Difference between revisions of "Legacy of Alger Hiss"

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The second Web site, called “[http://documentstalk.com/ Documents Talk: A Non-Definitive History],”<ref>”[http://www.documentstalk.com/wp/ Funding for this project was provided by The Nation Institute]”</ref> is a blog started in 2009 by Svetlana Chervonnaya, a Russian “[http://www.documentstalk.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/cv_chervonnaya_s.pdf Freelance historian].” Chervonnaya writes, “in 2003 I accepted the invitation of [http://www.documentstalk.com/wp/ The Nation Institute to join] its new historical project.” She has been operating on a “[http://www.documentstalk.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/cv_chervonnaya_s.pdf Research grant from The Nation Institute]” since 2005.
 
The second Web site, called “[http://documentstalk.com/ Documents Talk: A Non-Definitive History],”<ref>”[http://www.documentstalk.com/wp/ Funding for this project was provided by The Nation Institute]”</ref> is a blog started in 2009 by Svetlana Chervonnaya, a Russian “[http://www.documentstalk.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/cv_chervonnaya_s.pdf Freelance historian].” Chervonnaya writes, “in 2003 I accepted the invitation of [http://www.documentstalk.com/wp/ The Nation Institute to join] its new historical project.” She has been operating on a “[http://www.documentstalk.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/cv_chervonnaya_s.pdf Research grant from The Nation Institute]” since 2005.
  
Chervonnaya is best known as coauthor with Kai Bird (a [http://www.thenation.com/directory/bios/kai_bird contributing editor] at ''The Nation'') of “[http://www.theamericanscholar.org/the-mystery-of-ales-2/ The Mystery of ‘Ales’],” an article published in the Summer 2007 issue of ''The American Scholar''. Without denying that Hiss was a Soviet agent, the authors argue that "Ales" was not Hiss, but his colleague Wilder Foote&mdash;despite the fact that, as Eduard Mark shows,<ref>Eduard Mark, “[http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/ftinterface~content=a714040012~fulltext=713240930 Who was ‘Venona’s’ ‘Ales’? Cryptanalysis and the Hiss Case],” ''Intelligence and National Security'', 18 [Autumn 2003], pp. 54–55, 57–88, 62, 64</ref> Foote spent the 1930s toiling in obscurity as a [http://www.johnearlhaynes.org/page63.html newspaper editor in the wilds of Vermont], when "Ales" was [http://hnn.us/articles/37456.html working with Harold Glasser] in Whittaker [https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol51no4/pdf-files/Ehrman_Alger_Hiss_Again-Web%20(U).pdf Chambers' GRU group] in Washington. Their argument assumes an [http://www.johnearlhaynes.org/page63.html all-knowing efficiency] on the part of Gorsky, which, as Mark proved, he did [http://jeffersonflanders.wordpress.com/2009/06/13/the-vassiliev-notebooks-american-elites-and-cold-war-espionage/ not have]. [http://www.upei.ca/history/bcraig R. Bruce Craig], author of a forthcoming biography of Hiss, calls Mark's critique "convincing," adding "I personally find Mark’s overarching conclusion [that “Alger Hiss was an agent of the GRU in the 1930s”] [http://www.h-net.org/~diplo/roundtables/PDF/Roundtable-X-24.pdf convincing].") Moreover, Bird and Chervonnaya's article was based on a flawed and incomplete text, even though the complete, accurate text was [http://www.johnearlhaynes.org/page70.html made available to them].  In an attempt to clear Hiss, Bird and Chervonnaya accused Foote on the flimsiest of pretexts&mdash;precisely, commented Slate.com, "what they [http://www.slate.com/id/2170415/pagenum/all/ believe McCarthyites did to Hiss]." Foote's grandson responded:
+
Chervonnaya is best known as coauthor with Kai Bird (a [http://www.thenation.com/directory/bios/kai_bird contributing editor] at ''The Nation'') of “[http://www.theamericanscholar.org/the-mystery-of-ales-2/ The Mystery of ‘Ales’],” an article published in the Summer 2007 issue of ''The American Scholar''. Without denying that Hiss was a Soviet agent, the authors argue that "Ales" was not Hiss, but his colleague Wilder Foote&mdash;despite the fact that, as Eduard Mark shows,<ref>Eduard Mark, “[http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/ftinterface~content=a714040012~fulltext=713240930 Who was ‘Venona’s’ ‘Ales’? Cryptanalysis and the Hiss Case],” ''Intelligence and National Security'', 18 [Autumn 2003], pp. 54–55, 57–88, 62, 64</ref> Foote spent the 1930s toiling in obscurity as a [http://www.johnearlhaynes.org/page63.html newspaper editor in the wilds of Vermont], when "Ales" was [http://hnn.us/articles/37456.html working with Harold Glasser] in Whittaker [https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol51no4/pdf-files/Ehrman_Alger_Hiss_Again-Web%20(U).pdf Chambers' GRU group] in Washington. Their argument assumes an [http://www.johnearlhaynes.org/page63.html all-knowing efficiency] on the part of Gorsky, which, as Mark proved, he did [http://jeffersonflanders.wordpress.com/2009/06/13/the-vassiliev-notebooks-american-elites-and-cold-war-espionage/ not have]. [http://www.upei.ca/history/bcraig R. Bruce Craig], author of a forthcoming biography of Hiss, calls Mark's critique "convincing," adding "I personally find Mark’s overarching conclusion [that “Alger Hiss was an agent of the GRU in the 1930s”] [http://www.h-net.org/~diplo/roundtables/PDF/Roundtable-X-24.pdf convincing]." Moreover, Bird and Chervonnaya's article was based on a flawed and incomplete text, even though the complete, accurate text was [http://www.johnearlhaynes.org/page70.html made available to them].  In an attempt to clear Hiss, Bird and Chervonnaya accused Foote on the flimsiest of pretexts&mdash;precisely, commented Slate.com, "what they [http://www.slate.com/id/2170415/pagenum/all/ believe McCarthyites did to Hiss]." Foote's grandson responded:
 
