from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 102
October 17, 2007

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In a remarkable episode from the Civil War that is not as widely known as it might be, General Ulysses S. Grant issued Order No. 11 on December 17, 1862 expelling all Jews from those portions of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi where his forces had taken the field.

Equally remarkable, President Lincoln did not say he would "stand by" his generals or that "we must give the military the tools it needs" to accomplish its mission. Instead, he rescinded the Order.

A century-old account of General Grant's short-lived ban on Jews has recently been published online.

During the Civil War, President Lincoln repeatedly suspended habeas corpus and authorized other serious infringements on civil liberties. But there are some things that are not done in America, it appears, even when the survival of the nation is at stake. This was one of them.

General Grant's action was not entirely irrational and prejudice-driven. An estimated 25,000 of the nation's 150,000 Jews lived in the South and were loyal to the Confederacy, according to a 2005 Library of Congress exhibition. And some Jewish merchants would "roam through the country contrary to government regulations," Grant complained.

"The President has no objection to your expelling traitors and Jew peddlers which I suppose was the object of your order," wrote Gen. Henry Halleck to Gen. Grant, somewhat inelegantly. "But as it in terms proscribed an entire religious class, some of whom are fighting in our ranks, the President deems it necessary to revoke it."

The story received only cursory, two-sentence treatment in the preeminent Lincoln biography ("Lincoln") by David Herbert Donald, which mistakenly attributed Halleck's "Jew peddler" phrase to Grant (p. 409).

And Grant himself did not mention Order No. 11 in his Memoirs. He deliberately omitted it, his son explained in a 1907 letter, because "that was a matter long past and best not referred to."

To the contrary, however, this principled exercise of restraint by the President in time of war seems well worth remembering and pondering today, when basic civil liberties are again in dispute. (At his confirmation hearing today, Attorney General-nominee Michael Mukasey was unable or unwilling to categorically reject the possibility of indefinite detention of an American citizen without trial.)

The most detailed account of the origins and aftermath of General Grant's Order No. 11 expelling the Jews from the areas under his control seems to be a 1909 book entitled "Abraham Lincoln and the Jews," self-published by author Isaac Markens (pp. 10-17).

That book, long out of print, was recently digitized and published by Google Books and is now freely available here:

In 1876, President Ulysses S. Grant was an honored guest at the dedication of Adas Israel, which is now the largest Conservative synagogue in Washington, DC.


In an attempt to convey to reporters the sensitivity of classified signals intelligence information and to discourage unnecessary disclosure of intelligence sources and methods, the National Security Agency held a series of by-invitation-only seminars for reporters and editors dubbed "SIGINT 101."

The seminars, which were apparently held on several occasions between 2002 and 2004, were first reported by Josh Gerstein in the New York Sun. See "Spies Prep Reporters on Protecting Secrets," September 27:

The course outline and supporting documents that were first obtained by Mr. Gerstein under the Freedom of Information Act provide some additional insight into NSA concerns about the loss of SIGINT sources and the possibility of voluntary steps by the press to help protect them.

"We want to emphasize that we deplore 'leaks' or other unauthorized disclosures of properly classified material," the NSA course module states.

However, given the fact of leaks, "we also want you to understand that in many instances, we believe that reporters can deal with the content of leaks in a way that does not expose intelligence sources and methods."

"We ask that when intelligence information is reported, fragile intelligence source and method information, which is unnecessary to informed debate, not be disclosed along with it."

See SIGINT 101 Seminar Course Module, National Security Agency (2002?):


By an overwhelming majority, the House of Representatives voted yesterday to approve a limited federal shield law that would enable reporters to protect the confidentiality of their sources from compulsory disclosure under most circumstances. See the record of the October 16 House debate here:

The White House issued a strong statement of opposition and suggested the President would veto the reporter's shield bill if adopted by Congress as written. "The legislation would make it extremely difficult to prosecute cases involving leaks of classified information and would hamper efforts to investigate and prosecute other serious crimes," the October 16 statement said.


Noteworthy legal, regulatory and other publications from the Department of Defense include the following.

"Forged in the Fire: Legal Lessons Learned During Military Operations, 1994-2006," Center for Law and Military Operations, September 2006 (439 pp, 28 MB PDF file):

"Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System (DCIPS)," DoD Directive 1400.35, September 24, 2007:

"Minimum Security Standards for Safeguarding Biological Select Agents and Toxins," Air Force Instruction DODI 5210.89_AFI 10-3901, 24 September 2007:

"Limitation of Authority to Deputize DoD Uniformed Law Enforcement Personnel by State and Local Governments," DoD Instruction 5525.13, September 28, 2007:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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