About: In 1948, lawyer Alger Hiss made what was arguably the biggest mistake of his life: he sued Whittaker Chambers. Chambers had publicly accused Hiss of having been a Communist Party member, Soviet spy, and agent of influence. Unfortunately for Hiss, Chambers had saved some of the material Hiss passed him for transmission to Soviet Military Intelligence. Alger Hiss ended up in prison, was disbarred, and spent the rest of his life trying to convince people a fantastic conspiracy had framed him.
In 1971, Hiss made a mistake almost as large: he let an honest man look at his defense files. Historian Allen Weinstein had previously believed that Hiss was innocent. But when he read what Hiss's lawyers said in private, and what FBI agents had written J. Edgar Hoover, he found there was no reasonable doubt possible anymore. Hiss had spied for the Soviets, and Chambers had usually told the truth to the best of his ability. Chambers had sometimes lied, but only when he attempted to minimize Hiss's guilt -- and his own, for Chambers had secrets about himself to protect, and a well founded fear of being the messenger killed for bearing bad news.