Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Inside The NPI Center
Inside the NPI Center
ARTHUR C. LUNDAHL – The Briefer & The Center (NPIC)
Dino Brugioni dedicates his book “Eyeball to Eyeball” The Inside Story of the Cuban Missile Crisis (Random House, 1991) to “Arthur C. Lundahl. His vision and leadership made photo interpretation the guardian of the national security.”
Before reviewing what transpired when the Zapruder film was at the National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC), the following excerpts from Brugioni’s book reflects who worked at NPIC and how they operated during the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
After two of his Navy Photographic Interpretation Center photoanalysists briefed the Robertson Commission in 1953, then the head of that center, Captain Arthur Lundahl, was transferred to the CIA to start the National Photographic Interpretation Center.
...Concomitant with (Kelly) Johnson’s development of the U2 [ and special Kodak film, and camera], (Arthur C.) Lundahl began to structure the intelligence organization within the CIA required to exploit the imagery acquired by the U2. Lundahl was given a free hand in recruiting and selecting personnel. Early in 1955, Hans “Dutch” Scheufele, William F. Banfield, and I were told by Dr. James M. Andrews, the director of the Office of Central Reference, and Dr. Joseph Becker, his executive officer, that we had new jobs and that we were not to discuss our new assignments with anyone.
I had been recruited by the CIA in March 1948 and was a member of a unit responsible for creating the Agency’s industrial register of detailed information on foreign-production facilities worldwide...Lundahl, aware of the difficulties encountered by the photo interpreters during World War II, conceived of his organization as a wagon wheel. The photo interpreters would be the hub of that wheel and the radiating spokes of specialists would make the wheel turn….in Q Building and, later, Quarters I – an abandoned barracks that housed a WAVE contingent during World War II...Photo-interpretation had traditionally been the private preserve of the military, especially the Air Force, which was extremely sensitive to the Agency’s encroachment on its territory.
...During this period, Lundahl and his executive officer, Chick Camp were also involved in negotiating a permanent home for the center. The nondescript Steuart Motor Car Co. Building was selected in a crime-ridden area of the Washington ghetto at Fifth and K Streets, NW. the four upper floors of the building would become the division’s home, while the three lower floors would still be occupied by the motor car company, along with the Steuart Real Estate Office. The building was not air conditioned, and there were heating problems in winter...
Lundahl met with the Agency’s deputy director for intelligence, Robert Amory, about reorganizing the organization to accommodate the service elements. Amory agreed and Lundahl chose the title National Photographic Interpretation Center for his new organization.
Air Force Colonel Osmond “Ozzie” J. Ritland had been working with Bissel, and he and lower-ranking Air Force officers were doing everything possible to aid the CIA in its photo-collection and interpretation efforts.
Meanwhile, at the Pentagon, there was an angry undercurrent as to how the Air Force could allow a task properly assigned to them slip away to the CIA. Air Force photo-interpretation units were directed not to cooperate with Agency personnel in their attempt to establish a photo-interpretation center. At Omaha, General Curtis LeMay regarded SAC as the free world’s primary deterrent to the Soviet Union and assumed that it should have the dominant role I acquiring strategic intelligence. While General LeMay cooperated with the Agency in providing logistical support, he too, to paraphrase one of his senior officers, was ‘bent out of shape’ because the Agency was becoming involved with photo-interpretation. In one of his staff meetings, LeMay said about the U2, “We’ll let them develop it and then we’ll take it away from them.”
The first U2 mission over the Soviet Union took place on July 4, 1956…Photo interpreters at the center looked at the photographs with abject fascination. A number of briefing boards were produced….Lundahl showed the intelligence significance of each board as the president listened intently. Lundahl remembered that the president “asked questions about very specific targets that were of great national interest. He was impressed with the quality of the photography and asked questions about the resolution and the altitude the pictures were made from. He also asked questions about intercept attempts and questions about any Soviet reaction.” Lundahl described the president as being “warm with satisfaction” after seeing the results from the first mission. A warm and friendly relationship developed. Eisenhower admiring Lundahl for his articulate presentations and Lundahl enjoying the president’s support for the reconnaissance programs.
It was an exciting era – a new age of discovery, and, for the first time, we had the capability to derive precise, irrefutable data on the vast land mass and physical installations of our principal adversary – and the data was only a few days old. It was also a learning and collaborative experience between the policymakers, intelligence analysts and photo interpreters. The analyst literally stood at the photo interpreter’s shoulder and was made acutely aware of the exploitation process and of the photo interpreter’s nuances and jargon. The policymakers began comparing the information derived from the U2 with other sources of information. Often when presented with information from other sources, the president would ask, “How does this compare with the U2 information?”
These missions were generating accurate, current information in greater quantities than had ever been contemplated. Much to our surprise, the Russians had not employed any camouflage and concealment efforts. Time and again, we knew we were reporting information that was dispelling existing notions and intelligence estimates, and we took a certain vicarious pleasure in proving the value of aerial photography over other intelligence sources. Analysts began reevaluating assumptions regarding Soviet strategic capabilities. Within a few weeks, analysis of the U2 photography had dispelled the bomber-gap myth.
Lundahl’s combination of energy, memory, intelligence, knowledge, and articulateness was making quite a name for him and the art of photo interpretation. After the president was briefed on the takes from each mission, Lundahl would proceed to the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, congressional leaders, and the chiefs of the various intelligence directorates. Lundahl quickly became the most respected and honored intelligence officer in the intelligence community. He was a superb photo interpreter and photogrammetrist and could articulate the characteristics and technical specifications of the new collection system. This ability, combined with a warm enthusiasm and a strong empathy with his audiences, was daily proving the value of photo intelligence in the estimate process. After each mission, Kelly Johnson would come to the Center and we would brief him on the results of the mission. Such other distinguished visitors as General Jimmy Doolittle, Dr. Edwin Land, and Dr. George Kistiakowsky also came to our nondescript but vital facility in the Steuart Building.
On May 1, 1960, just fifteen days before a scheduled four-power summit conference was to convene in Paris, Gary Power’s U2 air-plane was brought down by an indirect hit from a near-miss SA-2 missile near Sverdlovsk, in the USSR…A furious debate ensued in the Senate, …To quell the debate, Allen Dulles decided to brief the entire Senate on the benefits that were derived from the U2 program.
Mr. Lundahl was told that he would be allowed precisely thirty minutes and that this should be the briefing of his lifetime. Lundahl gave us the task of organizing the effort, and I carefully reviewed all the contributions that the U2 missions had made to the national estimate process, along with the many crises wherein the intelligence derived had been employed to resolve policy issues worldwide. A number of spectacular briefing boards were created, and Lundahl rehearsed himself intently on the substantive content of the boards, to assure that he could effectively deliver the information within the prescribed thirty minutes.
Lundahl remembers the chamber he and Dulles entered as being “filled with senators, many in angry or combative moods.” Mr. Dulles, wearing one of his usual English tweed suits, introduced Lundahl. He then lit his curved tobacco pipe and settled back to enjoy Lundahl’s startling presentation, which upon completion provoked a standing ovation from the senators present. Mr. Dulles was so surprised by the reaction that when he rose to his feet, his lit pipe tumbled onto his lap, setting his tweed coat afire. Lundahl, taken aback, did not know whether to simply stand there and accept the senators’ acclaim or to seek a glass of water to throw on his inflamed director.
In Paris,…Lundahl, Cunningham, and a translator were driven to the Elysee Palace and escorted to de Gaull’s office. De Gaulle was alone. Lundahl opened the package of briefing materials and moved toward de Gaulle in order to brief him at his desk. De Gaulle rose, walked toward Lundahl, and asked him to place the graphics on a large conference table, where he stood looking down at them....Lundahl handed him a lage magnifying glass. De Gaulle asked a number of questions…His initial response to what he saw was expressed, cryptically, in French, “Formidable! Formidable!”
When the briefing was completed, de Gaulle thanked Lundahl, paused, reflected for a moment, and then said, “This is one of the most important programs the West is currently involved in and it is something that must continue.” ….Upon his return from the aborted conference, Eisenhower decided to speak to the nation and to reassure the public that he knew what was going on in his government…
James C. Hagerty, the president’s press secretary, selected a number of the boards and left to show them to the president. He returned after a few minutes, saying Eisenhower had rejected the idea of showing all the briefing boards…Rather than releasing photography of Soviet installations for public display, the president had selected the single briefing board I had prepared of the San Diego Naval Air Station, showing the airfield, aircraft, hangers, and runway markers….
[Kelly notes: J.C. Hagerty later worked as News director of ABC News in New York and hired the reporter who became the intermediary in the backchannel negotiations between JFK, William Atwood and Fidel Castro.]