{{cquote|"I can only assume that Mr Bird has ulterior motives to besmirch my grandfather's name, possibly for Mr Bird's own celebrity. Quite convenient for him that everyone involved is dead and cannot speak [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/apr/08/russia.davidsmith in their own defence]."}}
 
{{cquote|"I can only assume that Mr Bird has ulterior motives to besmirch my grandfather's name, possibly for Mr Bird's own celebrity. Quite convenient for him that everyone involved is dead and cannot speak [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/apr/08/russia.davidsmith in their own defence]."}}
 
As Haynes notes, “It is likely that THE NATION and Hiss defenders have assigned Chervonnaya, Bird, and their accusations against Wilder Foote to [http://hnn.us/comments/135793.html Orwell’s memory hole].”
 
As Haynes notes, “It is likely that THE NATION and Hiss defenders have assigned Chervonnaya, Bird, and their accusations against Wilder Foote to [http://hnn.us/comments/135793.html Orwell’s memory hole].”

Revision as of 16:50, 10 October 2009

Few serious scholars still regard the matter of Alger Hiss' guilt as unresolved. As the Britannica Online Encyclopedia states, Venona "provided strong evidence of Hiss's guilt." Oxford University Press' U.S. Military Dictionary dubs this evidence "compelling." Venona "convinced most observers that he had been guilty," says The Columbia Encyclopedia. R.F. Holznagel and Paul Hehn's Who2 Biographies agrees, "The consensus has shifted to accepting that Hiss was a spy for the Soviet Union."

Mainstream opinion on Hiss

American History magazine reports, "the preponderance of evidence does weigh heavily against Hiss." The Federal Bar News & Journal adds, "Whittaker Chambers ... proved that Alger Hiss ... was a communist spy in the 1930s." Psychology Today online concludes, "Sadly for the many honest Americans who supported them, it now seems clear that Alger Hiss, Julius Rosenberg, and Harry Dexter White really did what they were accused of." In American Heritage magazine, Geoffrey C. Ward writes, "I believe the most dispassionate, step-by-step account of the Hiss case is still Allen Weinstein’s Perjury." Weinstein, a former Archivist of the United States, had the cooperation of Hiss and access to his attorneys' files in his research. He set out "intending to prove Hiss' innocence. But he was an honest man and the facts he found convinced him (as they do any reader of his book) that Hiss was guilty," writes the former chief of Soviet bloc counterintelligence at the CIA.[1] Weinstein concluded:

"the body of available evidence proves that Hiss perjured himself when describing his secret dealings with Chambers, so that the jury in his second trial made no mistake in finding Alger Hiss guilty as charged."[2]

