Thursday, April 05, 2007

Boo, Hiss

And here I'd thought it was pretty much settled:

NEW YORK (AP) -- Scholars probing anew into the Cold War's most famous espionage case suggested Thursday that another U.S. diplomat, not Alger Hiss, was the Soviet agent code-named Ales.

Meanwhile, a stepson of Hiss said his chief accuser invented the spy allegations after his sexual advances were rejected.

Oh, for God's sake.

The two claims, presented at the daylong symposium "Alger Hiss & History" at New York University, provided startling new information that, if true, could point toward a posthumous vindication of Hiss, who was accused of feeding U.S. secrets to Moscow and spent nearly five years in prison for perjury before his death in 1996 at age 92.
That makes it sound like Hiss died in prison, when he actually served his term in the early 1950s.

Kai Bird, an author who has done new research on the 60-year-old case, said that although Hiss was accused of feeding secrets to the Soviet military intelligence agency GRU under the code name Ales, there was new evidence to suggest the real spy was another U.S. official named Wilder Foote.

Bird said that he and co-researcher Svetlana A. Chervonnaya had identified nine possible suspects among U.S. State Department officials present at the U.S.-Soviet Yalta conference in 1945. A process of elimination based on their subsequent travels to Moscow and Mexico City excluded eight of them, including Hiss, he said.

"It left only one man standing: Wilder Foote," Bird said.

Foote, a member of a well-known Boston family, died in 1974 after a career as a diplomat and owner of a string of newspapers. During World War II he was involved with U.S. lend-lease operations supplying the Soviets. . . .

Check out the wiki on Hiss. Every piece of evidence has been contested at one time or another. But here's the fun part:

Also Thursday, Timothy Hobson, an 80-year-old retired surgeon who was Hiss' stepson and grew up in the family home in Washington, D.C., said that Whittaker Chambers, whose bombshell allegations against Hiss broke the case open, had lied about his personal relationship with Hiss and had never visited the home as he claimed.

Hobson said that as a 10-year-old boy, he suffered a broken leg and was in a cast for months, during which time he met everybody who came calling.

Met everybody who came calling? What was he with that broken leg, a doorstop?

"It is my conviction that he was in love with Alger Hiss, that he was rejected by Alger Hiss and he took that rejection in a vindictive way," Hobson said. . . .

His evidence being, apparently, that he never met Chambers.

Hobson shared the platform with his younger half-brother, Tony Hiss, who has written two books that make the case their father was innocent. Hobson was close to tears as he said that he, as a gay man, was given an undesirable discharge from the U.S. Navy - and said that was what kept Hiss' defense lawyers from calling him as a witness in court.

"This puts it all on the record," Hobson said, to a partial standing ovation from the audience, including university faculty and students.

Maybe they should give him the Franco and Shpagetti Societal Helpfulness Award for Helpfulness to Society! All I know is, it's time for another chapter of I Was a Communist for the FBI! Tonight's episode: "The Red Octopus."

Update: The announcer on I Was a Communist for the FBI says "FBI" in a very bizarre way, doesn't he? Wonder if he was a communist.

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