In his televised address, Eisenhower,… added, “Aerial photography has been one of many methods we have used to keep ourselves and the free world abreast of major Soviet military developments. The usefulness of this work has been well established through four years of effort…”
There are a number of references in books on Powers U2 flight and the Kennedy assassination to the effect that Lee Harvey Oswald provided the Russians with data on the U2 that was subsequently used by the Soviets in downing Gary Power’s U2. Most of these accounts focus on the fact that in 1957, Oswald, then a seventeen year old US Marine Corps private, was assigned to the 1 Marine Aiercraft Wing, based at Atsugi Naval Air Station, about twenty miles west of Tokyo, as a trained radar operator. During the period Oswald was assigned at Atsugi, U2s used the naval air station as a staging base for missions over the Soviet Union. Oswald returned to the US, and on October 31, 1959, renounced his US citizenship. At the US embassy in Moscow, he indicated that he would tell the Russians everything he knew about US radar operations and something else that he termed “of special interest.” 19 The knowledge derived from radar intercepts – i.e., course, altitude, and speed – is the same whether learned from US or Russian radar operations. The Soviets had an accurate record of U2 performance beginning with the first mission over the USSR on July 4, 1956. On subsequent missions the data was refined so that in a relatively short period the Soviets had an accurate record of U2 characteristics. The Russians had publicly confirmed the fact that they had been tracking and were knowledgeable about U2 operations….so the Russians were well aware of the U2s altitude, course, and speed….
On August 18, at 12:57 P.M., the US Discoverer XIV space satellite was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California….The reentry vehicle was ejected over Alaska on its seventeenth pass. In the recovery area, which encompassed a 200 by 60 mile rectangle, six C-119s and one C-130 flew within the area called the ball park. Three other C-119s patrolled an “outfield” area, embracing an additional 400 miles. All aircraft flew an assigned search pattern. At 3:46 PM on August 19, one of the C-119 Flying Boxcars, piloted by Captain Harrold E. Mitchell and his nine man crew, searching in the “outfield” area, hooked the parachute and the 84 pound capsule in midair at an altitude of 8,500 feet and hauled them aboard. 21 A new era of reconnaissance had begun. On this first successful photographic satellite mission, carrying a twenty-pound roll of film, we gained more than 1 million square miles of coverage of the Soviet Union – more coverage in one capsule than the combined four years of U2 coverage….
[Kelly notes: This film was flown to the Kodak HQ in Rochester NY for processing]
The front page of the New York Times on August 20, 1960 headlined the first successful midair recovery of the reentry capsule and on the opposite side of the front page announced the end of the U2 trial and conviction and sentencing of Gary Powers. One photographic-collection period of the Soviet Union was ending while another was just beginning….
LUNDAHL THE BRIEFER AND JFK
The task of educating President Kennedy on photo interpretation devolved upon Arthur Lundahl. Lundahl was a key official who established a close working relationship with both President Kennedy and the assistant to the president for national security affairs, McGeorge Bundy. Lundahl’s articulate, erudite, and succinct explanations of what was seen on aerial photography were always welcome at the White House. The president wanted technical information presented in a straightforward manner, free of military jargon, so it would be comprehensible not only to him but also the average person. In one of his early briefings of the president, Lundahl explained that the U2 camera could photograph a swath about 125 nautical miles wide and about 3,000 nautical miles long on over 10,000 feet of film. Lundahl drew the analogy that each foot of film was scanned under magnification in much the same manner that Sherlock Holmes would scan evidence or look for clues with a large magnifying glass. “Imagine,” Lundahl would suggest, “a group of photo interpreters on their hands and knees scanning a roll of film that extended from the White House to the Capitol and back.” Kennedy never forgot that analogy. When other high officials were briefed on the U2 at the White House, the president would call on Lundahl to repeat the story.
Lundahl and President Kennedy hit it off famously. Periodically, Lundahl would update the president in private briefings on the latest finds from both the U2 and satellite photography. The president’s discomfort from a chronic back ailment, the usual cluttered condition of the presidential desk, with its many mementos and reams of reading material, and the very nature of the photographic briefing materials to be presented required that a certain special physical arrangement be made. Lundahl would enter the Oval Office and the president would leave his cluttered desk and be seated in the famous rocking chair that had been custom designed to alleviate his back problem. The rocking chair was positioned in front of a round coffee table. Lundahl would be seated on the sofa to the right of the president, and the director of the CIA would frequently be seated on the president’s left. Removing the silver cigar humidor and ashtray that were usually on the table, Lundahl would arrange his briefing materials and provide the president with a large magnifying glass. The president then drew up his rocking chair close to the table and, using the magnifying glass, began to study the latest photography as Lundahl briefed.
According to Lundahl, the president was a good listener. He liked good lead-in statements. Lundahl knew this and carefully selected and arranged his words so he could gauge the president’s reaction as he spoke. Once he asked Lundahl to remain after a briefing. He was eager to know more about the photo-interpretation process. “Where do you get photo interpreters? How much do you pay them? How do you train them? Are they satisfied with their work? He indicted that he would like to visit the center and observe the high technology of interpretation at work. Lundahl was afforded a unique opportunity because of his position. He admired the president’s intellect and courage, and in turn, the president came to admire Lundahl for his intelligence and grace in making a difficult task look exceptionally easy. He came to know the president as a friend and was privy to share the laughter, heartaches, secrets, moods, defeats and triumphs that occurred during the Kennedy years.
…Colonel – later General Andrew Goodpasture became powerful during the Eisenhower administration performing important national-security-affairs function. McGeorge Bundy – who had been appointed assistant to the president for national security affairs after the Bay of Pigs invasion and also had an instinct for power – assumed the intelligence watchdog role in President Kennedy’s administration. Intense, articulate, and intelligence, Bundy kept close track of the satellite, U2 and other aircraft missions being flown – and their results. Any photography shown to the president had to be passed through Bundy’s office in the White House basement….
[Kelly notes: Gen. Goodpasture is the husband of Mrs. Goodpasture, the secretary.]
….Suspecting that General Cabell had leaked the information, he asked for his resignation….On January 31, 1962 he resigned…from the Air Force…He was replaced by Major General Marshall “Pat” Carter…(Murphy) revealed that Admiral Arleigh Burke had been the source of his Bay of Pigs information…and his “bagman” at the Department of Defense, McNamara…
On August 29, 1962, a U2 was dispatched to photograph the entire island of Cuba….As one analyst stated after viewing the results of the mission, “The sirens were on and the red lights were flashing.”
Within minutes after the film was placed on the light table, a Center photo interpreter assigned to the mission scan team shouted, “I’ve got a SAM site.” Excitement spread, and other photo interpreters gathered around him to look at his find…
When Mr. (John) McCone was briefed on the finds of the mission, he admonished contemptuously, “They’re not putting them [the SA-2 sites] in to protect the cane cutters. They’re putting them in to blind our reconnaissance eye.”
When (Ray) Cline was briefed on the mission finds, he asked that Bill Harvey, chief of Task Force W, also be informed so that covert personnel would be aware of and could concentrate on collecting confirmation on the newly found sites. Harvey was briefed by Lundahl and William Tidwell, an assistant to Cline. He responded quickly that McGeorge Bundy and the president should also be briefed as soon as possible.
Bundy said the president would not be available that afternoon because he was preparing to fly to the Quonset Naval Air Station to meet his wife and children, who had returned from a month-long vacation in Italy. Recuperating from the death of their newborn son, Patrick, Jackie had visited her sister, Lee, and Lee’s husband Stanislas Radziwill, at Villa Episcopin in Ravello.
Bundy told Cline that Attorney General Bobby Kennedy was available, however, and might like to hear the briefing, since he would be seeing the president later that evening in Rhode Island.
On August 31, at 4 PM, Lundahl, Tidwell, and Harvey waited outside the attorney general’s office. After the group was ushered into Kennedy’s office, Harvey made a brief introductory statement and turned the briefing over to Lundahl. Lundahl laid out the photographs and maps on Kennedy’s desk and summarized the developments in Cuba. He pointed to the deployment patterns of the SA-2 sites and indicated that we would probably be seeing more. He then showed Kennedy the photo of the port of Mariel with seven KOMAR guided-missile patrol boats, explaining their function and mission in a sketch included on the briefing board.
Photography was an ideal medium for conveying information to someone with Bobby’s forceful views and convictions. He was extremely interested, asked many questions, said he wanted to be kept up-to-date, and promised that the intelligence would be conveyed to the president that evening…..The briefing had lasted about an hour, and Lundahl noticed that there was a chill between Kennedy and Harvey – that Kennedy avoided speaking to Harvey directly and that Harvey avoided eye contact with Kennedy.
This was Lundahl’s first briefing of the attorney general, and he remembered him as being “a very sharp fellow, very perceptive, full of good questions. He didn’t like long, involved answers. He cut through any wandering conversations and got right up to the things he wanted to know….
Then on August 31, 1962, the day Bobby Kennedy was briefed on the SA-2 sites in Cuba, Senator Kenneth Keating of New York made the following startling announcement from the floor of the Senate: “I am reliably informed that…Soviet ships unloaded 1,200 troops, I call these men troops, not technicians. They were wearing Soviet fatigue uniforms.”
