Cuban Missle Crisis
Memorandum by Director of Central Intelligence McCone


Washington, October 17, 1962.

Several alternatives indicated below were posed for consideration at the close of meeting covered by memorandum dated October 17th.(1)

All dealt with the specific actions U.S. Government should take against Cuba at this time. The discussions centered around:

(a) Whether military action should be taken prior to a warning to, or discussions with, Khrushchev and Castro.

(b) Notification to or consultation with our allies, including NATO, OAS, and others.

(c) Referral to the United Nations.

(d) Effect on the "balance of nuclear power equation" of the MRBM installations in Cuba.

Three principal courses of action are open to us, and of course there are variations of each.

(1) Do nothing and live with the situation. It was pointed out clearly that Western Europe, Greece, Turkey, and other countries had lived under the Soviet MRBMs for years; therefore, why should the United States be so concerned.

(2) Resort to an all-out blockade which would probably require a declaration of war and to be effective would mean the interruption of all incoming shipping. This was discussed as a slow strangulation process, but it was stated that "intelligence reports" indicated that a blockade would bring Castro down in four months. (Note: I have seen no such estimate.)

(3) Military action which was considered at several levels. The following alternatives are:

(a) Strafing identified MRBM installations.

(b) Strafing MRBM installations and air fields with MIGs.

(c) (a) and (b) plus all SAM sites and coastal missile sites.

(d) (a), (b), and (c) above plus all other significant military installations, none of which were identified.

Discussions of all of the above were inconclusive and it was asked that the group reassemble, and develop their views on the advantages and disadvantages and the effects of the following:

(1) Warning to Khrushchev and Castro.

(a) If the response is unsatisfactory, pursuing a course of military action.

(b) If the response is unsatisfactory, referring to the OAS and the United Nations prior to taking military action.

(2) Warning to Khrushchev and Castro and if the response is unsatisfactory, convening Congress, seeking a declaration of war, and proceeding with an all-out blockade.

(3) Strike militarily with no warning, the level of the military effort being dependent upon evolving circumstances. In all probability this type of action would escalate into invasion and occupation, although the meeting was not agreed on this point.

(4) Blockade with no warning and no advance notice such as a declaration of war, with the President depending upon existing Congressional resolutions for authority.

John A. McCone(2)

1 See Document 23. Back

2 Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature. Back

Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI/McCone Files, Job 80-B01285A, Meetings with the President. Also reproduced in CIA Documents on the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962, pp. 163-165.

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