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Not Guilty As Charged: A Revised Verdict for Alger Hiss
By Robert L. Weinberg
Editor’s Note: As NACDL celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2008, The
Champion will present essays and articles that discuss cases and events
of great historical interest. In this installment, Robert L. Weinberg
takes a look at the indictment of Alger Hiss.
Sixty years ago a freshman congressman from California, Richard Nixon,
spearheaded an investigation of Alger Hiss by the House Un-American
Activities Committee, which led to a grand jury investigation of Hiss
and his indictment on December 15, 1948, for perjury allegedly committed
that very day. Nixon later acknowledged, in his 1962 book Six Crises,
that “had it not been for the Hiss case I might never have been Vice
President of the United States and a candidate for President.”1
Alger Hiss was convicted in 1950 of the charge that he falsely denied
having been a spy for Russia in the 1930s. He could not be prosecuted
for the alleged spying because the three-year statute of limitations for
espionage had lon
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