A fundamental ambiguity made virtually inevitable the controversies raised by the Rosenberg case and the general penalties imposed on Communists and their sympathizers after the Second World War. The Rosenbergs had spied for a friendly ally in wartime, but the law under which they were prosecuted and the prescribed punishments were originally intended to apply to espionage on behalf of a military enemy. The former ally for which they had spied, the Soviet Union, had nevertheless become a national adversary in the absence of any open military conflict; the limited hot war in Korea that broke out just days after the Rosenbergs’ indictment was with a nation controlled only indirectly by the Soviet Union. Obviously, legal technicalities were raised by these facts that were invoked unsurprisingly by Communist sympathizers and some absolute civil libertarians to oppose the legal and other penalties to which suspected Communists were subjected.