The Hede Massing Story
Hede Massing, a self-confessed former Soviet espionage agent, was the only person aside from Whittaker Chambers to testify that Hiss had been a member of the Communist underground. Chambers' biographer, Sam Tanenhaus, called her testimony a "crucial factor" in Hiss's conviction. The defense didn't have the ammunition to rebut her testimony, but, as it turns out, the FBI did, and it kept that information hidden for more than fifty years.
This article, based on newly released FBI files and other ievidence released since the trial, paints the first full picture of Massing and reveals the real story behind her allegations against Hiss — a story that the FBI and the prosecution didn't want anyone to know. Click here to read this investigation by Jeff Kisseloff.
Not Guilty as Charged: A Revised Verdict for Alger Hiss
The prosecutors leading the grand jury that investigated Alger Hiss were so determined to indict him they made an end run around the law - indicting Hiss for perjury, since he had sworn under oath that he had not been a spy. By asking Hiss whether he committed espionage, they put his denial on record. At the time, Hiss and his attorneys called the prosecutors’ efforts “a dirty trick.” Robert L. Weinberg, a veteran Washington D.C. attorney who himself spent many years trying cases challenging grand jury proceedings and indictments, read through the voluminous Hiss case grand jury record and concluded that the end run that produced Alger Hiss’s perjury indictment did not just skirt the law but was demonstrably both illegal and unconstitutional. The prosecutors’ maneuverings thus produced an invalid, unlawful indictment that requires “a revised verdict.” His story can be found here
In 2002, Alexander Vassiliev, the co-author with Allen Weinstein of “The Haunted Wood,” sued John Lowenthal for libel in London over an article Lowenthal had written for Intelligence and National Security. The article accused the two of shoddy research when they claimed that the Venona releases proved that Alger Hiss was a spy.
To make his case, Vassiliev brought to court a number of KGB documents which were then called a “jury bundle.” One of the documents was a list put together by a Soviet official formerly in the United States named Anatoly Gorsky of people he said had been American agents between the years 1938 and 1945. Among the people included in the list was Alger Hiss.
On its surface the list seemed devastating to Hiss’s claims of innocence, but is the list all it is purported to be? A careful retranslation and analysis of the list by Russian historian Dr. Svetlana Chervonnaya, an expert in the history of espionage, raises many important questions about various aspects of the list's accuracy and sourcing. Click here to begin reading our section on "Gorsky's List."
"Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America" marks the sixth collaboration between John Earl Haynes, a historian in the Library of Congress's Manuscript Division, and Harvey Klehr, a professor of politics and history at Emory University. All six books examine the influence of the Communist movement in America, mostly by drawing on newly released intelligence files from the former Soviet Union. Their general conclusion is that available Soviet files support certain postwar contentions by American conservatives – namely, that Soviet intelligence had an extensive network of dedicated agents and sympathizers in America before, during and after World War II, many of whom were government officials.
Our review focuses primarily on the first chapter of "Spies," in which the authors lay out their arguments for declaring the Hiss Case "closed." According to reviewer Jeff Kisseloff, based on the evidence presented by the authors, in their rush to close the door, they clearly only got their foot stuck in it. Here's the review.
Donald Hiss's Story
Files released under the Freedom of Information show that the FBI's own investigation into Whittaker Chambers' charge that Donald Hiss had been a member of the Communist underground proved the story was false. Here's our report on how the FBI exonerated Alger Hiss's younger brother and in the process cast even more doubt on Chambers' credibility.
Jeff Kisseloff posts research tidbits from his forthcoming book on the Hiss Case here.
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