Twenty years after Weinstein's book was published, the bipartisan Moynihan commission (which had access to previously-classified Venona decrypts unavailable to Weinstein) went further—not just on perjury, but on espionage—the commission's unanimous Final Report concluding, "The complicity of Alger Hiss of the State Department seems settled," adding that the Soviet agent 'Ales' "could only be Alger Hiss." The commission's chairman, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a liberal Democrat, wrote, "Hiss was indeed a Soviet agent and appears to have been regarded by Moscow as its most important."[3]

Regarding "Ales," the FBI concluded, "It would appear likely that this individual is Alger Hiss..."[4] Analysts at the National Security Agency have also gone on record that Ales could only have been Alger Hiss. John R. Schindler, professor of strategy at the Naval War College and himself a former NSA analyst, agrees, calling this identification "exceptionally solid" and the evidence "compelling." The late U.S. Air Force historian Eduard Mark called this conclusion "eminently reasonable," concurring that the evidence showed that "ALES was very probably Hiss."[5] John Ehrman of the CIA's Directorate of Intelligence concludes, "it is clear that Hiss alone remains the best candidate to be ALES." A comprehensive Department of Defense review finds that Hiss was among the "well-placed Americans" who "gradually drifted into service as Soviet agents," thus beginning "careers as spies for the Soviets."[6]

"[T]he material we now have from the Soviet Union," says Oxford Professor Vernon Bogdanor, shows that Hiss "was indeed a Soviet agent." "Part of Hiss's KGB file has come out that proves the obvious point he was guilty as charged," agrees Cambridge University's Christopher Andrew, the dean of British historians of Soviet espionage. "[C]orroborative evidence now available," according to Andrew and ex-KGB agent Vasili Mitrokhin, puts the identification of the Soviet agent "Ales" as Hiss "beyond reasonable doubt."[7] "Numerous KGB/NKVD documents... contain extensive references to Hiss," concurs Mark Kramer, director of the Project for Cold War Studies at Harvard University, "either by name or through the codename Ales, which seems to fit only Hiss."

"[R]ecently released evidence in U.S. and Soviet archives, taken together with some previously available testimony of persons connected with Soviet intelligence in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s," writes University of Virginia Law School Professor G. Edward White (son-in-law of Hiss' attorney John F. Davis), "supports Chambers's charges against Hiss." Soviet espionage expert Stephen Koch agrees, "I for one have been brought close to certainty, on the basis of archival information, that Chambers was telling the truth."[8] Jonathan Brent, executive editor of Yale University Press' "Annals of Communism" (and—ironically—holder of the "Alger Hiss" chair at Bard College), concurs, "We're 99 percent certain that Hiss was a spy." "We now know," concludes espionage expert Nigel West, "that Alger Hiss was a spy."[9]

"The broad sweep of Chambers' allegations are now beyond doubt," agree Richard Aldrich, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of London, and David McKnight of the University of New South Wales[10] Hiss not only "had been a communist," writes historian Michael Kimmage, but committed "espionage for Stalin's Soviet Union."[11] "In August 1948, Alger Hiss lied before HUAC," agrees Ryan Ervin of Eastern Illinois University. "His testimony before HUAC proves this beyond any doubt. Intercepted Soviet cables during the Cold War, released in 1996, further prove Hiss’s Communist ties."[12]

Scholarly Consensus

Today, reports Oxford University's Oxonian Review, "the Hiss case is one issue upon which consensus transcends ideological divides." After decades of debate, "no serious scholar of the subject any longer dismisses," writes Cold War specialist Thomas Powers, the "voluminous and explicit claims by Whittaker Chambers and Elizabeth Bentley." By 2006, "most historians had come to the conclusion that Hiss was probably guilty," agrees Aldrich. "Those who have studied the Hiss case by and large believe that he was guilty of perjury and quite likely also guilty of espionage, that is, of passing government documents to the Soviets," concur Gilbert Geis of the University of California, Irvine and Leigh B. Bienen of Northwestern.[13] "[T]he vast majority of modern American historians today," concludes liberal historian David Oshinsky, "see evidence pointing overwhelmingly to Hiss being guilty as charged.”

Moreover, the Soviet agent "Ales" is assumed by "most scholars to be Alger Hiss," observes Douglas O. Linder of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. "For the majority of scholars, the critical ALES transmission puts to rest any doubt about Hiss’s complicity in the Soviet underground," agrees R. Bruce Craig, a specialist in Cold War history.

