Skip to main content

Plame Again

Plame Again

I did not mean to imply that Alger Hiss passed atomic secrets to the Russians. I used the atomic secrets image only as an example of a serious disclosure of classified information, as opposed to the trivial “outing” of someone who has had a desk job at Langley for the last several years and is such a hush-hush, super-secret spy that she sat for a photo spread in Vanity Fair.

And I am perfectly aware of what crime Alger Hiss went to jail for. I merely said that the pumpkin-papers scandal ended up putting him in the slammer. By the way, Mr. Zeitz says that reasonable people can disagree as to whether Alger Hiss was guilty or not. If I understand things correctly, the Venona Project’s recently opened archives show that the Russians certainly thought that Alger Hiss was one of their assets. If that is the case, it would seem that only unreasonable people could think him innocent.

As for whitewashing the perpetrators of Plamegate, I did no such thing. I said only that unless there is some major unknown component to this “scandal,” there is not much of a scandal here.

My point, which Mr. Zeitz never bothered to address in his rush to blackwash the presumed perpetrators of this presumed scandal, was that using the justice system for political purposes is a really, really lousy idea, regardless of which party holds the White House (or counts the majority leader of the House among its members—another current “scandal” that appears to be nothing but politics by means of the justice system). It is a political tactic that is very likely to lead to serious trouble for the Republic—for which I care a great deal more than I do for any political party or individual politician (or all of them collectively, for that matter: I frankly don’t like politicians of whatever stripe very much). Jacob Weisberg gave chapter and verse on why that is.

Perhaps Mr. Zeitz would like to comment on the actual subject of my original post: the use of the justice system for political purposes. That does not depend on the present imbroglio and it is a matter that even two people far apart on the political spectrum could agree entirely about. Provided, that is, that both are willing to leave their partisanship at the door and search for truth, not political advantage.

Enjoy our work? Help us keep going.

Now in its 75th year, American Heritage relies on contributions from readers like you to survive. You can support this magazine of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it by donating today.