596. Memorandum from McCone to McGeorge Bundy, January 151

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With reference to the surveillance program for photographing the discharging operations of the SIMFEROPOL, the following are my views:

1. The SIMFEROPOL apparently is enroute to Havana or Mariel and should reach port Wednesday midnight.

2. Under clear weather conditions, high-level U–2 photography will identify objects discharged during the day and resting on the dock at the unloading point, with dimensions of 2 to 3 feet and this resolution will permit photo-analysts to identify with reasonable accuracy all [Typeset Page 1563] objects of military significance of interest to us. Therefore it is my opinion that under the circumstances mentioned, i.e. good weather, low-level photography would not be a requirement during the daylight hours.

3. If weather is overcast, then low-level photography is necessary if we are to determine, by photographic means, the cargo being discharged.

4. Night photography will require the use of illuminating flares. The quality of such photography will probably reveal night discharging operations although it is to be noted there is some uncertainty concerning aerial photography conducted under these procedures and conditions.

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5. All clandestine assets have been alerted to report on the discharging activities of this ship, most particularly those conducted at night, and reports received from intelligence resources should be of some value. However if the Cubans or Soviets take the unusual precautions such as those previously taken, which included exclusion areas, unloading fully loaded trailers covered with tarpaulins, etc., it is doubtful whether clandestine source reports would give us the firm evidence of the particulars of the cargo discharged.

It is my recommendation that we fly high level flights from daylight to dusk at 4-hour intervals if weather is good, low level flights during this period if it is not good, and depend upon clandestine resources at night unless the read-out of the day time flights (which should be made under most expeditious arrangements) indicates the overriding necessity for reconnaissance.

John A. McCone
  1. McCone’s views on surveillance of the Soviet ship Simferopol. Secret. 2 pp. Kennedy Library, NSF, Countries Series, Cuba—Subjects, Intelligence Material, Vol. III.