Skip to comments.The 50-year fraud of Alger Hiss
Posted on 07/04/2005 12:33:32 PM PDT by wagglebee
Editor's note: The following commentary is excerpted from Jack Cashill's eye-opening new book, "Hoodwinked: How Intellectual Hucksters Have Hijacked American Culture," where he shows how, over the last century, "progressive" writers and producers have been using falsehood and fraud as their primary weapons in their attack on America.
"I am not and have never been a member of the Communist Party," Alger Hiss said under oath on Aug. 5, 1948, and calmly refuted the accusation of former Soviet agent Whittaker Chambers. The House Un-American Activities Committee had subpoenaed Chambers two days before. Then a senior editor at Time magazine, Chambers had testified reluctantly.
Hiss, however, was not content to deny his communist ties. "So far as I know," he added, "I have never laid eyes on [Chambers], and I should like the opportunity to do so." The unruffled demeanor of Alger Hiss unnerved the HUAC members, who had trusted Chambers, but it did not surprise Chambers. He knew from experience that Hiss had the strength to be a communist, "that sense of moral superiority which makes communists though caught in crime, berate their opponents with withering self-righteousness." What would have shocked Chambers is if Hiss had yielded and wept and told the truth.
It would take 50 years to satisfy the educable among the cultural establishment that, on this memorable August day, Hiss was lying through his teeth. The only proof that many on the left would accept, and even then kicking and screaming, came from the hardest of lefts, the people who had supervised both Chambers and Hiss, the Soviets themselves. In the interim, Hiss seduced America's easily led progressive elite into perhaps the most preposterously enduring multimedia fraud in American history, a 50-year road show whose fictions were obvious to the disinterested observer from day one.
Although the contours have not been fully mapped, Hiss chose a speedy route to communism. Having rejected God, he saw FDR's 1933 inauguration as a "holy moment." Soon after, he took a post at the new Agricultural Adjustment Administration. There, he fell in with other idealistic young men, presumably keen on changing the world faster than FDR could or would and, by 1935, Hiss had joined a Soviet spy ring known to history as the Harold Ware group.
Chambers meanwhile had been sent to Washington to organize a new apparatus, and as his first apparatchik, he was offered Hiss, a rising star in the Ware Group. Hiss would not disappoint. He left the AAA to serve as counsel for a Senate committee investigating munitions. And from there, he moved on to the State Department. At State, he proved willing and able to funnel documents to Chambers.
Chambers finally broke with the Party in 1938. When he met Hiss again in 1948, the seeming advantage was all Hiss'. Tall and trim, with his academic pedigree and patrician bearing, Hiss had advanced swiftly through the State Department to become director of the Office of Special Political Affairs. In that role, he worked closely with Secretary of State Edward Stettinus.
In February 1945, Hiss had traveled with Stettinus to the Yalta Conference in the Soviet Union. There FDR, Churchill and Stalin divided the world among them, much to Stalin's satisfaction. At the very least, Hiss helped draft the documents that sealed the deal. After the conference, he was also able to visit Moscow.
In the Spring of 1945, Hiss helped Stettinus plan for the new United Nations, then housed in San Francisco. On an interim basis, Hiss even served as the U.N.'s first secretary general. Also helping Stettinus, oddly enough, was Hollywood Ten communist Dalton Trumbo. "In the two weeks preceding the trip [to the Pacific]," Trumbo wrote casually to a friend, "I went to San Francisco and ghosted Stettinus' Report to the Nation on the Conference."
After the war, his increasingly wary superiors finessed Hiss out of the State Department, and he accepted a prestigious position as president of the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace. Elegant and quintessentially Anglo-Saxon, Hiss moved in the best of circles. His establishment friends were appropriately appalled when the self-described "short, squat, solitary" Chambers had come out of nowhere to impugn Hiss before this committee of know-nothings. When Hiss coldly rebutted Chambers' charges two days later, his friends cheered. Biographer John Chabot Smith described Hiss's presentation as a "triumph."
"Most of the press were on his side," adds Smith. Many of the establishment papers weighed in with scathing editorials about the already unpopular HUAC. Most of its members wanted to drop Hiss and move on to some more vulnerable prey. It took a first-term congressman from California to check the retreat. The young Richard Nixon finally convinced his colleagues that they did not have to prove that Hiss was a communist. That would be admittedly difficult. They only had to prove that Hiss was a liar, and this they could do by showing he knew Chambers.
Hiss and Chambers had to meet. Their first public confrontation, this "sad play" in Chambers' words, took place 12 days after the Hiss denial. It bordered on the surreal. At first, Hiss feigned uncertainty as to whether he had ever even seen Chambers before.
"Will you ask him to say something," Hiss said to Nixon. When Chambers began to speak, Hiss looked puzzled. He then said to Chambers, as he might to a small child, "Would you mind opening your mouth wider?" Chambers complied. Preposterous as it seemed to Chambers and Nixon, Hiss wanted to check his dental work.