A meeting with the president was set for September 7 at 3:30 PM. Secretary of State Rusk, Secretary of Defense McNamara, General Carter, Cline, Lundahl, and John McLauchlin, representing the Defense Intelligence Agency, were ushered into the Oval Office. The secretary of defense had asked John Hughes, a special assistant to the director of DIA, to attend, but Hughes was unavailable. John McLauchlin, Hughes’s deputy, laughs when he recalls how a GS-12 represented the DOD at such a critical White House meeting. He felt ill at ease when he saw the nation’s leaders’ inquiring glances directed at him. He is sure they were wondering, Who in the hell is he. But no one asked.
The president was seated in his famous rocking chair, with McGeorge Bundy standing immediately to his left. General Carter told the president that detailed analysis of the August 29 U2 photography over Cuba – in addition to providing data on the SA-2 sites and the KOMAR guided-missile patrol boats – had revealed a surface-to-surface missile site. He said that Cline and Lundahl would provide the details. Cline read a short prepared statement…He then asked Lundahl to describe the site. Lundahl removed the briefing board from a leather carrying case and handed it to the president. Lundahl looked over the top of the briefing board wile explaining it to the president….
The president obviously was concerned primarily with whether the newly identified site was defensive or offensive in nature.... “How far will this thing shoot?” the president asked….The president was not satisfied with technical explanations….The president paused for a moment and reflected,…He asked, “Do we have something like that?”
McNamara replied, “No, we don’t.”
The president snapped, “Why in the hell don’t we? How long have we know about this weapon?”
…The president’s face froze. He began to drum his fingers nervously and impatiently on the arms of the rocker. Lundahl knew that the quick, annoyed tapping betrayed his impatience and anxiety. “Damnit,” the president said, “If that damn thing is in Cuba, we should know something about it.”
General Carter, sensing that the president’s questions and concerns about the missile system would not be satisfied that day, stated that he hoped the president understood that he was only following the president’s orders to report any new developments in Cuba to him personally…
The president stood up and glared fiercely at General Carter and then muttered, almost to himself, “I do, but I don’t want half-assed information….Go back and do your homework….I want no further reporting until the missile site has been completely evaluated and you can report back to me.”
…The president asked how widely the information would be disseminated… “We have to be very careful about any evidence of offensive weapons in Cuba. If such evidence is found, It must be kept very restricted and I want to be the first to know about it.”
…The president began a chopping motion with his right arm,… “If this information is in the Washington Post tomorrow, I’ll fire both of you.”
…Carter tarried and said, “…you do want us to know exactly what these things are so that we can report to you accurately?”
The president considerably toned down, said, “By all means.”
Carter continued, “Then in order to arrive at these conclusions, it wouldn’t be contrary to your wishes, or your order, that we, the analysts, talk back and forth with each other to compare our knowledge and winnow out our conclusions and to reject that which is inconsistent.
The president replied, “Most certainly not: that’s exactly what I want to happen.”
“I thought that’s what you wanted,” Carter said, “but others might have felt that each of us was to stay in isolation and try independently to arrive at a collectively agreed upon conclusion, which would have been hard to do.”
The president then said, “No. Those people who need to know – those specialists, those experts who can talk to the photo interpreters and with whom those photo interpreters can talk – can collective arrive at a decision. That’s what I want to happen”
…Everyone had gotten the president’s message. When Carter returned to his Langley office, he was asked by an aide how the presidential briefing had gone. He answered, “The president was pissed!”
Carter called Huntington Sheldon, the CIA assistant deputy director for intelligence into his office. Carter told him that as a result of a presidential directive, a security system had to be established that would absolutely safeguard the dissemination of highly sensitive information derived from the Cuban overflights should offensive missiles be found…Sheldon summoned security specialist Henry Thomas to his office and asked him to bring with him a list of available code names.. Sheldon chose the code word PSALM.
At the Center, Lundahl appointed Jack Gardner and me to work with Office of Scientific Intelligence offensive missile specialist Sidney Graybeal and defensive missile specialist Norman Smith on the Barnes site….
General Carter called Lundahl early on September 10 and said that the president would like a current briefing on aerial photographic systems for himself and General Eisenhower…Carter was informed that the president would be lunching with General Eisenhower and that Carter, Lundahl, and his deputy, Col. David S. Parker, should have lunch at the White House dining room. Afterward, Lundahl set up his briefing materials on an easel in the Oval Office. Just before 2 P.M. President Kennedy and General Eisenhower came in. The president said to General Eisenhower, “You must certainly know these gentlemen?” General Eisenhower said that he did, shook hands with the briefers, and sat down at the president’s right.
Carter made a few introductory remarks and then turned to Lundahl, who presented fifteen briefing boards on Soviet strategic industries and test centers. Lundahl had briefed President Kennedy numerous times and knew he liked opening remarks that gave him an immediate option on the presentation. The president reached into the humidor and took out a big black cigar and lit it. Senator Smathers had given him several boxes of Havanas and the president promptly had the bands removed and the cigars placed in the handsome silver humidor. Although he appeared to enjoy a good cigar, the president was not an adept smoker, often toying with and chewing on the cigar. He tried, however, not to be photographed with a cigar.
Part of Lindahl’s presentation showed the improvements that had been made in the various photographic systems. General Eisenhower listened intently ad asked questions about the systems in the research and development stages….President Kennedy, too, asked numerous questions. During the briefing, Lundahl was pleased to see the president smiling, delighted with the general’s questions and the answers given by the participants. The briefing lasted approximately forty minutes and all agreed that the briefing was a success. General Carter, especially, felt relieved and jokingly remarked, “At last, I can report some good news from the White House to Mr. McCone.” But Carter’s elation would not last long.
A Special Group meeting had been scheduled for September 10 in Bundy’s office regarding aerial reconnaissance over Cuba…James Reber, the chairman of COMOR (Committee on Overhead Reconnaissance), unfolded a large map of Cuba on the conference table with various flight plans on it. Bobby strongly advocated the overflights…The president was confronted with a nagging dilemma – caught between Soviet and Cuban charges that the U.S. was planning to invade the island and mounting congressional demands from both the Republicans and Democrats that he had to do precisely that…Direct military intervention against Cuba, of course, had to be considered. On October 1, McNamara had met with the Joint Chiefs of staff. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss circumstances in which military action against Cuba might be necessary and toward which planning should be actively pursued….These were operational plans: 312, 314, and 316.
Meanwhile Senator Kenneth Keating of New York…On October 10, on the floor of the Senate, the senator made the most serious charge to date….Keating then attacked the president and Undersecretary Ball for not telling the whole truth….Keating’s speech hit like a bombshell at the White House. Keating’s implication that the U.S. government possessed information on offensive missiles in Cuba and was doing nothing about it infuriated President Kennedy. Kennedy initially suspected that information had been withheld from him and angrily called McCone, demanding to know if such information existed. McCone responded in the negative and then called Lundahl to see if anything had been discovered in the aerial photos. Lundahl said he had no such information….
It was considered possible that Keating’s information had been a deliberate attempt by a dissident refugee source to embarrass ad discredit the Kennedy administration before the November elections or to push the United States into taking action against the Castro government. In the past the Agency had received a number of such outright false reports, and all of them had been discredited….
McCone did not like the criticism that President Kennedy was receiving from Congress. He was a Republican…and he felt he was the logical man to approach Senator Keating….But Keating did not appear at the appointed time. The NPIC couriers exchanged banter with McCone’s secretaries….Then the senator was ushered into McCone’s office. Presumably, McCone showed the senator all of the briefing materials and then probably asked Keating for the source of his information. Keating refused. 46
The couriers reported that voices began to rise, McCone said that he had his cards on the table and had been honest but that the senator was doing his country incalculable damage….McCone retorted, “Tell me where they are and I’ll prove to you they are not there.” …McCone did not give up. On another occasion, he asked Lundahl to report to the Senate Office Building and wait for him. The purpose he said, was to brief Senator Keating....Senator Keating’s secretary (said) that he was busy and did not have time for McCone…Although a concerted effort was undertaken by the Kennedy administration to determine Senator Keating’s source of information, all their efforts failed…In later years, Clare Booth Luce would state that some of her sources had furnished information on missiles being in Cuba and that the information had found its way to Senator Keating. 48
…On October 12, General Thomas S. Power, commander of the Strategic Air Command, was called to Washington. Ushered into the office of the secretary of the Air Force, he was asked if the Strategic Air Command was prepared to take over all the duties of flying the U2 reconnaissance of Cuba…General Power replied in the affirmative…The motto of the 55 Strategic Reconnaissance Wing of the Strategic Air Command was Videmus –Omnia – “We see all.” …The wing was based at Forbes Air Force Base, outside Topeka, Kansas, but had detachments…at Yokota, Japan, Incirlik, Turkey,…
October 15 would be a routine day for the heads of state of two of the most powerful nations in the world. President Kennedy had been campaigning in upstate New York and had appeared in the Pulaski Day parade at Buffalo on October 14….He stopped off in New York City and had a late night dinner with Adlai E. Stevenson…the president arrived late at the White House at 1:40 A.M. on the fifteenth. He slept late that morning and went to his office at 11:00 A.M., just in time to greet Ahmed Ben Bella, the prime minister of Algeria….Two days later Ben Bella arrived in Havana…
At the new CIA headquarters building in Langley, Virginia, the day also began with meetings for some of the principles who would later be involved in the crisis….At 9:10 Ray Cline opened the Second Conference on Intelligence Methods. Participants were foreign-intelligence chiefs, along with senior officers from the CIA, DOD and State.
