A SPY ALL ALONG: Morton Sobell went on trial for espionage with the Rosenbergs. His devotion to communism fascinated me.
On 11 March 2008, Morton Sobell, who was tried and convicted with Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, finally admitted to the New York Times, after five decades of denial, that he had spied for the Soviet Union. He implicated Julius Rosenberg in a conspiracy that delivered to the Soviets “classified military and industrial information and what the American government described as the secret to the atomic bomb”. He was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison and served almost 19. The reporter, Sam Roberts, asked Sobell if, in fact, he was a spy. Sobell replied nonchalantly, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, call it that. I never thought of it as that in those terms.”
This was the same insouciant Morty I remembered from the mid-1980s when I first met him. It was the same Morty who, speaking about his disillusionment with communism to me in 2011, casually said, “I bet on the wrong horse.” When I mentioned the murder of millions in the Gulag, he said, “Well, that goes with the territory.” Citing communists’ early participation in the civil rights struggle, he noted, “Well, that was political.”
Sobell’s 2008 confession was no surprise; he almost confessed to me more than 20 years before. Why did he finally confess, an act that threw his devoted defenders under the bus and exposed as a pitiful fraud decades of his own life? It may have been a desperate attempt to reclaim relevance in the eyes of a left that had moved on and had little nostalgia for the old days.
Read the whole thing.