Eyes Only
Posted: 18 May 2007 09:21 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Ian Fleming had a book “For Your Eyes Only” that may have popularized this expression.  But I recall the shortened version of the phrase—stamped on the top of documents from spy novels or movies.  How old is this?

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Posted: 18 May 2007 11:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The Fleming book is from 1960.

The NY Times of 23 June 1952 reproduces a document from December 1950 from Lt. Gen. Ridgeway in Korea that is labeled, “the following is personal and for your eyes only.”

The NY Times of 8 December 1945 has a 25 September 1944 letter from George Marshall to Governor Dewey, labeled “for Mr. Dewey’s eyes only.”

I just did a quick search, so earlier examples will undoubtedly be found. I think it unlikely that pre-WWI examples will be found.

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Posted: 18 May 2007 11:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Well, this isn’t as impressive after Dave’s message, but at http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/d-day-memo/images/d-day-memo.jpg you can see a message from General Eisenhower to General Marshall, relating to the D-day invasion, that is stamped “EYES ONLY”.

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Posted: 18 May 2007 11:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Letters of Edward FitzGerald, 22 Nov. 1852:

My Dear Allen,

I won’t send you Thackeray’s own letter because it is his own delegation of a little trust I would not hazard. But on the other side of the page I write a copy: for your eyes only: for I would not wish to show even its noble kindness to any but one who has known him as closely as myself.

(Emphasis added.)

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Posted: 18 May 2007 11:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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This is translated from Russian, but still I think interesting:

News about the Tsushima disaster started reaching St. Petersburg on May 16 [1905]… The local commander, Admiral Greve, was sent a cable headed “Extremely urgent. Extremely secret. For your eyes only”...”

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Posted: 18 May 2007 02:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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This has nothing to do with “eyes only,” but the weirdest classification I ever saw on a document was as follows.

By way of explanation, it’s common to share certain types of classified info with allied nations. Such documents are marked as “Rel: [country name]”, with “rel” meaning releasable to. So it is common to see markings like “Top Secret Rel: UK/Can”, meaning you can show this document to British and Canadian citizens who possess the equivalent of Top Secret security clearances.

The document in question was marked “Secret: Rel: USSR.”

It was the draft text of the START treaty then under negotiation with the Soviet Union. Since the Soviets obviously knew the contents of the treaty, it was okay to show them the document. It was just a very surprising marking to see on a document. The only reason it was classified was the Soviets had requested that it remain secret until signature.

I was sorely tempted to steal the cover sheet as a souvenir. I didn’t because I thought I might get into trouble--cover sheets aren’t sensitive in and of themselves, but you are instructed to be very careful of them because you don’t want them being applied to the wrong documents. In retrospect, I really wish I had taken it.

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