INT: Fascinating, absolutely... you've covered virtually every question I was going to ask you. Just a couple of things I'd like to pick up on, in particular when you heard that the missiles were really going to go out, what was the sense both with you and with the agency?
DB: Well, we had Penkowski's documents, which gave a good indication of how they fired these things. So, the missiles were there - keep in mind that this was the rainy season and the missiles would be all wet - so the missiles did not have warheads or anything on them. They would have to be brought in to what was known as a missile ready ten, they would have to dried off, they would have to be checked out, they would have to be fuelled and then they would have to have a warhead installed. Then they would move to the pad. Once they were put on the pad, they had what was known as theodolite stations. They had various stations to make sure that the missile was properly aligned, but then also to indicate the target that the missile was supposed to strike. And so we watched that very, very carefully. if a launcher on the pad, we would report the number of launchers that were on the pad, meaning that the Russians could bring in a missile and lay it on the pad and within four to six hours it could be coming at the United States. Now there were big discussions among the military about striking all of these sites and Maxwell Taylor said that he couldn't verify that all the missiles would be taken out in one shot. He said, there's an old artillery axiom that you shoot and scoot and the Russians did have a plan that you would fire the missiles, go to another location, fire some more. And they other thing was that the tactical aviation people could not confirm that they could take out all the missiles in one shot and there was a great fear that if there was one missile site that got away, you could bet your bottom dollar that missile site would be aimed at Washington. And so this created some discomfort with President Kennedy and Bobby. They both interrogated the head of the Tactical Air Command and LeMay but LeMay got a little frustrated and when they asked him what he would do with Cuba, he said, I'll fry it and he didn't think too much of the conventional bombs. In fact Bobby called him during the crisis and said, how many of the SAC bombers are configured to do conventional bombing? And LeMay said, none of 'em. All of the SAC bombers had the nuclear harness in them and then when Bobby hung up, he said, that dumb shit, because he felt that Bobby knew so little about the Strategic Air Command. But at that particular time, all of the SAC bombers were structured, they call it a harness, to carry atomic weapons and that didn't change until the Vietnam War, when the atomic harness was taken out and conventional bombs were used.
INT: Speaking of that briefing and the occupied sites, could you tell me the story of the dream?
DB: One of the things that... Most people think that the intelligence communities are pretty staid and so one of the things that Mr. Lundahl always encouraged me to do, he said, if you find anything funny, anything that's humorous on the photography, put it in the package and so Lundahl would always tell the President all the bad news, but then he would always try to leave him with a smile, there was something humorous. So, Kennedy detested military jargon and we would use a term like TEL, transportector [inaudible], he hated that, and in the morning, every morning we would report to him the number of sites that were occupied, meaning each MRBM site had four pads and if there was a launcher on the pad, we'd say that that pad was occupied, meaning that a missile could be fired from that particular pad within four to six hours. He detested that and he got after McCone and he said, there ought to be a better way of telling me this. So, the crisis was over... the day after the crisis was over, one of our low altitude planes happened to fly over a military latrine and the military latrines are open at the top and... so I made the briefing board and Mr. Lundahl gave it to Mr. McCone. By this time, now Kennedy was four... he knew that four pads and Mr. McCone said, Mr. President, he said, we have a new site in Cuba with three positions, with one position occupied and the President's jaw dropped and he looked at the photograph and of course, having served in the Pacific, and he saw what the site was. And he started laughing and he said, now I understand what occupied, unoccupied is, why didn't I have this primer earlier? So that even in the crisis period, there were humorous things.
INT: What do you think the single worst moment of the crisis was? Was it the twenty seventh for you?
DB: No doubt about it, it was the twenty seventh. When Lundahl came back and Lundahl wasn't the type of man that would get down, but he saw that the President was very, very concerned. The President was being pressured on this side by the military to do something and it appeared that the Russians were pushing him just about as far as they could push him. So the President was between a rock and hard point right at that time. He had to do something and his ultimatum to Dobrinyn, I think, brought the crisis to the head.
INT: Can you just tell me the latrine story again. Because a photograph's quite hard to distinguish, can you just explain a bit more...
DB: [Interrupts] Well, I'll tell you what, I have an enlargement here that is so good...
INT: [Interrupts] Oh fine. Well, just talk me through very briefly about what the President was shown, again. What was the photograph that was actually shown to the President?
DB: OK, the photograph that was shown to the President you actually see the latrine, it's open at the top, and if you look, you can stwo holes and then you can see an individual, with his pants down and you can see he's nude from his neck all the way down to his waist. And so it's very obvious was happening, you can see his pants at his legs.
DB: The President's knowledge of things military was World War Two, which of course he was very familiar with. But now we had entered the atomic age and so after the crisis was over, General Taylor told me, he said, I wanted the President to see what he had set into motion. And he said, I wanted to take him to the various places where the navy was located, ready to strike, where the armoured forces were ready, where the airborne units were ready and he said, I also wanted him to think the pilots that flew the low altitude, that flew the U-2s and so forth. And this was quite a revelation to President Kennedy and it impressed him very deeply and several times the President in subsequent briefings, had said, he was very impressed with this and what he could have set into motion. He told Mr. Lundahl, he said, you know, he said, this photography's a wonderful thing and we ought to use it for peaceful purposes. And he said, one of the things that he wanted to do was, first to stop above ground nuclear detonations, but the second thing was to engage the Russians in discussion about using photography as a possible means of disarmament. One of the things that Mr. Lundahl told me, he said, that always fascinated the President, he would always ask, he said, would you please tell these people how you do this photography. Now the U-2 carries two rolls of film and each roll of film is five thousand feet long. So if you can imagine... Lundahl would tell the President, you could stretch the film from the White House all the way to the Capitol building. Now if you can imagine, he said, all along that there are men with magnifying glasses looking at this photography and they are picking up things that are of extreme importance to you. And Kennedy couldn't get over that analogy and time and again he would ask Lundahl to repeat that. But Kennedy was concerned that with the new developments in the satellites, that a move could be made with the Russians to use aerial photography as a peaceful vehicle for disarmament. And of course that was later picked up by Nixon.
INT: Final thing, could you just explain for me fairly briefly about the fact that the crisis was in fact being driven by the photographs.
DB: OK. Yeah. One of the things that really impressed me, I would prepare the morning briefings for Mr. Lundahl and then he would come back and he would say, well, McNamara said this or Rusk asked this and I would keep the notes. And one of the things that was very impressive to me was that the photography was driving the crisis. In fact policy papers that were told to be prepared, were coming maybe one day or two days later and by that time, the situation had completely changed. So... the photography was creating a climate that was demanding that policy stay right with the photography. Now keep in mind, we were on two twelve hour shifts, but the policy-makers were only working eight to ten hours a day. So Lundahl raised the issue, maybe the policy-maker ought to be going into twelve hour shifts and then stay right with us at the centre as we were looking at the photography. Now that never occurred, but Lundahl raised the issue and later that would come up several times in crises in the future in which people did move into the centre.
INT: Fascinating, thank you very much indeed.
END OF INTERVIEW