Paul J. Pigot, Mrs. McCone’s son, who had been injured in an auto race…had died at the March Air Force Base hospital. McCone had left Washington to accompany the body to Seattle….McCone had planned to open the conference…The first speaker was McGeorge Bundy,….the second Roger Hilsman….As the week’s program continued, the Commonwealth intelligence chiefs were to become more and more suspicious that a crisis was brewing as their U.S. hosts mysteriously excused themselves from the business and the social functions of the conference… [See: Poem sidebar]
THE STEUART BUILDING – Fifth & K Streets NW aka “The Center.”
Monday, October 15, began as a beautiful fall day in Washington. Because of the poor parking facilities around the Steuart Building at 5 and K streets in northwest Washington, car pools were encouraged....Broken bottles, abandoned autos, and trash littered the area…The Steuart Building was a nondescript seven-story structure built during World War II. The Center occupied a total of fifty thousand square feet on the fourth through seventh floors. There were no restaurants or cafeteria facilities in the building and the food service was a particular problem, especially for persons working at night. When there was time, sandwiches and coffee could be bought at a nearby all-night diner. Most employees brought bag lunches and diners from home. Before entering the Steuart Building each morning, others stopped at the Center City Market. The market was a conglamoration of small shops selling everything from the cheapest cuts of meats to imported delicacies, from patent medicines to freshly cut flowers. But every morning, freshly baked breakfast rolls and freshly brewed coffee and tea were available. Properly fortified, employees passed through the security turnstiles of the Steuart Building en route to their offices. They were always greeted cordially by guard George Bailey, who knew everyone by their first name. Eunice Stallings, the elevator operator, a cigar-smoking women who did the New York Times crossword puzzle in record time, took the employees to their appointed floor.
A mere physical description of the squalid building amid its squalid surroundings in Washington’s 2 Police Precinct reveals little as to what NPIC was all about. It was a unique multidepartmental national-level organization. The formal structure was controlled, staffed, and funded by the CIA, but the informal organizational structure also comprised special detachments from the Army, Air Force and Navy. They were under the administrative control of “service chiefs,” who contributed personnel for photo-interpretation projects of national interest such as the exploitation of photography acquired over Cuba.
The National Photographic Interpretation Center, however, was synonymous with its director, Arthur C. Lundahl. Lundahl was responsible for the conception and evolution of photographic interpretation as it was performed at the Center. His ingenuity was reflected not only in Center activity, but also at all the military intelligence agencies involved in photo-interpretation activities. From the inception of NPIC and its predecessor organizations, beginning in 1955, Lundahl’s visionary approach and methods of deriving intelligence from photography and collateral sources were dismissed by many as too revolutionary to last. Basically, he aimed at fusing ideas and experience that previously had been considered unrelated or incompatible.
Drawing on World War II experiences, he juxtaposed and fused the skills of seven different disciplines: photo interpretation, collateral information and data processing, photogrammetry, graphics and publication support, technical analysis, and distribution and courier support. The result was a team of experienced personnel that inspired great confidence from other intelligence and government officials. The Center’s organization and skill represented the first modern technological approach to intelligence collection, processing, and dissemination. NPIC supervisory personnel recognized their unique opportunity and worked hard at making the Center a model of organization and production.
Lundahl’s leadership was reinforced by an unusual level of talent throughout the organization. Allen Dulles, the director of the CIA, and his deputy, Lieutenant General Charles F. Cabell, extended Lundahl a free-hand in selecting personnel to staff the Center. Although the Steuart Building left much to be desired in physical amenities, Lundahl would frequently remark: “Where a choice be necessary, give me good men in poor ships than the converse.” A particularly distinguishing feature of Lundahl’s managerial genius was his ability to find gifted people and to establish the atmosphere of creativity in which they could work. Many new organizations are burdened with a percentage of castoffs. But Lundahl’s most unique and significant contribution was his ability to lead and inspire others. He was unparalleled in winning he complete respect, admiration, and devotion of all those with whom he came into contact – presidents, the Congress, the military services, the intelligence community, the scientists, contractor and, of course, the personnel of the Center. The imagination and dedication of the people selected by Lundahl for managerial responsibilities can never be overestimated. These managers, in turn, supervised young, talented, and dedicated personnel. Although Lundahl set high standards for his employees, he permitted his staff an extraordinary degree of independence. He laid down few guidelines or specific rules. He believed that his staff would function better if given wide latitude. In return, he received an exceptional sense of commitment from his employees and a great response of new ideas. The employees of the Center had in Art Lundahl an ardent believer in, and a prophet of, photographic interpretation. He could articulate with great feeling the meaning of the photo-interpretation methods and the value of information obtained from the photography. Lundahl, in his words, didn’t believe in a droning presentation but rather in an exploding one. Aerial photography was his ammunition.
Even the security system at the Center reflected the singularity and uniqueness of the organization. The security accorded the U2 program and the photo intelligence derived from it was never breached. Great effort had been expended to place the program in a separate security system and give it a set of special code words. Some maintain this system gave Lundahl extraordinary freedom to move information directly from the Center to the president. Others maintained that the novelty of aerial photography made it a new toy for the intelligence service chiefs and other government leaders.
It was also the knot that tied together the many bits and pieces of information gathered from other collection sources. Analysts now had the means to confirm or deny their suspicions or hypotheses. NPIC was uniquely qualified, staffed, and ready on October 15.
At the Naval Photographic Intelligence Center, the film from mission 3101 was processed under stringent quality and security controls. The film was carefully edited and titled, and the duplicate positives from the processors were spooled and packaged in film cans.
NPIC’s operations officer, Hans F. Scheufele, maintained constant contact with the collection and processing sites so that scheduling information would be available to Center components and the exploitation teams could be appraised of the delivery time of the film. He kept this information posted on a large blackboard on his office wall. He also issued daily bulletins on “Proposed Staffing and Time Completion Estimates,” which listed specific personnel assigned to exploit a given mission and the arrival time of the film.
This particular day had all the appearances of being routine. Lundahl had scheduled a 9:30 A.M. meeting with his division chiefs to discuss training….As he prepared for the meeting Lundahl glanced out his office window overlooking Fifth Street. With some annoyance, he noted that a U.S. Navy truck parked in front of the building entrance was blocking traffic. Two armed Marines had dismounted and taken positions immediately behind the truck. An armed Navy officer and an enlisted man entered the truck from the rear, lifted a box off the truck, and carried it into the Steuart Building.
Lundahl smiled, shook his head, and noted how good intentions often become counter-productive. Every effort had been made to keep the Steuart Building looking as innocuous as possible. Yet the regulations for transporting U2 film by the military services specified that movement of the film be made under armed guard. But in doing so, it was revealing that personnel in the Steuart Building were undoubtedly engaged in some extremely classified and sensitive work.
Robert Kithcart of the NPIC registry, a businesslike reserve paratroop captain who was in charge of all the film and files retained in the Steuart Building, received the box….He then placed the film in a wire basket to be delivered to Earl Shoemaker, the exploitation coordinator for this mission.
After being notified that mission 3101 had been successfully flown over Cuba, personnel at the Steuart Building prepared to exploit the photography and, when the exploitation was completed, to report their findings in a SITSUM (situation summary) for the mission. The usual procedure was to cable the SITSUM immediately to watch officers throughout the intelligence community. Some days later, it would be disseminated by courier in hard-copy form to a broader distribution of intelligence analysts in the Washington area and throughout the JCS unified and specified commands.
Marvin Michell, the collateral-support information specialist for the mission had performed preparatory tasks for many of the U2 missions over Cuba. He had plotted the mission flight track…Marvin wheeled a library cart full of the target packets and reference materials to the area where the photo interpreters were waiting.
Earl Shoemaker had his photo-interpretation teams ready….The interpreters began cranking the reels of duplicate positives onto the light tables. Normally, six photo-interpretation stations were employed in scanning…there stations were manned by six photo interpreters – three teams of two interpreters each – representing the CIA, Army, Air Force and Navy….As they examined the film, the interpreters wrote their observations on the worksheets provided and passed them to their team leaders for review….
The two cans of film covering the San Cristobol and the trapezoidal area of concern were given to the scan team of Gene Lydon, a CIA photo interpreter, and Jim Holmes, an Air Force interpreter, for exploitation….Then they spotted six long canvas-covered objects. Lydon and Holmes made rough estimates of the measurements of the objects several times. Each time, their measurements showed the objects to be more than sixty feet long. It was about noon, and both men paused for lunch. After lunch, they resumed their efforts but still could not positively identify the canvas-covered objects….Jim Holmes, a civilan Air Force employee, was a soft spoken, yet tough-minded and intense, photo interpreter. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he was only twenty-nine but a veteran of twelve years of government service. He began his government career at seventeen as a GS-2 cartographic technician at the Army Map Service, where his aunt was a training officer….Twenty-two year old Second Lieutenant Ricahrd Reninger was the Army member of the team. Born in Laramie, Wyoming, he had a B.A. in history from the University of Wyoming. He had graduated from the U.S. Army Photo Interpretation School at Fort Holabird in June 1961 and was assigned to the missile backup team at the Center….
