Magazine article The Nation

Nixon and Hiss

Magazine article The Nation

Nixon and Hiss

Article excerpt

A few weeks ago, Col. Gen. Dmitry Volkogonov, the chief keeper of the Kremlin's archives, reported his finding that Alger Hiss was not a spy [see "In Re Alger Hiss," November 16]. When interviewer John Lowenthal asked him, "In your opinion, if Alger Hiss had been a spy, would you have found some documents saying that?" Volkogonov replied, "Positively; if he was a spy, then I believe positively I would have found a reflection in various files?' Now he has backed off slightly and says he meant only to say lie found nothing to incriminate Hiss. Either way, it's not bad news for Hiss, who has spent almost half a century fighting for his vindication. But if Hiss was falsely accused, serious students of cold war history will want to look again at the role of Congressman Richard Nixon in bringing him down.

Adding impetus to such an inquiry is Seymour Hersh's recent account of the Nixon archives in the December 14 New Yorker. Hersh reveals, inter alia, that in May 1972 Nixon schemed to have the F.B.I. plant McGovern literature in the apartment of Arthur Bremer, the hapless failed assassin of Governor George Wallace. The purpose: to smear the McGovern/ Kennedy wing of the Democratic Party.

Hersh, whose research was apparently confirmed by repentant Nixon aide Charles Colson, also inventories a grisly list of horribles, including improper ex parte conversations with Chief Justice Warren Burger on cases then pending before the Supreme Court, an illegal attempt to fix a Wisconsin sodomy prosecution of a political crony, tipping off his buddy Bebe Rebozo to an I.R.S. investigation of his tax returns, selling ambassadorships and God knows what else.

Watergate devastatingly ended Nixon's official career. A fuller investigation of all the Russian files could expose the fraud that launched that career. And Hersh, Stanley Kutler and others fighting to open the Nixon archives can help fill in the middle years.

Given his various embarrassments, one might have thought that Nixon would shut up or, if he lacked the taste to do so, would confine himself to writing his self-serving books. …

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