenberg’s shared about the Manhattan project was certainly grounds for execution,” he said.
Becker contended however that hysteria fueled the fire, even though giving the Soviets nukes prevented greater conflict be balancing global power.
“Only the Americans ever dropped an atomic bomb. Let’s not forget that. Until the Soviets had nuclear parity when the US had a monopoly on nuclear weapons, they in fact used nuclear weapons on civilian cities,” Becker said. “The Rosenbergs were executed as part of anti-communism hysteria.”
“They committed espionage,” said Motley. “They deserved to go.”
Today, the attention turns to Bradley Manning and government documents released via WikiLeaks. Some have argued Manning is a modern day Rosenberg case.
“In the sense that he is being scapegoated and victimized,” Manning is a similar case, said Becker. But, the cases are not the same. But the cases are not the same. “The fact patterns are different.”
Motley agreed the cases were different, explaining that one is a case of espionage and spying and the other of leaked documents by a whistleblower. But, if Manning is guilty, he should be executed as well for breaking the law and putting American lives at risk.
The cases are different, but similarities remain. Unlike the Rosenbergs, Manning has yet to officially be charged with espionage.