Still faking ignorance, Hiss asked that Chambers name the dentist who had done the work. Nixon could take no more of this dumb show. As he knew, the two men and their families had been intimates for four years. Chambers had even stayed with the Hisses on several occasions. They all looked much the same as they had just 10 years ago.
"Excuse me," Nixon interrupted. "Before we leave the teeth, Mr. Hiss, do you feel that you would have to have the dentist tell you what he did to the teeth before you could tell anything about this man?"
"The comedy had gone far enough," Nixon had concluded and with good reason. A few minutes into this first official encounter, it should have been plain to all who were willing to see that Chambers was telling the truth, and Hiss wasn't even coming close. Still, the comedy persisted. Hiss pleaded his innocence through multiple hearings and trials before finally being convicted for perjury. In March 1951, after exhausting his appeals, Hiss entered federal prison, a convicted traitor in the eyes of all of America, except, of course, its cultural elite who insisted on his innocence in book after book for the next 40 years.
In July of 1995, however, the U.S. government opened its own files, the so-called Venona archives, a massive collection of the messages it had successfully decoded from the Soviet Union between 1942 and 1946. The files, however incomplete, were stunning. They showed that the Soviets had spies in every significant American military or diplomatic agency, no fewer than 349 in all. Among them was a particularly valuable agent, codenamed "Ales."
One message from a Washington-based NKVD agent to Moscow in March 1945 provided a good deal of detail about Ales. It told of how he had been working with the GPU since 1935, that he now managed a small group that included his own relatives, that it had been focusing on military information, that the whole group had just been awarded Soviet medals, and that Ales himself had gone to the Yalta conference and stopped afterward in Moscow to meet with the Soviet's deputy foreign minister. All details fit Alger Hiss, including the Moscow stopover after Yalta.
The Venona files led researchers to look elsewhere in the Soviet archives, and almost everywhere they looked they found gold. Detail after detail confirmed Chambers' story and shot silver bullets into Hiss' undying heart.
Still, no evidence could or would ever breach the fact-proof barricades of the hardened left. In 1997, the same year he was declaring Mumia's innocence, Ward Churchill was declaring Hiss' as well.
kinda makes you wonder how many of these leftist peice of fecal material FDR put in power and how many are there now.
Ameerica needs the HUAC again. And holding some treason trials couldn't hurt. Churchill is a case in point.
Wait until the Communists fall in VietNam (Kerrry) and Red China(Clintoon). Hope they don't shred too much first.
Right after he successfully insured that Stalin would control all of Eastern Europe.
I agree, but Churchill is a nobody. We need to try the Klintoons, Durbin, Pelosi, Leahy, sKerry, Albright and a host of others.
Carter and Clinton added to the pile, that is for certain.
What really is scary is that today's left is further to the left than Hiss.
(wife)-(SLAP... SLAP.. kick to the groin.. a pulling of hair..)
Sorry.... what was I thinking.. Nevermind...
Didn't FDR sacrifice a bunch of Polish people to Stalin at Yalta?
Projection. Very common among the left.
ALL of Eastern Europe and Truman Sacrified ALL of China to the Reds.
>>>>...and how many are there now.
Look to the Progressive Caucus to locate the progressive elite.
Yep, and IIRC conspired to blame the deaths on Hitler.
No, we don't. Granted, they're unrepentant Leftists, but the stupidest thing we could do is make them martyrs for the Cause.
Timing. Passion. Urgency.
All of this, while apparently historically correct ,seems so passively aggressive.
Our world is under siege by extremist of multiple stripes with one purpose in mind. The war is on. The enemy is at work among us...not just abroad...but on our soil...in our government, in our media...flagrant in their disloyalty to our country...with murderous intent.
Sitting around with catheters in place and enema tubes up us having wistful reminences of FD"F'ing"R just ain't the proper Battle Attitude.
Let's Roll America!
Morally superior? To whom? Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao? Morally superior to the biggest butchers in human history?
Well, that isn't difficult to accomplish, now is it? Complete moral idiots can quite easily accomplish that.
Jimmy Carter has always been a suspect in my mind. If you look at his term, there are only two possibilities:
1. He was completely incompetent and somehow found advisers even more incompetent than him. However, as tempting as this theory sounds, it doesn't really make sense. Carter graduated from the Naval Academy and had a fairly successful Naval career. Moreover, his advisers (though far-left) had a proven track record of at least being intelligent.
So, that really only leaves the second possibility,
2. Carter was actively working to aid America's enemies to the detriment of the United States and our allies.
Agreed, they still act the same way when caught too.
I agree. And what's scarier still is that so few -- even here -- know how bad things were back then. The anti-anti-Communists have done their job well. Being a "Progressive" (aka Communist) today is often applauded, even in Congress. There's even a Congressional caucus by that name.