Even Obama supporter Charles Fried, a professor at Hiss' alma mater, Harvard Law School (and former Justice of the court that granted Hiss' petition for readmittance to the Massachusetts Bar), writes, "it is now clear to all but the most obdurate that Alger Hiss was a Soviet agent." Historians John Earl Haynes of the Library of Congress and Harvey Klehr of Emory University sum up:

Any reasonable person will conclude that the new documentation of Hiss’s assistance to Soviet espionage, along with the massive weight of prior accumulated evidence, closes the case. Given the fervour exhibited by his loyalists, it is unlikely that anything will convince the remaining diehards. But to serious students of history, continued claims for Hiss’s innocence are akin to a terminal form of ideological blindness.

Robert Justin Goldstein, who admits that his "political views" are "at odds with" Klehr's, concedes that Klehr and Haynes "quite reasonably" conclude that Hiss was "unquestionably" an espionage agent. In light of recent scholarship, concludes Hayden Peake, curator of the CIA’s Historical Intelligence Collection, "it is hard to see how even the most frequently made counterargument—that there was no Communist involvement in espionage—can be sustained…. The same is true when it comes to specific cases, but supporters of Alger Hiss … will no doubt persist." "Diehards will still contend that Hiss was innocent," agrees Boston University professor Andrew J. Bacevich. but at "some point, the accumulation of evidence permits us to dismiss such people as crackpots. We are now well past that point with regard to the most controversial spy cases of the 1940s and 1950s."

Hiss in the Mass Media

So broad is this academic consensus that it has begun to penetrate even the popular press: "no serious cold war historian," reports the liberal New York Times, now questions "that Hiss lied." “[M]ost students of the Hiss case, including many erstwhile defenders, consider him guilty,” agrees the similarly liberal[14] Washington Post (which adds that "the scholarly consensus" is "that Hiss was almost certainly guilty of both perjury and espionage"). Outside the U.S., where fewer people are invested the myth of Hiss' innocence, the press is even more blunt: "We know that Alger Hiss was guilty," reports the Times of London (adding that Hiss' guilt is "beyond doubt"). London's Daily Telegraph agrees that the evidence that Hiss was a Soviet agent is now "beyond doubt." The Financial Times concurs that there is now "no doubt that [Hiss] was indeed a Soviet spy." Writing in the Independent, self-proclaimed "social democrat" Johann Hari adds that "the left's old cause célèbre, Alger Hiss," is among those shown by Venona to have been "Soviet spies." Even the Guardian, Britain's leading left-wing newspaper[15] concedes that "the general view" is "that Hiss was guilty."

Time magazine reports that Hiss' supporters are "dwindling" as "the weight of historical evidence indicates that Hiss was... a Soviet spy," adding that Venona "seems to remove reasonable doubt about Alger Hiss's guilt." "For... Alger Hiss," agrees Newsweek, we now have "irrefutable confirmation of guilt." U.S. News and World Report concurs: "Most scholars considered the case against Hiss firmly established by Allen Weinstein's Perjury, published in 1978."[16]

Liberal pundit Nicholas Von Hoffman (who even Victor Navasky, long-time publisher of The Nation admits is "anything but a right-winger") writes, "The sum and substance of this growing body of material is that.... Alger Hiss, a darling of the establishment, was guilty,"[17] Pulitzer prize winning Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum writes in the left-leaning New Republic, "Alger Hiss... spied for the Soviet Union in the 1940s."[18] The similarly left-leaning New York Review of Books concludes, "The evidence now... is simply overwhelming.... Hiss was one of a number of... converts to communism hurrying about Washington in the 1930s recruiting others to serve 'real, existing Socialism' in the Soviet Union." The left-of-center Washington Monthly calls the evidence against Hiss "quite devastating," dubbing the Venona decrypts "damning" and "rock-hard evidence" of Hiss' guilt.

Even television is starting to notice. ABC (where campaign contributions went 97% for Obama) reports that "newly-declassified U.S. and Soviet intelligence backs longtime allegations" that Hiss was a Soviet spy. PBS is funded by taxpayers (more than $50 million last year)—and shares its donor lists with the Democratic Party—but its educational program Nova identifies Hiss as one of "the foremost Americans spying for the Soviet Union," referring to him in its Teachers' Guide as one of "the last century's most notorious spies." Even TruTV (formerly Court TV), owned by self-proclaimed "socialist" billionaire Ted Turner (who says "the KGB ... was an honorable place to work.... [I]t gave people ... an opportunity to do something important and worthwhile"), admits: "the bulk of evidence points to Hiss's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."

