By Robert F. Kennedy (auth.)
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Extra resources for 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis October 1962
It pointed out that the Soviet Union had not taken this kind of step with any of its satellites in the past and would feel the risk of retaliation from the United States to be too great to take the risk in this case. We heard later, in a post mortem study, that reports had come from agents within Cuba indicating the presence of missiles in September 1962. Most of the reports were false; some were the result of confusion by untrained observers between surface-to-air missiles and surface-tosurface missiles.
The discussion, for the most part, was able so and organized, although, like all meetings of this kind, certain statements were made as accepted truisms, which I, at least, thought were of questionable validity. One member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for example, argued that we could use nuclear weapons, on the basis that our adversaries would use theirs against us in an attack. I thought, as I listened, of the many times that I had heard the military take positions which, if wrong, had the advantage that no one would be around at the end to know.
Meanwhile, time was slowly running out. 38 An examination of photography taken on Wednesday, October 17, showed several other installations, with at least sixteen and possibly thirty-two missiles of over I,ooo-mile range. Our military experts advised that these missiles could be in operation within a week. 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.