323. Memorandum of conversation between Carter and Hilsman, October 161

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General Carter: I just got back to the office and heard the quote that was going around the Agency that you had said, in going in to see Dean Rusk, that you had to report a tremendous failure on the part of U.S. intelligence—I don’t know whether it’s true or not, it’s true in part, but I thought you should also know that Dean Rusk, at the meeting this morning, said, substantially along these lines, “This is really no surprise, Mr. McCone alerted us to it in mid-August.” Which he had done and which he put in a message to me when he was on his honeymoon, bringing it up.

Mr. Hilsman: Well, I don’t know—funny, I don’t recall saying anything in going in to see Dean Rusk. Oh, maybe when your fellow was listening, what I said was none of us, with the notable exception of McCone, really expected this, and I think none of the Sovietologists—

General Carter: That’s true, nobody expected it except Mr. McCone. Incidentally, if there isn’t any secretary listening on your line, you’d be interested in Bobby’s reaction—“Oh, s——!”

Mr. Hilsman: No, but what I was saying to the Secretary, quite sincerely, was that I did not expect it.

General Carter: Well, none of our people did either.

Mr. Hilsman: None of my Sovietologists did.

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General Carter: Our psychiatrists over here didn’t even expect it. OK, Roger—

Mr. Hilsman: Mr. McCone’s the only one who can claim to have foreseen this because—I didn’t expect it, and it was—nor did any of the other Sovietologists—

General Carter: Well, my only claim to fame is that in June I wrote a memo to Mr. McCone and said, “What’s going to happen if such and such happens, are we ready for it?”, you know—this, however, referred to the early August stuff and not the current stuff, so I can’t claim a damn thing—but Mr. McCone really had it pegged; he’s coming in, incidentally.

Mr. Hilsman: Well, I’m frank to admit that I did not expect this.

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General Carter: OK, coach, lots of things are going on around here—

Mr. Hilsman: Yes, I imagine.

General Carter: I’ll see you.

  1. Failure of U.S. intelligence (with the exception of McCone) to predict development of Soviet missiles in Cuba. No classification marking. 2 pp. CIA Files: Job 80–B1676R, Walter Elder, Recop.