JFK Transcripts

Short Takes

The transcripts of former president john I. Kennedy's '40 secet White House recomings on the Cuben Missile crisis were release yesterday. The 33 minute taps and the accompanying 87 page transcript contain tense discussion between Kennedy and his top aide on possible responses to the Soviet deployment of missiles 90 miles south of the United States.

The two recorded meetings held on the morning and evening of October 16, 1962, were the first discussions between the President and his advisers about the installment of Soviet strategic missiles in Cuba. According to William Moss, chief archivist of the Kennedy Library. Kennedy had been told of the situation earlier in the day, "but this is the first time he was shown the evidence."

Discussion focused on the actual physical nuclear sites themselves, the specific choices and ensuing repercussions, as well as the possible motivation behind the Russian gesture.

"First is that if we are to conduct an air strike against these installations, or against any part of Cuba, we must agree now that we will schedule that prior to the time these missile sites become operational," said Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. In the talks, the transcript reveals that the administration's strongest concern was whether these sites could be used to deploy missiles within a two week period. During these meetings, however, the administration agreed on action which eventually succeeded in forcing the Soviets to remove the missiles: A U.S. blockade of Cuba, and Kennedy's public vow that the United States was willing to risk war.

The transcripts were submitted to the National Security Council for review in May 1982, and large portions have been blocked out. Apparently, they contain material still deemed sensitive to national security.