INT: There were the (unintelligible) talks weren't there about...
RH: (Interrupts) I'm sorry?
INT: There was something called the (unintelligible) talks...
RH: Right, OK.
INT: You were involved?
RH: Yeah, I was involved in that. Well, what happened was that first of all, the Soviets... there were several methods the Soviets used to communicate with other governments, one is a direct message from Khrushchev to Kennedy or something like that, another is ambassador to ambassador. But the Soviets really had a practice of they would frequently, throughout their history, they would make some sort of a public and official or non-public, I mean, Khrushchev to Kennedy, they would do something that was official, you see. Usually they would... in the cases that I'm talking about, it would be very vague, forthcoming, but vague. Then in a deniable way, using a KGB man or a TASS man, they would go around and try something very specific, but easily deniable, you see, on it. Now in this case, what they did was, they sent a cable from Khrushchev to Kennedy - this was the famous four part cable - very... it was clear just reading it that this that, you know, Khrushchev and their Politburo sitting around a table, he calls in a secretary, he dictates the cable, long, rambling, pure Khrushchev. The most important paragraph in it is, Mr. President, Mr. Kennedy, you and I are like two men pulling on a rope with a knot in the middle, the harder we pull, the tighter the knot until it will have to be cut with a sword. Now why we don't both let up the pressure and maybe we can untie the knot. Now that was what the cable... and that's about the level of specificity, you see. But that same day, well one thing it didn't go anywhere. A KGB man approaches U Thant at the UN and says to him, practically the same thing that Foreman said to Scali to say to me, and U Thant didn't pick up on it for some reason, so that didn't go anywhere. But Khrushchev sent Fomin a... Fomin was the head of the KGB in Washington DC, and we all knew that, and apparently what they've said was, try out a very simple formula on as high an official as you can get. So Fomin called Skally and said, you're a friend of Hilsman, can you take him a message, I assure it comes from Khrushchev. Well, he kept saying it comes from Khrushchev. Well, Scali brought me this message, it was very simple, it was four points. We will remove the missiles from Cuba, under UN supervision, and in exchange you make an announcement, President Kennedy, that you will not invade Cuba. Just three simple points. there may have a fourth point, but anyway. And so, I, you know, say to Scali, are you sure this comes from Khrushchev, over and over again. Finally, he said yes and so I take it to Rusk and to Kennedy and so they mull this over and Rusk calls back and says, get Fomin up here... get Scali up here. So we get Scali up there and Rusk writes in his own handwriting, we think that this has got something... you know, that this will help solve the problem with the... I will instruct our ambassadors to the UN etcetera to follow up on this. And so that goes back to Fomin and to Khrushchev. Now, I think that, you know... and then what happened was - and this is Bobby Kennedy, this brilliant, so-called Trollope play, we called it the Trollope play after the... in the novels of Anthony Trollope, you know, a boy squeezes a girl's hand and she turns and I says I accept your proposal of marriage. So what happened was, on the Saturday - this happened the Friday night, the Khrushchev long telegram and the Scali Fomin Hilsman exchange occurs Friday night, (unintelligible) a U-2 gets shot down, there's a lot of garbage in the meantime, but that afternoon, Bobby Kennedy had this brilliant idea. He said let's pick out of the Khrushchev cable the things we like and let's pick up the Fomin Hilsman exchange, what we like, and pretend that the rest isn't there. So we then craft it and Kennedy and... Jack Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy, they crafted this answer to Khrushchev that did just that. It ignored the shoot down of the U-2, it ignored the broadcast from Moscow that was very hawkish, you kno
INT: There was a Radio Moscow announcement wasn't there about it at the time.
