No More Defending Indefensible Hiss

“Alger Hiss: Why He Chose Treason” rehashes the historical episode we aficionados call “The Case.” In 1948, Alger Hiss, an up-by-his-bootstraps veteran of the U.S. State Department, was accused by journalist Whittaker Chambers of passing classified information to the Soviet Union. Chambers, an ex-communist who had been a courier for Red Army intelligence, knew whereof he spoke. Hiss was being vouched for by fellow diplomats and others in the Washington establishment, but he turned out to be one of several concealed communists who assisted Moscow and were revealed through Chambers.


Archives from the former Soviet bloc nations have shown over the years that at least three other people corroborate Hiss‘ role as a Soviet asset, a role he fulfilled before, during and after the 1941 to 1945 wartime alliance of Russia and the United States.


All of this was established before Christina Shelton took up her pen. Ms. Shelton, a retired intelligence agent, has tried to make the subject her own, but most of her additions seem like filler - digressions from the subject of Hiss. Most venturesome is her claim that Hiss, a member of FDR’s delegation at the Yalta conference in 1945, not only divulged U.S. policy to a foreign power but was instrumental in setting that policy. As Ms. Shelton is too honest not to mention, Hiss occupied midlevel posts in which he “never dealt directly with the President.”


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