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Executive Committee Meeting 10/25/62--10:00 a.m. All Members present
McCone reported on intelligence, reviewing summary of 25 October, including penciled memorandums as indicated, plus Cline memorandum of 25 October on talks with Sir Kenneth Strong, and the Watch Report of same date.(1)
I called special attention to the Belovodsk and reported on page II-5 and the searching of the Cubana airplane by Canadians as reported on page IV-2. Also the shipping schedule.
McNamara reported that at 7:00 o'clock a destroyer intercepted the tanker Bucharest which responded destination was Havana, cargo was petroleum and the Bucharest was permitted to proceed under surveillance. He stated that no United States Navy ships had orders to board. He recommended orders be issued to immediately board Bloc ships and then the Bucharest be boarded. Decision was reached that Navy be instructed to board the next Soviet ship contacted which would be the Graznyy, a tanker, but which was carrying a deck load which might be missile field tanks. Later in the meeting decision was reached not to board the Bucharest. Contact was to be made with the Graznyy as early as possible and that was estimated to be about 8:00 o'clock in the evening, Friday, October 26th.
McNamara recommended several recurring low-level surveillance strikes of multiple aircraft in an operation that would resemble an air strike. [6-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] It was the Secretary's opinion that since all of these were indicators of some indecision on the part of the Soviets, that we should pursue low-level surveillance in the interests of gathering intelligence, simulating air attack, demonstrating our intention to watch construction, familiarizing ourselves with camouflage and to determine whether the Soviets are building additional sites. This recommendation was approved and 8 sorties were ordered immediately to cover the nine missile sites, the IL 28 site, the MIG 21 airfield, and the nuclear storage sites and the KOMAR missile ship sites. It was decided this reconnaissance should not be announced but, if questioned, we should refer to the President's statement.
McCone then noted the number of ships in the Eastern Atlantic and in the Baltic and Mediterranean which had turned back. Dillon asked about ships in the Pacific. The President asked whether Soviet ships bound elsewhere than Cuba had changed course. McCone said he would report on this in the afternoon.
There was a further discussion of the policy of stopping or hailing non-Bloc ships. It was decided that all ships must be hailed.
Rusk raised the question of discussions with the United Nations. Draft of U.S. reply to the U Thant letter was approved with modifications. It was agreed at the meeting that we must insist upon the removal of missiles from Cuba in addition to demands that construction be stopped and that UN inspectors be permitted at once.
Bundy reviewed Khrushchev letter to the President of the 24th of October and the Kennedy reply.(2) McNamara raised the question of accelerating or raising the escalation of the actions we have so far taken, expressing concern over the plateau, indicating determination to meet our ultimate objective of taking out the missile sites.
Rusk then asked certain actions on the part of CIA as follows: (1) An answer to questions of the effect on Cuba because ships were turned about as indicated in recent reports; (2) What had happened to Soviet ships which were bound elsewhere than Cuba; (3) The general Cuban reaction to our actions to date:
(a) Do they know about Soviet missiles?
(b) Have they heard the President's speech?
(c) What is the morale in Cuba?
McCone promised answers.
John A. McCone(3)
1 A summary of the briefing paper, SC No. 08179/62, October 25 (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Executive Committee, Vol. I, Meetings 1-5), is included in the Supplement. The other documents have not been identified further. Back
Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI/McCone Files, Job 80-B01285A, Meetings with the President. Top Secret. Drafted by McCone. Also reproduced in part in CIA Documents on the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962, pp. 305-307. For Bundy's account of this meeting, see Document 71.