Espionage In America Essay, Research Paper
The United States has had a history of espionage with the Soviet Union and other communist countries since the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War. This essay deals with how the United States has dealt with other countries espionage as well as their own. On June 23, 1999, Jeff Gerth wrote an article dealing with the U.S. Department of Energy, and how some in Congress would like to for an agency to oversee nuclear weapons programs. This stems from the supposed theft of nuclear secrets by the Peoples Republic of China that was detailed in the Cox Report of January 3, 1999. I believe that it would work best if first I give a short history of the U.S. and espionage with communism. As mentioned earlier the U.S. started to have bad relations with the Soviet Union, its former ally almost as soon as Nazi Germany was defeated in 1945. Now this was not the first time the U.S. had problems with communism. After World War I formally ended on November 18, 1918, there was an ideological war still going on in the US. An ideological war that prompted mass paranoia and caused, among many other things, what would be known as the Red Scare, which began in 1919 and ended in 1921. Red Scare was the label given to the actions of legislation, the race riots, and the hatred and persecution of “subversives” and conscientious objectors during that period of time. They were branded as communist spies and were thought to have been trying constantly to overthrow the United States government. While most of these people were likely innocent of that charge, there probably were communist spies from Russia in the U.S. at that time. The end of World War II brought about the beginning of mistrust between the USSR and the US in the form of economy, and military might which came to be known as the Cold War. Many were fearful of communism and some Americans used those fears to put themselves in the limelight. One of these men in particular was Senator Joseph McCarthy. Senator McCarthy became the main anti-communistic figure in U.S. government. On February 9,1950 he said, “Communism not only threatened capitalism but that Russia was a moral enemy of the United States.” He organized HUAC, The House on Un-American Activities Committee. McCarthy held hearings where he asked people whether they have ever participated in communist activities. The ones who answered yes were blacklisted and could not find jobs. People who came before the committee also had an option to “take the Fifth.” The Fifth Amendment gave people the right against self-incrimination, meaning that they did not have to testify or give evidence against themselves. However, most of the people who “took the fifth,” were under suspicion. The red scare hysteria grew. The Internal Security Act of 1950 made not only political action illegal but also political beliefs. The word “communist” became synonymous with the words “Russian spy.” McCarthy and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover were convinced that the communist spies in the U.S. were selling the secrets of nuclear weapons to the Soviet Union. They arrested many people including Klaus Fuchs who was a member of the Manhattan Project and who was selling information about the atomic bomb to Moscow. McCarthy and Hoover “began a massive witch-hunt,” which led to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. In 1950, the husband and wife of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were on trial for committing “The Crime of the Century”. Later they would be put to death by what many believed to be a prejudice court. The controversy surrounding this case is still in existence today. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were born and raised in the Lower East Side of New York City. They were married in 1939. Julius joined the United States Army Signal Corps as a civilian junior engineer in
1940. The Army dismissed him five years later, accusing him for being a Communist. After leaving the Army, he worked with the brother of his wife, David Greenglass in a small self-owned machine shop in New York City. Prior to running the shop, Greenglass had worked at Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico as a machinist for the United States government on a project to make an atomic bomb. The government arrested Greenglass in 1950, charging him for spying for the Soviet Union when he worked at Los Alamos. In a plead bargain for a lesser sentence for himself, Greenglass confessed and told the federal prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he was recruited to get information by Julius Rosenberg. The Rosenbergs were arrested as a result and were accused of providing important information about the atomic bomb to Soviet agents in 1944 and 1945 during the time of World War II. At the time of this incident, the bloodiest stage of the Korean War was taking place. Americans were thinking anti-Communist and the Soviet Union had just built its first atomic bomb. These events will make it very unlikely for the Rosenbergs to get a fair trial. Although they were members of the American Communist Party, the Rosenbergs proclaimed their innocence and denied any participation in an atomic spy ring. They accused Greenglass of making up the whole story up to protect himself. Federal prosecutors and the FBI were seeking the death penalty for the husband and wife but offered a more lenient punishment to them if they reversed their plead. The Rosenbergs oppose the notion and stood by their claims. If they are found to be guilty of the charges, they will be the first couple to be put to death, and the first to be executed for espionage in the United States. In 1951, a jury found the Rosenbergs guilty of conspiracy to commit espionage during wartime. They were convicted under the Espionage Act of 1917. The Judge presiding this case was Federal Judge Irving Kaufman. Judge Kaufman sentenced the Rosenbergs to be executed in the form of electrocution. Greenglass was sentenced to 15 years in prison and two other co-conspirators were given 15-30 years. Critics of the verdict felt that the Rosenbergs was caught up in a period of time when being a Communist suspected of committing a crime, meant the Justice System will reverse the concept of innocent until proven guilty. Federal prosecutors have little evidence to prove to the court and some of that evidence seemed to have questionable authenticity. Some supporters charged that the government had tampered with the evidence. The main evidence they have against the Rosenbergs was Greenglass’ testimony in court. And the court accepted his claims even though the court was aware that Greenglass told the FBI conflicting stories after his arrest. The Rosenbergs sought clemency after their conviction. It was denied and on June 19th 1953, the Rosenbergs were executed at Sing Sing Prison in upstate New York. I feel that this is a direct tie in with happens that are described in the Cox Report. In the Cox report the US accuses China of stealing US weapons secrets, pretty much the same as the Rosenbergs. Nobody will be put to death over this issue, and China does not accept any responsibility, saying the US just made it up to turn opinions against China, while the Chinese are angry at the US for accidentally bombing its Embassy in Kosovo. According to Gerth’s article, President Clinton wants a special agency within the Dept. of Energy (from which the secrets are allegedly stolen) to watch over the nuclear weapons program. But the Senate Energy Secretary William Richardson is against the proposal saying he does not want a separate entity within his own department. I believe that a separate entity would not be a bad idea since there would hopefully be no partisan politics involved in an important project like this. The threat of Nuclear weapons is so great that the world and the US cannot afford to be lax in its security. Whether there is espionage going on with the Rosenbergs in the 1940’s or with the Chinese in the 1990’s, we can never afford to let down our guard.