Not even the online media is immune. Jacob Heilbrunn (a columnist at the "pugnatiously liberal" Huffington Post), writing at Truthdig.com ("A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion"), admits, "the evidence that Hiss was innocent of serving as a Soviet spy is sparse. It requires contortions to suggest that he was not and to explain away the evidence suggesting that he was." The left-liberal Salon.com says "Hiss' defenders have dwindled to a small handful of true believers." Slate.com (where more than 98% of staff and contributors supported Barack Obama) admits that "Today, most people who think about Hiss at all, even on the left, tend to think that Hiss was guilty." Elsewhere, it reports, "even many on the left—including younger historians such as Rick Perlstein" have become convinced "that Hiss was guilty, although old-school loyalists like Navasky remained skeptical," and adds, "Heads up: Alger Hiss was guilty," concluding, "if we paleo-libs continue in our ancient rancors, we'll start looking like those troglodytes who still plump for Alger Hiss' innocence."

Liberal/left-wing opinion on Hiss

Even on the left, few authorities disagree. "My own sense of things was that Hiss had been a [Communist] party member in the Thirties and did give Soviet agents documents," wrote the late Harvard professor, Kennedy administration official and "unabashedly liberal partisan" Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.,[19] who concluded of Hiss, "I believe him to be guilty."[20] Thomas Reed, Secretary of the Air Force in the Carter administration, writes, "The Venona transcripts, released in 1997 and identifying Hiss via his code name Ales, and the postwar testimony of defecting Soviet code clerk Igor Gouzenko, remove any doubt about Hiss’s guilt."[21] Berkeley professor J. Bradford DeLong, a former Clinton administration official and professed "social democrat," writes, "Was Alger Hiss at some time a spy for the Soviet Union? Probably."[22] Another Clinton official, National Security Advisor Anthony Lake (a member of Barack Obama's "Senior Working Group on National Security"), actually went so far as to retract a statement—made in the wake of Hiss' death—suggesting that the evidence against Hiss was less than conclusive. Even the prominent Democratic Socialist Irving Howe declared Hiss guilty. Professed atheist Obama supporter Susan Jacoby writes, "I believe Hiss was guilty of both perjury and spying."[23] Yeshiva University Professor Ellen Schrecker defends American Communist spies as demurring from "traditional forms of patriotism"[24] (though critics object that their patriotism was entirely traditional—toward the Soviet Union);[25] but even she concedes, "There is now too much evidence from too many different sources for anyone but the most die-hard loyalists to argue convincingly for the innocence of Hiss." Hiss is "among those whose long-suspected involvement in such Soviet espionage seems to be confirmed by the Venona cables," writes Hamilton College history professor Maurice Isserman. Regarding Hiss, Isserman, probably the best regarded of the left-wing scholars of Communism, concludes: "Let's face it, the debate just ended."

The Nation on Hiss

Today, outside "the ranks of Nation readers and a dwindling coterie of academic leftists, there are few people still willing to claim that Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White were not Soviet agents," writes Klehr. "In the end, the publication of the Venona intercepts... settled the matter—to all but the truest of believers, 'Ales' could only be Alger Hiss," agrees Stanley Kutler of the University of Wisconsin Law School. "The basic question—whether Alger Hiss was a spy for the Soviet Union during the 1930s and 1940s—was finally settled during the 1990s.... Today, only a small band of true believers, headed by Hiss’s son, still tries to argue his innocence," concurs Ehrman. "Hiss’ defenders stubbornly tried to rebut each revelation, but eventually they were overwhelmed," recounts Ehrman, concluding that Navasky is "now virtually alone in his rejection of the case against Hiss." Rutgers historian David Greenberg refers to "the dwindling band of those who believe in Hiss"; Ronald Radosh, emeritus professor of history at City University of New York, agrees, "Except for a dwindling group—mostly Nation magazine readers and editors …. the consensus has solidified: Hiss was undoubtedly a Soviet spy."

The Nation "identified itself as solidly pro-Hiss in the 1950s";[26] today, it is "pretty much the last general-interest magazine in America" that, according to Slate.com, "remains committed to the idea of Hiss' innocence." The late Eric Breindel tagged it "America's leading forum for Alger Hiss apologia";[27] the magazine "embraced a prejudiced view of the Hiss-Chambers affair in 1948," writes Princeton Emeritus Professor John V. Fleming, "and has been unable to wriggle free even yet."

