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Lowenthal, John

Venona and Alger Hiss [in Intelligence and national security, volume 15 Autumn 2000 number 3]

A Frank Cass Journal, Ilford. 2000, Softbound item. Pp.98-130 of 175p., the issue complete and entire in 8.25 x 5.75 inch glossy journal wraps. Very faintest signs of handling. Also find featured, an article on the S.O.E in Spain 1943-45, another on the 'Rump S.O.E.' 1945-77. Lowenthal "a former Professor of Law at Rutgers University and City University of New York," as vitaed on the "About the Contributors" page.. An entirely persuasive examination of the Venona texts calling into serious question (in fact destroying) US intelligence readings of the intercepts, these found to be self-contradictory and self-serving. The Hiss case must fall back on the Whittaker Chambers testimony, which was so shaky that the 1996 NSA release of Venona texts was avidly held up as corroborative. Not so. Here follow an excerpt from Lowenthal's essay, skipping his persuasively polemic summary of the case, and a few precis of particular arguments. "For all the spate of recent publications on Hiss and Venona, few people have been able to go behind conclusory statements in the secondary literature to assess the Venona documents directly. This article will do that;" [p99]. Lowenthal reproduces Venona document 1822 (p107) in the third of its three versions, he notes the anachronisms, the dubious decryptions, and not least the misalignment in time, space and activities of "Ales" and Alger Hiss, who are supposed to be one and the same person. When Lowenthal asked the feds for original Russian plaintexts, at first he was told these were destroyed; then he was told he couldn't see them! Alger Hiss was first ID'd as "Ales" in May of 1950 at a time when Hiss' appeal was in process, and the FBI needed "evidence" against him. The identification was made by Robert Lamphere; Lamphere was not emphatically sure that Ales was Hiss, Lamphere used less-than-positive language, and --in cases that were similar-- he had wavered and changed identification of "Antenna" and "Jurist." Klehr and Weinstein and several Russian publications are disputed (Klehr's "Secret World of American Communism" allows only two pages to Venona), American and Russian intelligence officers and journalists are interviewed. Lowenthal seems to be more or less in the diplomacy business himself, as obviously he has entre' and expertise, and he is a longtime personal friend of State Dept policy wonk Hiss. Find Venona document 1579 in facsimile on p117; this is the document in which Hiss is mentioned overtly, his name spelled out in the Latin alphabet and not in Cyrillic. Lownthal's analysis here is delicious, in particular adducing Lamphere's own observation that once a cover-name was assigned, it was used exclusively. Pages 120-130 are footnotes in small type, well worth scrutiny. --IN SUM, an unsurprising, nonetheless welcome bit of tradecraft analysis. It's sure to be ignored, and the falsehood maintained, in much the same way that CIA still maintains CIA station chief Richard Welch was unmasked by earnest congressional muckrakers, when Welch was nailed years before his stint in Greece, by Maryknoll nuns in Ecuador, his former assignment. Welch was a blabbermouth even in Greece (so Newsweek reported, re a Christmas party he gave) but he may have just gotten used to being transparent, and the CIA sick of him and ready to use him as an object lesson

Cat.No: 102427

Price: $25.00

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