The Cuban Missile Crisis
Memorandum for the Record


Washington, October 31, 1962.


Daily White House Staff Meeting -- 31 October 1962

1. Mr. Bundy presided throughout. DEFCONs no change.

2. The following matters arose:

a. Mr. Bundy devoted most of the meeting to securing ideas on what might come up at the President's press conference tomorrow, and on what ought to be the appropriate responses to these matters. The following were the major items identified and discussed:

(1) The status of dismantling is sure to arise, but the answers are unlikely to be sufficiently "hard" by tomorrow afternoon for a categorical answer. The chances are that the President will say this Government is satisfied that construction has stopped, hoping that the reporters will understand that this judgment rests only partially on hard photographic evidence, the other part being the exercise of a political judgment.

(2) I mentioned that the wolves had already begun to howl about intelligence shortcomings during the period prior to the crisis. The President's answer to this almost-certain question will probably be based on the multiplicity of indicators that must be evaluated, etc.,--i.e., more or less a standard Intelligence Officer's answer.

(3) Someone will probably ask the President whether the US means to guarantee the continuance of the Castro regime. The answer to this will in part refer to the President's statements of September 4 and 13,(1) and in part refer in general terms to the fact that the United States and the OAS are permanently committed to resist aggression in the Hemisphere.

(4) Any question about the Cuban refugees will be extremely tough to answer. Bundy said that the fact of the matter was that these refugee organizations had been under restraint by US "law enforcement agencies" during the past week or so, but of course this is just about the last thing the President would want to say at the conference. There was no real feeling on how to handle this query.

(5) A few individuals around the table thought that the President might say a few words in a very optimistic vein about the future of world peace, but the consensus was that it would be best at this time to fuzz this over at least or maybe even stay away from it altogether.

(6) A rather abstract discussion on the role of force in international affairs thereupon ensued. Nothing much came out of it except general agreement that the President in his opening statement should steer clear of any discussion of the role of force, concentrating instead on how our Allies and other friends rallied to the cause. Given the general intellectual brilliance of this group, I was amazed to note heads nodding when Arthur Schlesinger gravely remarked that the role of force in this crisis had not been very great because, after all, no force at all had been used--e.g., only one casualty: Major Anderson.

[Here follows discussion of the Congo and Latin America.]


1 For texts of these statements, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1962, pp. 369-370 and 373-374. Back

Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Chairman's Staff Group. Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by Legere. The source text is initialed by Taylor.

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