A native of Maine, Joe Sullivan, a civilian Navy employee, was a puckish, attractive Irishman. At fifty, he was the senior member of the team…Vince DiRenzo was the CIA representative on the team, from Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, he was thirty-two and former Marine…(Clark University)…He and his branch chief Bob Boyd had performed detailed support studies for covert operations…
DiRenzo called me and said he needed some support regarding the missiles. I called Jay Quantrill, who worked for me and who was the Center’s collateral specialist on missiles…DiRenzo was assured and straightforward when he contacted his chief, Bob Boyd, and announced, “We’ve got MRBMs in Cuba.” …
After reviewing the evidence on the size and shape of the missile transporters with Reninger at about 4 P.M., Shoemaker said, “We’ve got to let Mr. Lundahl know before he goes home.” Shoemaker and Boyd went to their division chief, Jack Gardner, and his intelligence production officer, Gordon Duvall….Holmes was unable to contact Air Force lieutenant colonel Robert Saxon, so he sought out Ted Tate, Saxon’s civilian deputy….Reninger informed Army colonel George C. Eckert, his commanding officer. Joe Sullivan however, had problems. His chief, Lieutenant Commander Pete Brunette,…had a dinner engagement that evening…Joe said he was working on a project and that Lundahl was about to be briefed….Sullivan called Brunette’s deputy, Clay Dalryple,…and posted Brunette on the details.
Lundahl was called by Gardener, and Duvall escorted him into the room where the backup team was working. Lundahl had a distinctive list to his walk as a result of an old football injury. He was immediately recognized by us in the semidarkened enclosed room. “I understand you fellows have found a beauty,” he said as he approached.
…Lundahl turned from the table and looked at us and then said, “I think I know what you guys think they are, and if I think they are the same thing and we both are right, we are sitting on the biggest story of our time.”
…Lundahl rose and walked a short distance. His hands were clasped behind his back. We remained silent. The strange stillness suggested the extreme seriousness of the moment. Lundahl looked at us and said, “If there was ever a time I want to be right in my life, this is it.”
He asked if anything had been committed to paper. He was shown a few notes…Lundahl pointed to each of us by name and asked if we agreed the missiles in question were MRBMs. Each reply was affirmative. He then asked if there were any other possibilities. Di Renzo mentioned what is always considered at such a time – the possibility that these missiles were dummies. All signs however, pointed to their being real…He did not doubt or delay reacting to the situation. The ruddy-complexioned , silver-haired director looked at each of us again. “Gentlemen. I am convinced. Because of the grave responsibility of this find, I want to personally sign the cable.”
All of those present knew these images represented a grave moment in history. All knew that the future turn of events would surely involve the president personally. Lundahl asked who knew about the find. Jack Gardner said that the “service chiefs” had been informed but had been told not to divulge the information to their superiors until the analysis had been completed. Lundahl asked Gardner to invoke the code word PSALM on all the information. I was the custodian of this closely held directive for the Center and said that I would furnish it to Gardner.
…Lundahl asked that all those present to remain and work through the night if necessary to glean all the information possible from the images….I ran downstairs and told my superiors, Hans Scheufele and Bill Banfield, that photographic laboratory support would be needed that night…I ran downstairs and told my superiors, Hans Scheufele and Bill Banfield, that photographic-laboratory support would be needed that night and that they should keep essential personnel at work...It was always difficult to get through to CIA headquarters on the secure phone line at that time of the evening. On his way downstairs to his fifth floor office, Lundahl was thinking how he could clearly and unmistakably get his message across to Cline if he had to use open phone lines. (Ray) Cline was one of the founding fathers of the Agency, held a doctorate from Harvard in history and international relations, was a Phi Beta Kappa, and had earned his Agency reputation as a China expert. He had replaced Robert Amory in March 1962 as the deputy director of intelligence. Cline had full confidence in Lundahl and the abilities of his people….
Cline was incredulous. He paused and asked, “Are you fellows sure?”
Lundahl replied, “Yes, I am sorry to have to maintain it, but we are sure.”
Cline said, “Well, we’ve got to get on this right away. I’ll get hold of Carter….I want you to plan on being in my office with the evidence b seven-thirty tomorrow morning.”
Lundahl agreed. The call had been made…One of my duties was to prepare all of the briefing notes for Lundahl, and he called me down to his office and explained that the note on all of the materials that were to be produced that night should be as complete as possible…Lundahl checked his calendar for any appointments that would conflict with the next day’s briefings. He wrote crash and MRBM on the page for October 15. He looked back at the page for October 14 on which he had jotted mission 3101. Printed on the right side of the calender’s date was DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER BORN 1890….
The evening of October 15 was a night of parties, not atypical for Washington during the month of October....The secretary of defense was attending a Hickory Hill seminar at Bobby Kennedy’s home in McClean, Virginia. General and Mrs. Maxwell Taylor were giving a formal dinner party at their Fort McNair residence in Southwest Washington…Bundy was hosting a dinner party for Charles “Chip” Bohlen, the newly appointed Ambassador to France…Cline next called Roger Hilsman at his home. He had difficulty indicating over the insecure phone that he meant MRBMs…..Meanwhile Norman Smith, the SAM specialist,…called Sidney Graybeal, his division chief….Greaybeal…was shown the imagery under the stereoscope and given a description of the find. He agreed that these had to be offensive missiles….Graybeal told the missile backup team that he did not want to disturb them in their work but would like to remain, listen to their converstations, and jot down all pertinent details….
Col. David Parker, the deputy director of NPIC, called John Hughes, a special assistant to the director of he Defense Intelligence Agency, and asked him to come over to the Center…and John McLauchlin, a photo interpreter specialist….McLauchlin proceeded to General Carroll’s Bolling Air Force Base home…Carroll called Roswell Gilpatrick…and said that Hughes and McClauchlin were coming over to fill him in on some new and very important intelligence on Cuba.
Hughes and McLauchlin got in Hughes’ old yellow DeSoto,…experiencing transmission problems and painfully growled…McLauchlin kidded Hughes, “We have the secret of the century…If this thing breaks down, you’ll run the rest of the way on foot.” They arrived at Gilpatrick’s apartment at 4201 Cathedera Avenue in northwest….
Lundahl asked me to provide him with a map showing Cuba and the United States. He asked me to swing a 1,100 mile arc on the map, the range of the MRBM from the area where the missile was found.…NPIC photo laboratory personnel had waited since 5 P.M. that evening for the photo interpreters to relinquish the duplicate positives so they might make the necessary prints, enlargements, and additional duplicate positives for study. Jimmy Allen, a photo-laboratory section chief, had much experience waiting or imagery from the photo interpreters. He contentedly puffed on a large cigar. Jack Davis, the new chief of the photo laboratory, waited nervously.
At 8:30 P.M. Earl Shoemaker brought a duplicate positive from the laboratory.
...Normally a control code word was given to priority or special laboratory processing work. When Allen asked what code word should he apply to the Cuban Material, Davis replied, “This is all so confused, a good term might be mass confusion” All the photo-laboratory work that night and throughout the missile crisis received priority treatment if it bore the title “Mass Confusion.”
…Leon Coggin was listed as the off-duty photogammetrist….Dick Reninger…Eugene Ricci…An around-the-clock atmosphere soon pertained at NPIC – one of sleeplessness and anxiety….Most stepped out of the Steuart Building onto Fifth Street. It was a warm fall night and most crossed over New York Avenue and 6 th Street to Havran’s Restaurant, a favorite after-hours eating place for Steuart Building people and policemen from the 2 Precinct. Hambergers, french fries, pies and coffee were popular menu selections – in fact, the only food available.
Joe Sullivan…..tried to located prominent landmarks in the vicinity of Los Palacios…as he scanned the photography…Leon Coggin…began measuring the missiles…John Wyman, the senior NPIC computer operator…Dean Frazier,…the Center’s graphics duty officer…graphic analysis officer Dan McDevitt, illustrator Glenn Farmer, and headliner (typesetting) operator Loretta Huggins, arrived at the Steuart Building about 4:30 A.M….The first three sites at San Cristobal were numbered MR-1, MR-2, MR-3, and the Sagua la Grande sites MR-4 and MR-5, The Guanajay IRBM sites were numbered IR-1, …and the Remedies site IR-3…
LUNDAHL ARRIVED at the Steuart Building at 6 A.M. on October 16 and carefully reviewed the briefing boards and notes that Shoemaker and I had assembled. They seemed to impart an extraordinary, almost surrealistic, feeling. In stark stillness they depicted a moment in time that had been frozen as visual history. It was as if the world was holding its breath for a moment. And the effect was total, devastating loneliness…
Frank Beck, the courier, was waiting. Lundahl closed the large, black briefing board case and said, “Let’s go.” He paused and asked Shoemaker and me to thank all the people who had worked through the night and to send them home to get some sleep. It was 7 A.M.