RH: Yeah, and what happened was we figured that one out. That when the U-2 flew over the Soviet Union, that morning I had spent the whole night, the five or six of us in the Intelligence Bureau, the Soviet experts and I, we hadn't been to bed for thirty six hours and that Saturday morning I was with Rusk and Tommy Thompson, the Soviet expert, and they had drafted a very harsh telegram... in response to the shoot down of the U-2, you see, this Saturday morning. And so I had to go to the White House for some other reason, I've forgotten what it was, so they said, Roger you take it over so I took it over and I gotten in Kennedy... this is in Lincoln's Office, Kennedy's secretary (unintelligible) and Mac Bundy was there and Kennedy and Mrs. Lincoln and we discussed the cable and Kennedy said, well, I don't like this, but we'll talk about it this afternoon, (unintelligible). So I went downstairs, you see, and Mac Bundy's office, the way the White House is on one side is a basement but it's at ground level, the other side, that would be in the basement you see, but Mac Bundy's office was right there. So we're down by Mac Bundy's office and a guy grabs me and says, your office is on the phone urgently. So I pick up the phone and the guy on the other phone says, he was our coordinator with JCS, Joint Chiefs, he says I've got this phone in one hand and I've got a phone to the War Room in the Pentagon in the other. A U-2 has strayed over the Soviet Union and he's gone clear and I can hear the pilot screaming for help, you know, in my other phone. So, and you know, you don't need to explain, everybody thought my God, the Soviets'll think this U-2's a reconnaissance for a first strike and it's (unintelligible) by the door, the shit hit the fan, this is what we were afraid. So I ran upstairs. Well, I hadn't been to bed for thirty six hours and we got up there and I was shaky and puffy and all that, puffing and shaking and I blurted out the news and, you know, everybody just, you know, like that, my God, nobody said anything, but it was total silence, everybody thinking oh my God, they'll think it's a reconnaissance and we're gonna and you know we're in minutes of a nuclear war. And Kennedy was the first guy to recover you know, his cool. I remember Hemingway, I've put this in the book, Hemingway said that grace under pressure, well that was Kennedy. and he laughed and he said there's always some son of a bitch who doesn't get the word! And so he said, Roger handle this, you know, get down there and get the Pentagon and get to the Soviet Union and, you know, make sure this doesn't escalate. So I started to move and of course without sleeping or anything and I started to fall and Mac Bundy caught me and said to the President, Roger hasn't been to bed for thirty six hours, can't somebody else handle this? And Kennedy looked at me, he said, you go home and go to bed right now and Mac handled it. I went home went to bed, but before I went to bed, that's the reason for this story, I went back to my office and got the Soviet experts together and we took at look at this radio broadcast from Moscow. Now... and then compared it to the Khrushchev cable, you see. Now the Khrushchev cable comes in Friday night, the radio broadcast from Moscow comes in Saturday morning and what was perfectly clear when you looked at these two documents was that the radio broadcast was pure Soviet bureaucratize, you see, absolutely Khrushchev was pure Khrushchev. So we figured what had happened was that it picked up on a Walter Lippman column, a very irresponsible column of Walter Lippman's that sort of equated the missiles in Turkey with the missiles in Cuba, which is just nonsense, you know, the missiles in Turkey were put there in response to the Soviet missiles aimed at Europe and (unintelligible) they were very vulnerable, they were in a long count-down etcetera. So any way, very irresponsible. So we deduced that the Moscow cable had
INT: That's a good place to stop. INT: The next day or sometime after this incident with the U-2 spy plane inadvertently over the Soviet Union, wasn't there a U-2 plane shot down over Cuba as well?
INT: That's a good place to stop.
INT: The next day or sometime after this incident with the U-2 spy plane inadvertently over the Soviet Union, wasn't there a U-2 plane shot down over Cuba as well?
RH: Well, the sequence of events was that the Khrushchev cable, the four part cable, came in Friday night and simultaneously the Fomin Scali Hilsman exchange came in. The next morning, on Saturday, a U-2 was shot down and immediately almost at the same time, the Moscow broadcast came, you see, so that's why the initial reaction of the American government was that the Soviets are bent on war. The combination of the Moscow broadcast, which seemed to repudiate the Khrushchev of the night before, the combination of the Moscow broadcast with the shoot down of the U-2 really put it to us. Now I went back, analyzed the Moscow broadcast with the Soviet experts and we decided that they were not related, that the Moscow broadcast actually was crafted before the Khrushchev thing and so we got that into the mill. Then Bobby Kennedy said, let's don't do anything about it. You see one of those things, the kind of standby plan was if a U-2 was shot down, we would immediately bomb that SAM site, (unintelligible) missile site out of existence. If another U-2 was shot down or shot at, we'd bomb all the SAM sites. Kennedy, President Kennedy, cancelled that order he said don't bomb any aircraft site, I want time to exchange with Khrushchev. So Kennedy's intervention that prevented the bombing of that missile site, our analysis of the Moscow broadcast has said it was not related and Bobby Kennedy's Trollope ploy brought us out of it.
INT: 'Cos by this time the United States has realized that there were twenty four or so missiles operational within Cuba.
RH: No, you're talking about the surface to air missiles.
INT The medium...
RH: No, no...
INT: (Unintelligible) missiles were operational.
RH: That's right. well... what I thought you were saying is I recall there were twenty four anti-aircraft sites, anti-aircraft missile sites, SAMS, surface to air missiles, there were twenty four of those. I've temporarily forgotten, I guess there were also twenty four... well the MRBMs had become operational and they had warheads.