While The Nation itself has recently managed to avoid substantive discussion of recent evidence in the Hiss case in print, the closely-linked "Nation Institute" (funded by billionaire Obama-booster George Soros)[28] has funded two new Web sites dedicated to fighting a rear-guard disinformation campaign against the new evidence.

The first, called "The Alger Hiss Story: Search for the Truth" was created in 2001 "with grants from... the Nation Institute"). The site was started by Hiss' son Tony, a visiting scholar at New York University. After he originally set up this site on an NYU server, the university requested that he move it elsewhere "to designate it more clearly as a personal site rather than an academic one." The Web site is run out of the home of "Web master" Jeff Kisseloff, archivist of The Nation.

Although the site is blazoned "Search for the Truth," buried within is the admission that its real purpose is to present only "the case for the defense," not both sides. University of Missouri-Kansas City law professor Douglas Linder warns that "the site maintains a decidedly sympathetic view of Hiss." Cornell Law Library agrees, "The site has a noticeable editorial bias in favor of Hiss." New York Times Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus concurs, "It's a blatantly pro-Hiss operation whose agenda is to advocate his innocence." Greenberg concludes, "I don't think anyone is going to treat this site as the repository of truth, except for those who have already made up their minds that Hiss was innocent." Under the snarky headline “FLAT EARTH WATCH,” Atlantic blogger Andrew Sullivan says the site is dedicated to “the greatest fantasy on the web”—“the proposition that Alger Hiss was innocent.”

The site devotes its resources to projects such as hyping the “long-awaited” book, The Crimes of Alger Hiss, by the late William Reuben, a professional Hiss partisan who once admitted that “if he had heard that on his deathbed Hiss had confessed to being a Communist and Soviet agent, he ‘wouldn’t believe it.’”[29] Reuben previously wrote a book called The Atom Spy Hoax, similarly arguing that the Rosenbergs were framed.

The second Web site, called “Documents Talk: A Non-Definitive History,”[30] is a blog started in 2009 by Svetlana Chervonnaya, a Russian “Freelance historian.” Chervonnaya writes, “in 2003 I accepted the invitation of The Nation Institute to join its new historical project.” She has been operating on a “Research grant from The Nation Institute” since 2005.

Chervonnaya is best known as coauthor with Kai Bird (a contributing editor at The Nation) of “The Mystery of ‘Ales’,” an article published in the Summer 2007 issue of The American Scholar. Without denying that Hiss was a Soviet agent, the authors argue that "Ales" was not Hiss, but his colleague Wilder Foote—despite the fact that, as Eduard Mark shows,[31] Foote spent the 1930s toiling in obscurity as a newspaper editor in the wilds of Vermont, when "Ales" was working with Harold Glasser in Whittaker Chambers' GRU group in Washington. Their argument assumes an all-knowing efficiency on the part of Gorsky, which, as Mark proved, he did not have. R. Bruce Craig, author of a forthcoming biography of Hiss, calls Mark's critique "convincing," adding "I personally find Mark’s overarching conclusion [that “Alger Hiss was an agent of the GRU in the 1930s”] convincing." Moreover, Bird and Chervonnaya's article was based on a flawed and incomplete text, even though the complete, accurate text was made available to them. In an attempt to clear Hiss, Bird and Chervonnaya accused Foote on the flimsiest of pretexts—precisely, commented Slate.com, "what they believe McCarthyites did to Hiss." Foote's grandson responded:

"I can only assume that Mr Bird has ulterior motives to besmirch my grandfather's name, possibly for Mr Bird's own celebrity. Quite convenient for him that everyone involved is dead and cannot speak in their own defence."

As Haynes notes, “It is likely that THE NATION and Hiss defenders have assigned Chervonnaya, Bird, and their accusations against Wilder Foote to Orwell’s memory hole.”

But even at The Nation, the ardor for Hiss would appear to be cooling. Bird and Chervonnaya, for example, write—in an article defending Hiss—"We do not propose to address the larger question of whether Hiss was guilty or innocent of espionage." In another recent defense of Hiss, Nation contributor Robert L. Weinberg "deliberately takes no position" on the issue of whether "Alger Hiss was in fact guilty of spying."[32] Nation columnist Eric Alterman likewise writes, "I take no position on [the] guilt or innocence" of Hiss.

