President Kennedy Assembles EXCOMM Upon Viewing Photographs of Soviet Missiles in Cuba

Kennedy saw the photographs on October 16; he assembled the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (EXCOMM), fourteen key officials and his brother Robert, at 9.00 a.m. The U.S. had no plan for dealing with such a threat, because U.S. intelligence was convinced that the Soviets would not install nuclear missiles in Cuba. The EXCOMM quickly discussed five courses of action:
1. Do nothing.
2. Use diplomatic pressure to get the
Soviet Union to remove the missiles.
3. An air attack on the missiles.
4. A full military invasion.
5. The naval blockade of Cuba,
which was defined as a more
restrictive quarantine.

They, no more than we, can let these things go by without doing something. They can't, after all their statements, permit us to take out their missiles, kill a lot of Russians, and then do nothing. If they don't take action in Cuba, they certainly will in Berlin.”

— John F. Kennedy