About the same time, Walter Elder, a special assistant to the DCI, called McCone in Seattle and cryptically reported, “That which you always expected has occurred.”
Lundahl and Beck arrived at Ray Cline’s office at 7:30 A.M….Lundahl placed the briefing boards on Cline’s desk and everyone in the room listened, almost in awe, as Lundahl pointed out each salient featue…After Lundahl finished briefing Cline, he stepped back so that those gathered could review the photography for themselves. …Cline, Lundahl and the courier, Beck, left the CIA headquarters for the White House shortly before 8 A.M. Conference delegates…being intelligence officers, wondered why they were obviously in such a hurry with the courier and large bag of briefing boards. Later, Walter Pforzheimer, longtime agency legislative counsel, would write a poem about the departing members of the intelligence methods conference.
At the White Hous, Cline, Lundahl, and Beck went directly to McGeorge Bundy’s office in the basement….Cline summarized the photo-intelligence findings and asked Lundahl to explain what had been found…Bundy made a telephone call…and took the elevator to the president’s private quarters…The president, sitting on his bed and still in his pajamas, was looking at the morning newspapers…Bundy told the president about the missiles being in Cuba and together they reviewed the president’s appointments for that morning. The only free time was at 11:45. The president asked that a meeting of all principals be scheduled for that time….A number of military exercises were underway … PHIBRIGLEX-62 (Amphibious Brigade Landing)…
It was obvious that the president had called Bobby Kennedy concerning the missiles in Cuba because at about 9 A.M. on the morning of October 16, he came storming into Bundy’s office asking to see the photography. Cline repeated his assessment and Lundahl took Kennedy over the briefing boards, pointing out the fourteen missiles. Kennedy looked at the photos and moaned, “Oh shit! Oh shit! Those sons of bitches Russians.”
Lundahl described Bobby’s movements as being like those of a prizefighter. He walked several times about the room, snorting like a prizefighter, smacking the palm of one hand with his fist….Bobby Kennedy came back to Lundahl and Cline. The seriousness of the moment was broken when Kennedy pointed to the map NPIC had prepared showing the range of the SS-4. He pointed to the map and asked, “Will those goddamn things reach Oxford, Mississippi?” Before Lundahl could stop himself, he replied, “Sir, well beyond Oxford.” He then looked up to catch a slight gleam in Kennedy’s eyes and a wry smile on his face. Oxford, Mississippi, of course, was where the Kennedys were having trouble attempting to register James Meredith into the University of Mississippi. Bobby thanked Ludahl and Cline and said he was going up to talk to the president. When Lundahl returned to the Steuart Building and told about Bobby’s Oxford remarks, it was decided all subsequent maps showing the ranges of missiles deployed in Cuba would also show as reference points such principal cities of the United States as St. Louis, New York, Atlanta, and in the same bold type, Oxford, Mississippi.
…C.Douglas Dillon, the secretary of the treasury, came to Bundy’s office and asked to see the photographs. An urbane, scholarly New York Republican, Dilllon was a popular figure in the Kennedy cabinet. Tall, bald, outgoing, studious, and unpretentious, he was listened to when he spoke. Suave and courteous, he was one of Kennedy’s favorite cabinet members. Possessed of a quick grasp for complex detail, his penetrating intellect enabled him to contribute precise logic to resolving problems not only in the Treasury Department but in other departments as well.
Lundahl repeated his briefing….At 9:30 A.M. General Carter arrived at Bundy’s office. Cline felt that Carter, as acting DCI, should handle the scheduled 11:45 meeting. Carter agreed, and Cline advised him that Lundahl would perform the briefing but that he would be sending over Sydney Graybeal, the Agency’s offensive missile specialist, to provide analytical backup to Lundahl if needed.
General Taylor had asked that the JCS members be briefed on the Cuban photography as soon as possible…When the office door closed, Colonel Eckert abruptly stated his mission. “Sir, last evening the National Photographic Interpretation Center discovered MRBM missile sites on photography flown over Cuba on October 14.” General Wheeler reeled back in is chair,…stunned, as if he had been hit by a baseball bat….
The Center also prepared additional copies of the briefing boards and notes for the Navy and Air Force. Lieutenant Colonel Robert Saxon took the briefing boards from the Steuart Building to General LeMay’s office and Lieutenant Commander Pete Brunette took copies to Admiral Anderson’s office….
…After all the participants were seated in the Cabinet Room, General Carter read a prepared statement that MRBM missiles had been discovered on U2 photography of October 14 at two locations and that Lundahl would brief the group using enlargements of that photography. The president was seated, as usual, at the center of the long conference table in the Cabinet Room, with his back to the windows. Lundahl had placed the briefing boards on an easel at the far end of the room near the fireplace. He gave a brief description of the MRBM sites and then asked permission of the president to come to the table and show him the evidence at close range. The president replied, “By all means.” Lundahl approached the conference table and stood between the president and Secretary Rusk. Handing the president a large magnifying glass, so he had on numerous occasions, he placed the briefing boards on the table in front of the president and proceeded to point out details of the three sites.
Lundahl was acutely aware that photo interpreters can recognize and point out things that the unsophisticated and untrained eye would easily miss. He therefore dwelt on the enlargements of the missiles….After asking a few questions he turned to his right and, looking Lundahl straight in the eye and carefully spacing out his words, asked, “Are you sure?” Lundahl was anxious to be measured in his response but at the same time leave no doubt in the president’s mind that the evidence was conclusive. Lundahl replied, “Mr. President, I am as sure of this as a photo interpreter can be sure of anything. And I think, sir, you might agree that we have not misled you on anything we have reported to you. Yes, I am convinced they are missiles.”
…The president’s eyes rose again from the photos. He looked at Lundahl again and asked, “How long will it be before they can fire those missiles?” Lundahl stated that Sydney Graybeal, the Agency’s expert on offensive missiles, would comment on that question. Graybeal moved into position next to Lundahl. He discussed the SS-4 missile system…Lundahl and Graybeal tried very carefully to differentiate what was known and what was unknown…The question and answer period lasted for over ten minutes.
The briefing left a particularly somber mood in the room. The worst fears had come to pass and the worse of conjectures were on many minds. Dramatic reaction was uppermost in many minds – war, with all its new, devastating consequences – a nuclear confrontation.
Lundahl would relate: “In an era which demanded immediate response and rebuttal, the president listened to all remarks and weighed all positions without surprise. He had the curiosity, sensitivity, and intellect to assimilate any proposition. With that grace and charm, he stimulated the best in all those with whom he came in contact and that day was no exception.”
According to Lundahl, “The president never panicked, never shuddered, his hands never shook. He was crisp and businesslike and speedy in his remarks and he issued them with clarity and dispatch, as though he were dispatching a train or a set of instructions in an office group.” General Taylor would confirm the president’s attitude: “Kennedy gave no evidence of shock or trepidation resulting from the threat to the nation implicit in the discovery of the missile sites, but rather a deep but controlled anger at the duplicity of the Soviet officials who had tried to deceive him.” 9
Lundahl removed the boards from the table. The president turned to the group and said he wanted the whole island covered – he didn’t care how many missions it too. “I want the photography interpreted and the finds from the readouts as soon as possible.” The discussion then turned to how many U2 missions could be flown and the possibility of using low-altitude aircraft…
At the conclusion of the meeting, the president turned to General Carter and Lundahl and said he wanted to express the nation’s gratitude to the men who had collected these remarkable photographs and to the photo interpreters for finding and analyzing the missile sites. Carter graciously accepted the compliment and motioned to Lundahl and Graybeal to remove the briefing boards and prepare to leave the room.
The Cuban missile crisis was on!
When Lundahl returned from the meeting at the White House, he held a meeting in his office and warned us that “all hell was going to break loose” and for us to be prepared to receive a lot of photography in the coming days. He outlined specific duties and responsibilities in getting ready for the influx of photography…Questions arose about the number of Air Force pilots qualified to fly the Agency’s U2s…A decision was reached to use both SAC and CIA U2 pilots to cover all of Cuba. The CIA pilots were to be used only in “extreme circumstances” and they would be recommissioned into the Air Force and given Air Force credentials…
The Navy had devoted considerable time and effort to develop an effective low-altitude jet reconnaissance capability. Commander (later Captain) Willard D. Dietz had perceived and pushed for the development of small-format aerial cameras….Chicago Aerial Industries, Inc.’s KA-45 and KA-46, six inch focal length framing cameras with a film width of five inches and a capacity of 250 feet of film…installed in the F-8U-1P Crusader….Lundahal recommended that the Navy’s Light Photographic Squadron No. 62 (VFP-62) be selected…based at the U.S. Naval Air Station, Cecil Field, just outside Jacksonville, Florida…Joe Sullivan, the Navy photo interpreter on the NPIC “discovery” team, had gone home about 4:30 A.M. on October 16, having been told by his supervisors to take the day off but to be available…his supevisor Clay Dalrymple, …told in no uncertain terms to, “get his tail over to the Pentagon as fast as possible” because there was going to be a special meeting of the GMAIC (Guided Missile Astronautics Intelligence Committee). Sullivan had a difficult time finding a parking place at the Pentagon…
Dr. Albert “Bud” Wheelon, CIA Chairman of the committee…He realized too that this photographic lode had to be incorporated with other sources and succinct and definitive reports created for policymakers…..was also director of the Agency’s Office of Scientific Intelligence...thirty-three at the time, was an MIT physicist…Ramo-Woolridge Corportation….met with McCone and sketched out procedures for handling and reporting information concerning this crisis…He recommended that selected representatives of all the standing United States Intelligence Boards’s scientific committees transfer their activities on an ad hoc baiss to NPIC in order to expediate their considerations of the findings from the photography. McCone approved, and the next day, representatives of the GMAIC, the Joint Atomic Energy Intelligence Committee (JAEIC), and members of the Agency’s Guided Missile Task Force began moving certain of their files to NPIC.
