Phantom Spies, Phantom Justice

How I Survived McCarthyism

AKA:

Rehearsal for the Rosenberg Trial

The Cast of Characters

  • Elizabeth T. Bentley
  • Harry Gold
  • Roy M. Cohn
  • Irving H. Saypol
  • Judge Irving R. Kaufman
  • J. Edgar Hoover

Introduction from Miriam Moskowitz:

“On a sleepy summer afternoon in July 1950, in a sleepy coastal New Jersey town, the FBI, in its best imitation of ’50s popular TV shows, swooped down on me and Abraham Brothman arrested us and threw us in jail.

I was Brothman’s secretary and friend. The charge against us was “conspiracy to obstruct justice.” I had no idea what that meant or what the government thought I had done but I knew it portended trouble for the charge had overtones of Soviet espionage and in the McCarthyite political atmosphere such hints of wrongdoing, true or not, would be disastrous.

FBI apprehending Miriam, July 1950

In its details, the government accused Brothman, my co-defendant, of having influenced a key witness to lie to the grand jury which was then investigating Soviet espionage, and, it said, I had known of it. That key witness was a chemist from Philadelphia who had shaken up the world only months earlier with a startling confession that he had been America’s No. 1 spy although he made no accusations that we had participated in his wrongdoing… His name was Harry Gold.

From then on my life seemed to be on a roller coaster going downhill. We were tried in November 1950. Gold, who had not yet been sentenced and faced a death penalty, was the prosecution’s most compliant witness in detailing how Brothman and I were complicit in the charges the government leveled against us. In an atmosphere of unprecedented political hysteria and grossly misleading testimony, we were convicted and sentenced to two years in prison. My book, “Phantom Spies, Phantom Justice” details how the events unfolded, how I spent my time in jail and then in prison, and my life afterward. It is a personal account of mid-nineteenth-century America and the cataclysmic effect of the political perversion McCarthyism represented.

As one reviewer noted, it is also a book that should be required reading for students of government and history, and for reading about the lives of people who find the inner strength to carry on against insurmountable odds.

Watch a short video interview of Miriam

What readers are saying:

“…a great lesson of what can happen when fanatics and demagogues conspire to prey on the innocent for their own purposes. Eye opening experience” – Dr. P,  dental implants Austin

“An important book is written in a compassionate and sensible style—a difficult accomplishment even decades after the events for a victim of lies, injustice and imprisonment.”

This website is not associated with Miriam Moskowitz and is provided for informational purposes only. To buy the book excerpted on this site, please visit amazon.com.

Striking Parallels to Today’s Dangers

After the shock of September 11th, we have entered a new kind of Cold War psychology. Again, the world is divided, friend and foe. The lessons of the Cold War need to be re-examined and understood.

A recent New York Times editorial states: this is “one of those conflicts that can realign the world. Like the Cold War, this one, while it lasts, will assert a gravitational pull on everything. It will determine who our friends are, revise our priorities, and test the elasticity of our ideals.”

What an important chance we have to learn from our past! Even though the Cold War threat is past, there are literally thousand of nuclear warheads at the ready, and the disintegration of the Soviet’s massive military structure has increased the nuclear threat from terrorists.

The Cold War

In significant ways, the Cold War defined the lives of most citizens of the world for the second half of the twentieth century. It continues to influence the politics of the United States and the world.

  • Permanent and temporary interpretive exhibits featuring Cold War era artifacts, most importantly the building itself.
  • Reconstructed War Room with re-enactments based upon extant Air Force logs and records.
  • The continuous screening of films dealing with the Cold War, i.e. Dr. Strangelove, and Seven Days in May, as well as Department of Defense training films designed to alert the American public.
  • Reconstruction of a typical family fallout shelter.
  • An exhibition of the development of the computer. (Modern computers were developed to meet the needs of national defense and the internet was originally developed for the Defense Department.)
  • Science and The Cold War: sections will be devoted to the Space Race, as well as the development of advanced computer technology.
  • A mock-up classroom from that era, with a display of lesson plans, air-raid drill instructions and children’s artwork related to Cold War themes.
  • A collection of oral histories and recollections, from those who actually worked in the SAGE building and others who lived through the period.
  • Psychological demonstration: What would it take to get you to push the button?
  • Video presentations: collections of Cold War specials, such as CNN’s Peabody award-winning Cold War documentary.
  • Organized outreach programs to regional schools and colleges.
  • An examination of the effects of the Cold War upon America itself.
    • What was the “Red Menace”? What were the various “red scares”?
    • How did the division of the country in response to the Vietnamese war relate to the Cold War?
    • How were civil rights struggles influenced by the Cold War?
    • How did feminism, radicalism and the counterculture reflect Cold War issues?
  • An exhibit of aircraft which flew from Stewart Air Base during the Cold War era
  • An examination of the military history of the Hudson Valley, beginning with General Washington’s chain across the Hudson, to the electronic surveillance chain, which included the SAGE building.