The Cuban Missile Crisis
Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the Under Secretary of State (Ball) and the Chairman of the Coordinating Committee (McCloy)


November 19, 1962, 2:45 p.m.

Ball told McCloy the general conclusion was that until tomorrow afternoon the President has to be in a position to say something in the way of a fairly full report to the American people. If he is not able to say the IL-28s have been promised by that time, that obviously this going to make the pressure increased for some kind of drastic action. Ball thought it just as well if the friends up there knew that. What we are doing, for McCloy's information--not to tell them--is we are going to get our telegrams this afternoon to bring both the NATO and OAS countries up to date on this situation and to tell them the thing may get considerably heated up to the point where there may be substantial action as a result of Cuban interference with our reconnaissance on the one hand or a continued refusal of the SU to come to grips with the IL-28 thing would be the reimposition of the quarantine perhaps on an extended basis. We are putting the governments on notice so that they can't say that they are not consulted and also with the idea that if anything leaks out of the European capitals. We are not going to fly low level again before Wednesday.

Gilpatric said we were preparing for armed reconnaissance on Wednesday and following because we have now been clearly warned [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] that we will draw some fire and we will be prepared in one way or another to return the fire. This will be at the low-level flights so that we won't counter any fire but go on tomorrow at high level. Our story is we are continuing reconnaissance, high and low level, as required. We would try, pending resumption of low level, not to be put in any public position of having stood down the low level in response to the threats from Castro, although in fact Bob feels strongly we ought to wait until after the President's statement tomorrow before we put ourselves in a position where we may have to return fire.

McCloy told Gilpatric that if he ran into these people he would indicate that we have to take more drastic action than we have taken in the past. Should he seek that out? Ball suggested that he simply say the President is going to have to make a statement to the American people. He hasn't made any kind of comprehensive statement for some time because he wanted to keep things as quiet as possible; but out of obligation to the public opinion, he has to say something. He has set a press conference tomorrow afternoon(1) where he will have to say there has been no indication of movement on the IL-28s, if there has been no progress on this. The result of this could very well be to increase American pressure for some kind of strong action.

McCloy said he had gone over that three or four times yesterday and he feels he has put them on enough notice in this regard. Unless he should bump into them he would be inclined to think it would be weakness to call them. If he should want another talk this afternoon McCloy will say that again. Ball and Gilpatric agreed.

McCloy said regarding the President's statement, this has to be worked on. Ball reported Sorensen and Johnson and Nitze were now working on that in another group. McCloy said they had been playing around on something up there. They may send their ideas down on this, to be put in the hopper.

1 See footnote 7, Document 196. Back

Source: Department of State, Ball Files: Lot 74 D 272, Telephone Conversations--Cuba. No classification marking. Ball was in Washington; McCloy in New York.

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