Books Monographs

CIA Documents on the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962

112 Documents, Preface, Introduction, and Guides to Names and Acronyms; edited by Mary McAuliffe, 1992


The Central Intelligence Agency is pleased to declassify and publish this collection of documents on the Cuban Missile Crisis, as the First Intelligence History Symposium marks the thirtieth anniversary of that event. We hope that both the Symposium and this volume will help fill the large gaps in information previously available on the role of intelligence in this crisis. The volume and Symposium are both products of CIA’s new program of  openness, which Robert Gates, Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), announced in his speech to the Oklahoma Press Association last February.

Dr. Mary S. McAuliffe, Deputy Chief of the History Staff, has located and compiled the documents in this collection. Dr. McAuliffe graduated from Principia College, took a Ph.D. in history from the University of Maryland,

and taught at Iowa State University before joining CIA and the History

Staff in 1986. She is the author of Crisis on the Left: Cold War Politics

and American Liberals. 1947-1954 (Amherst, MA: University of  Massachusetts Press, 1978).

A number of documents in this collection have been excerpted, some to  reduce their length, and others to speed the declassification of missile crisis information by omitting irrelevant material. When the Historical Review Group systematically reviews these and other missile crisis records for declassification and release to the National Archives, we expect that most of the material omitted for reasons of length or relevance in our published excerpts will be declassified and made available to the public.

J. Kenneth McDonald

Chief. History Staff

11 September 1992


The collection in this volume includes many of CIA’s most important documents on the Cuban missile crisis. It contains the .. honeymoon cables” that Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) John A. McCone sent to Headquarters from France a month before the missile crisis, as well as McCone’s notes taken during the National Security Council Executive Committee meetings at the height of the crisis. It also includes intelligence

memorandums and estimates, briefing papers, Cuban refugee reports, and memorandums on Operation MONGOOSE, the clandestine program aimed at destabilizing the Castro regime. Many of the evaluations of the missile threat contained here draw upon IRONBARK material, whose source was Soviet Col. Oleg Penkovsky.

To the degree possible, the documents in this volume are organized according to the date of subject matter, so that a February 1963 document discussing a September 1962 event will appear among September 1962 documents. In general, support documents follow documents that summarize a sequence of events.

To conserve space and speed declassification, excerpts have been taken from some of the lengthier entries. In some cases, the summary or conclusion section of a document has been excerpted, while in others, material on topics unrelated to Cuba or the missile crisis has been omitted. All such instances have been noted in the Contents list and in the documents’ headings. All the documents in this volume have been subject to declassification review, and portions of some have been deleted for security reasons.

In the weeks immediately preceding the missile crisis, DCI McCone was frequently out of town. During these times, his Deputy Director of Central Intelligence (DDCI), Lt. Gen. Marshall S. Carter, served as Acting Director. McCone was away from Washington on his honeymoon in France from the evening of 23 August through 23 September 1962. He left for Los Angeles on business on the evening of 11 October 1962, corning back late on 14 October.  He returned to the West Coast on the afternoon of 15 October, immediately following news of the death of his stepson. The discovery of missiles in Cuba brought him back to Washington on the evening of 16 October, where he remained for the rest of the crisis.

It should be noted that these documents, many of them written hastily during a time of national emergency, contain occasional errors. McCone’s 19 October 1962 memorandum for the file (Document 63), for example, confuses the days of the week, although not the dates, of the first crisis meetings that he attended.

Much has been written on the missile crisis during the 30 years that have elapsed since those 13 days in October, but the unavailability of classified material has left many questions still unanswered. The CIA History Staff hopes that the publication of this volume, and the further releases that follow, will make possible a more complete understanding of this complex and deeply troubling event.

Mary S. McAuliffe

Deputy Chief, History Staff

Note to readers: Because of its size and the large number of documents, this book has been divided into four parts, each in a downloadable PDF below. It is also available in full through the last PDF link provided below.

Download foreword, preface, and table of contents

Download Part I: Prelude to Crisis, Documents 1–45

Download Part II: Crisis, 16–28 October 1962, Documents 46–107

Download Part III: The Aftermath, Documents 108–112

Download PDF of front matter and complete document collection (398 pages)