203. Memorandum From the Presidentʼs Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Kennedy 0


A. The only agenda item is Cuba. Dean Rusk may ask for discussion of Laos, but we should resist any extended debate—we have had too much, and there is still no agreed, reviewed, State-Defense position. Frank Ellis has a brief paper on Civil Defense whose meaning is hard to assess—he will want to speak to you about it, and you will have to decide whether you want to discuss it.

[Here follows discussion of an unrelated item to be discussed at the NSC meeting.]

C. On Cuba, the starting point is the fine report of the Nitze task force.1 The first point to make is that we cannot debate it all—the following are the principal points for your decision. They are stated in each case with three elements:

The recommended decision
Who concurs or dissents
The action agency

Recommended decisions:

There should be a detailed study of possible weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the elements which exert control in Cuba today—an anatomy of the Castro regime. (cf p. 8, Report)
  • Recommended by: Task Force and White House
  • Action: CIA, with State.
There should be no military intervention now, but the U. S. should retain the right to intervene if (a) Castroʼs Cuba should become a direct military threat to the U. S., or (b) if Castro commits aggression against any American republic.
  • Recommended by: White House, adapted from Task Force (cf. p. 15, Report)
  • Action: President
While the Castro threat should be reduced, if possible, by other measures, there should be careful contingency planning for sufficient and effective intervention if it should become necessary. (pp. 15-16, Report)
  • Recommended by: White House, adapted from Task Force
  • Action: Department of Defense
Cuban exiles in the U.S. should be dealt with in general as outlined in Annex III,2 Task Force Report, except that:
There will be no separate Cuban military force, but Cuban enlistment in the U.S. armed forces will be encouraged, and the Department of Defense will keep track of such Cubans against the day when they may be needed.
Exiles will be screened, first, for refugee status and, second, on a selective basis, for immigrant status.
  • Recommended by: White House and Task Force, except that Defense and CIA would prefer a Cuban brigade, while the Task Force did not report on the notion of immigrant status for a few.
  • Action: Defense, HEW, CIA, and Justice.
Possible economic sanctions against Castro should be carefully reviewed—it is not clear what their effect would be, or whether they should be applied by the Trading with the Enemy Act, the Battle Act, or a direct embargo. (cf. Report, p. 19)
  • Recommended by: White House (Task Force was split)
  • Action: Department of State (Assistant Secretary Martin)
Relations with the Revolutionary Council should be improved, and support should be given to that body insofar as it continues to represent substantial Cuban sentiment.
  • Recommended by: White House, adapted from Task Force
  • Action: Department of State
Our commitment to lasting reform and progress in a post-Castro Cuba, as elsewhere, should be reaffirmed, along with our commitment to assist the Cuban people and economy after Cuba is free. (cf. Report, p. 19)
  • Recommended by: White House, adapted from Task Force
  • Action: President, then State and USIA

We should at once initiate negotiation to enlarge the willingness of other American states to join in bilateral, multilateral and OAS-wide [Page 478] arrangements to quarantine Castro. Such negotiation should be separate from preparations now proceeding for the IA-ECOSOC meeting in July, and a special team of negotiators may be needed.

These negotiations should include the following possibilities:

agreements for mutual support against subversion, infiltration, or guerrilla activity
increased cooperation in strengthening internal security forces
increased intelligence and liaison assistance
cooperative action against Castro press services and other prop-aganda
a Caribbean security force
naval patrol against movements of arms and men, within the rules of international law
censure of Castro by OAS under Declaration of Caracas, Santiago, and/or San Jose
rupture of diplomatic, consular, and/or trade relations
creation of appropriate Inter-American committees of enforcement
invocation of the Rio Treaty, and U.S. support, in the event of aggression.
  • Recommended by: White House, adapted from Task Force
  • Action: Department of State

Both emergency and long-range plans should be developed promptly for anti-Communist intervention in the event of crises in Haiti or the Dominican Republic.
  • Recommended by White House and Task Force
  • Action: Department of State (Mr. Berle)
The Legal Adviser—with such external consultation as may be appropriate—should consider how far existing concepts of international law play into the hands of communists, and whether a new juridical basis for effective anti-communist action can and should be developed. (Report, pp. 30-31)
  • Recommended by: White House, adapted from Task Force
  • Action: Department of State (Mr. Chayes)
The Alliance for Progress should be strengthened on the lines recommended in Section VIII A of the Task Force Report, specifically including a plan for a supplemental appropriation for development loans, later in FY 1962, of the order of $200-$400 million, in addition to the $250-$350 million now contemplated, and including further an expectation that a second installment of social development funds in FY 1963, rather than in FY 1964. (Report, pp. 32-34)
We should engage in propaganda activities on a much enlarged scale, and the means of propaganda should be made available to non-U.S. groups. An estimate of costs should be prepared by USIA and CIA.
  • Recommended by: White House and Task Force
  • Action: USIA and CIA
An Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs should be appointed.
In the interim the Cuban Task Force should be continued under the temporary chairmanship of Richard Goodwin.
  • Recommended by: White House, adapted from Task Force
  • Action: The President

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, General, May 1961. Top Secret.
  2. Document 202.
  3. Not printed.