Others connected with The Nation go further: Max Holland, a contributing editor at the Nation, writes that "Alger Hiss has been proven to be the 'Ales' code-named in the Venona intercepts."[33] Cold War scholars have now "nailed Alger Hiss," admits Nation contributor Todd Gitlin "—a nailing long overdue on the left." Nation contributor Jim Sleeper, posting on the liberal Talking Points Memo blog, agrees, "it's obvious now that many leftists" defended Hiss "long beyond the point where it made political, moral, or even simple cognitive sense." "Vociferously atheistic," self-styled "radical" Christopher Hitchens—one of the "25 most influential liberals in the U.S. media" (and long-time columnist for The Nation)—calls the myth of Hiss' innocence "one of the most persistent (and repelling) myths of the fellow-traveling Left."[34] Even Navasky (once dubbed "the cheerleader of the 'everybody was innocent' school"), "instead of forcefully arguing that Hiss wasn't guilty as he once did ... now acknowledges that Hiss wasn't telling the truth when he testified that he didn't know Whittaker Chambers." Navasky, now chairman of the Columbia Journalism Review, says that in reference to the activities of people "in US left circles.... many of whom were Marxists, some of whom were Communists, some of whom were critical of US government policy," during this era, the word "espionage" is "out of context." He prefers to call it "exchanges of information" that happened to be in "violation of the law." (As critics have noted, such "exchanges" only went one way.)

Such quibbling aside, even at the Nation, it is now acknowledged that the consensus is that Hiss was guilty. Nation contributor Athan Theoharis concedes that the "conventional assessment" is that Hiss was "an unreconstructed Soviet spy." Even Bird and Chervonnaya admit, "Most historians have conceded the argument to Weinstein."[35] Speaking of the thesis that Hiss was guilty, Navasky himself concedes that “for the last 10 years, that has been the consensus.”