The president formulated a group of special advisors to advise and assist him in decisions affecting the missile crisis. It became known as the Executive Committee (EXCOM) of the National Security Council and would be formally established by National Security Action Memorandum 196, signed by the president on October 22, 1962. 15 …
The first meeting of the EXCOM opened with a briefing on the photographs by Lundahl and intelligence estimates….the president specifically asked that Robert Lovett be included…Dean Rusk recommended…Dean Acheson…The president approved.
Lundahl held a prolonged staff meeting at the Center on the morning of October 17 to structure operational changes for the duration of the crisis. Center personnel were equally divided into two twelve-hour shifts, with the shift change at 8 A.M. each morning. Robert Boyd was put in charge of one shift of the photo interpreters and Gordon Duvall the other. Photo interpreters would brief Lundahl on photo intelligence derived the previous day at a morning meeting that would take place at 6:30 to 7 AM. Duvall and Boyd and I would be at that meeting. My staff would have prepared notes for Lundahl on each photographic briefing board, along with other pertinent collateral information. Notes on operational matters, such as the number of missions to be flown, the weather, etc., would have been prepared by Dutch Scheufele.
Various film processing sites also worked around the clock during the crisis. Navy and Air Force jet transports shuttled exposed film from the U2 missions to the airfields nearest to the processing sites, and the processed film was expected, similarly, to Washington and the Center for exploitation. Eastman Kodak also went into shift operations to meet the increased demand for aerial photographic film. Camera manufacturers were alerted, and their best technicians, along with truckloads of spare parts, were sent to Orlando, MacDill and Boca Chica to make sure that cameras were maintained and functioned properly. Additional Lockheed U2 technicians and maintenance personnel were dispatched to Orlando to keep the U2s flying.
The EXCOM met several times in George Ball’s State Department conference room on October 17…President Kennedy brought General Maxwell Taylor to the White House as a military consultant to the president after the Bay of Pigs…It was in Taylor’s office, room 303 in the Executive Office Building that the powerful 303 Committee met and reviewed all covert CIA operations. On the 303 Committee were McNamara, Rusk, Taylor, and McCone…
Admiral George W. Anderson, fifty-five, the chief of naval operations,…had been picked by Kennedy’s first Navy secretary, John Connally, to replace…Arleigh Burke…
And so a pattern developed. Photography acquired by U2 missions flown in the morning would be processed in the afternoon, then analyzed in the late afternoon and nightly at the National Photographic Interpretation Center. Teams of photo interpreters working with missile and nuclear experts from other components of the intelligence community produced situation summaries that were then disseminated the following morning. To keep track of information other than photography, a special situation room was established in the Agency’s Office of Current Intelligence, at Langley, Virginia. John Hicks, who had recently returned from a tour of duty in Australia, was placed in charge and had the responsibility of issuing the CIA daily bulletin. After being briefed each morning at the Center on the information generated the previous evening, Lundahl would depart for a briefing of the United States Intelligence Board, which met each morning at 8 A.M. in the East Building of the Agency, located in the Foggy Bottom section of Washington.
The USIB was the highest level of all national intelligence committees, acting as a board of review for all strategic estimates and current intelligence assessments. The Board was also cognizant of all clandestine collection efforts…
After Lundahl’s daily briefing of the USIB, he would proceed to brief the EXCOM. The EXCOM met several times daily, usually at 10 A.M. and 2 P.M. in the Cabinet Room of the White House during the early days of the crisis and thereafter in George Ball’s Conference Room at the State Department…
Whenever McCone thought the president should be informed about items of special significance or whenever the president expressed an interest, Lundahl, usually accompanied by McCone, would proceed to the White House. The president was briefed at least once a day with the aerial photos. At one meeting with the president, McCone raised the question of how and when the photographic evidence should be shown to congressional leaders. The president asked that the full PSALM security directive be sustained….
The Air Defense Command had directed the large ballistic detection radar at Morristown, New Jersey, and the space-tracking radar at Laredo, Texas, and Thomasville, Georgia, be aligned for missile warning from Cuba…
A relatively new and large air-conditioned classroom at Homestead Air Force Base was selected to be the Command Center…At the U.S. Army Pictorial Center, in New York City, Major Robert Vaughn received an order from headquarters of the U.S. Continental Army Command, at Fort Monroe, Virginia, to install a closed-circuit television system at the Florida command site. Vaughn knew such a system was at Fort Gordon, Georgia, but unfortunately it had been dismantled and placed in a convoy and was on its way to the Brooke Army Medical Center, in San Antonio, Texas, for demonstration purposes….Maps and charts were hung on the wall panels and the latest information on the Cuban situation was posted. The panels were used to conduct briefings several times daily. The closed-circuit television system permitted this data to be transmitted simultaneously to the offices and conference rooms of admirals and generals newly assigned to the task group coordinating the response….
President Kennedy once warned McCone, “If you have a secret, do me a favor - don’t tell Salinger.” … Salinger had not been told of the missiles being in Cuba by the president….
A new phase of analysis of the U2 imagery began on October 19 at the Center to determine whether (or when) the MRBM missile sites in Cuba would become operational. Criteria were developed by the GMAIC, and the Center applied that criteria in the analysis of all the imagery being received…
At about one o’clock on that Saturday afternoon, October 20, word was received at the Center that Robert Kennedy and Robert McNamara would pay a visit. Some fifteen minutes later a black limousine rolled up to the entrance of the Center, and Kennedy, McNamara, Gilpatrick, and McCone stepped out. They were quickly ushered to the seventh floor of the Center, where photo interpreters were exploiting the latest U2 photography.
The first concern of the four important visitors appeared to be the certainty of our identification of the newly discovered IRBM sites…Lundahl invited the visitors to view the missile sites at light tables fitted with stereoscopic viewers. The four visitors took turns at the light tables, while photo interpreters pointed out details of what they were seeing…At this point, Air Force brigadier general Robert N. Smith arrived at the Center. General Smith, director of intelligence of the Strategic Air Command, was an old friend of Lundahl,. He brought with him the latest U2 photography that had been processed by the Strategic Air Command’s 544 Reconnaissance Tactical Wing at Omaha. It was not unusual for high ranking officers to accompany such film shipments inasmuch as the photography was extremely sensitive from a security standpoint. Escorting mission film to the Center also afforded field-command officers an opportunity to view the latest photography firsthand, with immediate access to the most recent intelligence derived in Washington….
…Finally McCone asked Bobby and McNamara if they were satisfied with what they had seen. Both replied in the affirmative. Bobby then asked the interpreters if they were getting enough sleep. Lundahl interrupted, stating that the Center was working on a two-shift basis and would continue to operate that way. Bobby then moved around the room shaking the hands and encouraging everyone to keep up the good work.
The unannounced purpose of the visit to the Center was to confirm details of the findings to help draft a televised address to the nation by the president and for an important meeting to be held at the White House…in the Yellow Oval room….The president walked into the room and said with a wry smile, “Gentlemen, today we’re going to earn our pay.” He then waved to McCone to begin the meeting. McCone gave Cline the task of summarizing…When Lundahl took over, he first made sure the president in particular, had a clear view of the easel….When Lundahl finished he turned to the president and said, “Mr. President, gentlemen, this summarizes the totality of the missile and other threats as we’ve bee able to determine it form aerial photography…”
The president was on his feet the moment Lundahl finished. He crossed the room directly towards Lundahl and said, “I want you to extend to your organization my gratitude for a job very well done.” Lundahl, rather embarrassed, hesitantly thanked the president. The president then extended his hand and smiled. Lundahl was again surprised.
At 4 P.M. the president was scheduled to meet with his cabinet. When McCone asked if the president would like to have the cabinet briefed by him and Lundahl, the president said no. Mr. McCone also wondered if the president would like to show the cabinet members some of the aerial photos of Cuba. The president replied, “No, it just might confuse the issues.”….
