Cuban Missle Crisis
Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the Under Secretary of State (Ball) and the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)


Washington, October 26, 1962, 9:25 a.m.

Bundy--First two or three items; have you got a minute?

Ball--Oh, sure.

Bundy--We have boarded the Lebanese(1) and care(?)(2) wants to have it got out by Sylvester right away in order to restore our credibility before flag plot leaps.

Ball--I don't see any harm in that.

Bundy--I think that's dandy. It turns out to be Soviet charter, did you know that?

Ball--Yes, and reconditional.

Bundy--Yes, and it even had an unidentified cargo. Second, we have got this very neat point of how to organize the process of Stevenson's instructions today. My suggestion would be that we not have them at the 10:00.

Ball--Not have the instructions?

Bundy--No, not have the two of them--Stevenson and McCloy.

Ball--Well, the only advantage of having them is to get the flavor. Not go into the instructions necessarily.

Bundy--No, no. Well then let's do it that way. Let's have them at the meeting in order that they were at the meeting and then we better work out--Bob McNamara and the Attorney General are all steamed up about getting a think tank going like the ones we had last week. And I think they are right about that and they are going to want to borrow space in your Department to do it.


Bundy--Which I am all for. It seems to me that those two things--we will have to generate an instructions working party and maybe it's all one thing--maybe the instructions will lead to what the rest of the problems are.

Ball--I had McCloy in for breakfast this morning, with Cleveland, going over the instructions.

Bundy--How was he?

Ball--He is all heated up. He is a very good fellow.

Bundy--Is he clear and strong?

Ball--Yes, very clear and very strong. What I want the President to suggest when he talks to him is now--to say to Stevenson--"When you and McCloy talk to Thant" and "When you and McCloy do this . . ." And if necessary, if he raises any question then you can say "Well, look, from the bipartisan position of this thing, this is in election time, we have got to keep it bipartisan."

Bundy--You feel there has been some question of Jack's energy and clarity and . . .

Ball--No, no, no.

Bundy--That's nonsense.

Ball--He is very, very clear in what the objectives have to be and he is very firm and tough.

Bundy--OK, good news. I will feed that to the President ahead of the meeting.

Ball--I think it is very important that that point be made because what is happening right now is they haven't given him anything to do.

Bundy--Well then he certainly should say to them at each stage and you should emphasize and the President should and you should bring them both to the 10:00 o'clock.

Ball--Yes, that's right. I think the way to handle it is the President just takes it for granted that McCloy is in on all the talks, because he isn't in on anything at the moment. This has got to be made clear.

Bundy--Otherwise, you will lose him for one thing.

Ball--Knowing my old friend I can tell you that this has got to be made explicit and the bipartisan way is the way to play it.

Bundy--Right. I will pass that to the Boss and I will have a word with you before the meeting if there is any difficulty about it.

Ball--All right.

1 Bundy is referring to the boarding of the Marcular at 7:50 a.m. on October 26 by personnel from the destroyers Pierce and Joseph P. Kennedy about 180 miles northeast of Nassau. No prohibited cargo was found and the ship was subsequently allowed to continue to Havana. (Department of Defense news release 1745-62, October 26; Department of Defense, OSD Historical Office, SecDef Cable Files, Cuba) Back

2 A blank at this point in the source text was filled in by hand with "care(?)." Back

Source: Department of State, Ball Papers: Lot 74 D 272, Telcons--Cuba. No classification marking.

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