595. Memorandum for the record, January 121

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  • Meeting in Mr. Bundy’s office—12 January 1963—attended by Mr. Bundy, Secretary Rusk, Secretary McNamara, Mr. McCone, Mr. Johnson and General Taylor


1. There was a general discussion of the OXCART surfacing problem. Consideration was given to the issues raised by the Killian Board as reported in DCI memorandum of 12 January, McNamara suggested the matter be held in abeyance pending further study on his part, discussion with McCone and possibly discussions with the Killian Board.

2. General discussion of DCI memorandum of January 11th on continued aerial surveillance of Cuba. Differences arose concerning policy reaction if a U–2 was shot down, desirability of resorting to the alternatives outlined in the paper rather than risk a U–2 incident and the desirability and effect of aborts as proposed under Recommendation 4.c. In general, DCI and Secretary Rusk took the position that an [Typeset Page 1561] abort would be a manifestation of weakness and that we should sanction one or two at the most, and furthermore we should consider a response to a U–2 shoot-down as a “must”. McNamara, on the other hand, favored extreme caution, was not concerned over the number of aborts, did not want to see a U–2 incident precipitated, and advocated resorting to alternatives, most particularly the use of drones.

3. General Taylor and McNamara continue to object to the use of System 14 for reasons previously stated.

4. It was agreed to proceed with a. and b. It was also agreed that CIA would prepare to place the defensively equipped aircraft at the disposal of SAC but not actually move them to Del Rio until further orders.

5. It was further agreed to intensively study the whole idea of an abort procedure. The question was raised as to how many missions (actual planes) would have aborted in the last 30 to 45 days if a procedure had been established calling for an abort when the signal was received to the effect that (a) FRUITSET radar had swept the U–2, or (b) FRUITSET was locked on and therefore the U–2 was in danger.

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ACTION: A review should be made by DDR of signal intelligence which might develop this information.

6. Defense were disinclined to accept Recommendation 4.d. However it was agreed to fly drones over specified U.S. targets to test photographic and operational feasibility.

ACTION: DDR should see that this is done and that NRO, NPIC and other interested parties are brought into the exercise and evaluation.

7. Following this meeting, subject was briefly reviewed with the same group and the President and the Vice President. No decision was requested nor reached. The President, however, seemed inclined to the view that if the Soviets or Cubans are to attempt to take down a U–2, we ought to find it out right away and respond. He seemed to share the Secretary of State’s views that aborting missions would demonstrate a certain weakness but agreed we might consider policy after the first abort.

8. Question was raised as to whether an abort procedure could be developed with existing facilities and prior to the installation of system 12s in U–2 aircraft. No one knew whether this could be done. I would like DDR to let me know whether present signals which are received by aircraft and naval ships can serve as a warning and can be communicated to the U–2 pilot advising him that he was under radar surveillance and instructing him to abort.

9. Questions were raised concerning the COMOR recommendation for around-the-clock photography at 4-hour intervals on the incoming [Typeset Page 1562] ship SIMFEROPOL. McCone stated that if weather permitted, U–2 photography would suffice during daylight hours and that CIA had alerted all clandestine resources as well as liaison organizations to develop information on night movements by observation. DCI stated that this would produce some intelligence although he could not guarantee that the information would be comprehensive, and therefore useful. DCI reported that he would not know the destination of the ship. This would probably be determined the evening of the 14th or the morning of the 15th. The ship probably would go to either Havana or Mariel.

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10. In general the consensus was against low level photography with McNamara strongly opposing low level under any circumstances. Rusk and McCone wishing to take a look on Monday afternoon. It was agreed that this subject should be discussed Monday afternoon or, at the latest, Tuesday morning. In the meantime the following actions are to be taken:

a. DCI to be sure every possible step is taken by clandestine efforts.

b. General Taylor to prepare for frequent high level or low level flights, if and when ordered.

John A. McCone
  1. Discussion during a meeting with the President of Cuban aerial reconnaissance. Secret. 3 pp. CIA, DCI (McCone) Files: Job 80–B01285, DCI Meetings with the President, 1 January–31 March, 1963.