Analysis: The timeliness of the Alger Hiss case

Susan Jacoby

Susan Jacoby

Susan Jacoby, author of Alger Hiss and the Battle for History, has written a noteworthy opinion piece on the symbolism of the Alger Hiss spy case. The veteran reporter and author’s piece was published by The Los Angeles Times on March 22, 58 years to the day after Hiss began serving a 44-month prison sentence. Alger Hiss was a US State Department official and alleged former member of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA). He served as US President F.D. Roosevelt’s chief aide during the 1945 Yalta Conference, and at the 1945 San Francisco Conference that established the United Nations Charter. In 1948, former CPUSA member Whittaker Chambers alleged that Hiss had been a covert communist sympathizer who had used his State Department privileges to supply classified government documents to the Soviets. Hiss was convicted of perjury, not spying, and never admitted collaborating with the Soviets. Susan Jacoby, who says she is “95% certain that [Hiss] did pass on government documents”, considers the Hiss case to be symbolic of the politics McCarthyism, which continue to split America today. Read more of this post

Former KGB officer to publish “new data” on nuclear espionage

Alexander Vassiliev, who worked in the American Division of the KGB from 1987 to 1990, is well known to intelligence historians. His first book, Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America (1999) included information the author claims to have copied from internal KGB records. Among several critics of the book was Rutgers University professor John Lowenthal, who dismissed it as containing a “plethora of errors, and […] strategic omissions [that] leave it demonstrably untrustworthy [and] far below minimal standards of scholarly or journalistic rigor for any serious consideration”. Now Vassiliev is preparing his return with a second book, entitled Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, which he co-wrote with John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr. The book, which is scheduled for publication by Yale University Press in March, is also based on internal KGB “files, copied by Mr. Vassiliev into notebooks” before he resigned from his post at the KGB. Read more of this post

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