< Return to October 23

Minutes of Meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council

Washington, October 23, 1962, 10 a.m.

1. Intelligence

The meeting began with a briefing by Mr. McCone in which, in addition to written material, he emphasized the strength of evidence substantiating the non-participation of Cubans in Soviet missile installations in Cuba.

2. Unity on the Home Front

There was general discussion of the problem of adequate briefing of Members of the Congress and of the press on the way in which the crisis had developed and on the reasons for the decisions which had been taken. A number of assignments were given to individual members of the Committee for further work on this problem.

3. Blockade Effects Estimates

The President asked the Director of Central Intelligence for an analysis of effects of the blockade on Cuba, not to include food and medicine, and for a comparable analysis of the effects of a comparable blockade on Berlin.

4. Items Presented by the Department of Defense

a. The President approved plans for the issue of the Proclamation of Interdiction of ship delivery of offensive weapons to Cuba. The Proclamation was to be issued at 6:00 pm and the Interdiction to become effective at dawn October 24.

b. The President approved and later signed an Executive Order authorizing the extension of tours of duty of certain members of the Armed Forces.

c. The President approved the following contingency plan for action in the event of an incident affecting U-2 overflights. The President will be informed through SAC/DOD channels, and it is expected that if there is clear indication that the incident is the result of hostile action, the recommendation will be for immediate retaliation upon the most likely surface-to-air site involved in this action. The President delegated authority for decision on this point to the Secretary of Defense under the following conditions:

(1) that the President himself should be unavailable

(2) that evidence of hostile Cuban action should be very clear.

d. It was expected, but not definitely decided, that if hostile actions should continue after such a single incident and single retaliation, it would become necessary to take action to eliminate the effectiveness of surface-to-air missiles in Cuba.

e. The Secretary reported that he was not ready to make a recommendation on air intercept of Soviet flights to Cuba, that he was maintaining aircraft on alert for prompt reaction against known missile sites, that preparations for invasion were proceeding at full speed, that the quarantine would initially exclude POL, though this decision should be reexamined continuously.

f. The Attorney General was delegated to check the problem of the legal possibility of permitting foreign flag ships to participate in U.S. coastwise trade, in order to prevent shipping requirements for an invasion from disrupting U.S. commerce.

g. The Secretary of Defense recommended, and the President approved, about six low-level reconnaissance flights for the purpose of obtaining still more persuasive photography of Soviet missile sites.

h. The President, on hearing these reports, asked whether U.S. air forces in Southeastern United States were properly deployed against possible hostile reaction, and after discussion he directed that photographs be taken of U.S. airfields to show their current condition.

5. State Department Business

a. Secretary Ball reported the urgent need for persuasive evidence in New York as described by Ambassador Stevenson and Mr. McCloy, and the President directed Secretary Ball and Mr. McCone to work together to meet this requirement as well as possible.

b. There was a brief discussion of possible reactions in Berlin, and the President indicated that he would wish to consider whether additional Soviet inspection of convoys would be acceptable. After the meeting, the President designated Assistant Secretary Nitze to be Chairman of a Subcommittee of the Executive Committee, for Berlin Contingencies.

c. The President decided that it would be advisable not to make his forthcoming trip to Brazil, and the assignment of diplomatic disengagement was given to the Department of State.

6. There was discussion of the problem of effective communications and it was agreed that for the present, Dr. Wiesner will be asked informally to lead an inter-departmental review of this matter and to report on the problem on Wednesday, October 24.

McGeorge Bundy