This morning, on "Meet the Press," Tim Russert concluded the program
by noting that Alger Hiss' stepson, Timothy Hobson, has recently surfaced, disputing Hiss' guilt. Hiss, himself, did the same throughout his life, despite having been convicted of perjury for denying that he passed classified documents to Whittaker Chambers (he was never prosecuted for spying for the USSR only because the statute of limitations for that offense had run by the time he was indicted).
Perhaps it's not surprising that such claims would receive a mention on "Meet the Press" because defending Hiss was a lifelong cause celebre for credentialed members of the leftist elite, who simply refused to acknowledge that Whittaker Chambers had pretty much airtight proof of his claims that Hiss was a traitor.
Russert ended the segment by announcing airily that "Almost 60 years later, and the debate over Alger Hiss continues." Remarkably, Russert completely neglected to mention that the Venona Cables have pretty much laid to rest any controversy over Hiss' guilt. David Ignatius
, writing in The Washington Monthly about the Venona intercepts, notes that The evidence against Hiss, as laid out in the cables the Soviets were sending home, is quite devastating. Hiss' 1950 perjury trial showed that he had passed documents to a Soviet military intelligence (GRU) ring headed by Chambers during the '30s, when Hiss was a rising young star in the State Department. The Venona intercepts add damning evidence that Hiss continued helping the Soviets during the 1940s.
-- hardly a conservative mouthpiece -- has conceded:In 1996, shortly after Hiss's death, a collection of Venona decrypts was declassified. One of the messages, dated March 30, 1945, refers to an American with the code name Ales. According to the message, Ales was a Soviet agent working in the State Department, who accompanied President Roosevelt to the 1945 Yalta Conference and then flew to Moscow, both of which Hiss did. The message goes on to indicate that Ales met with Andrei Vyshinsky, the Commissar for Foreign Affairs, and was commended for his aid to the Soviets. Analysts at the National Security Agency have gone on record asserting that Ales could only have been Alger Hiss.
It's understandable that Hiss' family would continue to defend him, even against all the evidence. But Tim Russert should have told his audience all
the facts they needed to evaluate Hobsons claims on the merits.