Jul 19

Stephen Salant, a professor of economics at the University of Michigan with a longtime interest in the Hiss case (in the mid-1970s, he was the one who located the infamous “Pumpkin Papers” films and helped get them released to the public), has posted a fascinating and important investigation, demonstrating that  Horace Schmahl, an investigator hired by the defense, was in fact an undercover Army spy-catcher—a Special Agent in the Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC). What Schmahl was up to while working for the defense is the question. Was he involved in the framing of Hiss as has been suspected since his role as a mole for the FBI was first hinted at in 1950 and demonstrated to have been a fact with the release of the FBI’s files on the case in the 1970s? If so, how and why was CIC involved?

Salant’s discovery  makes Hiss’s contention that he was the victim of “forgery by typewriter” more plausible. Military Intellgence had vast experience during World War II forging documents to protect agents behind enemy lines, and Schmahl had a cover story that would have permitted him to position forged evidence without arousing suspicion. Schmahl was hired by Hiss’s legal team while Whittaker Chambers was continuing to insist, as he had for a decade, that Hiss was a communist but never a spy. A month later, Chambers reversed his position and turned over the typed spy documents. “How,” asks Salant, “did Military Intelligence anticipate that Hiss’s libel action would suddenly be transformed into a spy case?”

That, as they used to say, is the $64,000 question.
Salant’s scholarly essay doesn’t answer all of these questions, but it is in effect a plea for more information. In the meantime, it makes for great reading. Click here for the site. Click here to read an interview with Salant.

3 Responses to “Did Army Spooks Build the Woodstock?”

  1. Lewis Hartshorn says:

    When Alger Hiss said he was a victim of forgery by typewriter he meant specifically that Whittaker Chambers stole his typewriter and used it to type the Baltimore Papers. That any one would still believe that a typewriter was built is merely more spy bugaboo intrigue. In her 1952 affadavit, Elizabeth McCarthy stated that the Hiss household letters and the Baltimore Documents were all typed on the same machine but by more than one typist and that Priscilla Hiss typed none of them.
    Moreover, when Chambers produced the Baltimore Documents on Nov. 17, 1948, they were soon turned over to the Justice Department. They concluded there was no proof that Hiss gave them to Chambers, no matter what machine they were typed on. Besides, Justice was intent on seeking an indictment of Chambers for perjury, not Hiss. Hiss’s indictment was a last minute decision based on the jittery political atmosphere of the times. In all liklihood, Alex Campbell, the chief criminal attorney of DOJ, never believed Hiss would actually be convicted.
    Finally, it’s beyond me how a fine scholar such as Steve Salant does not know that Alger Hiss was innocent.

  2. Brian Dell says:

    This may not be entirely on topic, but at http://homepages.nyu.edu/~th15/spies2.html at is claimed that “[Haynes and Klehr] claim, for instance, that Glasser was a member of Whittaker Chambers’ Communist underground group was disputed both by Soviet intelligence agent Elizabeth Bentley and by Chambers himself.”

    Do you have a cite for this? I assume you got it from Svetlana Chervonnaya but http://www.documentstalk.com/wp/glasser-harold-1905-1992 does not mention this.

  3. jeff kisseloff says:

    no svetlana was not the source for it, the fbi was. the information is in their files.

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