THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS (Illustration) American Presidents Famous Historical Events Government Social Studies The Kennedys Russian Studies Ethics American History

This image depicts one of the photos taken by a U-2 pilot over Cuba in 1962. Depending on one's point-of-view, the photo reveals either an offensive threat (U.S.) or a defensive base (USSR). If we check-out a description of the photo at Pravda's historical archives, we read these words: База ПВО в Сан-Кристобаль. Translated into English, that means: "Air defense base in San Cristobal."


McGeorge Bundy, the President’s National Security Adviser, learned the bad news Monday night. It was he who first got the call:

The Soviets are constructing offensive missile sites in Cuba.

Eighty million Americans could be dead in ten minutes if the Soviets, or the Cubans, decided to fire those missiles. The only breath of good news on the subject? The missile launch sites were not completed. Experts thought they would be operational in two weeks.

Instead of telling the President immediately, Bundy wanted more information.  He also wanted JFK to get some much-needed rest.  He withheld the crucial information until 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday, October 16th.  The "Thirteen Days" had begun.

President Kennedy ordered a select group of senior officials to assemble at 11:50 a.m. Thanks to a secret recording system Robert Bouck had installed (at the President’s request) in both the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room, a 35-page transcript of those critical discussions is available at the National Archives.

Only the Kennedy brothers knew all the discussions were being recorded.

The evidence was clear: The Soviets were installing medium-range ballistic missiles at separate launch sites. Dean Rusk, the Secretary of State, stated his opinion:

I think we’ll be facing a situation that could well lead to general war...

Near the end of this first meeting, the President summarized his position:

We’re certainly going to do number one: we’re going to take out these, uh, missiles.

How would that be done? One (or both) of two possible scenarios:

...number two, which would be a general air strike. That we’re not ready to say, but we should be in preparation for it. The third is the...general invasion.

When would American action take place?

At least we’re going to do number one, so it seems to me that we don’t have to wait very long. We...ought to be making those preparations.

Unless he changed his mind over the ensuing days, the Commander-in-Chief would order American planes to bomb the missile sites. And he wanted no leaks about his options.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5189stories and lessons created

Original Release: Apr 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: Feb 15, 2016

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"THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS" AwesomeStories.com. Apr 01, 2002. Dec 13, 2019.
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