References

  1. Tennent H. Bagley, Spy Wars: Moles, Mysteries, and Deadly Games (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2007) ISBN 0300121989, p. 273
  2. Allen Weinstein, Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997), ISBN 0394495462, p. 513
  3. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Secrecy: The American Experience, New Haven: Yale University Press (1998) ISBN 0300077564, p. 146
  4. FBI memo: Belmont to Ladd, May 15, 1950 (FBI file: Venona), p. 8 (PDF p. 11); Herbert Romerstein and Eric Breindel, The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and America's Traitors (Washington: Regnery Publishing, 2001) ISBN 0895262258, p. 137
  5. Eduard Mark, "Who was 'Venona's' 'Ales'? Cryptanalysis and the Hiss Case," Intelligence and National Security 18 (Autumn 2003), pp. 54–55, 57–88, 62, 64 (italics in original).
  6. Katherine L. Herbig and Martin F. Wiskoff, "Espionage Against the United States by American Citizens," Defense Personnel Security Research Center (PERSEREC) Technical Report 02-5 (July 2002), p. 4 (PDF p. 25)
  7. Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB (London: Gardners Books, 2000) ISBN 0-14-028487-7, p. 599
  8. Stephen Koch, Double Lives: Stalin, Willi Munzenberg and the Seduction of the Intellectuals (New York: Free Press, 1994) ISBN 0-02-918730-3, p. 326
  9. Nigel West, "Venona and Cold War Counterintelligence Methodology," in Loch K. Johnson, Strategic Intelligence (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007) ISBN 0275989437, p. 15
  10. David McKnight and Richard J. Aldrich, Espionage and the Roots of the Cold War: The Conspiratorial Heritage (Oxford: Routledge, 2002) ISBN 071465163X, p. 128
  11. Michael Kimmage, The Conservative Turn: Lionel Trilling, Whittaker Chambers, and the Lessons of Anti-Communism (Harvard University Press, 2009) ISBN 0674032586, pp. 202, 172, 219. Elsewhere Kimmage writes that Hiss "spied for the Soviet Union."
  12. Ryan Ervin, "The Hiss-Chambers Case: Three Acts of Espionage Theater," Historia (History Department, Eastern Illinois University and Epsilon Mu Chapter, Phi Alpha Theta), Vol. 14 (2005), p. 14 (PDF p. 7)
  13. Gilbert Geis and Leigh B. Bienen, Crimes of the Century: From Leopold and Loeb to O.J. Simpson (Lebanon, N.H.: UPNE, 1998), ISBN 1555533604, pp. 130-131
  14. As USA Today publisher Al Neuharth observed in 2000, the Post endorses only Democrats for president (This pattern has since continued). Washington Post ombudsman Debra Howell writes, "the conservatives I know here feel so outnumbered that they don't even want to be quoted by name in a memo."
  15. Guardian readers are often stereotyped as politically correct charactures. The Guardian is so left-wing (by British standards) that its competitors sometimes refer to it as the British equivalent of the New York Times.
  16. Michael Barone, "Hiss and History," U.S. News and World Report, November 25, 1996
  17. Nicholas Von Hoffman, "Was McCarthy right about the left?" The Washington Post, April 14, 1996, p. C1
  18. Elsewhere, Applebaum writes that the Venona cables "provided direct evidence that... State Department officer Alger Hiss" was "among the Soviet Union's most valued agents."
  19. Schlesinger wrote in 1946 that "the faults and injustices in our present system" in the U.S. "make even freedom-loving Americans look wistfully at Russia." (Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., "The United States Communist Party—Small But Tightly Disciplined, It Strives with Fanatic Zeal to Promote the Aims of Russia" (Life, July 29, 1946), p. 3022 [PDF p. 26]) Fifty-four years later, Schlesinger, it was written, "equates capitalism with sexism and racism."
  20. Arthur Schlesinger, A Life in the Twentieth Century: Innocent Beginnings, 1917-1950 (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2000) ISBN 0618219250, pp. 497-498
  21. Thomas Reed, At the Abyss: An Insider's History of the Cold War (New York: Random House, Inc., 2005) ISBN 0891418377, pp. 9-10
  22. DeLong elaborates: "I think that Hiss was guilty.... I think Hiss is more likely than not to be guilty of espionage. I even think that there is clear and convincing evidence that Hiss was guilty."
  23. Susan Jacoby, Alger Hiss and the Battle for History (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2009) ISBN 0300121334, pp. 20-21. Jacoby, who calls herself "an unabashed liberal and proud of it," avers, however, that she is "only 98 or 99 percent convinced of Hiss's guilt." Her residual one to two percent doubt, suggests Whittaker Chambers' grandson, may be due to her refusal to read the new book, Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America. "According to Spies co-author Harvey Klehr," writes Chambers, "Yale's editor Jonathan Brent offered her access to the book's new findings. Apparently, Ms. Jacoby took a pass." As Jacoby admits, "It has always been difficult for liberals to look objectively at evidence pointing to Hiss' guilt."
  24. Ellen Schrecker, Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America (Boston: Little, Brown, 1998), p. 188
  25. The Rosenbergs, for example, were "loyal unto death to the Soviet Union."
  26. G. Edward White, Alger Hiss's Looking-Glass Wars: The Covert Life of a Soviet Spy (Oxford University Press, 2005) ISBN 0195182553, p. 133.
  27. Eric Breindel, "Goodies from the Venona files: Hiss’ Guilt" (The New Republic, April 15, 1996), p. H3645
  28. "receives funding from... the Open Society Institute" which is "the most prominent of the numerous foundations belonging to the international billionaire financier George Soros"
  29. G. Edward White, Alger Hiss's Looking-glass Wars: The Covert Life of a Soviet Spy (Oxford University Press, 2004) ISBN 0195182553
  30. Funding for this project was provided by The Nation Institute
  31. Eduard Mark, “Who was ‘Venona’s’ ‘Ales’? Cryptanalysis and the Hiss Case,” Intelligence and National Security, 18 [Autumn 2003], pp. 54–55, 57–88, 62, 64
  32. Rather than deny that Hiss was a spy, Weinberg argues technicalities, such as "whether Hiss would have been 'not guilty' of the perjury charge in the indictment as a matter of law, even if he were found to have been a Soviet agent."
  33. Max Holland, "I. F. Stone: Encounters with Soviet Intelligence," The Journal of Cold War Studies, Vol. 11, Issue 3 (Summer 2009) p. 164, fn. 61
  34. "Militant atheist" Hitchens writes of once quipping to the hostess of a dinner party he attended with Alger Hiss, "Why don't we secure the doors and say: 'Look, Alger, it's just us. Come on. You're among friends. Tell us why you really did it.'" (Christopher Hitchens, Unacknowledged Legislation: Writers in the Public Sphere [London: Verso, 2000] ISBN 1859847862, pp. 105-106) Hitchens (who says he is considering writing a book called Guilty as Hell: A Short History of the American Left) suggests that the answer is, "because he thought he was onto a winner."
  35. Chervonnaya has since suggested that this consensus amounts to an orthodoxy, writing of her "hope of dethroning the autocracy of cold war historical scholarship on the matter of Alger Hiss," describing her motive as "to overthrow the regime."