By Robert F. Kennedy (auth.)
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Additional resources for 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis October 1962
The next day, Thursday, estimates by our Intelligence Community placed in Cuba missiles with an atomic-warhead potential of about one-half the current ICBM capacity of the entire Soviet Union. The photography having indicated that the missiles were being directed at certain American cities, the estimate was that within a few minutes of their being fired So million Americans would be dead. The members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were unanimous in calling for immediate military action. They forcefully presented their view that the blockade would not be effective.
Telephoning from our meeting in the State Department, Secretary McNamara ordered four tactical air squadrons placed at readiness for an air strike, in case the President decided to accept that recommendation. M. and went for a swim. I sat on the side of the pool, and we talked. At 2:30 we walked up to the Oval Room. The meeting went on until ten minutes after five. Convened as a formal meeting of the National Security Council, it was a larger group of people who met, some of whom had not participated in the deliberations up to that time.
We struggled and fought with one another and with our consciences, for it was a question that deeply troubled us all. In the midst of all these discussions, Andrei Gromyko came to see the President. It was an appointment made long before the missiles were uncovered, and the President felt it would be awkward to cancel it. He debated whether he should confront the Soviet Foreign Minister with our knowledge of the missiles' presence and finally decided that, as he had not yet determined a fmal course of action and the disclosure of our knowledge might give the Russians the initiative, he would simply listen to Gromyko.