|Speaker:||John F Kennedy|
|Subject:||Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962. United States -- Foreign relations -- Soviet Union.|
See resource for
October 18, 1962 for brief description of the Cuban Missile crisis and October
18 & 19 resources for timeline up to this date.
Saturday, October 20: Under the public guise of an "upper respiratory infection," President Kennedy returns to Washington from Chicago after being convinced by Robert Kennedy that he must meet again with EX-COMM to discuss, among other things, the discovery of additional Soviet missiles in Cuba.
Sunday, October 21: After learning that an air strike against the missile sites could result in 10-20 thousand casualties, and that another U-2 flight discovered bombers and cruise missile sites along Cuba's northern shores, President Kennedy decides on a naval blockade of Cuba. When confronted with questions regarding rumors of offensive weapons in Cuba, Kennedy asks the press not to report the story until after he address the American public.
Monday, October 22: Despite being urged by Senate leaders to call for air strikes, President Kennedy addresses the American public and announces his resolve to implement naval blockade only. U.S. military alert is set at DEFCON 3 and Castro mobilizes all of Cuba's military forces.
Tuesday, October 23: The Organization of American States unanimously supports the U.S. decision to quarantine Cuba and, by the end of the day, all naval vessels are in place. Stunning reconnaissance photos reveal that Soviet missiles are poised for launch.
Summary of conversations:
Tape 34.1 October 23, 10:00 am: Review of the latest intelligence from Cuba and the proclamation and implementation of the quarantine:
Robert Kennedy expresses irritation about the failure of US intelligence to discover the missiles earlier. "Now we are closing the barn door after the horse is gone." [1:52]
Discussion of how to handle the press - specific reporters to be briefed by specific ExComm members on a strictly off-the-record basis. [5:25]
McNamara indicates that a ship carrying offensive weapons will have to be stopped and perhaps disabled. (16:00) But Kennedy states that the Soviets will likely turn around such ships on their own to avoid a confrontation. [16:30]
JFK argues that the only way the placement of the missiles could have been prevented would have been by invading Cuba six months or one, two or even three years ago. "What we are doing," he says, "is throwing down a card on the table in a game which we don't know the ending of." [17:30]
McNamara reviews plans for destroying any SAM site which shoots down a U-2; JFK adds that when taking out the SAM site, the US should simultaneously announce that if another plane is brought down all the SAM sites would be destroyed. [21:00] When a U-2 is actually brought down by a missile from a SAM site four days later, JFK decides not to issue the order.
Bundy suggests that the president should delegate the authority to order an air strike against a SAM to the sec. of defense. JFK does not object but insists that there must be absolute verification that the plane was brought down by hostile military action and not as the result of an accident. [23:42]
Discussion of the need for hard photographic evidence to help convince the public especially, in Latin America, that the missiles are real. [32:19]