still hissing


Suddenly the Alger Hiss spy case—that seething and bitter Cold War battle, that interminable intellectual blood feud—has broken out into the open again. The occasion: A Pulitzer Prize-winning historian has published an article attempting to discredit a key piece of evidence against the suspected Soviet spy whose case set Richard Nixon on the road to the White House.

I know: To some, such battles have the quaint, antiquarian feel of Civil War re-enactments.

So go ahead, call them Cold War “re-enactors” if you will, call this Cold War 2.0, but I’d argue that the controversy has urgent contemporary relevance; it reminds us that the failure to resolve divisive questions about the secret history of our time, the failure to address the ineptness of American “intelligence” in the past, the unresolved cases and bad judgments that riddle the record of our clandestine services have paved the way for contemporary intelligence fiascoes up to and including the failure to “connect the dots” before 9/11, and the claim that the case for finding WMD in Saddam’s Iraq would be a “slam dunk.”

more from Slate here.