matt (hbergeronx) wrote,

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fascinating episode of NOVA

Discusses the Venona intercepts, and how the one-time pad system of encryption was broken because some one-time sheets weren't used one time. Based upon the evidence collected, they were able to demonstrate that Ethel Rosenberg probably shouldn't have been executed, and that there were over three hundred spies working for the Russians and that only very, very few were among those singled out by McCarthy.

Bullet points:
  • The US government kept Venona a secret from the public even though the KGB knew about Venona and had stopped using that method.
  • Top people, including Harry Dexter White, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, cover name "Lawyer;" Larry Duggan, Chief of the Division of American Republics at the State Department, cover name "Prince;" Lauchlin Currie, Senior Administrative Assistant to President Roosevelt, cover name "Page" were spies.
  • Quote: You would have thought that there were so many people [involved] that if [McCarthy] threw a dart you'd hit more real spies by chance.
  • Questions the role of secrets in a democracy.
  • Interviews many of the people embroiled in the real spying and secrets.

PBS is a true treasure.

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