Alger Hiss's stepson is finally making his case

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In a cramped front bedroom on the second floor of a narrow rowhouse on 30th Street in Georgetown, 80-year-old Timothy Hobson declares, "This is where I was laid up with a broken leg."

It was so long ago, the winter of 1937, when Hobson was 10 years old and had a routine childhood injury that would confine him and make him a witness to history. Though he couldn't have known it then, this was no ordinary home. It was, instead, a place where routine acts of espionage allegedly were committed when his stepfather, Alger Hiss, brought home stolen State Department documents for handoff to a fellow Communist and spy named Whittaker Chambers.

That's the commonly accepted story line of the still-contested Hiss case. But Hobson and his half brother, Tony Hiss, don't believe it, never have. Hiss, 65, has written a couple of books about his father, lives in his father's old Greenwich Village apartment and has made his father's vindication a focus of his life. Hobson, in his twilight, now has joined in, both brothers driven by the heartache of their family history.

The last living link to the events on 30th Street -- and a witness who was never allowed to testify at Alger Hiss's 1949 and 1950 perjury trials -- Hobson returned on Tuesday to the Georgetown house, to refresh his memory in advance of a conference today at New York University, where he will speak in public about the case for the first time....

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