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In August 1948 Whittaker Chambers a former Communist appearing before the House Un-American Activities Committee HUAC charged that Alger Hiss was a Communist spy Chambers claimed that he and Hiss had belonged to the same espionage group and that Hiss had given him secret State Department documents This group was a network of American spies recruited by the Soviet Union to collect useful information for Moscow Alger Hiss was a Harvard-educated lawyer and a distinguished Washington figure He had been responsible affairs for the State Department and had played a significant role in the planning for and development of the United Nations Hisss accuser seemed to be his opposite Whittaker Chambers came from an unconventional middle-class WASP family His father went during a difficult marriage to live with a man and his alcoholic brother killed himself at 22 He attended Columbia in the early 1920s winning a reputation as a brilliant writer Whittaker Chambers a senior editor of Time magazine and an ex-Communist appeared as a witness before HUAC Chambers testified that in the 1930s he had been attached as a messenger to a Communist organization formed in Washington DC The group had been organized by Harold Ware a well-known Communist and its members included eight government officials Chambers confessed that espionage had been one of the Ware Groups eventual objectives and identified its members One of them was Alger Hiss a former Assistant Secretary of State His also had control over the founding conference of the United Nations in 1945 and in February 1947 had left the government to assume the presidency of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Alger Hiss emphatically denied the allegations of Chamberss From that moment forward the Hiss defense has rested on the argument that Hiss was a far more credible witness Hiss also referred to Chambers as a psychopathic liar A Federal grand jury summoned both Chambers and Hiss in September 1948 Hiss sued Chambers for slander
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