The VENONA Files and the Alger Hiss Case

The VENONA files are decoded cables sent from Soviet agents in the United States to Moscow.  Transcripts of the intercepted cables were released by the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency in 1995 and 1996.  The VENONA transcript with the most relevance to the Hiss case is #1822, sent March 30, 1945 from the Soviet's Washington station chief to Moscow.  (The transcript appears below.)  If one accepts that "ALES" is indeed Alger Hiss, the transcript indicates that Hiss continued to work as a Soviet agent well until at least 1945, well after his association with Chambers ended in 1938.  The period of the 1940s was one during which Hiss served as an important policy maker in the State Department.

1 "ALES" is assumed by most scholars to be Alger Hiss.  This conclusion is suggested by point #6, which refers to ALES visiting Moscow after the 1945 Yalta Conference.  Hiss attended Yalta, then (as adviser to Secretary of State Stettinius) travelled with Stettinius to Moscow by private plane.  Also, Hiss was identified as ALES in 1988 by Oleg Gordievsky, a high ranking KGB agent who defected to the West in 1985.  Gordievsky wrote that "a handful of the most important agents were run individually [and not through spy networks].  Among them was Alger Hiss (code-named ALES)....[whose] wartime controller was the leading NKVD illegal in the United States, Ishak Abdulovich Akhmerov."  This reference to Hiss as ALES occurs more than six years before the release of the VENONA transcript, adding to its credibility.
2 GRU, or Soviet Military Intelligence.
3  Most likely Alger's wife, Priscilla, and brother, Donald. 
4  The State Department.
Alias for Nathan Silvermaster, head of a major Soviet espionage ring in the United States government.
6  Key reference to participation at 1945 Yalta Conference.  "Comrade Vyshinkij" was the Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union.
7 Anatoli Gromov, Washington station chief.

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