You are, of course, correct. I started with Churchill because I thought a bit of comic relief would be a nice start, not because I thought he was of any real significance.
Author does not mention the brother, Donald Hiss, that was also a Soviet spy. Also he neglects to mention that in 1938 the French told Washington that the Hiss brothers were spies.
Yeah, that's the one. Thank you.
So shallow, they equate physical attractiveness and "sophistication" with intellectual superiority.
Whittaker Chambers was a true hero.
Excellent article. I've never been totally convinced that "looksism" won the day for Hiss, but it's definitely possible. More likely, the media was already pink enough in those days to view the issue through rosy lenses.
Henry Wallace was FDR's vice president in his third term (1941-1945). By 1944, even the Democrats were concerned about Wallace's pro-communist/Stalinist views and Truman became FDR's running mate. It is very likely that Wallace was a Soviet agent and had he not opposed Roosevelt, he would have been the President of the United States. After WWII he openly opposed Truman and sided with Stalin. Wallace was very close to the Hisses and probably worked to hide their duplicity.
Whittaker Chambers' autobiography "Witness" is one of the best books ever written on communism and an incredible testament to the power of God.
One need only visit Cambridge,Madison,Berkeley or the DNC Chairman's office to appreciate the depth of the problem.
The Party of Harry Truman and JFK died in the late 60's. In its place arose a Party whose pronouncements sound curiously similar to those of Kim Il Sung,Ho Chi Minh,Pol Pot and Saul Alinsky.
No! Disregard these lies! ~ Ales
Has anyone read Jack Cashills incredible new book, just out,Hoodwinked? The book is a mind-blow. I read it in
When Jerry Brown went after Hillary Clinton's cattle futures during a presidential debate with Gov Bill Clinton, Clinton turned it around on Brown with "withering self-rightteousness. "You're not fit to be on this stage with my wife", Bill Clinton said, knowing full well his wife had made 100,00 in illegal trading. Brown folded like a cheap suit, and no other candidate dared risk more of the same from Bill Clinton.
Or........when Bill Clinton pointed his finger at the camera and said "I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky. The next morning on the Today Show, Hillary thwarted all criticism of her adulterous husband by boldly blaming the VRWC for the Monica mess. The Clintons held firm for 6 months. And even after that, to this day, the Clintons have never acted shamed by either his behavior, or her lies.
I wonder how many people could be listed as Agents of Influence.
Do you think some journalists are?
Like? Everyone could supply some names. One Fidel-hugger comes to mind.
I have it, but I haven't had a chance to read it yet. I had planned to this weekend but never got around to it. I am definitely going to read it next weekend.
I'm not sure most people can really appreciate this fully without having seen Hiss do this in person. I did, in a college classroom in the mid 1970's. Hiss stood not more than 6 feet away from me and ranted with utter disdain about the people who had "conspired" to "frame him." There was a haughty sense of taunting in his voice, akin to a cat playing with a mouse. And, as I suspected at the time, and as we all know for sure now, he did it while lying through his teeth.
It is a stunning thing, and one which, as I said, is hard to fully appreciate without actually seeing it in person.
The 'Rats all do as the Klintoons want, because they are (correctly) scared to death not to.
It seems like that I read long ago that Henry Agard Wallace later admitted that he had been duped by Stalin. Any knowledge about that?
Even if Chinese archives fingered Bill Clinton as a traitor, millions of American sheeple would still support and admire him.
Maybe, Felt wasn't just a break-in guy with a badge, maybe, he was a commie who was Hiss' counterpart in the FBI and sunk Nixon at Moscow's orders.
Never mind the evidence. To this day, lefties and media types believe that Hiss was a hero like the commies who claimed they owed more to their fellow commies than they did to the security of the country. Like the anti-Busher, there were and are anti-Nixonists who would work against Nixon no matter what the consequences to the nation.
Wikipedia is decidedly pro-Hiss, says prosecution manufactured evidence against him.
Here is a look at the last years of Henry Wallace. I did not find if he repudiated Stalin, but he appeared to have done so by 1950:
When North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, Wallace broke with the Progressives and backed the United Nations and the United States. He had meanwhile retired to his experimental farm in upstate New York. Working with plants and chickens, he was a serene and happy man. Thinking about politics, he was bitter and defensive, firing off letters to people who he thought had traduced him. He voted for Eisenhower in 1956 and gave Nixon some support in 1960.
In 1961 Kennedy invited him to his inauguration ceremony and luncheon. Wallace was much touched. "At no time in our history," he wrote Kennedy, "have so many tens of millions of people been so completely enthusiastic about an Inaugural Address as about yours." Wallace died in 1965 of Lou Gehrig's disease, a nearly forgotten man.
It's recommended reading for any conservative.