Although he was eventually cleared of charges by some federal judge who clearly did not bother to look at the case in any detail, both the cloud and the halo of the martyr remained with him.
Service, who died in 1999, was eventually judged innocent of disloyalty to the U.S. and abetting Chinese communism. But for years he was accused of being one of the State Department China hands who had "lost China" to the Communists in the 1940s. "Honorable Survivor," by journalist Lynne Joiner, who was also his close friend, makes it clear—and this is Ms. Joiner's chief contribution—that at a minimum Service was "recklessly indiscreet" in his contacts with Communist sympathizers in the U.S. to whom he gave documents or disclosed details of U.S. policy.That's quite bad enough. After all, a man who has risen high in the State Department should not find it so easy to be "recklessly indiscreet". But what Mr Mirsky tells us makes the story worse:
In two phone interviews with me shortly before he died a decade ago, Service admitted that in the 1940s he had given Jaffe a top-secret document revealing the Nationalist Order of Battle, which showed the exact disposition of the forces facing Mao's troops. When I observed that some might regard this as treason (I made no accusation), Service said he knew it. "I want to get this off my chest," he said, explaining: "I was gullible, and trusting, and foolish." He also told me that he had purposely ignored Mao's persecution, including executions, of his perceived enemies at Yan'an. Why cover for the supposedly moderate Communist leader? "I wanted them to win. I thought they were better than the Nationalists and that if we always opposed them we would have no access to the next Chinese government."One cannot help wondering at Mr Mirsky's naivete and readiness to go along with half-truths.
Service pressed me to publish our conversation, but friends of his said that it would be very painful. I agreed and after some time forgot the whole episode, until Ms. Joiner's book came my way. His stunning admission that he did supply classified intelligence to Jaffe, whom he must have assumed would pass it on, puts his later career—and Ms. Joiner's book—in a different light. If what Service told me near the end of his life is true, he can no longer be viewed as an innocent victim.