Alger Hiss

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"Alger Hiss was a promising diplomat who, in 1949, fell under suspicion of being a Soviet spy in the State Department. Indicted by a federal grand jury for perjury, his case filled the newspapers and consumed America's body politic. He was finally convicted of perjury and sentenced to prison in January 1950 for five years. Contrary to Fiedler's assertion that Hiss was a Communist spy, he was never tried for espionage. The court failed even to prove he had been a Communist. The controversy regarding Hiss's presumed allegiance to Moscow continues to this day." (Saunders, 1999, p.446)

Background

"The signal investigation of the late 1940s was that involving State Deparnnent officials such as Harry Dexter White, accused by a raft of paid witnesses of having acted as real or de facto Soviet agents, selling out American interests to the "international communist conspiracy" especially in Europe and China; David Rees, Harry Dexter White: A Study in Paradox (New York: Coward, McCan) & Geoghegan. 1973). It was in this context that the FBI was able to manufacture evidence leading to the perjury conviction of Alger Hiss, a former officer at State who had convened the first assembly of the United Nations before going on to work for the Carnegie Endowment for World Peace. Highly sensationalized, this bogus result was peddled to the public as "proof" that tho "international communist conspiracy" had penetrated the highest reaches of the American foreign policy establishment, thus accounting for any international posture short of outright U.S. bellicosity in international affairs; Fred J. Cook, The Unfinished Case of Alger Hiss (New York: William Morrow, 1958); Alger Hiss. In the Court of Public Opinion (New- York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978); Judith Tiger, ed., In Re Alger Hiss (New York: Hill & Wang, 1978). Forty years later, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, its espionage files were searched for any indication that Hiss had been a spy. "Not a single document substantiates the allegation that Mr. A. Hiss collaborated with the Soviet Union," reported General Dimitri Volkogonov; Victor Navasky, 'Alger Hiss:' The Nation, Dec. 9 1996. On the Hollywood hearings and purges, designed to ensure that American cinema fit into its assigned niche within the official propaganda matrix by restricting its content to only the most "patriotic" fare, see Gordon Kahn, Hollywood on Trial (New York: Boar & (;aer 1948), Robert Vaughn, Only Victims: A Shady of Show Business Blacklisting (New York: Putnam's, 1972); Dalton Trumbo, The Time of the Toad: A Study of Inquisition in America (New York: Harper & Row, 1973). On the quality of the accusatory testimony involved in all this, see Harvey Matusow's autobiographical confession False Witness (New York: Cameron & Kahn, 1955); also see Hyman Lumer, The Professional Informer (New York: New Century, 1950) and Herbert L. Packer, Ex-Communist Witnesses (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1962)." (Churchill, 1997, p.298)

"In 1948, Nixon became the chairman of a subcommittee of HUAC to investigate Communist espionage in government. "The full story of Communist espionage will not be told until we get a Republican President who is not afraid of skeletons in the closet," declared Richard Nixon in September 1948. But in 1948 Thomas Dewey was the Republican choice-and he was known to have had New Deal dealings, if not sympathies. Eastern, "liberal" Republicans such as Dewey and John Foster Dulles, widely believed to be Dewey's designate for Secretary of State, were tainted by the broad sweep of Nixon's charges against Alger Hiss. Not only had Dulles represented Roosevelt and Truman foreign policy, he had, as chairman of the Carnegie Endowment's board of trustees, promoted Alger Hiss to his post as the Endowment's president. Nixon met with Dulles urging him to repudiate Hiss. But as late as September 1948 the trustees of the Endowment chose to do noth¬ing. They refused to demand his resignation and decided instead to give him a leave of absence to prepare his defense in the case that catapulted Nixon to prominence and remains today one of the most controversial "espionage" cases in United States history." NEXT PAGE "Hiss's supporters at the Endowment were liberal internationalists: Also Republican, they differed dramatically in vision and style from the Nixon-McCarthy wing of the party. Among others, they included James T. Shotwell, Philip Reed, David Rockefeller, Thomas Watson, Henry Wriston, and General Dwight David Eisenhower. Understandably, the election of 1948 did not highlight the Hiss case."" (Cook, 1981, p.67-8)

"Alger Hiss was never convicted of treason, or of espionage. He was convicted of perjury on the issue of his relationship with his only accuser, Whittaker Chambers. The Hiss case remains one of the most controversial incidents of this period. See particularly William Reuben, op. cit.; Alger Hiss, In the Court of Public Opinion (Harper Colophon, 1972 [1957]); John Chabot Smith, Alger Hiss: the True Story (Penguin, 1977); Edith Tiger, ed., in Re Alger Hiss (Hill & Wang, 1979); Allen Weinstein, Perjury (Alfred. A. Knopf, 1978)." (Cook, 1981, p.352-3)

Related SourceWatch Resources

External links

  • Wikipedia
  • Blanche Wiesen Cook, "The declassified Eisenhower", Doubleday Books, 1981.
  • Ward Churchill, "A Little Matter of Genocide", City Light Books, 1997.
  • Frances Stonor Saunders, "Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War ", Hardcover, Granta Books, 1999, ISBN 1862070296, Paperback, Granta Books, 2000, ISBN 1862073279.
  • Susan Jacoby, Alger Hiss And The Battle for History (Yale University Press, April 2009).