458. Memorandum for the record, October 301

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  • Daily White House Staff Meeting, 30 October 1962

1. Mr. Bundy presided. DEFCONS no change.

2. Before the meeting began I happened to be talking with Bob Komer in his office when he received a telephone call from Bundy. From the end of the conversation which I heard, it was apparent that Bundy was asking Komer’s opinion on what we should do concerning aerial surveillance, given the fact that yesterday’s photographs seemed to have been inconclusive. Komer said that his Fingerspitzgefuehl was that we should inform U Thant before his take-off from New York this morning that, due to the inconclusiveness of yesterday’s effort, we propose to continue surveillance today. Bundy apparently said “Thank you”, and hung up.

3. The following matters arose in the meeting:

a. Reference paragraph 2 above, Bundy told Komer he had decided that the best thing to do was “to wait until we see the evidence”, which I interpreted as meaning that the Executive Committee would, based on yesterday’s evidence, make the decision at its 10 o’clock meeting this morning.

b. Hansen and Bundy engaged in a cryptic exchange concerning certain recommended improvements in our communications with Latin America, including especially Panama. This may have been something that has come out of the Communications Subcommittee of the NSC Executive Committee. In any event, Hansen said that the basic improvement recommended in Latin American communications would come to about $100 million, and those with Panama separately an additional $50 million. Bundy referred to the $20 million ceiling on expenditures which Secretary McNamara has apparently been authorized to make more or less informally, and I gathered that Hansen was going to check all this out with Defense Comptroller Hitch.

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c. Kaysen once again referred to the famous Executive Order on shipping restrictions to Cuba, which, of course, antedated the present crisis by a week or so. Actually, this Order has never been formally published and is therefore not yet in effect, although other countries are acting as though it were. Decision: Kaysen will see that “a State Department spokesman” issues a statement between now and Thursday to the effect that, due to the complications of the current crisis, it was necessary to rework and reassess the Order; he will also prepare a short paper along the same lines for the President in anticipation of a possible question at the Thursday press conference.

d. Kaysen said that the Times of New Delhi is reporting that American arms are already enroute to India, but that this statement is not true since we are still shuffling our papers in this matter.

e. Either Bromley Smith or Clifton reported that the President was disturbed by the Max Frankel column in this morning’s New York Times, since it purports to reveal Administration thinking and motivation prior to the definitive beginning of the crisis as signalized by the President’s speech of Monday, 22 October. Somebody noted that the President had spoken to Congressional leaders about the gamut of available alternatives, and everyone sort of relaxed because it seemed so obvious that any leak could be attributed to one of these Congressmen.

f. Tom Parrott warned that we could now expect a spate of journalistic speculation on the reliability and effectiveness of our intelligence gathering—e.g., for example, why did we not know earlier that SSM sites were being constructed? Arthur Schlesinger referred to Senator Keating in this context, and Parrott said that although Keating’s information was almost surely based on refugee information, he was just lucky enough to have some refugee information that fell into the 5% that can usually be considered reliable.

g. Bundy asked if anyone had any bright ideas on what to do about “our Cubans”. A very cryptic Bundy-Kaysen exchange then ensued, with a reference to Andros Island that I did not understand, but if I had to guess would say that there is some scheme abroad to relocate (voluntarily, of course) Cuban refugees on Andros Island. Andros belongs to the UK, but I suppose that need not stand in the way. Bundy ended this [Facsimile Page 3] discussion by saying that at least six agencies of the Government which should have been doing something about the Alpha 66 group, have now been told to do something in fact—meaning, I suppose, come up with some ideas.

h. The discussion then turned to the Adenauer visit scheduled to begin on 7 November. It was felt that the first day might be devoted to listening to Adenauer tell the President: “I knew you had it in you all the time”, but that this would logically lead to a second day devoted to Adenauer’s expecting the President to demonstrate equal and [Typeset Page 1286] equally timely toughness on Berlin-Germany. I asked what had happened to the idea of having Thompson-Tyler-Hillenbrand come up with an appropriate brief agenda and list of papers by 1 November, and it appears that, despite the press of the recent and continuing Cuban crisis, such a list will become available (presumably to the White House) by the end of this week—just a few days late, in other words. I would certainly think it appropriate for General Gray or somebody else in JCS to try to tie discreetly into whatever effort is going into this agenda exercise.

i. The discussion on Adenauer’s visit led to mention of the reorientation of the Nitze Subcommittee. After yesterday’s meeting of the Nitze Subcommittee, which I attended, Nitze saw Bundy, and the outcome of their conversation seems to have been that the Nitze Subcommittee will hereafter remove its principal focus from Berlin contingency planning aspects to a broader and more analytical look at long-range proposals for a Berlin settlement. If I read this fancy language correctly, it means that the Nitze Subcommittee is getting into the business of US negotiating positions for use with the Soviets. At yesterday afternoon’s meeting, Mr. Nitze enunciated a few new and startling ideas; although Ambassador Thompson was at first inclined to think that the US should not at this time take any Berlin initiatives, his opposition seemed to diminish when Mr. Nitze said that the Subcommittee could merely work at establishing agreed positions within the US Government, without any commitment to the content or timing of tactics, including the tactics of it, when, and how to approach the Soviets or to wait for them to approach us.

  1. Daily White House staff meeting including discussion of aerial surveillance; communications with Latin America; Executive order on shipping restrictions to Cuba; press leaks; press speculation re intelligence gathering; Cuban exiles; Adenauer visit; Nitze Subcommittee. Secret. 3 pp. NDU, Taylor Papers, Box 25, Chairman’s Staff Meetings.