The president had summoned congressional leaders to Washington from various parts of the country to apraise them of the Cuban situation…Hale Boggs, the Democratic whip, was deep-sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. An Air Force plane, after making several warning passes over the boat, dropped a plastic message bottle. The message: “Call Washington – urgent message from the president.” …Boggs was helicoptered to an airfield, where a two-seat jet trainer was waiting…He was flown to Andrews Air Force Base, near Washington and was helicoptered from their to the White House lawn, “still smelling of fish…”
At 5 P.M. that Monday afternoon, President Kennedy waited for the congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room…All chairs were occupied and people were standing several deep along the walls. The doors were closed. The president apologized for the inconvenience he had caused the legislators by interrupting their campaigns. He said, however, that the nation was facing an international emergency – offensive missiles…in Cuba. Mr. McCone and his briefer would provide the details….He then turned the meeting over to McCone. Mr. McCone made a short statement summarizing the finds that had been presented to the National Security Council earlier in the afternoon, and asked Lundahl to show the telltale photographs.
As Lundahl began to unfold the pictures of MRBM and IRBM launch sites and their targets, an incredible hush settled over the room….When Lundahl finished his presentation, he felt as if everyone was looking at him “as though I were holding a cobra rather than a pointer n my right hand.” The enormity of the threat was being seen and heard for the first time by the congressmen and senators and they were obviously surprised and angered. Attention then shifted to the president. A great buzzing arose among the group….
At 7 P.M. Washington time on October 23, the Pentagon placed the entire U.S. military establishment on Defcon 3 (defense condition), an increased state of alert. The greatest mobilization since World War II was underway. SAC B-47 bombers were dispursed according to plan…The first Crusader, No. 923, landed at the naval air station at Jacksonville and taxied to the front line. When the aircraft stopped, there was an immediate flurry of activity as photographer mates unloaded the film magazines and rushed to the nearby Fleet Air Photo Laboratory. The activity inside the lab was just as intense as that on the flight line. The film was placed in the processors and within minutes the first negatives were finished… “Run the duplicate positives and let’s get them to Washington.”
…As the flight crews were busy fueling and preparing the aircraft for another mission and photographer mates were reloading the cameras, a young enlisted man on the flight line decided that each mission should be recorded on the side of the aircraft. He made a stencil depicting a dead hanging chicken, the chicken an obvious reference to Castro’s chicken episode at the UN and Washington. (Castro and his entourage cooked chicken in their hotel rooms, much to the consternation and disgust of hotel managers.) He began stenciling them on the side of each aircraft. It became a ritual for the pilot when he opened the canopy after each mission to call out, “Chalk up another chicken.”
[Kelly notes: There is also a logo patch for one of the photo recon outfits that has a role of film wrapped around the head of a chicken].
The Joint Chiefs wanted a firsthand report of the mission and Commander Ecker was ordered to fly to Washington. He landed at Andrews Air Force Base and, still in his flying suit, was rushed to the Pentagon….The Joint Chiefs queried the commander about the mission and asked if any anti-aircraft fire had been seen. Ecker proudly reported that the mission was, “a piece of cake.” The low-altitude photography added a new dimension to NPIC reporting….
On the afternoon of October 26, the FBI reported that the Soviets were burning their archives not only at the Washington embassy, tub also at the Soviet UN enclave at Glen Cove, Long Island. The burning of sensitive files is normally the last diplomatic act in preparation for war…If nuclear war became a distinct possibility, the Office of Emergency Management had formulated plans for the evacuation of the president from Washington. The coordinater within the White House staff for preparing such a move was General Chester V. “Ted” Clifton, the president’s military advisor. However, there appeared to be some conflict in responsibilities, because Secret Service chief Jim Rowley also was checking out details of his own plan for the evacuation of the president…
Luncahl arrived at the Steuart Building early on the morning of October 27. There was much work to be done. At the usual morning staff briefing he was shocked when told that all twenty-four MRBM sites in Cuba were now considered fully operational….
As the governors were assembling at the Pentagopn on the morning of October 27, Lundahl spent a few minutes with us before he went into his office and rehearsed in his mind what photography he was going to show them and what he was going to say. This would be the first time that most of these distinguished men would be exposed to serial reconnaissance, and Lundahl felt the briefing should be a “tutorial.” McCone called for Lundahl at the Center in his personal car. One the way to the Pentagon, McCone informed Lundahl that he would personally conduct the briefing. He wanted to impress the governors with both his and the president’s creditilblty…At 8:40 A.M. McCone began his briefing…Following McCone’s presentation, Roswell Gilpatrick briefed the governors n the state of U.S. military prepardness…Following the Pentagon briefings, the governors were driven to the White House to meet with the president…Lundahal and McCone had hurried from the governors’ meeting to the EXCOM, which met, as usual, at 10 A.M….
…U Thant…saying his military advisor, Indian brigadier Indar JiT Rikhye, would supply the details. William Tidwell, a CIA expert in aerial reconnaissance and a military reserve officer, was sent to New York to seek carification from Brigadier Rikhye. But if U Thant was confused, Rikhye was completely out of touch with reality. A short, stocky Punjabi with a deceptive smile, Rikhye’s first service with the UN was as a colonel commanding an Indian unit in the Gaza Strip during the Middle East cease fire of 1957. He had helped organize the UN force sent to the Congo in 1960-61 and, in 1962, had worked to supervise the peacekeeping force in Neartherlands New Guinea. During World War II, as a major, he commanded an armor unit of the famed Bengal lancers in General Mark Clark’s Fifth Army. Tidwell soon determined Rikhye…knew absolutely nothing about Soviet MRBM and IRBM sites. He had no plans…
[BK notes: Ruth Forbes Paine Young (Michael Paine’s mother), and other World Federalists worked closely with Gen. Rikhye at the UN on a number of projects.]
…Throughout the crisis, Lundahl had alerted his staff to post him of any evidence of comic relief observed on the photography. President Eisenhower had appreciated a number of humorous briefing boards prepared during critical situations. Lundahl felt President Kennedy would also welcome a litter humor in this situation. President Kennedy, himself adept at clear, concise usage of the English language, particularly disliked anything smacking of military jargon. On several occasions during the crisis he had shown a certain displeasure with daily intelligence reports referring to the number of missile launch positions “occupied” and “unoccupied.” He felt that, somehow, there must be a better way to describe how many of the four launch positions at each of the missile sites had missile launchers on them. McCone had struggled unsuccessfully to find appropriate terms of clarification throughout the crisis…At that point, a U.S. reconnaissance plane flying very low over a military camp happened to photograph a soldier using an open “three hole” latrine. We produced a briefing board from the photograph, and Lundahl showed it to McCone and included it in the White House briefing package. Lundahl finished his routine briefing of the president and McCone asked if the president would like to see a new three position military site discovered in Cuba, with one position occupied. The president’s face froze momentarily, since he was aware that each of the missile sties in Cuba had four positions rather than three. As the president studied the photo, there came first a smile and then a booming laugh. When he finally stopped, he asked, “Why didn’t I have this earlier? Now I understand the occupied and unoccupied problem perfectly.
The president was generous with his thanks and praise….McCone was the first to recognize the work of the National Photographic Interpretation Center with a formal memo of commendation on November 2, 1962….On November 8, 1962, the president sent the following letter to Lundahl: “While I would like to make public the truly outstanding accomplishments of the National Photographic Interpretation Center, I realize that the anonymity of an organization of your high professional competence in the intelligence field must be maintained.
“I do want you and your people to know of my very deep appreciation for the tremendous task you are performing under most trying circumstances. The analysis and interpretation of the Cuban photography and the reporting of your findings promptly and succinctly to me and to my principal policy advisors, most particularly the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, has been exemplary.You have my thanks and the thanks of your government for a very remarkable performance of duty and my personal commendation goes to all of you.”
John F. Kennedy
…President Kennedy decided the American people should be briefed on the photographic evidence…The president preferred that Lundahl handle the report to the nation, but McCone was reluctant to surface Lundahl and the National Photographic Interpretation Center. Lundahl recommended that John Hughes, who had been outstanding in his service at the National Photographic Interpretation Center as an Army lieutenant and became special assistant to General Joseph Carroll, director of the Defense Intelligence Agnecy, conduct the public briefing. NPIC supported Hughes in preparing the briefing…on nationwide TV. The presentation did much to allay the fears of the American public, but some intelligence specialists questioned whether too much had been revealed…
…The president would be dead before the 1964 election and Bobby before that of 1968… McCone found Lyndon Johnson colorless and crude in intelligence matters and, as president, clumsy and heavy-handed in international affairs. Instead of personally carefully considering prepared intelligence memorandums on intelligence matters, he preferred to be briefed by trusted advisors. Increasingly, the president sought intelligence information almost exclusively from Secretary McNamara and the Defense Department. McCone’s advice simply was no longer actively sought by the president. His role diminished, his influence faded, and the ready access he had enjoyed during the Kennedy administration became very limited…President Johnson replaced McCone with a fellow Texan, retired U.S. Navy vice-admiral William F. Raborn, Jr. The admiral had played an important role in development of the Polaris missile system, but had no experience in intelligence, which soon became apparent to CIA veterans….
Of all the awards and honors Lundahl achieved, one he seldom displays reflects most appropriately his contributions to this nation. It is an autographed photograph of Allen Dulles and himself, which reads: “Art Lundahl has done as much to protect the security of this nation as any man I know. Allen W. Dulles.”