The National Security Archive and Historical Associations Win Lawsuit for David Greenglass Testimony

#AceHistoryNews – WASHINGTON(D.C):July.27: The National Security Archive together with leading U.S. historical associations recently won a petition for the release of key remaining grand jury records from the prosecution of accused spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were indicted in 1951, convicted of espionage for the Soviet Union, and executed in 1953. In this ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein dismissed the Government’s argument that the release would rekindle apathy towards the Greenglass family, and found, “The requested records are critical pieces of an important moment in our nation’s history. The time for the public to guess what they contain should end.” The petition was initially filed on December 2, 2014, in New York City.

The key grand jury testimony at issue in today’s win comes from Ethel Rosenberg’s brother, David Greenglass, who objected to any release of his testimony in 2008, when the Archive and the historical associations won the opening of almost all the other witness statements before the grand jury, including those of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The 2008 release “cast significant doubt on the key prosecution charge used to convict Ethel Rosenberg at the trial and sentence her to death.”

FBI records supported the case for doubt, and showed David, and his wife Ruth, waited until just ten days before to trial to report that Ethel typed up the information David obtained from his job at the Los Alamos for passing to Julius Rosenberg.  This omission raised questions about why Greenglass did not report Ethel’s treasonous behavior earlier.

On the condition that he be paid for his story, David Greenglass agreed to give New York Times reporter Sam Roberts an interview for what would become Roberts’ 2001 book, “The Brother: The Untold Story of Atomic Spy David Greenglass and How He Sent His Sister, Ethel Rosenberg, to the Electric Chair.” During the course of their sessions, Greenglass admitted to Roberts “he had lied on the witness stand about the single most incriminating evidence against his sister — that she typed his handwritten notes for delivery to the Soviets. Without that testimony, Ethel Rosenberg might well have never been convicted, much less executed.”

Greenglass, who justified providing false testimony against his sister in order to protect his wife Ruth for her minor role in the conspiracy, died last October at the age of 92. The release of the Greenlass grand jury testimony won in today’s ruling will likely verify that he committed perjury and prosecutorial misconduct to save his wife.

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The Pentagon’s Spies: ‘ Newly Available Documents Trace Evolution of Spy Units through Obama Administration’

#AceHistoryNews – WASHINGTON(D.C):July.27: On April 20, 2012, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta formally established a new Department of Defense spy organization – the Defense Clandestine Service (DCS). That memo marked yet another in the multiple starts, stops, and reversals in the human intelligence activities of the Department of Defense and the military services.

The defense community’s rocky history of involvement with HUMINT includes both war-related and non-war missions, overt and covert programs, conflicts with Congress over the lack of transparency, and inevitable bureaucratic tensions among the uniformed services. 

Recently the National Security Archive updated its 2001 Electronic Briefing Book, The Pentagon’s Spies, adding thirty-five new documents that bring the history of military HUMINT activities up to the year 2015.

In addition to the Panetta memo, this update contains records concerning:

The House Permanent Select Committee’s discovery of the existence of the U.S. Army Intelligence Support Activity.

The role of Admiral Bobby Inman in the disestablishment of Task Force 157.

Operations of two Air Force human intelligence organizations – the 1127 Field Activities Group and the Air Force Special Activities Center.

Defense HUMINT Service activities in operations other than war.

The work of the Iraq Survey Group.

Expansion of Army and Air Force HUMINT operations since 2002.

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White House Efforts to Blunt 1975 Church Committee Investigation into CIA Abuses Foreshadowed Executive-Congressional Battles after 9/11

#AceHistoryNews – In Washington, D.C. on July 20, 2015 it was forty years ago this year, since Congress’s first serious inquiry into CIA abuses faced many of the same political and bureaucratic obstructions as Senate investigators have confronted in assessing Intelligence Community performance since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Records posted today for the first time by the National Security Archive document the often rough-and-tumble, behind-the-scenes dynamics between Congress and the Executive Branch during the “Year of Intelligence” – highlighted by the investigations of the congressional Church and Pike committees.

Among White House and Intelligence Community stated concerns during the period of the Church and Pike inquiries were preserving the effectiveness of the CIA and reassuring future operatives who might fear their “heads may be on the block” for their actions, no matter how well-intentioned. But intelligence officials also worried that disclosures of agency operations would be “disastrous” for CIA’s standing in the world: “We are a great power and it is important that we be perceived as such,” a memo to the president warned, urging that “our intelligence capability to a certain extent be cloaked in mystery and held in awe.”

In 1975, it was then-Deputy Chief of Staff Dick Cheney who spearheaded the Ford White House’s hostile approach to Congress, which required the CIA to submit all proposed responses to Capitol Hill for earlier presidential approval and featured the explicit intent to keep investigators away from the most sensitive records. Those events presaged the battles between the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) and the U.S. Intelligence Community since 2012 over plans to publish the former’s 6,000-page report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program.

Related to today’s posting, a much larger compilation of 1,000 documents, many of them previously classified, was published in June 2015 in the online collection CIA Covert Operations II: The Year of Intelligence, 1975, the second in a series on the CIA through the Digital National Security Archive, a joint project with the scholarly publisher ProQuest.

Today’s e-book touches on the high points of one major aspect of the 1975 experience – the Church committee’s efforts to obtain evidence for its inquiry and countervailing work by the White House and CIA to limit and restrict the Senate’s access. Documents posted today show that:

– The White House of President Gerald R. Ford, spearheaded by deputy assistant to the president Richard Cheney, quickly seized control of the administration’s response to the congressional investigations.
– Lists of records to which the Church committee requested access for its investigation were reviewed in detail and Mr. Cheney ultimately decided whether to provide them in each case.
– Specific records in categories approved for access were first sent to the White House for individual review and recommendation by National Security Council staff, followed by approval from Mr. Cheney.
– The White House required the CIA to propose measures to govern Church committee access to CIA materials. These accommodation measures were then reviewed both by Deputy Assistant Cheney and Counsel to the President Philip Buchen.
– CIA accommodation measures were explicitly designed to keep Church committee investigators away from its most important records.
– National Security Council officials convened at the White House to express themselves in advance regarding proposed CIA testimony to the Church committee.

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