The Cuban Missile Crisis
Memorandum From Director of Central Intelligence McCone to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)


Washington, December 15, 1962.

This memorandum is in reference to NSAM #208 dated December 6 transmitting a memorandum entitled "Guide lines for the planning of Cuban overflights",(1) and requesting "An estimate of the adequacy of such a system of intelligence collection to meet the criteria set forth . . ."

On December 6, I wrote to you(2) stating that I was of the opinion that two regularly scheduled U-2 missions per day would reasonably satisfy the requirements, with the understanding that postponed flights, because of weather, would be flown when weather permitted, and with the further understanding that low-level flights would be requested if considered necessary because of a special interest in targets or protracted postponement of the high level missions.

With reference to the assumption expressed in NSAM #208 that an energetic program for the collection of information by all other available means would be used to supplement photography, the United States Intelligence Board has considered these carefully.

I can report to you that:

(a) CIA is increasing its effort in a variety of ways, including an expanded use of agents, legal travellers, refugee interrogations both in this country and in other countries, and through liaison arrangements with third countries. In addition, CIA is prepared to endeavor to insert additional intelligence collecting teams as soon as policy decisions are reached in this respect.

(b) NSA will continue an intensive program in the SIGINT field which has during recent weeks added materially to all other intelligence.

(c) The United States Intelligence Board has also considered ways for more energetic utilization of resources available in the military serv-ices, most particularly the Army and the Navy, and will take such actions as might be appropriate to increase their unilateral activities without duplicating the activities of CIA.

I think the combination of the photography and other measures can give us a reasonably satisfactory body of intelligence. However, it will not, in my opinion, be totally satisfactory nor as dependable as an arrangement for well organized on-site inspection, which is politically not attainable at the present time.

John A. McCone

1 Document 232. Back

2 Not found. Back

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, NSAM 208. Top Secret.

127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511.