The Executive Committee of the National Security Council met at 10 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House.
Photo by Cecil Stoughton
JFK Library Photo
The meeting began with CIA Director John McCone reporting that 22 Soviet ships were heading for the Quarantine Line 500 miles east of Cuba.
Later, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara relayed information that 2 Soviet ships, Kimovsk and Yuri Gagarin, were approaching the line with a Soviet submarine in between.
McCone broke the news that 6 Soviet ships had "either stopped or reversed direction."
CIA Director (1962)
Secretary of State Dean Rusk said:
"We stood eyeball to eyeball and the other fellow just blinked."*
Secretary of State
LBJ Library Photo (1968)
In the evening, JFK enjoyed a private late night dinner with Mrs. Kennedy and close friends including journalist Charles Bartlett.
When Mr. Bartlett proposed a toast to celebrate the day's events, the President said....
"You don't want to celebrate in the game this early."
Michael Dobbs, One Minute to Midnight, 2008.
James M. Lindsay, TWE Remembers, 10/24/2012.
According to Michael Dobbs, evidence now available proves the Soviet "turnaround" was actually done on Tuesday morning, October 23, 1962, or 24 hours before the EXCOM meeting of the 24th.
Dobbs says that historians "failed to use these records to plot the actual positions of Soviet ships on the morning of Wednesday, October 24, 1962."
US FORCES ORDERED TO DEFCON-2
Omaha, Nebraska (JFK+50) General Thomas Power of the Strategic Air Command, headquartered here in Omaha, ordered his forces to DEFCON-2 51 years ago, October 24, 1962, just one step from "imminent nuclear war".
DEFCON-2 is the highest military alert level ever ordered in the Nation's history.
General Power also broadcast an alert message on non-scrambled, open radio channels.
General Thomas Power
Strategic Air Command
CHART OF DEFCON RATINGS
DEFCON 5 Lowest military readiness
DEFCON 4 Increased intelligence watch
DEFCON 3 Medium military readiness
DEFCON 2 War readiness
DEFCON 1 Nuclear war imminent
On 9-11-2011, US forces were ordered to DEFCON 3