385. Memorandum of Meeting With President Kennedy0


  • Secretaries Rusk, McNamara, Gilpatric, General Taylor, Messrs. Bundy, McCone


  • Cuba
[Page 954]

McCone advised that President had been briefed on the Cuban situation but added the information given [less than 1 line of source text not declassified].

Rusk advocated informing Canadians and all NATO allies of growing seriousness of situation; also advocated removal of restrictions on use of Guantanamo by the Lansdale group.

Action: This point not cleared and should be pursued as strongly opposed by Chiefs.


The President requested a continuing analysis of the number and type of Soviet and Oriental personnel imported into Cuba; quantity and type of equipment and its probable use; all construction—particularly anxious to know whether construction involving SAM sites might differ from the ground sites. McCone stated we probably could not differentiate between surface-to-air and 350 mile ground-to-ground offensive missiles. McNamara observed portable ground missiles could not be located under any circumstances.

Action: DDCI should have Board of National Estimates working continuously on this analysis.


President requested analysis of the danger to the United States and the effect on Latin America of missile installations.

Action: DDCI should arrange for preparation of such estimates.


President raised the question of whether we should make a statement in advance of our position, should the Soviets install missiles and the alternative actions open to us in such event. In the course of the discussion, apparent many in the room related action in Cuba to Soviet actions in Turkey, Greece, Berlin, Far East and elsewhere. McCone questioned value of Jupiter missiles in Turkey and Italy. McNamara agreed they were useless but difficult politically to remove them.

Action: He agreed to study this possibility.

President raised question of what we could do against Soviet missile sites in Cuba. Could we take them out by air or would a ground offensive be necessary or alternatively could they be destroyed by a substantial guerrilla effort.
President raised question of what we should do in Cuba if Soviets precipitated a Berlin crisis. This is the alternative to the proposition of what Soviets would do in Berlin if we moved in Cuba.
During the conversation I raised substance of my plan of action as outlined in the attached paper. There was no disagreement that we must solve the Cuban problem. However, we should not start the political action and propaganda effort now until we had decided on the policy of following through to the complete solution of the Cuban problem.
After the meeting in a private conversation with Robert Kennedy, I stated that I felt Cuba was our most serious problem; [4 lines of source text not declassified]. I also added, in my opinion, Cuba was the key to all of Latin America; if Cuba succeeds, we can expect most of Latin America to fall.
John A. McCone1



Proposed plan of action for Cuba in the light of:

The arrival of four to five thousand Soviet/Bloc technicians and possibly military personnel during July-August.
Arrival of many ship loads of equipment and materiel during July and August.
The conclusion that stepped up plan (b) will not, in the opinion of the National Board of Estimates, accomplish the stated purpose of overthrowing Castro from within, and moreover will be attributable to the United States and cause loss of face by the United States, and
Modified plan (b) will contribute importantly to our intelligence gathering and will impede Castro regimeʼs economic progress but will not be sufficient to frustrate the regimeʼs progress in view of the evidences of substantial Soviet technical assistance.

The above all lead to the conclusion that with the passage of time, it is possible there will evolve in Cuba a stronger rather than a weaker Castro dominated communist state, fully oriented to Moscow, to serve on the one hand as a model for similar actions by disciplined groups throughout Latin America, and on the other as a bridgehead for Soviet subversive activities in Central and South America. Being dominated by Moscow, such a Cuba would also serve as a possible location for MRBMs, for COMINT and ELINT facilities targeted against United States activities, most particularly Canaveral, and finally as an ECM station which might adversely affect our space and missile work.

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Therefore it seems to me a more aggressive action is indicated than any heretofore considered, and should be patterned along the following lines:


An immediate continuing aggressive political action designed to awaken and alarm all of Latin America and all of the free world as to the extreme dangers inherent in the present Cuban situation.

Appropriate actions should be taken through domestic and foreign press media to inform and alarm the people, through the United Nations, through the Organization of American States and its subcommittees, by contact with each free world country at the level of head of state, foreign minister and ambassador, and through semi-public or private organizations such as labor, church, farm cooperatives, youth groups, et cetera.

[5 lines of source text not declassified]
The instantaneous commitment of sufficient armed forces to occupy the country, destroy the regime, free the people, and establish in Cuba a peaceful country which will be a member of the community of American states.

It is possible, though in my opinion improbable, that actions taken under (1) above would in themselves be sufficient to cause destruction of the Castro regime from dissension and disaffections within the regime itself which would obviate steps (2) or (3).

Alternatively, actions under (1) above might cause internal strife of sufficient proportion to prompt the action outlined under (3) above with no further provocation.

Concurrently with this plan, we should go forward with all possible activities called for under plan (b).

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (McCone) Files: Job 80-B01285A, Box 6, DCI Meetings with the President, 1 July 1962-31 December 1962. Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by McCone. On August 22 McCone briefed President Kennedy on the meeting in Ruskʼs office on the previous day; see Document 382. The President expressed concern about developments in Cuba and agreed that policy considerations growing out of those developments would be discussed at the meeting at the White House scheduled for August 23. (Ibid.)
  2. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.